With Morgan Rielly out for at least eight weeks with a fractured foot, Kyle Dubas will have to address a serious need for the Toronto Maple Leafs on defence.
If you thought things couldn’t get worse for the Toronto Maple Leafs, hearing that Morgan Rielly will miss at least eight weeks with a fractured foot definitely added insult to a brutal injury.
The optics didn’t look great for the Leafs after getting embarrassed 8-4 by the Florida Panthers and now it only magnifies a bigger issue that the team has been dealing with for years. Not only will the team’s lack of suitable depth be tested but their goaltending has not been able to stop the bleeding.
Just how bad has it been for the Leafs? Well, the last time they allowed as many goals in a three-game stretch came during the 2013-14 season when Randy Carlyle was the head coach.
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Rasmus Sandin has been recalled and you can bet that he and Travis Dermott will be asked to take on the bulk of the workload with Rielly out of the lineup. At the same time, considering how long Rielly is expected to miss and the team already needing to make improvements on the blue line, Kyle Dubas should be looking to make a move to improve this blue line.
Dubas made the move to acquire Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche but while he’s starting to find his game under Sheldon Keefe, he hasn’t brought the stability the team has needed although he was seen as a replacement for Jake Gardiner.
The real problem the team faces is the absence of Jake Muzzin who would have been able to fill in for Rielly during this time. He was injured on Dec. 27 and was considered week-to-week so you wonder if that means roughly three weeks or more until he can return.
As Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic points out, the Leafs can’t just trade for a defenceman unless they are able to move out some salary and considering the team doesn’t have a first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, they would have had to move a player on the roster anyways.
Considering the fact that the Leafs were willing to fire Mike Babcock, they aren’t likely to throw away the season just because of a couple of injuries even though they are significant. The most likely scenario is that the Leafs will make due for the next three games until and decide after their week off to figure out a long-term solution.
Unfortunately, teams won’t be lining up to provide the Leafs with a solution to their problem but with the Tampa Bay Lightning passing them for second place in the Atlantic Division and the Florida Panthers right behind them, Toronto has to consider how much their willing to bet on this season.
It is tough to be patient under these circumstances but considering how the past few seasons have done, Leafs Nation has every right to be frustrated with how things have unfolded.
What are your thoughts on the Leafs injuries getting worse? How long can Dubas remain patient before having to make a deal? Let us know in the comments below.