Toronto Maple Leafs: Muzzin, Kadri Ruled OUT Tonight

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: Toronto Maple Leafs Center Nazem Kadri (43) reacts after missing a shot during the NHL regular season game between the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 25, 2019, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON, Canada. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 25: Toronto Maple Leafs Center Nazem Kadri (43) reacts after missing a shot during the NHL regular season game between the Florida Panthers and the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 25, 2019, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON, Canada. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without two of their top contributors tonight as they prepare for a playoff tune-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s not the type of news Leafs fans want to hear, especially around this time of the year.

Earlier this morning, Mike Babcock offered an ominous update on the statuses of both Nazem Kadri and Jake Muzzin during his usual post-morning skate press conference, ruling each player out ahead of tonight’s meeting with the first-place Lightning. Opting to rest players ahead of the postseason grind is, of course, a normal avenue of practice for any team. But Babcock did not relay this information in a normal manner, hinting that more may be at play.

That does not sound normal.

Losing either of Muzzin or Kadri for extended periods of time, and this close to the postseason kickoff, would be one step away from a worst-case scenario for the Maple Leafs’ roster. Each player serves an important purpose in his respective role, with Muzzin’s, in particular, amplified given the construction of the team’s blueline.

Since arriving via trade on February 1st, the 30-year-old has flourished in his new surrounding. Compiling 5 goals and 11 assists for 16 points in 30 games as a Leaf thus far, Muzzin has also managed to earn a sterling 53.9% CF/60 at 5v5; made even more impressive by the fact that he’s lugged Nikita Zaitsev around for the bulk of his tenure.

While the specifics of today’s news have yet to be confirmed, Muzzin did, in fact, sit out of Toronto’s matchup versus the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday with what was reported to be an illness. This would naturally lead one to assume that Kadri is the Leaf reportedly “not feeling good enough to play” tonight.

The nature or seriousness of his potential injury is unclear.

Kadri’s individual success this season, while lower than years prior due to a necessitated offseason role change, has gone largely under the radar thus far, dwarfed by the John Tavares-sized shadow which floats above him. Nevertheless, the 28-year-old’s 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points in 72 games is far higher production than that of your typical third line centre. In fact, the ability for Babcock to roll out a Matthews-Tavares-Kadri centre corps against Boston is a luxury the Maple Leafs desperately need, and may very well prove the difference between yet another first-round exit, and a deep playoff run.

Darren Dreger‘s report assuredly injects a sense of optimism into this situation. Yet, all eyes will be glued to Babcock’s presser tonight for a post-game update.

dark. Next. All Time Best Draft Picks

Thanks for reading!

All stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com