Maple Leafs’ Ryan O’Reilly out long term with broken finger

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

NEWARK, N.J. — Toronto Maple Leafs center Ryan O’Reilly will be out of action for quite some time because of a broken finger.

O’Reilly is going on long-term injured reserve, coach Sheldon Keefe said. That means the 32-year-old must miss the next 10 games.

He won’t be eligible to return until Toronto’s game March 29 against Florida at the earliest. The playoffs are set to begin April 17.

The Maple Leafs acquired O’Reilly in a trade with St. Louis last month. He has since put up five points in eight games before taking a puck off his left hand late in the second period of a 4-1 loss at Vancouver.

Keefe added Leafs captain John Tavares will be held out of the lineup with an undisclosed ailment when the team visits the New Jersey Devils to wrap up a five-game road trip.

In corresponding moves, the Leafs recalled forwards Pontus Holmberg and Alex Steeves from the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies, and loaned goaltender Joseph Woll to the club’s top affiliate.

O’Reilly was one of six new players Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas brought in before the trade deadline in an effort to make the team more competitive. A Stanley Cup winner and playoff MVP in 2019, O’Reilly won 84.4% of his faceoffs with the Leafs before going 3 of 11 against the Canucks.

Toronto is currently second in the Atlantic Division, five points up on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have lost five in a row and eight of their last 10 games. The Leafs and Lightning are on track to face each other in the first round of the playoffs.

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    Maple Leafs pin hopes on Ryan O’Reilly to help end playoff frustrations

    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — Come April, the Toronto Maple Leafs will once again have to confront the long-nagging questions of how they’ll attempt to avoid turning a dominating regular season into yet another early playoff exit.

    A promising glimpse of an answer, perhaps, began to emerge over a four-day stretch in which the Maple Leafs won two of three with a new-look lineup featuring centers Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari, who were acquired in a trade with St. Louis.

    With O’Reilly centering Toronto’s second line, and Acciari centering the fourth line, their presence provided coach Sheldon Keefe an extra level of flexibility and an additional dynamic dimension to a talent-laden roster that already includes four 20-goal-scorers.

    Toronto’s newfound potential was on display in a 6-3 romp over the Sabres, when the O’Reilly line combined for four goals and 13 points, and staked the Leafs to a 3-0 lead 7:14 into the game before Buffalo registered its first shot on net.

    “Obviously, it was that line that broke out tonight. The next night it might be the Matthews’ line,” Keefe said, referring to the top line centered by Auston Matthews. “But as I said to the guys, that’s what it is supposed to look like in terms of a team game. … That’s as dominant as we’ve been all season long, so it’s tremendous to see.”

    The challenge for Keefe becomes building on that performance and continuing to develop roster-wide chemistry to finally begin fulfilling the long-awaited expectations of mounting a playoff run that doesn’t end in the first round.

    The Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series since 2004, when they needed seven games to eliminate Ottawa before losing to Philadelphia in a six-game second-round matchup. They’ve since lost seven consecutive first-round series mostly in dramatic collapses, including six ending in a decisive Game 5 or 7.

    The frustrating track record is one general manager Kyle Dubas alluded to after completing the trade in giving up four draft picks, including a first-rounder this year, two minor leaguers and a prospect in a deal that included Minnesota picking up 25% of O’Reilly’s salary.

    “We’ve been in the top five of the standings, and we’re there again this year,” Dubas said of a team that’s finished no worse than third in its division in each of the previous six years. “So there’s a lot of points along the way, and people will laugh at that, scoff at that, and that’s fine. We’re trying to win. And that’s the message.”

    At 35-15-8, the Leafs’ 78 points match their best through 58 games of a season, and they are second in the Atlantic Division. With division-leading Boston enjoying a 13-point lead over the Maple Leafs, Toronto appears locked into facing Tampa Bay in a rematch of last year’s opening round, which the Lightning clinched in Game 7 by rallying from a 3-2 series deficit.

    The trade for O’Reilly was the latest in a string of high-profile mid-to-late season additions the Leafs have made which have failed to pan out come playoff time. Last year, it was adding defenseman Mark Giordano. Two years ago, Toronto acquired center Nick Foligno. In 2020, Dubas landed defenseman Jake Muzzin.

    And those don’t include the offseason free-agent splashes the Leafs made in signing Patrick Marleau in 2017 or current captain John Tavares a year later.

    O’Reilly, in the final year of his contract, represents the short-term key to the trade. He’s a respected two-way center, who was the NHL’s top defensive forward in 2019, the same year O’Reilly earned playoff MVP honors for the Stanley Cup champion Blues.

    From Ontario, and with his mother having once worked the concession stands at Maple Leaf Gardens, the 32-year-old O’Reilly is fully aware of the pressures of playing in Toronto and what it would mean to bring home a title.

    “We have a ton of good pieces here and it’s a great team,” O’Reilly said, while declining to look too far ahead.

    “I’ve got to take it day by day and work and push myself to be better, and try to help elevate this team to take another step,” he added. “I’ve got so much excitement being here. … I’m just going to feed off that and try to make an impact any way I can.”

    In welcoming O’Reilly, Tavares agreed to make the switch from center to left wing on a line rounded out by Mitchell Marner.

    “When Kyle and management make a move like that, obviously it sends a strong message,” Tavares said. “The belief in the team, and what we want to accomplish, and just where we’ve gotten to to this point, so we’re really excited about it.”

    Maple Leafs’ Jake Muzzin won’t play again this season

    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    TORONTO — Jake Muzzin won’t play again this season.

    Whether the veteran defenseman can eventually resume his NHL career remains to be seen.

    The Maple Leafs said that the Toronto blue liner won’t suit up again in 2022-23 after initially suffering a neck injury Oct. 17 in a collision with Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller.

    Toronto announced back in November that Muzzin would re-evaluated in February.

    “After follow-up consultation this month with various specialists, our medical staff have determined (Muzzin) has been ruled out for the rest of the 2022-23 regular season and playoffs as he recovers from a cervical spine injury,” the Leafs said in a statement.

    “The club will provide a further update as to his status at training camp in September.”

    The 6-foot-4, 227-pounder had one assist in four games this season, most of which was spent on long-term injured reserve.

    Muzzin, whose significant injury history includes concussions, was limited to 47 games in 2021-22.

    The bruising 34-year-old won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014 and was acquired by Toronto via trade in January 2019.

    Often the team’s locker room conscience as a talented core looked to finally get over its playoff hump, Muzzin subsequently signed a four-year, $22.5 million contract with the Leafs in February 2020 that carries a salary cap hit of $5.625 million through the end of next season.

    Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas now has a level of clarity ahead of the March 3 trade deadline should he look to add to a blue line that endured a string of absences earlier in the schedule – or upgrade elsewhere after already acquiring forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues.

    Talking with reporters earlier this month, Dubas said defenseman T.J. Brodie has stepped up to take on a significant chunk of the “hard minutes” that Muzzin occupied against opponents’ best players.

    Muzzin took the long road to the NHL.

    He didn’t sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins after they selected him in the fifth round of the 2007 draft following his first season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

    Muzzin re-entered the draft in 2009, but was passed over before returning to Sault Ste. Marie as an overage player and eventually signing with Los Angeles in January 2010.

    Muzzin has 294 points (69 goals, 225 assists) and 399 penalty minutes in 683 regular-season NHL games with the Kings and Leafs. He’s added 11 goals and 28 points in 72 playoff appearances.

    Blues trade O’Reilly, Acciari to Maple Leafs, look to future

    Michael Chisholm/NHLI via Getty Images

    ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues are looking to the future after trading captain and center Ryan O'Reilly along with center Noel Acciari to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.

    St. Louis acquired Toronto’s 2023 first-round draft pick and 2024 second-round draft pick and Ottawa’s 2023 third-round pick from the Maple Leafs along with AHL forwards Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette. Toronto also traded its 2025 fifth-round pick to the Minnesota Wild for the rights to forward prospect Josh Pillar in exchange for the Wild picking up 25% of O’Reilly’s salary.

    The 32-year-old O’Reilly, who won the 2019 Conn Smythe trophy with St. Louis, had 12 goals and seven assists in 40 games this season while Acciari, 31, had 10 goals and eight assists in 54 games. Both players are set to be unrestricted free agents this offseason.

    The trade comes with St. Louis sitting eight points out of a playoff spot with a 26-25-3 record entering play Saturday. The Blues traded forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers on Feb. 9.

    “This actually in a crazy way, made my job easier, not harder,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “It would have been difficult to be sitting in front of you today if we had five more wins, which is 10 more points and telling you why it was a good idea to move Vladimir Tarasenko, why it was a good idea to move Ryan O’Reilly and Mikkola and Noel for draft picks on a team that was fighting for a playoff spot or in a playoff spot fighting for a championship.”

    St. Louis had won three straight after dropping five in a row, but Armstrong wasn’t influenced by the recent streaks.

    “It was probably a little bit before that,” Armstrong said. “This year we haven’t been able to find Ground Zero. Good teams don’t fluctuate the way we fluctuated, win three and lose eight, win seven, lose five win three. What that indicates to me is a team that doesn’t have a foundation and something to fall back on quickly when things are going bad.”

