Maple Leafs ahead Auston Matthews will probably be out of Toronto’s lineup for not less than three weeks as a consequence of a knee damage, the staff introduced Friday. Here’s what it’s good to know:
The Athletic’s on the spot evaluation:
What does this imply for the Maple Leafs?
Losing the reigning Hart Trophy winner could be a blow to any staff. And after questions on his kind earlier within the season, Matthews was beginning to go on a heater for the Leafs, with factors in 10 of his final 11 video games and eight objectives over that stretch. Having Matthews within the lineup allowed the Leafs to unfold 4 remarkably expert forwards throughout two traces, which frequently made it troublesome for opposition coaches to sport plan towards.
The query now turns into who will make up for that misplaced manufacturing. John Tavares is himself having a powerful season and can take Matthews spot on the high of the lineup with Mitch Marner, a participant he’s had chemistry with previously. But if the traces deployed at Friday’s morning skate are any indication, it’s truthful to query how a lot manufacturing the Leafs might get out of a new-look second line with Calle Järnkrok, Pontus Holmberg and William Nylander. Järnkrok and Holmberg have some offensive capabilities however are definitely extra defensively-minded gamers. We’ll see how Holmberg specifically meshes with the uber-creative Nylander. — Kloke
Who might want to step up?
The apparent reply right here is Nylander. He’s in the midst of his greatest NHL season up to now and you could possibly argue he ought to have had Matthews’ spot within the All-Star Game. Nylander is main the staff in objectives, is tied for the lead in factors and is trying increasingly like a participant who can drive play on his personal. He’ll need to do exactly that on the second line now.
Beyond that, the staff’s depth will probably be examined. For instance, nobody is asking rookie Bobby McMann to shoulder the manufacturing load, however now could be a superb time for him to begin changing on a number of the continued probabilities he will get along with his hard-nosed play and rating his first few NHL objectives. — Kloke