(REUTERS, Mike Cassese)
By Lukas Hardonk (@LukasHardonk)
It’s said that the Toronto Maple Leafs will welcome defenceman John-Michael Liles back to their lineup following this week’s NHL All-Star break, which means the Leafs will have an extra defenceman on their roster who won’t be seeing nearly as much time as they did during Liles’ absence. This has raised the question: Who will be the odd man out when Liles gets back to game action?
Liles, 31, has missed the last 15 games with a concussion that he suffered on December 22 when he was the recipient of a hard, clean, open-ice hit from Buffalo Sabres forward Paul Gaustad. There is no doubt that his veteran leadership has been missed in the locker room, as shown by the Leafs’ streaky play over the last month.
It’s not just his leadership that has been visibly absent lately, though. Liles, who is on pace for a fourth 40-point season, is the Leafs’ top offensive defenceman. He can run the power play from the back-end, provide a solid ...