Morgan Rielly will miss a minimum of eight weeks with a fractured foot, but in the long run this could be a blessing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Panic ran through Leafs Nation yesterday when it was announced that the Toronto Maple Leafs best defenseman, Morgan Rielly would be out for eight weeks.
This team can’t catch a break right now with injuries, can it?
Ilya Mikheyev, Trevor Moore, Jake Muzzin, Zach Hyman, Andreas Johnsson and Travis Dermott are all players who have missed significant time this year. Injuries happen every day in the NHL, but this season seems cursed from that perspective for the Leafs.
Silver Lining for Toronto Maple Leafs
The minute one player is healthy, another man gets hurt. Despite missing key players every night, the Leafs have pushed through. However, Rielly’s injury is the most significant one of the season thus far.
Rielly leads the Leafs in ice time averaging 24:15, while contributing three goals and 24 assists.
Before you throw your phone off a bridge or break your computer reading this, there’s an underlying factor that makes this a positive moving forward.
Before fracturing his foot, it was clear that Rielly was playing hurt. He even admitted it in an interview with The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel:
“It was a pretty significant amount of pain…But I did my MRIs and everything like that and there was no damage to the real important things. So it was just a matter of pain management.”
Respect must be given to Rielly for playing through pain and discomfort, but it’s the middle of the regular season. The Leafs should have taken a ‘load management’ lesson from the Toronto Raptors and given Rielly time to heal.
Now, Rielly can rehab from those nagging injuries that have been effecting his play while healing his fractured foot and can be ready for a playoff run.
Not only will this injury benefit Rielly’s full health, it should make Toronto Maple Leafs management address the need for another defenseman.
As James Mirtle points out in this tweet, the Leafs defensive core looks weak right now without Rielly. Martin Marincin and Cody Ceci are two players that fans would love to see with the Marlies, but will now be relied upon within the top-six.
Although Kyle Dubas and his staff don’t have a knee-jerk management style, the team will need to address it’s defensive issues with Rielly’s absence. It could be argued that the team already needed a defenseman, but they desperately need one now if they’d like any chance at securing home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Last but not least, the next beneficiary of Rielly’s injury is Rasmus Sandin.
Sandin is only 19 years old, but was just named the best defenseman in the World Junior Championships. It’s time for Leafs nation to get a serious look at Sandin, so they can figure out exactly where he’ll slot into the lineup.
Rielly was the last 19 year old defenseman to make an impact on the blue line, so it would only be fitting that his injury will allow Sandin to do the same.
It’s never fun when a significant player gets hurt, let’s hope optimism prevails in this situation.