There’s nothing quite like unexpected, late-offseason surgery to make fans nervous. The Toronto Maple Leafs announced late on Friday evening that star center Auston Matthews has undergone successful wrist surgery. The minimum recovery time is expected to be six weeks.
This is the same wrist injury that plagued Matthews last season, but to this point had only been treated with rest and rehab. According to the team, Matthews began increasing his on-ice training this past week and was noticing some discomfort in his wrist. After receiving medical consultation, both inside and outside the Maple Leafs organization, the decision was made to proceed with surgery.
It is hard to imagine that this injury will not at least impact Matthews’ training camp and cost him some preseason games. If Toronto sticks to their timeline and does not re-evaluate Matthews’ wrist for six weeks to the day – assuming the surgery occurred today – that would be September 24. The Maple Leafs begin training camp the week prior and make their preseason debut the following day, Saturday September 25. Even more concerning is the word “minimum”. Toronto will not want to rush their MVP candidate back from surgery too quickly, but with the Leafs’ season set to begin on October 13, exactly two months away, even a two-week extension in Matthews’ recovery period will mean that the team begins the year without their best player.
Beyond that, there is also the question of whether the surgery impacts Matthews’ shooting ability moving forward. Head coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned multiple times last season that Matthews’ wrist was affecting his shot, yet the skilled center still won the Rocket Richard Trophy. However, that was before surgical intervention into the issue. How Matthews looks when he does eventually return to action will be critical to the Maple Leafs’ success this season as they return to the uber-competitive Atlantic Division.