Could Matt Murray Return to the Leafs This Year?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators
Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators / Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photo/GettyImages

Reports started surfacing earlier this week that Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray is ahead of schedule from his hip surgery he had back in early October.

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving originally stated that the recovery time for Murray was likely six to eight months and things are looking closer to the six month area than the eight.

Prior to the Maple Leafs first game of the California road trip, Treliving answered questions on both Ilya Samsonov and Murray.

When speaking about Murray, the general manager stated, "He's doing well, it's a significant rehab, but there have been no setbacks", he further explained that Murray had yet to do any type of goaltending work but was able to throw on a tracksuit and head out public skating so he could move around the ice.

Could Matt Murray Return to the Toronto Maple Leafs?

The big question came from a reporter asking if the team was hopeful that he could return towards the end of the season, which Treliving responded that they wanted to be careful and there would be no pressure to get going.

Treliving emphasized that a Murray return was off in the horizon and something they weren't worried about at this time.

With the rehab schedule being six to eight months, Murray is only three months into the healing process at this time. If the veteran goaltender was progressing at the shorter time frame, that would bring him back with about a week to go in the regular season.

I would not even put it as a small chance that Murray returns before the end of the regular season, as Treliving stated the veteran goalie has just started public skating and hasn't even put on goalie equipment. What this means is there is still a lot of time required to build up strength in not just his hip but his entire body to be able to handle NHL hockey.

If Murray was started to progress to the point, he was getting close to getting to game action before the end of the season, the organization would likely send him to the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint to ride out the last week or two before the end of the year.

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The Maple Leafs are currently having a bit of instability with the goaltenders in net as Samsonov has been demoted to the minors, Joseph Woll is dealing with another injury and the team is relying on veteran Martin Jones, who fortunately for the team is playing his best goaltending in the last half decade. If Murray is an option for the playoffs, it just adds a little more insurance.