In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at some of the player movements (or lack of movement) as a result of the team’s injury situation. I’ll focus on helping Maple Leafs’ fans become more up-to-date on how players who have missed game action are progressing.
Item One: Nick Robertson Heads Back to the Toronto Marlies
Nick Robertson played 12:36 minutes against the Detroit Red Wings and was part of Auston Matthews’ celebration for reaching 60 goals; however, yesterday he was reassigned to the Maple Leafs’ AHL Toronto Marlies affiliate.
Since coming back from his early-season broken leg, Robertson has played well and is at a better than point-a-game pace with the Marlies. He’s scored 15 goals and added 12 assists (for 27 points) in his 26 games there. At this point, it isn’t clear if the 20-year-old prospect will play tomorrow night for the Maple Leafs as the team meets the Boston Bruins during their last game of the regular season. It’s also unclear if he’ll have any role during the upcoming playoffs.
Item Two: First It Was a Yes, Then It Was a No for Rasmus Sandin
Earlier during this past week, there was a report that Rasmus Sandin would likely return to game action tomorrow against the Bruins. However, yesterday that report was updated and it looks as if Sandin won’t be playing in the team’s final game of the season.
What we can make from this as Maple Leafs’ fans is that Sandin’s knee injury is probably recovered enough to allow him to return to game action soon. When he missed the game against the Red Wings, it was the 19th game in a row that he’d been out of the lineup.
Yesterday, Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe reported that Sandin would miss yet another game. The question now is if speculation that he’s close to ready to return is accurate. Without further confirmation, it’s likely that Sandin should be considered game-to-game.
Item Three: Michael Bunting Will Be Shut Down for the Regular Season
One thing that’s pretty clear is that Michael Bunting will not be playing on Friday against the Bruins. Although his “undisclosed” injury seems to be trending in the right direction, he won’t return during the regular season.
That said, the organization has to hope he’ll be ready for action during Game 1 of the team’s first-round playoff series. He’s been a strong part of the success of the team’s top line and has had a breakout rookie season.
Currently, the overage 26-year-old rookie winger has put together a season few would have imagined. He’s scored 23 goals and added 40 assists (for 63 points) in his 79 games played. His second season was a huge success both for Bunting and for the Maple Leafs.
He should be good to rejoin the team soon, if not for the first game of the postseason playoffs.
Item Four: Petr Mrazek Has Started Skating Again
Who knows the status of hard-luck goalie Petr Mrazek? His season has been one of the main disappointments for the team; however, the report is that he’s started skating yet again. In fact, Mrazek’s groin injury is sufficiently healed that he’s been skating for the past week or so, coach Keefe reported.
Obviously, a regular-season Mrazek return is not in the cards. In addition, because starting goalie Jack Campbell is going to carry the load during the postseason – for better or worse – it’s likely Mrazek’s 2021-22 season is in the books. If that’s the case, Mrazek will probably end his Maple Leafs’ career having played only 20 games. Given the nature of his season and the advancement of goalies within the Maple Leafs’ system, I can’t see Mrazek returning.
During those games, Mrazek posted a record of 12-6-0 and a career-worst goals-against-average of 3.34 and save percentage of 0.888 over the 10 years he’s played in the NHL.
Item Five: Is Ondrej Kase Coming Back This Season? No Word.
Ondrej Kase’s concussion issue has progressed enough so that he’s skating again; however, there’s no timeline about when (or even if) he’ll return to the ice this season. Right now, the word on Kase is that he’s considered day-to-day; however, that’s up in the air because reports are a bit sketchy.
Similar to Sandin, Kase has missed 19 straight games with his latest injury. When he plays, he’s still productive; and, during his last six games, he’d scored three goals and added an assist. He’s also been a bit of a fixture on the second-unit power play. If he comes back for the postseason, he’s the kind of a player who could make a difference by providing the secondary scoring the team needs.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Given Matthews’ accomplishment of reaching 60 goals this season, I can’t believe he’ll play on Friday night. However, his partner in crime Mitch Marner is sitting at 97 points and there’s an outside chance he could hit the century mark. Will the organization play him or shut him down for the last regular-season game?
The Buffalo Sabres head into Boston tonight, so tomorrow the Bruins are on a quick turnaround when they play the Maple Leafs. Still, it’s likely to be a physical game. It will be interesting to see coach Keefe’s thinking as his team ends what’s been an interesting and strong regular season.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf