One Toronto Maple Leaf left long-term injured reserve today, while another took his place.
Tyler Bozak has been out since he injured his lower back in the October 25 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He will miss the next six games at the very least, so he could make his return November 19 against the New York Islanders (Alter corrected his earlier tweet).
Bozak’s absence means an extended tryout for Nazem Kadri on the top line. Since taking over the first-line centre spot in between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel, Kadri has flourished, scoring five points in three games. He’s also recorded nine shots on goal.
Unfortunately for the Toronto Marlies, the loss of Bozak also means they’ll be without captain Trevor Smith for the time being. Smith has been yo-yoed between the Marlies and Leafs since the start of the season, but has held down that fourth-line centre spot for the last five games. He’s played eight games for the Leafs this season, recording one goal in less than five minutes of ice time per game. With Bozak out, the Leafs will likely continue to roll Kadri, Dave Bolland, Jay McClement and Smith down the middle.
Nikolai Kulemin’s activation from LTIR is good news for the Leafs. He’s been out since the second game of the season with a broken foot. He’ll likely take the third-line wing spot alongside McClement and Joffrey Lupul.