Mark Giordano had a lot of strong positive things to say about his defense partner, Timothy Liljegren, following the 38-year-old’s Toronto Maple Leafs debut. The two were paired for a little more than 13 minutes at 5v5, with Giordano getting up to 18 minutes due to special teams. At 5v5, the pair were 5-3 in shots on goal and carried 70% of the expected goals behind the top six mostly.

Here’s what Giordano had to say about Liljegren at the end of his postgame interview:

“I was really impressed playing with [Liljegren]. For a young guy he’s got super poise with the puck and he makes really really good decisions out there. You don’t really get a sense of how complete his game is on TV. I thought he was really impressive. I was really impressed with his positioning and all the little plays he makes. Hopefully we build if we stay together, we can keep building and go from there.”

So unless Giordano is an extremely skilled cheerleader, he seemed to have a lot of genuinely positive things to say about the rookie. He said “impressed” a full three times, and ended his comments hoping that he stays together with the 22-year-old to “keep building.”

It’s really refreshing to hear such positive praise dumped on the Leafs defense prospects, especially coming from a Norris Trophy winner. I think they could be a good pairing in time, though the numbers game might rule Liljegren out of the playoff roster. Could you imagine they evolve into a good two-way second or third pair next year? I’ll try not to get too ahead of myself.

Here’s two bits of Liljegren’s play thanks to some very helpful tagging from Omar.

Various Leafs and Branches

Game 63 Recap: Maple Leafs edge the Devils with their new look lineup | by: Brigstew and Omar

Leafs trade Brennan Menell to Philadelphia Flyers | by: Katya and Species

Mike McKenna has some insight on Leafs goalie Erik Källgren that’s worth reading.

The Leafs had some pretty slick goals in last night’s win, including the first goal from Ilya Mikheyev. But I think Pierre Engvall stole the show...

...until I saw the Toronto Marlies highlights.

First was nrob with some excellent lateral movement.

Out-done by Josh Ho-Sang with this amazing display of skill, making plays at speed, and shooting. He reminds of Alex Galchenyuk when he was in the AHL. Really at a level above.

The Marlies seem to have picked up Philippe Myers from the Nashville Predators as that “Future Considerations.” Myers is on an NHL contract making over $2 million, but has been buried in the minors (cleared waivers and buried on March 20th). The way this transaction has gone is that the Predators are loaning Myers to the Marlies using an AHL loan for the rest of the season. The Leafs pay his AHL salary, but his NHL cap hit and contract stay in Nashville. If Myers is recalled, it’ll be to Nashville, the Leafs have no claim to him. This is not the first time the Marlies have made moves such as this. The first one I remember is Cal O’Reilly.

Here are some final thoughts on the Next Gen game.

Keefe seemed very enthusiastic about Blackwell’s future on the team. Saying he’s been bounced around a lot between organizations and building him up here over time could finally get the best out of his effort and potential. The Leafs started Blackwell on the fourth line, but by slowly ramping him up they could get him up to the second line. I’d be shocked if the Leafs don’t retain their two deadline acquisitions after this season.

The Leafs took the salary cap into their own hands. Big Thanos, “Fine, I’ll do it myself” energy.

Here’s the end of the beginning of the Evgeni Dadonov saga. He’s awkwardly back to the Golden Knights, who now have to pretend they didn’t pay to get rid of him and fail to think about his contracted no trade clause.