It looks like Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle decided to make a statement with his lineup for tonight’s game against the New York Rangers.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Leafs will play without defenseman Jake Gardiner tonight, per Leafs TV’s Paul Hendrick. That freed up a spot for Cody Franson (knee) to return. Stuart Percy, 21, will also remain in the lineup after getting two assists in his first two NHL games.
Gardiner has an assist and minus-three rating while logging an average of 21:16 minutes per game this season. He had a team-high 23:04 minutes of ice time last night.
Toronto made a big commitment to him over the summer by agreeing to a five-year, $20.25 million contract. That made him the Maple Leafs’ second-highest paid defenseman, behind Dion Phaneuf.