Things just got serious for the Toronto Maple Leafs inside the crease. Michael Hutchinson is starting in net on Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Not because it’s a back-to-back, or the other guy has been awful. No, the third-stringer is getting the call again because the other two guys are injured. What started out as day-to-day for Frederik Andersen is now better described as week-to-week as he hasn’t been seen in more than ten days. Jack Campbell played the last two games, but that seems to be two games too many.
“We’ve got to really be smart with how we manage Jack’s workload here,” explained Sheldon Keefe. Workload? He has played six games all season. He’s played three in March, including a long break. But it seems the earlier lower-body injury is not healed and perhaps could get worse. “The reality is that he hasn’t been playing at 100 percent, and the games take a toll on him. The combination of the fact that he’s not used to playing multiple games in a row and the fact that his body hasn’t quite cooperated with him the way he’d like it to through this season, we’ve got to be really smart,” said Keefe.
The Leafs have been managing Campbell’s health by having extra goalies for practice to keep Campbell on the sidelines as much as possible. While a day off on Sunday may have helped, Keefe said it is not enough. “He took the day yesterday because he wasn’t feeling the best coming off of the game, and I think he’s feeling a little better today, and that’s positive,” said Keefe, adding, “I just think us continuing to roll him out there when he’s not 100 percent is not smart. We’ve got to manage it.”
When is it Time to Panic?
When hearing this, I could not help but think of Will Ferrell in his tighty whities. Do you know the scene from Old School? He tries to keep his team motivated while bashing a steel chair on the locker, shouting: “We can’t have anyone freak out, out there, ok? We’ve got to keep our composure. We’ve come too far. There is too much to lose. Keep our composure!”
Not to say there should be a panic, but somebody may want to start bashing a chair against the lockers. The injury bug hitting the Leafs could not come at a worse time or in a worse position. Toronto just had the most extended rest of the season. It’s really busy from here on in. 22 games in 42 nights. From there, it will be directly into playoffs which will likely be every other night. There simply is no time for a player to heal.
Toronto could get away with an injured forward. The Leafs have actually played well when Auston Matthews has been out of the lineup. They also have lots of defensemen who could fill the gap if one of the six needed a day off. But few hockey teams can go down to the third-string goalie and be successful for an extended period. Sure, the Carolina Hurricanes have somehow pulled it off this season, but it is rare.
Speaking of Carolina, NHL.com did report they may be willing to trade one of those three netminders. There were also rumours of Jonathan Quick as an option from the Los Angeles Kings. Another name making the rounds is Darcy Kuemper out of the Arizona Coyotes. Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that the Leafs are not interested in a goalie. However, that was before this latest development. With just two weeks to go before the trade deadline, Kyle Dubas is now on the clock to solidify Toronto’s crease.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.