The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that centre Joe Thornton is set to miss one month after sustaining an upper-body injury. Thornton was injured during the third period of Wednesday night’s game between the Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers.
Joe Thornton is out one month with a fractured rib
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 22, 2021
Joe Thornton Injury
Thornton took a hit against the boards from Josh Archibald early in the third period. There was nothing overly aggressive about the hit; in fact, Archibald checked himself before colliding with the veteran centre. However, Thornton immediately left the ice in visible discomfort. He spent a brief period of time on the bench, before quickly heading down the tunnel. He did not return to the game. The injury left Toronto with only 10 forwards for the third period. The Leafs ended up losing the game 3-1 after Leon Draisaitl scored his first goal of the season on the powerplay.
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed fan fears in the immediate aftermath of the game. “It looks like he’s [Joe’s] definitely going to miss some time.” Today the Maple Leafs announced that an MRI scan revealed that Thornton had fractured a rib. Joe Thornton has tallied one goal and one assist in five games in his first season as a Maple Leaf. He has played most of his minutes on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) January 21, 2021
What This Means Going Forward
Thornton’s injury adds to the Leafs’ forward depth woes. Earlier this week, Toronto lost rookie Nicholas Robertson for an estimated four weeks. Robertson sustained a knee injury against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. He was slammed into the boards on a hit from Drake Batherson.
The Leafs will most likely call upon right winger Alexander Barabanov to fill the roster void. Barabanov has played two games this season in a limited capacity on the fourth line. Although, this will still leave the Maple Leafs with only 11 forwards in the current roster. Other forward options would have to come from Toronto’s taxi squad. At present, this includes left-wing Pierre Engvall and centreman Adam Brooks. Engvall played 48 regular-season games last year for the Leafs, scoring 8 goals and 15 points. Brooks had 3 assists in 7 games as a Leaf in 2019-20.
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