The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost another winger for a lengthy period of time. Head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters today, including Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, that Andreas Johnsson will require surgery on his injured knee. Johnsson is expected to miss eight weeks after suffering the injury last night.
Johnsson joins Ilya Mikheyev, Cody Ceci and Morgan Rielly on the sidelines for the Maple Leafs, who suddenly have real question marks in the forward group as they try to navigate the last part of the season. If the team wants to make any sort of meaningful upgrade on defense, Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen seemed the most likely candidates to be traded. With an injury of this magnitude, Johnsson may now be out of the question, given teams won’t know exactly what they’re receiving.
The Maple Leafs do however have a little more cap flexibility after this news. Johnsson can now be placed on long-term injured reserve through the end of the season, opening up his $3.4M in cap space for a deadline acquisition. It is still complicated but could provide some relief if the team is after a replacement or defensive upgrade.
It’s an unfortunate end to the season for Johnsson, who only recently returned from another injury. The 25-year-old forward will finish with just eight goals and 21 points in 43 games, a far cry from the 20-goal season he put up last year as a rookie. It also puts a little more pressure on him moving forward, given his $3.4M salary through the next three seasons.
There is a chance that the speedy forward returns for the playoffs, but the Maple Leafs will have to get there first. Once in the postseason, there is no longer a salary cap for the Leafs to abide by, meaning they can activate their injured players.
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Four teams (Detroit, New York Rangers, Ottawa & Vegas) do not currently have a captain, while Carolina has co-captains.