Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters including Luke Fox of Sportsnet that Morgan Rielly’s return to the ice is “imminent,” though a return to game action is still quite a ways down the road. The veteran defenseman was ruled out in late November with an MCL sprain and placed on long-term injured reserve, which will hold him out through at least December 17.
In his absence, Toronto has actually had incredible defensive results, with Mark Giordano and Rasmus Sandin stepping into the vacated minutes on the left side. When he is able to return, it’s not clear exactly who will come out of the lineup, given Conor Timmins’ recent stretch of strong play as well. The Maple Leafs, who are expected to be without Jake Muzzin all year, suddenly seem to have quite a bit of defensive depth.
- The Winnipeg Jets are in a similar situation with their forward group, which is scoring plenty without the services of Nikolaj Ehlers. The team has put up at least five goals in seven of their last ten games, with Mark Scheifele now up to 18 tallies on the year. Ehlers, who is working his way back from sports hernia surgery, was on the ice yesterday and could potentially return in two to three weeks, according to Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun. The 26-year-old forward had three points in his first two games of the season before going under the knife.
- Evan Rodrigues, who hasn’t played since November 23, is “ready to go” for tonight’s Colorado Avalanche game. The Avalanche have struggled with injuries throughout the year but are starting to get healthy again and have won two in a row. Rodrigues, who was brought in on a one-year deal in the offseason, had six goals and nine points in 18 games before getting forced out of the lineup.