After suffering a high-ankle sprain earlier this week, Cody Ceci has been placed on injured reserve by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team has recalled Timothy Liljegren in his place. Ceci will be re-evaluated in a month’s time.
Toronto is now without Ceci and Morgan Rielly indefinitely, putting even more pressure on their defensive group. With the trade deadline just a few weeks away it also may lead to even more urgency for GM Kyle Dubas, though after making a recent move to solidify the backup goaltending position he was clear the team is looking for a long-term fix on the blueline instead of targeting the rental market.
The real decisions will likely have to wait a week until they know a more accurate timeline for Rielly. If the star defenseman is going to be out for the rest of the season they can use his cap space to land a bigger name. Otherwise, they’ll have to leave enough room for his return off long-term injured reserve before the playoffs.
For Liljegren, this is the biggest opportunity of his young career. The 20-year old was selected 17th overall in 2017 but has played in the minor leagues for all but one game to this point. Arguably one of the better two-way defensemen in the AHL at the moment, he has 29 points in 38 games for the Toronto Marlies while being used in all situations. For a team that has been desperately searching for help on the right side, the right-handed Lilejegren may get a chance to stick around.