Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Muzzin, Kral & DeKeyser

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll report on the team’s continuing difficulties on the blue line. Specifically, Jake Muzzin’s neck injury was worse than anticipated. 

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The team responded by calling up Filip Kral from the Toronto Marlies. As well, the Marlies signed veteran NHL defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a PTO.

Item One: Jake Muzzin to Miss a Week (At Least)

The Maple Leafs are venturing into a potential horror show with their defensemen. Today, it was reported that the team had placed Jake Muzzin on the injured reserve. As fans know, Muzzin left Monday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes with a neck injury. Obviously, the injury was worse than first expected.

Jake Muzzin Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Muzzin, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Because Muzzin was moved to the IR, it means he’ll be out for at least seven days from Monday’s game. Should he be ready to go, he’ll be eligible to return next week during the team’s western road trip. The Maple Leafs play the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, then the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, then off to California for a couple of games. Muzzin would be eligible to play in Las Vegas.

Related: Maple Leafs Commentary: Trading Jake Muzzin, Why? and How?

Muzzin left Monday’s game after playing less than 10 minutes when he collided with Clayton Keller – who was troublesome for the Maple Leafs all night. Keller was the Coyotes’ player whose stick knocked the puck off  Morgan Rielly’s glove. That led to the team’s third goal being overturned.

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To replace Muzzin, the Maple Leafs recalled Filip Kral from the Toronto Marlies. Thus far this season, Kral’s played in both Toronto Marlies’ games. Last season with the Marlies, the 22-year-old Kral (a native of Czechia) put up 21 points (three goals and 18 assists) in 58 games. 

Filip Kral Toronto Marlies
Filip Kral, Toronto Marlies (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Kral has yet to make his NHL debut, but that could also happen on the team’s western trip. Maple Leafs’ fans should expect Victor Mete to fill in against the Dallas Stars on Thursday. 

Sadly, Muzzin has suffered a number of injuries over the last few seasons that have impacted his ability to play. Last season he was out with three concussions and missed training camp this season with a back injury. As he showed last postseason, when he’s well he still has some jam. It’s sad to see him unable to play. He’s such a big part of the fabric of this team.

Item Two: Danny DeKeyser signs PTO with AHL’s Toronto Marlies

With defensemen Jordie Benn, Carl Dahlstrom, and Timothy Liljegren also out with injuries, the Marlies signed veteran defenseman Danny DeKeyser to a PTO today. It’s unclear what the plans are going forward, but the team’s need for defensemen is becoming critical.

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As noted, with Muzzin on IR, the defenseman closest to returning is Benn. The word is that he will likely return in the next few days. The team already was able to call up Mete when Matt Murray was placed on LTIR. Murray’s salary cap offered the team some wiggle room with recalls.

However, even with Mete being called up, the upcoming five-game road trip will likely result in some moves on the blue line. Look for more players coming up from the AHL’s Marlies.

DeKeyser could be a reliable replacement. The 32-year-old is a 10-year NHL veteran and was once a solid part of the Detroit Red Wings’ defence. It isn’t as if DeKeyser can’t play; however, he too was the victim of injuries. That could be why the Red Wings didn’t sign him during the offseason.

Danny DeKeyser Detroit Red Wings
Danny DeKeyser, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

DeKeyser just came off a PTO with the Vancouver Canucks. He’d be looking to revive his NHL career and might have come at the right time for the Maple Leafs.  

However, signing DeKeyser might be tricky. The team is already maxed out at 50 contracts, so they’d probably have to lose a player contract somewhere. It could become a challenge for the team’s salary-cap wizards.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Management: Is There Trouble in Toronto?

Even considering the problems, it might be a good chance for DeKeyser to show if he has anything left in his tank. The Marlies have two games against the Grand Rapids Griffins on the weekend and play the Syracuse Crunch a week from today. Look for DeKeyser to get some game action. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

Do all NHL teams seem to suffer injuries with the same regularity as the Maple Leafs? I suppose one good thing is that the organization gets to test its depth chart. 

Specifically, it will be good to see Nick Robertson in regular-season game action. I am also interested in seeing Kral play. I just never can anticipate when a young player comes to a team and simply plays well. If that happened, it obviously would be a blessing for the Maple Leafs.

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