The Toronto Maple Leafs are once again dealing with the nagging injury bug that continues to affect the roster seemingly every day and every year. The Maple Leafs have battled themselves into second place in the Atlantic division, third in the Eastern Conference, and fifth in the NHL, despite the abundance of injuries to key players that created the Maple Leafs injury woes.
It started in game one when netminder Matt Murray went down with a lower-body injury that sent him to the LTIR for 10 games. Following him was backup netminder Ilya Samsonov who is still out of the lineup due to his injury. Then it started running through the defensive core as Jake Muzzin was sidelined and what has now been disclosed as a back injury and he will be sidelined indefinitely and re-evaluated in February.
The pain hasn’t stopped there as TJ Brodie has been placed on LTIR and it’s been mentioned that his rehab has not been progressing well. Most recently from the defensive side is Morgan Rielly who has landed on the Long Term Injured Reserve list and will miss a minimum of 10 games or 24 days.
The Injuries come at a very inopportune time as the Maple Leafs are looking for consistency within the lineup, which will hinder that task. The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting with a 10-5-5 record heading into their matchup with the New Jersey Devils.
The Jake Muzzin injury is concerning from a life standpoint as his injury could be a reason his career ends, and not on his terms. However, Kyle Dubas is now tasked with finding reinforcements with a tight cap budget and not very many contract spots available.
Reinforcements Incoming for the Toronto Maple Leafs
Currently sitting at 50 total contracts the Leafs will have to rely on mostly in-house replacements from the Toronto Marlies. Both Victor Mete and Mac Hollowell have been recalled from the Marlies, the Maple Leafs drafted Mac Hollowell in 2018 and the young defenseman will make his NHL debut in New Jersey against the Devils.
Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas made one move to add some depth to the Maple Leaf’s blueline as the Maple Leafs acquired Conor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Curtis Douglas, a six-foot-nine centreman.
Conor Timmins is a St. Catharines, Ontario native and was a second-round selection of the Colorado Avalanche in 2017. The 24-year-old defender has appeared in 2 games this season with Arizona, the right-handed blueliner has 7 assists in 33 career NHL games over four seasons. The six-foot-two former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds product checks several boxes for the Maple Leafs, as he is a good shot blocker, can eat up penalty kill minutes, he’s physical, shoots right-handed, and can move the puck well. Not to mention, he comes from the Greyhounds stables in the Ontario Hockey League, which seems to be a requirement for incoming acquisitions under general manager Kyle Dubas.
Relief is in sight already from within though, as Matt Murray’s return has certainly helped with the Maple Leafs injury woes. The goalie has won every game in the net since his return from injury and has been a bright light for the Leafs in the net.
The Maple Leafs injury plague continues to be an uphill battle, with key members of the team core out of the lineup the Leafs will have to get creative if they want to plug the holes with suitable candidates. If the team can play above .500 hockey with all these injuries, they will remain a force in the Atlantic division and the Eastern Conference.
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