Toronto Maple Leafs Place Star Defenceman on LTIR

Toronto Maple Leafs Center John Tavares (91) celebrates his goal with Toronto Maple Leafs Defenseman Morgan Rielly (44) and Toronto Maple Leafs Defenseman Jordie Benn (18) during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 15, 2022, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have placed star defenceman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury. Rielly will miss, at minimum, the team’s next 10 games and 24 days. There is no further timeline for his return.

Toronto Maple Leafs Defenceman on LTIR

Early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 OT loss to the New York Islanders, Rielly collided with Islanders right winger Kyle Palmieri. both players left the game. Rielly was able to come back out for one more shift, but then went right back down the tunnel and did not return. After the game, Keefe addressed the media and indicated that Rielly will need imaging done on the knee injury.

So far this season, Rielly has 16 assists, tied for second most in the league among defensemen, and leads the team in time on ice at 23:20 per game. He leads all Toronto D-men in total points by 10 and is second among all Toronto players in power-play points. He also drives possession more than any other Toronto blue liner, with CF% of 56.3 and CF% rel of 8.1.

Rielly is in his tenth NHL season, all with Toronto. He has 69 goals, 320 assists, and 188 penalty minutes. Last season he set a career-high in assists with 58. A number he looked sure to at least match this season.

What This Means

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ injuries are piling up. This could be a heavy blow for an already depleted Toronto blue line. Losing their undisputed number-one defenceman will be harder to take with the absence of Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie. Muzzin has been out since October with a severe spinal injury with no clear picture of a return. Brodie was injured on November 11th in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and is currently on IR. He did not accompany the team on their current road trip, signifying he is not close to returning.

If this is long-term, there are some tough times ahead for Toronto. They were already bare at the position, recently giving top minutes to bottom-six journeyman Jordie Benn. If Rielly is to miss significant time, younger players such as Victor Mete or Filip Kral will need to step up. Toronto does not have much cap space to pull off a trade currently. If the youngsters cannot fill the void, there could be trying times ahead, depending on the results of the imaging.

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