    St. Louis was looking to build off last season when it fell to the Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche in six games in the Western Conference Semifinal.

    “I was hoping to be here and celebrate a Stanley Cup,” Armstrong said. “I was also prepared to be here and lose in the first or second round and be getting drilled by `well, now you’ve lost and you have no future assets and you’ve done all this stuff, you’re an idiot.’ I was hoping to have to be labeled like that as a guy that didn’t maximize his assets. This year, I didn’t have that.”

    St. Louis now owns Toronto’s first-round pick and the later of the New York Rangers’ two first-round picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in addition to its own.

    Armstrong did not rule out making additional moves ahead of the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline.

    “I think that the equity in the NHL now to have is first-round picks,” Armstrong said. “One thing that I do know what we’re going to do though is if we move picks, players, it’s not going to be for one-year players. We need to again retrench with players that are 25, 26 and under that have term under contract so they can grow with that next core of players we have.”

    Marner gets 500th point, Maple Leafs beat Red Wings 4-1

    maple leafs marner
    John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports

    TORONTO — Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist to reach 500 career points as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday night.

    John Tavares had two goals and Pontus Holmberg also scored for Toronto, which snapped a two-game skid with its first win of the month.

    Marner hit the 500-point mark in his 467th career game, just four days after Auston Matthews accomplished the feat. Matthews is the fastest player in franchise history to do it, accomplishing it in 445 games.

    “It’s just a cool moment, for sure,” Marner said. “You definitely don’t try and really think about setting milestones or doing milestones and trying not (to) be selfish about yourself.”

    Earlier in the season, Marner set the franchise record with a 23-game point streak.

    “Growing up here in the city and dreaming to play for this team and doing it all with this team, it’s been special, it’s been a lot of fun but there’s bigger goals ahead,” Marner said. “It’s cool, enjoying the moment, but time to refresh and think about (next opponent) Philly now.”

    Ilya Samsonov made 22 saves in a bounce-back effort after surrendering five goals in a 6-5 shootout loss to St. Louis on Tuesday.

    “I think it’s noteworthy just the job Sammy did tonight,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We’ve been needing our whole team to play better. … But Sammy, the last three games in particular, he and (goaltending coach) Curtis Sanford have put in some real work.”

    Jake Walman scored for Detroit in its third straight loss. Magnus Hellberg finished with 25 saves.

    “Unfortunately, a fairly similar theme. Five-on-five play, good,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “Unfortunately, we lost the special teams battle tonight.”

    Tavares capped a run of four consecutive goals for Toronto with an empty-netter with 1:39 remaining. It was his 18th of the season.

    Olli Maata sent a laser of a pass from the end boards to spring Walman on a breakaway midway through the first period. Walman beat Samsonov top corner to open the scoring with 8:03 left in the opening period.

    Marner tied it 24 seconds into the second with a sharp-angled goal on a rebound from Matthews’ point shot that went wide and off the boards behind the net. It gave Marner his milestone and Matthews was credited with an assist, allowing both players to extend their point streaks to four games.

    Tavares scored the go-ahead goal 6:37 into the second when Calle Jarnkrok found him streaking down the middle of Detroit’s zone between two defenders.

    “We just talked about upping our pace, really and just some of the execution coming out of our own end,” Tavares said of the team’s turnaround after a slow start. “I think we were just much quicker coming out of our own end, moving the puck a little faster and that allowed our feet to get moving, get on the forecheck and tilt the ice a little bit.”

    Holmberg gave the Leafs a two-goal advantage when he tipped in Morgan Rielly‘s point shot 6:19 into the third for his fourth.

    “Pretty good first period, we didn’t give up much,” Lalonde said. “Didn’t really hate our second, looks like we lost a little bit of gas. . Come out of that period down 2-1, and then we didn’t have enough for a push in the third.”


    Five members of Canada’s gold-medal winning world junior team were honored just past the midway mark of the first period. Brennan Othmann, Ethan del Mastro, Owen Beck, Shane Wright and Zack Ostapchuk were given a standing ovation from the Scotiabank Arena crowd when shown on the video board.


    Saturday’s contest was Toronto’s first Indigenous Celebration game. Players wore warm-up jerseys designed by Indigenous artist Tyler Rushnell. The jerseys will be up for auction on Real Sports Auction with all of the proceeds to be donated to the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre. There were also performances from the Toronto Council Fire Native All Nations Juniors drum group as Leafs players were introduced and a hoop dance routine during the second intermission.


    Red Wings: Host Winnipeg on Tuesday night to open a three-game homestand.

    Maple Leafs: At Philadelphia on Sunday night.