Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews injury creates concerns

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 5: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 5: Auston Matthews /

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews has a shoulder injury, which could be a cause for concern moving forward

Toronto Maple Leafs forward and unheralded best player Auston Matthews left Thursday night’s game against the New York Islanders with a shoulder injury. While his team may have won the game 4-3 in a shootout, it’s a loss that couldn’t come at a worse time.

The Leafs will miss their superstar for “a bit”, according to their head coach Mike Babcock. The 20-year old superstar could have a mild injury, but the way Matthews was wincing in pain it seems that it could be worse.

Leafs General Manager Lou Lamoriello and the rest of his staff have to wonder how the team will perform without their number one center. Matthews is by far the team’s MVP and leads the team in points despite missing ten games.

There’s an opportunity here for young players like Kasperi Kapanen, William Nylander, and Josh Leivo. Nylander will shift to center, creating an opening on the top-line with Zach Hyman.

Josh Leivo’s powerplay time will increase and Kasperi Kapanen will have more tests against top-pairing defenseman.

Toronto takes on the Boston Bruins Saturday at home before playing four games in seven nights on the road. This will be the true test for a team that’s top-10 in the standings and has a fan base that thinks this year is about growth and not success.

It’s also a test for the management. Lou Lamoriello will assses whether or not the pieces in place can withstand the loss of Matthews. The injury news could put an end to the James van Riemsdyk, Leo Komoarov and Tyler Bozak being traded. Toronto will need all the offence they can get if Matthews is out for longer than expected.

Mark Letestu from the Edmonton Oilers and Jean-Gabriel Pageau of the Ottawa Senators don’t have the same offensive upside as Matthews, but they can certainly play well enough in the centre of the ice against the NHL’s best centerman.

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It’s a scenario that no Leafs player, manager or fan want to be in, but the actions management takes in the coming days will prove how the brass truly feels about this Maple Leafs squad moving forward.

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