VANCOUVER — The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without the services of forward Zach Hyman for a minimum of two weeks after an MRI revealed a sprained MCL.
Hyman was on the receiving end of a knee-on-knee hit with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler on Sunday and did not return to the game.
Edler received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for the hit. On Monday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Edler was suspended for two games and he will miss the return match between the Leafs and Canucks on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to give Hymes time to get healthy and know that he’ll come back strong but our team shouldn’t miss a beat,” Keefe said.
The timeline for Hyman’s injury puts him out of action for at least the first week of May. At that point, the Leafs will have only five games remaining in the regular season.
Hyman is arguably Toronto’s most versatile player. He has played well on any of the team’s forward lines and has 15 goals and 18 assists in 43 games this season.
“He can play anywhere in the lineup,” Mitch Marner said of Hyman. “Power play, penalty kill special-teams wise, 6-on-5, 5-on-6, he’s a big part of our team.”
The Leafs began to prepare for the short-term without Hyman at practice. William Nylander was one of the first skaters to hit the ice, but he wore a gray extras jersey, signalling that he was on the outside looking in.
As practice got underway, Nylander ended up skating in place of Ilya Mikheyev, who left practice before it began in earnest.
“He was late for a meeting here this morning,” Keefe said. “His status was that he wasn’t going to play tomorrow, so we had him on the outside here for practice and we’re going to discuss it and reassess it.”
Keefe said he didn’t have word on Mikheyev’s injury but said he is questionable tomorrow.
Nylander scored a goal for the Leafs in the team’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Canucks on Sunday. He made his return after quarantining for nine days due to contact tracing.
The Leafs didn’t have any other extras at practice, so Nylander may end up playing by default and serving what looked like team discipline in a different capacity.
With Nylander taking Mikheyev’s spot, the lines looked as follows:
*Nylander place-holding for Mikheyev.
Of course, since Mikheyev didn’t really practice, some of this could move around.
With Nylander originally scheduled to sit out, Nick Robertson took his spot on the team’s first power-play unit. But they moved Marner to the net-front, Auston Matthews moved to the left side. Nick Robertson skated on the right. John Tavares and Morgan Rielly stayed in their original spots at the rover and point spots, respectively.
The second power-play unit looked the same, but this time time Alex Galchenyuk was on the left side and Jason Spezza took the right side. Rasmus Sandin got some reps on PP2. He also skated alongside Zack Bogosian.
On Saturday, Keefe said he didn’t think Sandin was quite ready to play in a game and that might still be the case. The Leafs have been experimenting with their defensive pairs and that continued on Monday.
With no other extra forwards at practice, the Leafs could continue to keep Nylander out and go with seven defensemen.
Dermott, Marincin, Liljegren.
Jack Campbell and David Rittich were your two goaltender for the main session of practice.
Adding to Toronto’s chaotic practice was the welcomed site of Frederik Andersen. The goaltender skated on his own for a few sessions but joined the team for the late stages of practice.
“It’s really big to have him out there,” Keefe said of Andersen. “Having him on the road has been big.
“You can see all of his teammates interacting with him. The guys were really excited to have him out there today. I think everybody wanted to make sure they got a shot on him before he left the ice.”
Andersen has not played since Mar. 19 and was placed on long-term injured reserve just before the team acquired forward Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Keefe said Andersen is not quite ready to return yet and the team would also need to clear approximately $3.3 million in cap space, according to Puckpedia.com.
Should Hyman’s injury stretch longer than two weeks and get to the 10 games/24 days variety, they could end up putting the forward on LTI and clearing his $2.25 million cap hit, leaving Toronto with less to do to erase that $3.3 million. That’s if Hyman’s injury extends that long and if Andersen is ready and the Leafs want to activate him before the end of the regular season.
/ 47 mins ago
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Before she was a three-time WNBA All-Star, Nikki McCray was a...
/ 2 hours ago
If you were looking for a singularly unlikely setting for a blazing sports scandal,...