It’s already been a difficult off-season on the injury front for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will likely not have Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott when the 2019-20 season begins following recent surgeries. So, when it was announced on Thursday that star John Tavares had suffered an injury and was forced to abandon Team Canada and the IIHF World Championships, Toronto fans were understandably worried that the team could be down another man long-term. However, that won’t be the case. The Leafs followed up on the news with an update today that Tavares suffered an oblique injury and will be out approximately one month, after which he is expected to resume his normal off-season training program.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman echoes the Leafs’ announcement, reporting that the he has heard it was an oblique strain that will require a rehab period of about four weeks. However, Friedman adds that after four weeks it is likely that Tavares will have made a “full recovery”. While the injury may cut into his preparation for next season somewhat, Tavares should be back on track by mid-June at the latest and will have more than two full months of his regular training regiment. As such, there is no concern that Tavares will be feeling any ill effects of the oblique strain by the time training camp rolls around and barring another injury will be at full strength to begin the year.
Tavares, who notched a career-high 47 goals this season while playing in every game for Toronto, is obviously a key part of a successful 2019-20 campaign for the team. However, his full health and maximum effort may be even more important next season. Beyond the injuries to Hyman and Dermott, a knee and shoulder respectively, that will keep them out likely through at least the first month of the season, several other departures could be in store for the Maple Leafs this summer. Mitch Marner, the only Leaf to outscore Tavares this season, Kasperi Kapanen, and Andreas Johnsson are all restricted free agents and Toronto will find it next to impossible to re-sign all three without trading away another core forward. The defense is also set to undergo an overhaul this summer, whether it works in their favor or not. One way or another, there will be slack to pick up next season and a healthy Tavares and his elite two-way game will go a long way to getting off to a good start.