Toronto Maple Leafs: When will Auston Matthews return?

MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 14: Auston Matthews
MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 14: Auston Matthews /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have continued to win in the absence of Auston Matthews, but when will the young superstar actually return to action?

To say Auston Matthews is important to the Toronto Maple Leafs is an understatement of significant proportions. However, it doesn’t make it any less true.

As such, when Matthews didn’t play against the Minnesota Wild last Wednesday, there was some understandable angst among Leafs fans. This angst only increased, when the 20-year-old also missed the next two games as well.

As NHL teams are annoyingly prone to do, the Toronto Maple Leafs only described the issue as an upper-body injury. Not having anything more specific makes it tougher to comprehend, although what we do know is it is a lingering issue with Matthews, who admitted he felt limited with his mobility during his last game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

On the positive side, the Leafs have shown they are more than capable of surviving without the 2016 first overall draft pick. In fact, winning all three of the contests played without him was an important step for the development and belief of this team.

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Regardless, most (all) Toronto Maple Leafs fans and players would prefer to see Matthews back on the ice as soon as possible. Following a fantastic rookie campaign, he’s looking even better so far this season, leading the team with 19 points in 16 games and  — for what it’s worth — registering the joint second-best plus/minus in the NHL.

More generally speaking, the 2017 Calder Trophy winner is showing more confidence and maturity in his play. With all this in mind, when can we anticipate his return?

Well, if the latest news is any indication, the answer should cheer you up. As reported by Sportsnet, Matthews took part in team practice on Wednesday, his first such appearance since picking up his injury eight days ago.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the Arizona native will play on Thursday night, against the New Jersey Devils. The Toronto Maple Leafs are taking a understandably cautious approach and the young superstar will be a game-day decision.

As for Matthews himself, he appreciates why the Leafs are not keen to rush him back, as eager as he is to once again hit the ice. As reported by Sportsnet, he said:

"“It’s always frustrating to miss games, it sucks watching. It feels boring when you can’t skate.”"

Whether it’s Thursday or Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens, it will be a case of as you were for Matthews. During practice on Wednesday, he skated with his regular line mates Zach Hyman and William Nylander.

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Who has impressed you particularly for the Leafs, during Matthews’ absence? What is your take on the season in general up to this point? What will represent success to you, apart from the obvious of winning the Stanley Cup? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.