- The Maple Leafs could have winger Ondrej Kase back in the lineup on Saturday, relays Postmedia’s Terry Koshan (Twitter link). The 26-year-old has missed the last week with an upper-body injury after providing Toronto with some decent depth scoring to start the season with five goals in 21 games. Meanwhile, winger Ilya Mikheyev took part in practice for the first time on Friday but Koshan notes that while he is with the team on their two-game road trip, he won’t play. Regardless, he’s getting close to returning after suffering a broken thumb in the preseason.
Maple Leafs Rumors
After colliding with teammate Jake Muzzin during practice, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner is “uncertain” for the team’s Saturday game in Minnesota, according to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. Marner left practice early after the hit with medical personnel, but head coach Sheldon Keefe said it was precautionary in nature and that it’s “not looking like anything serious.” Hopefully, that holds true for the red-hot Leafs, who are 15-2-0 in their past 17 games. Marner has six points in his last five games and is fourth on the team with 21 points on the season after a really rough start.
Some other injury notes from around the league:
- The Edmonton Oilers are banged up, especially on left defense with all three regulars out of the lineup. They got some good news today though, as head coach Dave Tippett reports that Darnell Nurse, winger Devin Shore, and goalie Mike Smith all skated today. However, Duncan Keith wasn’t a part of that group and remains sidelined. The team’s handled this recent stretch of adversity well, winners of three straight and a 16-5-0 record overall. The Oilers certainly still want these names back in their lineup though, especially Nurse, who leads the team by a long shot in ice time with 26:06 played per game.
- The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark reports that the Seattle Kraken’s Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz are both day-to-day, but Schwartz hasn’t skated while Eberle has. The team’s two leading scorers both missed their Wednesday game against the Detroit Red Wings with lower-body injuries. It’s been a tough opening ride for the Kraken, who sit seventh in the Pacific Division with an 8-13-2 record. While they’ve performed above-expected offensively, they’ve had structural and goaltending issues that few foresaw.
Minnesota Wild right wing Mats Zuccarello was absent from Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning with an upper-body injury. While the Wild were able to take the game with a 4-2 win, Zuccarello’s great performance so far this season (16 points in 16 games) means they’ll want him back as soon as possible. Head coach Dean Evason said after the game that Zuccarello’s got a “nasty injury” on his bottom hand. Zuccarello will try to practice during the Wild’s optional skate tomorrow, but Evason offers no guarantees.
More injury news from around the league:
- Mathieu Joseph of the Tampa Bay Lightning sustained an injury and did not return to today’s game against Minnesota. Joseph had been playing in the team’s top six along with Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli and had seven points in 19 games. It’s a tough blow to a team that’s already missing Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point up front. It’s unknown if Joseph will miss how much, if any, time.
- Ondrej Kase isn’t returning for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, but head coach Sheldon Keefe assures that his absence is more precautionary in nature. An upper-body injury to Kase is concerning considering his concussion history, but Keefe said today “There’s no clarity on that right now. But that has not been designated as the case.” Kase’s been working out on his own without practicing with the team.
- Forward Ondrej Kase won’t play for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night against Anaheim due to an upper-body injury, head coach Sheldon Keefe said today. Kase missed Toronto’s last game on their Western California swing, a 4-1 win against San Jose. He had an assist in 13:52 worth of ice time against their first California game against Los Angeles. Kase’s netted five goals and three assists through his first 21 games as a Maple Leaf after playing just three games last season due to injury. The one-time 20-goal scorer has looked good, but injuries remain a concern for the embattled Czech winger.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded for Kyle Clifford once again, this time sending only future considerations to the St. Louis Blues for the veteran forward. Clifford cleared waivers today, meaning he can be immediately assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
In 2020, the Maple Leafs acquired Clifford along with Jack Campbell in a trade that saw Trevor Moore and two third-round draft picks go the other way. This time it will likely cost them nothing but money, something that not every team wants to spend on a fringe option. Clifford carries a cap hit of $1MM, which can be entirely buried in the minor leagues, but his one-way salary of $1.3MM will be paid to him no matter where he is assigned.
For the Maple Leafs, who are currently in long-term injured reserve space with both Ilya Mikheyev and Petr Mrazek on the shelf, Clifford could actually slide in on the active roster. The team sent Joey Anderson back to the minor leagues yesterday and are carrying only 13 forwards. That said, his cap hit will become trickier to work with once Mikheyev and Mrazek return.
The 30-year-old brings a ton of experience to the table though, along with his familiarity with former teammates like Campbell and Jake Muzzin. Clifford won the 2014 Stanley Cup–his second with the team–alongside Muzzin in Los Angeles and has suited up for nearly 800 games at the NHL level. While he does not bring much offense, Clifford is a physical presence that could give the Maple Leafs a bit of a jolt for their fourth line.
For the Blues, who are getting Oskar Sundkvist back tonight, there just wasn’t room for Clifford any longer. The team had to clear cap space to recall Scott Perunovich and instead of sending Clifford to the Springfield Thunderbirds, will send him back to his home province and former team.
