The Toronto Maple Leafs are without their top three defensemen now, after Morgan Rielly exited last night with a knee injury. Rielly has been quickly moved to long-term injured reserve, with Darren Dreger of TSN tweeting that there are “rumblings” of a grade 1 or 2 MCL injury. That would come with a four to six-week recovery, according to Dreger.
At a very minimum, the veteran defenseman will miss 10 games and 24 days with his LTIR placement. Given he is expected back this season, the cap flexibility awarded with this move is temporary. The Maple Leafs could not for instance replace Rielly’s cap hit with an external option, as they’ll need it to activate him again down the road.
With Rielly, Jake Muzzin, and T.J. Brodie out all at the same time – the latter was on the ice before practice today testing out his oblique injury – the Maple Leafs are in a tough spot. The team’s most reliable defender becomes 39-year-old Mark Giordano, with some mix of Justin Holl, Timothy Liljegren, Rasmus Sandin, and Jordie Benn behind him.
Mete obviously has plenty of NHL experience as well, but Hollowell would be making his debut should he get into the lineup.
With that in mind, there will be plenty of speculation surrounding the Maple Leafs in the next few weeks. The team had already been linked to several defensemen around the league, and if Muzzin is out for the rest of the season, as expected, they do have a bit of cap room to work with.