Toronto Maple Leafs: How serious is Auston Matthews’ injury?

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 10: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 10: Auston Matthews /

Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs won their eighth straight home game, there is a lot of concern for Auston Matthews‘ latest injury.

Let’s be real here. There is never a good situation to lose a player like Auston Matthews long-term, but this would be the worst time for that to happen to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With a minute left in regulation, Matthews was forced to leave the game with an obvious upper-body injury after getting sandwiched by Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech. The Leafs would beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in the shootout, but the concern for Matthews’ injury overshadowed the win.

The 20-year-old scored his 28th goal of the season to tie the game at three after he deflected a shot past Jaroslav Halak. It was a tough night for Toronto, who were not at their best but managed to pick things up at the right time.

As Leafs Nation holds their breath about Matthews’ status, the team has to prepare for a crucial game against the Boston Bruins. This is a pivotal game with Boston holding a one point lead for second in the Atlantic and if Matthews is unable to go, things certainly get tougher.

Unfortunately, Mike Babcock could not provide any positive updates to the media after the game, but hopefully that changes when practice rolls around Friday morning.

Looking back at the collision, it looks like Matthews hurt his shoulder which could mean that it is either; separated, dislocated or sprained. The best case scenario for the Leafs out of the three would be a sprain.

Now the Leafs have been without their franchise centre twice this season for a combined 10 games and they were able to stay afloat. If Matthews is going to miss an extended period with this injury, does it change the team’s approach at the trade deadline?

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There is no replacement available on the trade market for a player like Matthews, but maybe the team can find a centre that will be able to provide some relief. We pointed out last week that a centre would be something to shop for.

However, the Maple Leafs need to be cautious about overpaying for one, especially with the Matthews injury being a strong negotiating tool for teams to use against them.

Where the Leafs will miss Matthews is when the team needs a centre in crunch time. As of right now, Nazem Kadri is the only dependable option if the Leafs need a goal or hold a lead.

This is where a player like Tyler Bozak would have to step up his game defensively, which he has struggled with all season. The question that people will wonder is how the lineup will change if Matthews is forced to sit out?

In the past, either William Nylander or Patrick Marleau would move from the wing to centre and that would probably be the likely option Babcock goes with.

Considering how well Kadri’s line has been playing, Babcock would be better off leaving that line untouched. Then a winger like Connor Brown or Kasperi Kapanen would get the promotion to the top line with Nylander and Zach Hyman (who are we kidding, it will probably be Leo Komarov).

After that either one of Josh Leivo or Matt Martin would get their chance back in the lineup unless somebody else gets recalled from the Marlies, like Andreas Johnsson.

Again this is “if” Matthews is unable to suit up against the Bruins, so all Leafs fans can do is wait and see.

Next: Is Niklas Hjalmarsson an ideal fit?

How concerned are you about the Matthews injury? What would you like to see Babcock do with the lineup if he were to miss time? Let us know in the comments.