The NHL has released their Three Stars for last week, led by a player who could very well go down as the all-time leader in goals by the time he hangs up his skates. Alex Ovechkin added another outstanding week, recording eight points in four games and passing Brett Hull on the all-time goals list. The nine-time Rocket Richard award winner isn’t all goals though, Ovechkin has 14 assists this season for 26 total points through 15 games.
A couple of college hockey stars take second and third, as Charlie McAvoy and Troy Terry have been selected respectively. The Boston Bruins defenseman had seven points in four games while playing basically every second shift, while the Anaheim Ducks forward stretched his point streak to 14 games by adding six more points in three contests. Terry has already matched his career-high of 20 points and it took him only 15 games to do it.
- If you’re still holding your breath hoping for some supplementary discipline to come down on Sidney Crosby for the incident with Martin Fehervary last night, exhale, it’s not coming. Crosby will not be given any punishment from the league according to Samantha Pell of the Washington Post, who also points out that there was no penalty called on the play in question.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t had any playoff success under president Brendan Shanahan, but that doesn’t mean his seat is getting hot. As Luke Fox of Sportsnet writes, ownership is still “fantastically supportive” of the Maple Leafs front office boss and the direction he is leading the franchise. Shanahan was hired by the team before the 2014 season; the team has a 275-211-66 regular season record since he took over, but hasn’t made it past the first round even a single time.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs had a few absences at today’s practice, most notably captain John Tavares. Head coach Sheldon Keefe indicated that Tavares is day-to-day and a game-time decision for tomorrow’s match with the Flyers, according to Mark Masters of TSN. Ondrej Kase has the same designation, and is also a game-time decision for the Maple Leafs. With Petr Mrazek out, the Maple Leafs have the cap space to carry a pair of extra forwards and are expected to bring Joey Anderson and Kirill Semyonov to Philadelphia.
While Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott has been in trade speculation over the past week or so, he doesn’t seem to be worried about it, telling TSN’s Mark Masters that he’s not too worried about it, referencing it’s not the first time he has been in speculation. Part of the rationale behind the idea he could move was for salary cap purposes although the injury to Petr Mrazek – which will keep him out long enough to be LTIR-eligible – lessens the need to make a move to free up cap room in the short term.
The Toronto Maple Leafs hoped to take a cautious approach to the health of their goaltenders this season, signing Petr Mrazek to help insulate Jack Campbell so that neither one was overworked. Instead, it appears as though Campbell will need to carry the load for the next while. Mrazek has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to November 4 and is expected to miss approximately four weeks.
Mrazek, 29, suffered a groin injury in his first appearance of the season, stretching to stop a shot at the end of the second period. He didn’t finish that game, and was out for more than two weeks, forcing the Maple Leafs to go with Michael Hutchinson once again as the backup. Mrazek returned on October 30 and recorded his first win for Toronto, only to reaggravate the injury over the last week. It will now likely be December before he appears in his third game of the season, certainly not the situation the team was hoping for when they signed him to a three-year deal this summer.
In fact, for a team like Toronto that is constantly dancing around the salary cap ceiling, Mrazek’s $3.8MM hit was a substantial investment. While Campbell has performed incredibly well in his time as a Maple Leaf, he too has a long injury history and has never played more than 31 games in a single season. The 29-year-old is already up to ten this year, with many more to come while Mrazek recovers.
Instead of Hutchinson this time, the Maple Leafs recalled prospect, Joseph Woll, to serve as the team’s backup last night. Woll had been dealing with an injury of his own last time they needed a netminder, but it’s unclear if he’ll actually make his NHL debut or just sit on the bench while Campbell plays every game. The Maple Leafs do have a back-to-back situation coming up next week, playing the Calgary Flames on Friday and then traveling to Buffalo for Saturday night.
While Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes is eligible to come off long-term injured reserve for Philadelphia’s game on Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, it sounds like the forward isn’t quite ready to return from an injury that’s kept him out all season up until this point. Head coach Alain Vigneault won’t rule it out but says that “Wednesday is an outside chance, more on the outside than on the inside” in terms of Hayes’ availability. If Hayes does return, it will be ahead of schedule. He was expected to miss roughly two months after being placed on injured reserve in late September as he continued to recover from offseason core muscle surgery.
Other injury notes from around the NHL:
- While the Sabres have dealt with some injuries to key players lately, it sounds like there’s good news on the horizon. Forward Victor Olofsson is close to returning, while a day-to-day injury that’s keeping goalie Craig Anderson out of the lineup isn’t serious enough to warrant placing him on injured reserve, per Sabres head coach Don Granato. Olofsson’s been a pleasant surprise, jumping out to lead the team in scoring with nine points in just eight games while playing over 17 minutes a night. The injury looks to be a bump in the road on a real breakout season for the Swedish forward, who’s often been chastised for his lack of production at even-strength.
- Carolina Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta left Saturday’s game after colliding with Florida Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg, and the team’s public relations team tweeted that he won’t return to the game with an upper-body injury. Raanta’s lengthy injury history gives serious cause for concern here, and it appears as though Frederik Andersen could need to continue shouldering the load for the next little while. Lomberg was assessed a five-minute major penalty on the play.