Maple Leafs Suffer Key Injuries

The Toronto Maple Leafs returned to action on Friday night after a brief four-day Christmas break. In another thrilling win, William Nylander scored in overtime against the New Jersey Devils, pushing the Maple Leafs’ win streak to six games. The Leafs’ offence has now put up 32 goals in the last six games, and it is firing on all cylinders.

They returned home on Saturday night to face the Rangers. In another entertaining game, the Leafs fought back from a 4-2 deficit to force overtime. They ended up losing 5-4, but it was another nice weekend for the boys in blue and white, as they picked up three, of a possible four points.

What cannot go overlooked are the injuries the Maple Leafs suffered during their games this weekend. First year forward, Ilya Mikheyev, who was off to a very strong start with 23 points in 39 games, but left Friday nights game due to a severe laceration on his wrist. Mikheyev was rushed to the hospital, and underwent emergency surgery to repair a severed artery. He is likely to miss up to three months, and the Maple Leafs will miss the speed and skill he has brought to the lineup.

During the Maple Leafs 5-4 overtime victory on Friday night, defenseman, Jake Muzzin, blocked a shot and ended up breaking his foot. He was not aware of the injury at first, as he battled through the game despite being in a great amount of pain. He is a true warrior for the Maple Leafs’ defensive core, and will certainly be missed. Muzzin is officially listed as week-to-week, and the Maple Leafs have called up defenseman Martin Marincin from the Toronto Marlies to take his spot.

It remains to be seen how the Maple Leafs deal with this adversity. They are playing the best stretch of hockey they have all season, as they have gone 8-1-1 in their last ten games, and have climbed all the way to second place in the Atlantic Division. The loss of these two players will certainly hurt their depth. Muzzin was a true workhorse on the backend and was a key defender Keefe used against team’s top offensive players.

A trade could be in the cards for GM Kyle Dubas in the next month. After the game on Friday night, it was rumored that three Maple Leafs players were placed on the trading block. Elliotte Friedman, a respected sports journalist for Sportsnet, stated that the Leafs placed Jeremy Bracco, Dmytro Timoshev, and Ben Harpur on the trading block.

Bracco is the most intriguing name of the bunch, as he is having a very solid year with the Marlies this season. He was second in the AHL in scoring last year, and could be a valuable trade piece to present to other managers. His path has been blocked to the NHL because of all the talented Maple Leafs’ forwards on the roster.

The Maple Leafs will explore their options around the league and attempt to fill some holes left from the injuries to Mikheyev and Muzzin. The Leafs do not have much salary cap space to work with, so they will have to flip some younger talent for cheap options that can step in and produce right away. There is no time for the Maple Leafs to waste, and they must continue to improve and pile up the points in a competitive Eastern Conference.

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My name is Nic Turner, and I was born and raised in Owen Sound, Ontario. I moved away in 2007 to pursue a Bachelor of Arts program at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. After graduating, I took a post-grad at Conestoga College in Public Administration – Municipal Services. This led me to my first job at ICAS of Canada in Guelph. We are a credential service that assesses foreign education and gives the comparative levels in Canada. Sports writing has always been a hobby of mine, and recently, I have picked up a couple freelance jobs. I write on the PGA/NHL for BettingPros/FantasyPros.com, and am a Toronto Maple Leafs writer for the hockeywriters.com. When I’m not watching sports, I enjoy going to the gym, listening to music, or golfing. I was recently married this July, and own a German Shepherd.

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