The Maple Leafs will begin the season without Auston Matthews. Toronto’s star centre is expected to miss Wednesday’s opening contest at Scotiabank Arena against the Montreal Canadiens, Thursday’s encounter in Ottawa and Saturday’s return engagement with the Senators back on home ice.
Matthews, who led the National Hockey League with 41 goals in 52 regular-season games in 2021, is not fully recovered from wrist surgery.
“I feel good physically, but I feel I need a little more time,” Matthews said Monday after the team’s practice at the Ford Performance Centre in Etobicoke. “I’m dying to get in there. This is something I have to be patient with and be disciplined.”
Matthews, 24, had an operation on Aug. 13 after experiencing increased pain during offseason training sessions. The injury caused him to miss several games last season as well.
“I just don’t think I am where I want to be as to how my wrist feels,” he said.
Toronto also received more bad news on the injury front.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe announced that Ilya Mikheyev, who was hurt in Saturday’s final exhibition against the Montreal Canadiens, will be out for at least eight weeks. Keefe said Mikheyev will have surgery to fix a broken thumb within the next few days.
“It is a big loss for us,” Keefe said. “Ilya was having a good preseason and was poised to have a great year. We will miss him for sure while he is gone, but I’m sure he will work hard to get back.”
A speedy winger, Mikheyev has combined to score 15 goals in 93 games over two years with the Maple Leafs. He missed half of the 2019-20 season after he underwent surgery to repair an artery and tendons that were severed in his right wrist by an opponent’s skate blade.
Keefe also said that Jack Campbell will start Wednesday’s game in net, followed by Petr Mrazek on Thursday night.