Matthews Out 4 Weeks

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without Auston Matthews for at least four weeks as the young center was placed on the injured reserve Monday.

Matthews is suffering from a shoulder injury, an issue he’s dealt with multiple times already in his career despite only being 21 years old, though it’s important to note that this isn’t the same shoulder he injured last season. Fortunately for Matthews and the Maple Leafs, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound forward doesn’t require surgery to repair the ailment.

The injury was suffered in the second period of Saturday’s game between the Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets when defender Jacob Trouba delivered a clean hit to Matthews as he drove to the net from the corner. Trouba met Matthews at the pass and while the hit looked innocent enough, it was clearly enough contact to injure Matthews and leave him out of action for at least a month.

Auston Matthews
DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 11: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his second-period goal during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on October 11, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Matthews has been on a tear to start the 2018-19 season and prior to this setback was on pace to set career-highs in goals, assists and points. In 11 games this year, Matthews already has 10 goals and 16 points which would put him on pace for 74 goals and 119 points. While that pace would have been nearly impossible to maintain for the duration of the season if he stayed healthy, it’s still a shame to see a young superstar in the making go down during a career-year.

What’s even more impressive about Matthews is the fact that he’s already scored 40 goals and 34 goals in his first two NHL seasons respectively and a career-year following those would truly be saying something.

Maple Leafs Have Elite Center Depth

While this news is clearly bad for the Maple Leafs, the team is built to withstand an injury to a center in their top-six as they also have John Tavares – who signed with the team in the offseason, as well as Nazem Kadri who will be stepping into a line with Mitch Marner and Patrick Marleau. Tavares will be skating with Zach Hyman and Kasperi Kapanen in Matthews absence which is as good a replacement in the league as it gets.

Maple Leafs forward John Tavares
Maple Leafs forward John Tavares will take on the primary center role in the absence of Auston Matthews while Nazem Kadri will take over the second-line center role. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

All three of Matthews, Marner and Tavares were able to score 30-plus goals from the center-ice position last season.

Related: Tavares Signs With Maple Leafs

Tavares has already scored seven goals and 13 points in 11 games to start the year and is on pace to set career-highs in goals and points and 52 and roughly 97 respectively. Tavares has scored 279 goals and 634 points in 680 games. Similarly to Matthews, he’ll have some trouble maintaining his pace but it’s definitely within reach.

The Maple Leafs have been red-hot offensively despite not having William Nylander in the fold and even with Matthews out, it’s likely that Tavares will be able to do enough to help the team keep up that pace.