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LEAFS SHUFFLE THE LINES, MATTHEWS LEAVES PRACTICE, TEAM LOOKING AT MAXIMIZING LTIR CAP RELIEF

With the status of Joe Thornton still not entirely known on Thursday, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a trio of roster transactions to help plug some holes in the lineup and set the Leafs up to be able to maximize their cap relief when they move Nick Robertson and Joe Thornton to LTIR.

Per CapFriendly, the Leafs have moved defenseman Mikko Lehtonen to the taxi squad, recalling forwards Adam Brooks and Joey Anderson to the NHL, putting the Leafs just $9,325 under the bar.

Due to Thornton's injury, the Leafs were forced to shuffle the deck, deploying some very different-looking lines from those that were iced on Wednesday against the Oilers. For starters, the Leafs have moved Zach Hyman up from the third line to the Tavares/Nylander line, bumping Vesey to the Matthews/Marner line. Simmonds has landed himself a shot in the top-nine, playing on a line with Mikheyev and Kerfoot, while his usual linemate, Jason Spezza, skated with Engvall and Barabanov.

Those in attendance for the Leafs' Thursday skate were in for a bit of a shock when Auston Matthews left the ice ahead of practice, returning only briefly before heading to the locker room and not returning, leaving some to speculate as to whether it was injury-related, or just a maintenance day.

Adam Brooks took line rushes as a placeholder for Matthews, as the superstar sniper was not feeling up to par following Wednesday's game against the Oilers, a game that saw him register more than 24 minutes of ice-time for the second time this season. He has not played less than 21 minutes in any of the five games that the Leafs have played in 2020-21.



No updates on either Matthews or Thornton were available from head coach Sheldon Keefe following practice, as the bench boss confirmed that he would not know anything until Friday, at the earliest.

With the rigors of a condensed schedule combined with an increased level of physical play, injuries seem to be catching up to the Leafs really early on here this season. Hopefully the team can band together, weather the storm and get healthy, because if they can't, this season could be a very tough one in a competitive North Division.





MIKE ARMENTI
JANUARY 21, 2021  (13H50)
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