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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing back Mark Giordano makes a lot of sense for the Maple Leafs

When Mark Giordano was acquired by the Maple Leafs two days before the trade deadline, many thought he’d just be a rental and would be gone once the season ends.

Everyone who believed that at the time, including myself, were very, very wrong.

“To be able to be a part of this going forward and it being my hometown is obviously a huge bonus,” said Giordano to the media after he was traded to Toronto by the Seattle Kraken.

Once the 38-year-old joined the Maple Leafs, he spent a majority of his time on pairings with Justin Holl and Timothy Liljegren. Toronto having their playoff ticket essentially booked at the time of the trade helped a lot because it allowed head coach Sheldon Keefe to tinker with things before the time came to put it into action.

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Giordano fit in right when he arrived and left it all on the ice every night. The 38-year-old finished the playoffs with the second-best five-on-five CF% among defencemen on the Maple Leafs at 53.54%. His five-on-five xGF% during the post-season was also in the top-half of the defence core at 53%.

He’s one of the best trade-deadline acquisitions that the Maple Leafs have had in recent memory.

After Toronto’s season came to a close, the door for Giordano’s future stayed wide open — he wants to be a Maple Leaf for another season.

“Everyone knows I’m from Toronto, I love it here,” said the 38-year-old on Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s a secret that I enjoyed my time here.”

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I believe bringing back the veteran defenceman makes a lot of sense for the Maple Leafs. It fills a glaring hole each year — a strong, rugged, not afraid to do anything defenceman — every team would love to have a player of Giordano’s calibre.

Part of the reason it makes so much sense is because if they want Timothy Liljegren to learn a lot next season, putting him beside the 38-year-old would be the perfect fit. The two spent a lot of time together this past season and we saw how good they were as a pair.

Just think about another season of that — with the growth of Liljegren — it would be very interesting.

The money factor makes this an even more intriguing return. At 38-years-old, coming off a six-year, $40.5 million contract, it’s evidently clear that his pay will drop. The question is, though, how much will it drop?

I’ve seen a number of people say that Giordano could accept league-minimum, like Jason Spezza has for the past few seasons. I highly doubt that’s the case. I mean, he could, but why would he?

Although he’s 38, Giordano provides a lot of value to the Maple Leafs on and off the ice. Looking at it from both sides, I don’t think it’s fair to shoot as low as $750,000.

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The fact that he’s a defenceman, and an important one at that, makes me believe his salary will push to around the $1 million mark or higher. If you look at someone like Wayne Simmonds, who’s getting paid $900,000 for this past year and next, Giordano provides more on-ice value.

He’s among six players on the back-end, while Simmonds is a part of a 12-man unit at the front. Being one of the six on defence is a much more difficult thing to achieve, just with the amount of bodies in general. That’s not to say Simmonds isn’t important because he’s just as important as Giordano.

I just don’t see him making less than Simmonds.

Bringing the 38-year-old back, though, is a very smart decision. He’ll likely again be a very important piece to the puzzle come playoff time, and playing for his hometown team I think will push him to be better in key moments. I mean, he’s won a Norris Trophy, so there’s no questioning his work ethic.

The bottom line is, if you re-sign Giordano, he’ll be just as important in 365 days as he was in their series against the Lightning in the first round. It would be a great fit if he came back.

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