Giordano returns, Liljegren absent, and Jarnkrok gets in some reps: Leafs Practice Notes

Photo credit:David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
Mark Giordano appears to be closing in on his return as he was spotted at today’s practice.
Giordano was absent from the team for the past week after the sudden passing of his father. While he is going to be playing with a heavy heart whenever he does return given he suffered a death in the family, it is good to see him back in the fold. The Leafs did right by giving him the entire week off to be with his loved ones during a difficult time and we send him condolences during this difficult time.
He was skating on the third pair with William Lagesson at practice today but that pair will only be used if Timothy Liljegren can’t play tomorrow (more on that later). If Giordano has to slot back in,  you can expect to see his load eased up against the Golden Knights as he works his way back up to speed. But it should not take him long to do so which means he will soon be back to his usual usage of killing penalties.
Calle Jarnkrok made an appearance before the start of practice with the main group as he continued his recovery from a broken knuckle. The purpose of the puck handling and shooting drills was for the coaching staff to get a sense of how close he is to making a return, which will likely be in over a week given that he was wearing the extra greys sweater.
He has been out of the lineup for a month now with the aforementioned ailment and currently is placed on LTIR. Given the trade deadline is just under two weeks away, the Leafs will soon get some clarity on how much cap space they have to work with if they want to make any additions in the days ahead.
Martin Jones was also getting some reps in before leaving the ice once practice commenced. This comes mere hours after Joseph Woll was recalled from the Marlies after a one-game conditioning stint as he closes in on a return to the lineup.
The Leafs are about to get a clean bill of health in the crease for the first time in nearly three months and this is part of the adjustment of trying to fit three goalies on the active roster. While Jones did clear waivers earlier this season because of a $100K signing bonus, Toronto would run the risk of losing him for nothing if he was put on there again given how many teams are desperate for competent goaltending right now. Add to that the intrigue of Matt Murray progressing well and the Leafs could soon find themselves in a conundrum.
If the Leafs want to roll with this going forward and also make room for Jarnkrok once he is ready, then someone on the active roster will need to be placed on waivers soon and Noah Gregor could be the odd man out due to his lacklustre play and not providing much apart from speed. He was seen wearing a grey sweater which indicates he will likely be a healthy scratch tomorrow so it appears his time in Toronto may be coming to an end.
One notable player who was not present at practice was Liljegren for what was likely a maintenance day. It makes sense as he took a bunch of hits against the Avalanche on Saturday and even had to step into the locker room at one point before making a return to finish the game. Keefe told reporters after practice that Liljegren is considered day-to-day and while he wasn’t ruled out, his availability is “up in the air.”
It remains to be seen if he will be good enough to play on Tuesday night but in any case the Leafs will have to prepare for that possibility. Keefe adjusted the lines with that in mind and it is clear that the pairings are going to look a lot different than how they were in Denver.
The forward lines remain unchanged and it makes sense given how effective they were during the latter half of the western road trip. TJ Brodie and Jake McCabe have had their moments when paired together so it could work while the duo of Morgan Rielly and Simon Benoit should do the trick at least for one game. While these aren’t the ideal pairings Keefe would like to use when the team is fully healthy, it will have to make due for the time being.
While Woll faced a ton of shots in practice and appeared unphased, his return will have to wait a little bit longer so expect to see Ilya Samsonov get the know tomorrow against the Golden Knights. You can catch the action on TSN4 with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

Check out these posts...