In case you missed it, Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews skated in a full practice with his team yesterday morning, but continued to wear the vaunted red jersey rather than his usual blue or white.
For those not aware, red jerseys are reserved for injured players and are meant to signal “no contact” for teammates when running through drills. So, while it looks like Matthews isn’t yet ready to test out his injured shoulder with some physical contact, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock did offer up some encouraging news regarding Matthews’ health after practice.
That Dallas game, as TSN’s Mark Masters points out is this Thursday at the Air Canada Centre:
This means that the earlier Matthews could be back in the Leafs’ lineup would be Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres, but don’t count on it says Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston.
Even more interestingly, Johnston managed to get Matthews to open up about his injury and what the 20-year-old superstar admitted may come as a shock to some Leafs fans.
Check it out:
Great… so this is a recurring injury? Also… Matthews is just 20, how long is “a long time ago?” Realistically it could have been just a couple years ago. Who’s to say that this won’t become an ongoing problem?
Ugh… let’s just hope for Matthews’ sake and for the team’s sake that he takes his time coming back and doesn’t risk further injury. At this point the Leafs have a playoff spot locked up and they can afford to be patient with their young superstar.
Breaking: Leafs make two AHL call ups
The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that they’ve recalled forward Andreas Johnsson from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in advance of tomorrow’s game against the Dallas Stars.
Additionally, the team also announced that defenceman Calle Rosen has also been recalled on an emergency basis.
Leafs fans have been calling for a Johnsson call up for awhile and there are some analysts who believe the 23 year old Swedish winger could be a potential replacement for pending unrestricted free-agent James van Riemsdyk, if JVR elects to leave the team this upcoming offseason. Overhyped? Maybe, but the smooth skating Johnsson does have an impressive AHL pedigree. In 54 games for the Marlies this season, Johnsson has an outstanding 26 goals and 54 points, good enough for the team lead.
He’s an intriguing prospect in the Leafs’ pipeline and represents a MAJOR draft score for former Leafs general manager Dave Nonis. Johnsson was selected in the seventh round (202nd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, chosen behind players like Frederik Gauthier, Carter Vergaeghe, Fabrice Herzog and Antoine Bibeau.
It remains to be seen whether or not Johnsson finally makes his NHL debut when the Leafs take on the Stars tomorrow night, but you can bet that Leafs fans will be watching regardless.
As for Rosen, the 24-year-old defenseman has been recalled likely due to an injury or illness to Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. No word yet on the full extent of Zaitsev’s injury or illness, but he’s not expected to play tomorrow against the Stars.
It’s official, ECHL approves expansion for Leafs farm club
In case you missed it yesterday, multiple reporters including Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported that the ECHL was set to announce the return of professional hockey to the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland and today, the league made it official.
The ECHL officially announced that St. John’s has been chosen as the location for the league’s next expansion team, set to take the ice next season at St. John’s beautiful Mile One Centre.
The yet to be named team will also become the Toronto Maple Leafs’ official ECHL affiliate, replacing the team’s current agreement with the Orlando Solar Bears.
Of course, the Maple Leafs have a long history in the city of St. John’s, as well. The Leafs housed their AHL farm team, the St. John’s Maple Leafs, in the city for decades before moving them to Toronto as the Marlies back in 2005.
St. John’s last hosted professional hockey with the St. John’s IceCaps of the AHL, affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets from 2011 until 2015 and as an affiliate of the Montreal Candiens from 2015 until 2017. The team is now defunct, but the team’s former chief operating officer, Glenn Stanford, is a major reason why St. John’s stands to get a new professional hockey team. Stanford and St. John’s businessman Dean MacDonald are behind the group’s expansion efforts.
St. John’s will join the ECHL as only it’s second Canadian franchise behind the Brampton Beast, ECHL affiliate of the Canadiens. While it has not yet officially been determined, the team will likely be a part of the league’s North Division with the Manchester Monarchs, Adirondack Thunder, Worcester Railers, Reading, Pa., Royals, Wheeling, W.V., Nailers and Brampton, Ont., Beast.