Toronto Maple Leafs: How serious is Morgan Rielly’s injury?

TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Morgan Rielly
TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Morgan Rielly /

Morgan Rielly hurt his arm during Thursday night’s game in Philadelphia and the Toronto Maple Leafs now wait to find out the extent of his injury.

It was bad enough the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up a two-goal lead to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night. However, they could also potentially be without their best defenceman for the immediate future.

Morgan Rielly hurt his left arm at the end of the second period and he was limited late in the third. Speaking to Sportsnet‘s Chris Johnston and other members of the media following the 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers, Leafs coach Mike Babcock said:

"“I haven’t talked to him yet. He’ll get checked out. We had to be careful with him down the stretch, so we’ll see what that is and we’ll know more (on Friday).”"

It doesn’t matter that Rielly has had a couple of significant errors in recent games. (Even the best make mistakes.) He is still the Leafs’ best blue liner and has been fantastic this season.

In fact, even Babcock himself recently said this is the 23-year-old’s best season yet. He’s finally living up to his potential on a more consistent basis, while also being on course for the best offensive statistics of his five-year NHL career.

With this in mind, if Rielly has to miss any playing time for the Toronto Maple Leafs, there will be some understandable concern. They are not particularly strong defensively as it is and are still without Nikita Zaitsev.

(Zaitsev has not played since Dec. 15. The latest update indicates he will have his walking boot removed next week and “could” return to action the week after that.)

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Now, it’s entirely possible the injury is no more than sprain. With the 2012 fifth overall draft pick still seeing playing time in the third period, this would — theoretically at least — allude to nothing significant.

However, if the injury is serious, this could have major ramifications for the Leafs’ playoff challenge. Toronto has already been on a nightmare run in recent weeks, with just two wins in their last nine games, both of which only came after shootouts.

We should have a better indication of the extent of Rielly’s injury at some point on Friday. Regardless, the incident on Thursday night only further highlights the Leafs’ need to find help on the blue line between now and the trade deadline on Feb. 26.

Next: Pros & Cons of Leafs pursuing Chris Tanev

If Rielly’s injury is anything remotely substantial, how would you handle the situation? Is there anyone in particular you would like the Toronto Maple Leafs to pursue, before the transfer deadline? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.