Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe announced that Andreas Johnsson will need knee surgery. Johnsson is expected to miss at least two months, canceling him out for the Leafs’ playoff push. That recovery window would bleed into at least a part of the postseason, too.
Johnsson the latest to leave Leafs limping
It’s jarring news for a Maple Leafs team that’s in tough to defend its spot in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and has already dealt with significant injuries this season.
TSN’s Kristen Shilton ranked among those passing along the bad news, also noting that Morgan Rielly is targeting late March for a possible return. Between those two, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Frederik Andersen, and others, it’s already been a trying season for Toronto.
Where the Canadian NHL teams rank in league in Lost-ps (Lost point shares from injured players)
7 TOR 8.19 points lost
9 OTT 7.66
10 WPG 7.37
14 MTL 6.54
15 VAN 6.36
16 EDM 5.72
29 CGY 2.27https://t.co/8t0pSlvXnS
— Man-Games Lost NHL (@ManGamesLostNHL) February 6, 2020
Johnsson hasn’t enjoyed the same bounces in 2019-20 as he did last season. After managing 20 goals and 43 points on a 15.4 shooting percentage, Johnsson settled down to eight goals and 21 points (43 GP) on a 10.3 shooting percentage. Bill Comeau’s nifty-looking SKATR charts provide a snapshot of some of the areas where things slipped.
The Maple Leafs currently sit in playoff position. More and more, it looks like it might come down to either the Panthers or Maple Leafs grabbing the Atlantic third seed, while Metro teams seem most likely to nab both East wild-card spots.
(The Blue Jackets and Flyers both have 71 points in the same 58 games played as Toronto. Carolina poses a similar threat with 67 points in 56 GP.)
Potential (small) silver lining for Leafs without Johnsson
There’s only so much sugar-coating one can provide for this situation. That said, at least Toronto lost Johnsson now, instead of after the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston explains that the Maple Leafs would get $3.4M in cap space to work with if Johnsson goes on LTIR, while Rielly likely wouldn’t provide the same breathing room because he may return before the season ends.
In other words, the Maple Leafs have more room to trade for talent — whether that means finding a replacement for Johnsson, or addressing other needs, such as defense.
So, if the Maple Leafs do hold off the Panthers (or carve out a wild-card spot), they could have [insert hypothetical replacement] and Johnsson for the playoffs. Of course, that’s assuming Johnsson heals up somewhere in that eight-week-window.