Another week and another player hits the IR. This time around it is Kyle Clifford landing on the injury reserve retroactive to Monday with an undisclosed injury. Clifford will be unavailable for a minimum of seven days. So far this season Clifford has suited up in two games for Toronto, notching one assist as well as 2 penalty minutes while averaging 7:55 in ice time. The injury was seemingly sustained during the 3-1 loss against the Golden Knights.
In a corresponding move, Jake Muzzin has been moved from the IR to the LTIR with no time table set for his return. He was originally placed on the injured reserve list back on October 17th after he sustained a neck injury. This will now be the third time out of the four seasons since joining the Maple Leafs that Jake Muzzin will miss significant time due to injury. Both the team and the player are going to be extra cautious given the injury history Muzzin has incurred, they are looking at the big picture scenario of not only his playing career but his quality of life beyond hockey.
His health has been a concern over the past couple seasons. He suffered a couple concussions last season which have really hindered his play. Also he has suffered from some back issues which flared up again at the beginning of camp which ultimately caused him to miss pretty much all of the preseason. At this time our hopes are that he’s able to make a full recovery. Ideally it would be great to see him suit up for Toronto again soon but his health takes precedence. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding his future, but Toronto has one of the best medical staffs in professional sports. They will do everything they can to ensure Muzzin receives the best care available and will do what’s best for him in the long term.
The silver lining to this is that Toronto gains $5.625 million dollars in cap space with moving Muzzin to the LTIR. This will allow some much needed cap flexibility for the Maple Leafs which will allow Matt Murray to be activated once healthy and possibly provide them with space to make a trade if they choose to. They have been rumblings of rekindling interest in Jakob Chychrun but nothing substantial or imminent is on the horizon in that regards.
Another positive is that both Timothy Liljegren and Jordie Benn are currently on conditioning stints with the Toronto Marlies at the moment. Both are on the mend, Benn sustained a groin injury during the preseason and has been on shelf since. Liljegren is recovering from a sports hernia surgery. Their impending returns would mitigate any need to explore any external options in the short term but given the teams current play it is definitely an option that they need to keep an open mind to if things don’t improve. Benn’s return would help supplement the grit lost with Muzzin being sidelined. Benn can also provide some help on the PK. While Liljgren can bolster the top four of the D-corp that is desperately need to right the ship before things spiral any further. If he can return to form from last season that will go along way to steady things on the back end. Either way their returns can’t come soon enough.