For the last few weeks, it seemed as though every headline revolving around the Toronto Maple Leafs was devoted to a new player heading to injured reserve. Today, the script flips. As first told to the media by head coach Sheldon Keefe (relayed by Sports Illustrated’s Mike Stephens) and confirmed by CapFriendly, Maple Leafs blueliner T.J. Brodie has been activated off of injured reserve.
Brodie, 32, landed on injured reserve nearly a month ago after suffering an oblique injury. The blueliner’s absence became part of a growing trend of the Maple Leafs losing defensemen due to injury. Even after Brodie’s activation today, the Maple Leafs still have Morgan Rielly, Jordie Benn, and Jake Muzzin (who is out indefinitely) on the injury list.
As a result, Brodie’s return to the ice is a welcome development for Toronto. Keefe has been relying on Mark Giordano as the team’s number-one defenseman in the face of all the blueline absences. While Giordano has performed admirably, it’s certainly fair to wonder if the 39-year-old will be able to handle such heavy usage as capably as he once did.
Brodie has averaged over 21 minutes of ice time per game in each year he’s played in Toronto, so even if Brodie’s offensive game remains in its diminished state his ability to weather significant minutes will be highly valuable.
So, while Brodie himself wasn’t off to the best start this season (he has just two points in fifteen games), he gives the Maple Leafs an experienced, capable veteran blueliner to help ease Giordano’s workload.
The Maple Leafs (4th in the NHL without a regulation loss in their last 10 games) haven’t missed a beat despite their beleaguered blueline, so adding Brodie back to the mix will only help Toronto remain the regular season juggernaut they have proven to be in recent years.