The Toronto Maple Leafs are already without Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, and Jake Muzzin, leaving their defensive group a little shorthanded. Last night, Mac Hollowell was forced into extra action in his first-ever NHL game thanks to the early departure of Jordie Benn. Today, head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters including Mark Masters of TSN that Benn is now on injured reserve and out week-to-week, though the full severity of the injury has yet to be determined.
While the team did just acquire Conor Timmins from the Arizona Coyotes, Toronto isn’t going to force him into the lineup right away. Victor Mete, recalled recently, will be in the lineup next to Hollowell for tomorrow’s game against the Minnesota Wild. Wayne Simmonds was also practicing with the main group, suggesting he’ll be the recall to take Benn’s place on the roster.
The Maple Leafs are now without their three highest-paid defenders, and one of the only depth options that had any real experience. Mete’s 241 NHL games now become the second-highest amount in the group behind Mark Giordano, with Justin Holl’s $2MM cap hit the most expensive. Remember that the team also has Carl Dahlstrom on injured reserve thanks to a preseason injury, meaning five of the organization’s defensemen are unavailable.
Benn, 35, has never been a world-beater but was playing well in his six-game sample with the Maple Leafs, averaging more than 18 minutes a night before exiting early. The team will play in Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Detroit before heading home for a one-game homestand in the middle of next week.