It’s now beyond messy on the Toronto Maple Leafs blue line.
Toronto announced Wednesday that newly-extended shutdown defenseman Jake Muzzin will miss the next four weeks after breaking his hand while blocking a shot in Tuesday’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Recalled to fill the vacant spot in the lineup, largely overlooked trade deadline acquisition Calle Rosen could soon be thrust into a meaningful role.
Muzzin’s setback adds to the already-significant injury woes targeting the Leafs’ defensive corps. Morgan Rielly remains out with a broken bone in his foot, while Cody Ceci has missed the last several weeks with an ankle injury. Both have recently resumed skating, but are likely weeks away from being fit to return to Sheldon Keefe’s lineup.
While either Rosen or Martin Marincin will slide into the top six, the Muzzin injury just compounds the immense stress being put on the remaining key members on the blue line. Tyson Barrie, Travis Dermott and Justin Holl ate up major minutes in the win over Tampa Bay, while rookies Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren have been asked to accelerate through the developmental curve.
Of course, the Leafs cannot make a move to supplement the starving unit now that the trade deadline has passed. But they can take some solace in the fact that they resisted the urge to sell Barrie for future picks or prospects at the deadline.
The four-week timetable has Muzzin on track to return with about a week-and-a-half to go in the regular season.
Toronto is two points up on the Florida Panthers for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with less than six weeks remaining in the regular season.
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