With the Maple Leafs set to miss Jake Muzzin for several more months and perhaps longer, it has led to some speculation that they could look to acquire a veteran rearguard in his place. To that end, some have suggested that Canucks blueliner Tyler Myers could be a fit but Postmedia’s Patrick Johnston reports that Toronto’s interest is believed to be lukewarm at most. Myers is signed through next season with a $6MM AAV and has logged over 20 minutes a night throughout his career. However, his production has fallen off over the past few seasons as he has only scored once in his last 97 games.
Maple Leafs Rumors
12:12 pm: Toronto Maple Leafs fans are holding their collective breath on Friday morning. Superstar forward Auston Matthews left the team’s practice early today after blocking a shot, skating around in visible discomfort.
- While the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate their win over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, the rest of the hockey world seems to be focused on finding them a new defenseman. Another piece came out today, this time from Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, detailing several candidates to replace Jake Muzzin. One name that is listed is Vladislav Gavrikov of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a name that has also been brought up by The Fourth Period in relation to the Maple Leafs. Toronto has some additional cap flexibility due to the injury to Jake Muzzin, which is keeping him out indefinitely and could end his career.
As expected, the Toronto Maple Leafs have activated Matt Murray from long-term injured reserve ahead of their matchup tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In a pair of corresponding moves, Wayne Simmonds and Keith Petruzzelli have been returned to the minor leagues, according to CapFriendly.
Murray, 28, has played in just one game this season, allowing four goals on 23 shots. In his absence, the team had been running a duo of Ilya Samsonov and Erik Kalllgren until the former suffered an injury of his own, leaving the latter to handle the entire load. Petruzzelli, who earned an NHL contract just so the team would have two eligible goaltenders, did not see any action during his recall.
The Maple Leafs took a big gamble acquiring Murray this year, after injuries have ravaged his performance the last few years. When he takes the ice tonight he will be appearing in just his second NHL game since March 5, when he last played for the Ottawa Senators (and allowed eight goals on 31 shots).
It should, at least, be a familiar spot for him to try and get back on track. Murray spent the first five seasons of his career in Pittsburgh, posting a .914 save percentage over 199 regular season games and leading the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. It’s easy to forget just how well he played during those playoff runs, including posting three shutouts and a .937 save percentage in 11 games after returning from injury in 2017.
If the Maple Leafs could get that Murray back they might be one of the most dangerous teams in the league, but he hasn’t existed in recent years. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, Murray has a .898 save percentage in 86 games.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs may be dealing with injuries to their defense corps, but the goaltenders are getting healthy. Matt Murray is expected to start for the team on Tuesday, while Ilya Samsonov was on the ice with the team this morning. Even Joseph Woll, who has been out for the entire season so far, is expected to join the Toronto Marlies for practice tomorrow according to David Alter of Sports Illustrated. Suddenly, the Maple Leafs may have their entire goaltending group healthy all at once, after being forced to sign Keith Petruzzelli to an NHL deal just to dress a backup recently.
The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t getting Jake Muzzin back for a while. Toronto announced today that Muzzin is dealing with a cervical spine injury and is out indefinitely. His status will be re-evaluated in late February. Meanwhile, the team has also placed T.J. Brodie on injured reserve with an oblique injury and recalled Mac Hollowell and Pontus Holmberg from the minor leagues.
Muzzin, 33, has suffered several head, neck, and back injuries over the last few years, leading to his early exit from multiple playoff series and a relatively low number of regular season appearances. In 47 games last year he registered just 14 points, the lowest total of his career, and he failed to make it through even four contests this season before suffering this latest injury.
It hasn’t even been limited to his time in the NHL. Muzzin suffered a serious back injury in minor hockey as well, causing him to miss the entire 2005-06 season after being drafted 11th overall by the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL Priority Selection. While he would return from that injury and play a partial season for the Greyhounds in 2006-07, it caused him to fall considerably in NHL drafts, with the Pittsburgh Penguins eventually taking him 141st overall.
A warrior who can play a physical game but also contribute offensively, he would eventually become captain of the Greyhounds and quickly make his way to the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014. By 2015 he was playing with Canada at the World Championship (where he won gold) and then again at the World Cup in 2016 (where he won gold).
Now, with his career seemingly in jeopardy, he sits at 683 regular season games and 294 career points. Muzzin received votes for the Norris Trophy in both 2016 and 2019, finishing 11th in the latter.
