Jake Muzzin joins Maple Leafs for first team skate since second concussion
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
Jake Muzzin appears to be inching closer in his recovery from his second concussion this season.
The veteran defenceman took part in his first skate with the Maple Leafs since suffering his second concussion of the season on Feb. 21.
Muzzin has been skating on his own with skills coach Denver Manderson as they worked on ramping up his defenceman’s conditioning. The two worked together again before the Maple Leafs took the ice for their morning skate ahead of their game against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
“It means a lot to our group in so many different ways,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said of seeing Muzzin on the ice. “I know I personally lean on him for a lot with our team on the leadership side of things and obviously the presence he brings in the room and on the ice and the style of game he plays.”
The 33-year-old collided with Montreal Canadiens defenceman Chris Wideman last month and was later diagnosed with his second concussion of the season. The incident occurred just over a month after he suffered his first one when he was hit along the end boards by St. Louis Blues forward Klim Kostin on Jan. 15.
Muzzin played six games before the incident in Montreal. He was placed on long-term injured reserve, which allowed the Leafs to free up some roster space and potentially use Muzzin’s $5.625 million salary cap hit to acquire other players ahead of the Mar. 21 trade deadline.
But with Muzzin getting closer to a potential return, it’s looking unlikely that the Leafs will go this route and will have to find other ways to improve their roster to address other areas on their club.
“Everything has been progressing very well,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said of Muzzin. “In terms of (a) timeline (for a return), I’m not certain where that’s at. But certainly, everything has been trending really well and he feels good in terms of the feedback he’s giving me and the medical team.”
Muzzin has two goals and 10 assists in 41 games this season. Since he’s come out of the lineup, the Maple Leafs have struggled to find the right combination of players on the ice on the back end. They also acquired defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin from the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 20 in Muzzin’s absence and the Russian will start Tuesday’s game on the top pair with Morgan Rielly.
Muzzin is eligible to come off the long-term injured reserve is Mar. 18, one day before the Leafs are scheduled to play the Nashville Predators and three days before the NHL trade deadline.