Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kampf, Murray, Tavares & Muzzin

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll report that David Kampf has returned to training camp after missing a few days for personal reasons. Second, I’ll look forward to seeing goalie Matt Murray in the net tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

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Third and fourth, I’ll look at a couple of the team’s injuries. John Tavares will miss at least three weeks with an oblique strain. Jake Muzzin will be returning to training camp practices today.

Item One: David Kampf Returns to Training Camp

Third-line center David Kampf is back with the team at training camp after being away for personal reasons. When he returned, he skated with the non-game group. That means he won’t play in tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. He will be missed, especially with John Tavares out with injuries. However, it is a chance for some other forward to rise up to show himself. Who might that be?

David Kampf Toronto Maple Leafs
David Kampf, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

During the 2021-22 season, which was his first with the Maple Leafs, the 27-year-old Czech center played all 82 games. Not known as a scorer, he set career highs with 11 goals and 26 points. His deployment was also higher than it’s ever been in his career, He averaged 15:16 TOI. 

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While it’s not quite certain how Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe will deploy his lines during the regular season, given his desire for a shutdown unit – a task Kampf handles as well as almost anyone in the NHL – look for Kampf to continue to get plenty of ice time. Scorer or not, given Kampf’s defensive skill at disrupting an opponent’s offense and his quick transition, look for him to put up another 20-point season in 2022-23. 

Item Two: Matt Murray Gets His First Chance in Goal Tonight

It will be a fun game to watch tonight as the team’s new goalie 1A Matt Murray gets his first chance in the crease against the Canadiens. Murray was traded to the Maple Leafs during the offseason. Although he hasn’t had the best of seasons recently, he does have two Stanley Cup rings in his jewelry box. 

Matt Murray Ottawa Senators
Matt Murray, was with the Ottawa Senators last season
(Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After Ilya Samsonov’s strong preseason game last Saturday, it’s tough to know where Murray stands in the team’s pecking order. He’s likely to retain the 1A status until he loses it. Either way, whichever goalie steps up to earn the crease will probably get the most action this season.

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However, time in the Maple Leafs’ net might be fluid. I have no dog in this fight, so I’m rooting for both goalies to play well. It seems the best case scenario would be to share the crease and let the playing time be earned. If Murray can play the entire season without a debilitating injury, it will be good to see how he plays with this team.

Item Three: John Tavares Injury Clarified: An Oblique Strain

In yesterday’s post, I had just heard and reported that center John Tavares had suffered an upper-body injury, but it wasn’t clear what it was. Later in the day, it was reported that Tavares suffered an oblique strain and would probably miss at least the first six games of the regular season. 

John Tavares Toronto Maple Leafs
John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

While it’s likely that Alex Kerfoot would be given Tavares’ job until he was able to return to the lineup, there are other options. For example, given how William Nylander played on Saturday and the chemistry he showed with forward Denis Malgin, I’d love to see Nylander center a line that included three hybrid players who could play either on the wing or center. 

Those players would be Nylander, Kerfoot, and Malgin. Last season Malgin played center with Zurich SC in Switzerland and was the team’s highest scorer. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

It was reported that Jake Muzzin would return to practice today. However, it isn’t likely that he’ll play tonight against the Canadiens. 

Related: Maple Leafs Commentary: Does a Muzzin for Larsson Trade Work? 

However, it does look as if the veteran defenseman will be ready to go on Opening Night. Should Muzzin remain healthy, and given his recent injury history that seems wishful thinking, he’d help solidify the team’s defense for the season.

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