Though they would certainly rather a healthy, effective Muzzin in the lineup, his placement on LTIR earlier this season did open up some flexibility for the Maple Leafs. They still have quite a few question marks on the back end (especially with Brodie now out of the lineup) but inserted Jordie Benn over the weekend to add some extra physicality (and apparently, game-winning goals). If Muzzin is going to spend the entire season on the shelf, it would allow them to make an acquisition of some sort.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs elected to overhaul their goaltending group this offseason, the biggest question aside from rebound performances from Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, would be health. Thus far, the team has seemingly received a positive answer when it comes to performance from both goaltenders, but health has been an issue. Murray found himself on LTIR with an abductor injury after just one game and last weekend, Samsonov found himself on IR with a knee injury suffered on a Brad Marchand penalty shot. After the emergency signing of AHL netminder Keith Petruzzelli, the team has relied on Erik Kallgren to shoulder the load while waiting for one of Murray or Samsonov to return.
Earlier today, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe provided a brief update on Murray when he spoke with the media, including The Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan. Per Keefe, Murray is doing well physically and has even been cleared to play. However, Keefe says, Murray is not quite ready to return, with the organization’s performance team waiting to see a few more things before they believe he can return to game action. Although Murray’s return can’t come soon enough for Toronto, assuring the netminder is 100% ready for game action is key. Even if he’s completely healthy, as he appears to be, Murray has been out of game action for a month, a considerable amount of that time spent not receiving the daily work and repetition necessary to be a competitive NHL goaltender. Had Murray been rushed, Toronto might find itself with a healthy Murray, but not the one they need.
After dealing with some defensive injuries earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled Mark Friedman from the AHL for tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. To make room, they’ve sent Samuel Poulin back to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
It’s good timing for Friedman, who will likely be playing in front of some friends and family should he enter the lineup tonight. The Toronto native suited up 26 times for the Penguins last season but has been limited to AHL action so far this year. In ten games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he has two points.
The fact that it is Friedman coming up and not Ty Smith is interesting, especially given how well John Marino is playing with the New Jersey Devils. The Penguins traded Marino for Smith and a third-round pick this offseason as they worked to revamp their defense, a move that certainly seems like a mistake in hindsight. Marino is playing nearly 22 minutes a night on one of the hottest teams in the league while Smith is getting passed over for call-ups in the minor leagues.
The trade is certainly more complicated than that, as there are salaries and other considerations involved, but given the Penguins’ current place in the standings – seventh in the Metropolitan, 10 points behind the Devils – there will be some pretty frustrated fans if things don’t turn around soon.
Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Jan Rutta both left Wednesday’s game but were present at today’s morning skate in Toronto. Friedman’s recall suggests that at least one won’t be able to play tonight, though that has not been confirmed.
One of the reasons why the Toronto Maple Leafs struggled so much out of the gate was defensive depth, with Jake Muzzin and Timothy Liljegren injured at the same time. Another missing player during that stretch was Jordie Benn, who is now back after being activated off injured reserve.
The Maple Leafs have sent Pontus Holmberg and Victor Mete back to the minor leagues to make room for the incoming veteran defenseman. The team also released Danny DeKeyser from his AHL professional tryout contract.
Benn, 35, signed a one-year, $750K contract with the Maple Leafs this summer as a potential seventh or eighth defenseman but suffered an injury in training camp that has kept him out the first month of the season. The veteran of 595 regular season games will give the team a different look on the back end, should they decide to insert him into the lineup.
More physical than any of the team’s other defenders, he could add some bite to the third pairing should they suffer another injury. With Liljegren back the group has seemed to stabilize for the time being but a lot of pressure will be put on the defense as they deal with injuries to both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov.
The Toronto Maple Leafs recently hosted prospect Rodion Amirov during their Hockey Fights Cancer night, supporting him as he continues his battle with a brain tumor. Today, Amirov’s agent Dan Milstein released some difficult news on the young forward:
Rodion Amirov has returned home and is with his family. Unfortunately, at the moment Rodion cannot train, as he is undergoing additional treatments. We would like to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs and Salavat Yulaev Ufa for their incredible support and willingness to do everything necessary for Rodion’s comfort.
Amirov, 21, was the 15th overall selection in 2020 and had shown great promise as an offensive player in the KHL before his diagnosis. As recently as this summer he had been training with the Maple Leafs and his Russian club but it appears as though that will be put on hold for now.
It’s unclear when or if Amirov will be ready to contribute in North America but the Maple Leafs have made it clear they will support him as he tries to continue his hockey career. Signed to an entry-level deal in 2021, he is under contract through 2023-24 and will be a restricted free agent thereafter.