Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews to be out minimum of 4 weeks

The Toronto Maple Leafs were handed some bad news on Monday regarding the status of Auston Matthews.

The team’s leading scorer is expected to miss a minimum of four weeks after suffering a left shoulder injury Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets. Matthews said on Monday he will not require surgery.

Matthews, who leads the Leafs with 10 goals and 16 points in 11 games, left Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Jets early in the second period after taking a hard hit from Jacob Trouba.

This is the second time in as many seasons Matthews has missed time with a shoulder injury. Last season, Matthews injured his right shoulder in a similar way in February and was expected to be out 10 days but ended up sitting out for a month.

“It’s frustrating. There’s not much you can do,” Matthews said after the team’s morning skate on Monday. “It sucks, but it’s part of the game and like I said I’ll work as hard as I can to get back as soon as possible and feeling back to myself. We’ve got a lot of depth on this team. Everybody is gonna be fine and step up.”

With John Tavares and Nazem Kadri down the middle, the Maple Leafs are better equipped than most teams to handle a loss of this magnitude. Based on line combinations from practice on Monday, Tavares will assume the No. 1 centre spot alongside Zach Hyman and Kasperi Kapanen, while Kadri will be reunited with Patrick Marleau and Mitch Marner on the second line. Par Lindholm will move back to the middle on a third line with Connor Brown and Andreas Johnsson. Babcock said the Leafs don’t plan on calling up another player for the tine being.

Auston Matthews leads the Leafs in goals and points this season. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
Auston Matthews leads the Leafs in goals and points this season. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Although some will suggest the Matthews injury will increase the urgency to get a deal done with William Nylander, who has until Dec. 1 to sign a new contract, that seems unlikely. It’s doubtful GM Kyle Dubas will overreact to this news after holding steady for months, especially with the Leafs off to an 8-3-0 start.

The Maple Leafs, who went 11-7-2 without Matthews last season, will face their first test without their top player on Monday when they host the struggling Calgary Flames.

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