We reported just a week ago that Toronto Maple Leafs' star forward Auston Matthews had suffered an upper body injury against the New York Islanders, when he collided with Adam Pelech and Cal Clutterbuck. The 20-year-old's injury turned out to be a shoulder separation, and he was expected to miss from two to four weeks.
Here's the exact moment Matthews got injured, on February 22:
Now Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported just minutes ago that Leafs' head coach Mike Babcock has confirmed his star centerman has started skating again:
This is great news for Toronto, but as Nick Kypreos said last Saturday during his weekly segment on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, the Leafs have no reason to rush him:
“It’s been described to me as a second-degree shoulder separation,” Kypreos said. “Typically, that is two-to-four weeks. In the Leafs’ case, they don’t want to rush it back. They’ve built up this war chest of points in the standings. The most important thing to the Leaf management team is that he comes back healthy and pain free.”
Matthews appeared in 53 games this season, in which he recorded 28 goals and 20 assists for 50 points.
BOSTON BRUINS ARE ALREADY PLANNING A MAJOR MOVE FOR NEXT SEASON
At the recent trade deadline on Monday, several players on the move are expected to be used as rentals, and test the free agency market in the summer. However, a few of them could end up signing with their new team.
In the trade for Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres to the San Jose Sharks, there was even a clause in the trade that works around the possibility of the top forward signing with the Californian club. Going back to Buffalo were a conditional 2019 first-round pick, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 plus prospect Daniel O’Regan.The first-round pick traded to the Sabres is NHL Draft Lottery-protected and would become a second-round choice unless Kane re-signs with the Sharks or they win the Stanley Cup. The fourth-round pick can become a third-round choice in 2020 at San Jose's discretion.
"We have not had any conversations about contract extension," GM Doug Wilson said. "We certainly really like his game, like his ingredients and everything. We get to get him in here. Let's get to know each other and go from there."
So there is a chance Kane signs back with the Sharks, but according to Matt Larkin of The Hockey News, he is not the main candidate to re-sign with his new club this summer. Larkin believes that the Boston Bruins will be the lucky team in this matter:
"To me, Rick Nash is the guy to watch as a re-sign candidate. I know it’s only been a few games, but Boston’s eight-goal outburst Thursday was symbolic. The reason they acquired Nash was because they had weak secondary scoring, with no forward outside the Big Line having more than 12 goals. Nash slots in with David Krejci and, boom, the line blows up and the Bruins appear to have two deadly scoring units. Because Nash, unlike Vanek, has a strong two-way element to his game, Nash can remain useful into his mid-30s even if his physical skills start to erode. The Bruins should be contenders next year, too. If Nash continues to show such nice chemistry with the team, I could totally see them inking him to a medium-term extension of two or three years."
What also helps the Bruins, if the fact that they do not have any major contracts to take care of this off-season, besides maybe inking captain Zdeno Chara to a one-year deal in the summer. And we all know the star defenseman might accept a "hometown discount" to retire with the team next year.
"There would be more than enough money left over to bring Nash back. He won’t command anything close to his current cap hit of $7.8 million, either. I could see something in the range of three years and $15 million for him," concluded Larkin.
The Hockey News reporter does not believe that the Winnipeg Jets will be as lucky with their surprising acquisition of Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues, as cap space seems to be the issue.
"I wonder about Paul Stastny, but the Jets have to re-sign RFAs Connor Hellebuyck, Jacob Trouba, Josh Morrissey, Joel Armia and Adam Lowry. I don’t see them having cash left over for Stastny even though I think he’s going to be a real hit in Winnipeg."
This will be interesting to watch this summer as we will get a better idea early of strong Cup contenders with what they manage to accomplish with new contracts and deal extensions...