The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won the game on Saturday night, knocking off the Winnipeg Jets by a final score of 3-2, but they may have lost their best player for a while.
Auston Matthews took a hit from Jets’ defenceman Jacob Trouba in the middle frame and left the game with an apparent shoulder injury. He went to the bench in discomfort, playing 7:38 in the contest and amassing two shots on goal.
And now, reports say that Matthews will not practice Sunday and will miss Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
Anything beyond that is a big unknown at this point, but the hope is clearly that Matthews will be back sooner rather than later.
The 21-year-old has 10 goals and six assists for the Maple Leafs, but he’s “struggled” as of late and didn’t record a point against the Jets, St. Louis Blues or Pittsburgh Penguins. He did chart two assists against the Los Angeles Kings on October 15 and had two points against the Capitals the previous game.
Matthews had injury trouble last season and was limited to 62 games after shoulder problems and a concussion took hold.
This season, Matthews has been playing some of his best hockey – and that’s saying something. He’s been a huge part of Toronto’s offence, leading the team in scoring and entering himself as part of the “greatest player” discussion that’s been taking up so much space in the blogosphere.
Matthews has made a case for himself alongside the likes of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby and this injury will highlight exactly how much he means to the Maple Leafs. The club, which boasts John Tavares as its newest big ticket hire, will have to make some adjustments up front.
At this point, Nazem Kadri looks primed to take Matthews’ spot on the top line alongside Kasperi Kapanen and Patrick Marleau.
Meanwhile, contract talks continue between the Maple Leafs and William Nylander. This injury could play a role in how that develops, especially if it starts to look like Matthews is out a while.