Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares isn’t ruled out of next Wednesday’s season opener, said head coach Sheldon Keefe today, but as NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger notes, the chances of him playing are waning.
Tavares suffered an oblique injury in his preseason debut on September 24. At the time, Tavares was slated to miss three weeks – likely missing the team’s first three games and returning on October 17 against the Arizona Coyotes.
But Tavares began skating again two days ago on Monday, a welcome sign for the team and its fans. Today, Keefe commented on his status:
It’s all going to be (based) on his recovery. I think it was a really positive day for him today, but the way that it would track out in terms of the plan that was set was that he wouldn’t be available. What his body is telling him is going to dictate that.
In the meantime, the Maple Leafs could make some interesting decisions. William Nylander took line rushes at center today during practice, centering a prospective second line between preseason stars Nicholas Robertson and Denis Malgin. It would be the first time Nylander had meaningfully played center at any point since the 2019-20 season.
Regardless, the Leafs are hoping their team’s leader can get back in the room and on the ice in game action as soon as it’s feasible.