It appears Jake Muzzin won’t be returning to action any time soon.
The Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman has missed six games because of a head/neck injury sustained from a collision against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 17. He was placed on long-term injured reserve earlier last week and remains without a timeline to return.
Muzzin also visited a neck specialist last week to determine the severity of his injury, but that has only led to further concern. As someone that’s experienced many previous serious injuries, the team is worried about his long-term health if another one were to occur, NHL insider Chris Johnston reports.
“Jake Muzzin was in California to see a specialist last week looking at the head and neck area where he has had a number of injuries, and I can tell you there is legitimate concern about what the next hit could look like if he were to return."
Johnston also added, “If there is a Jake Muzzin size hole in their lineup, they got a need there for a defenceman, and they’ve got more cap space to play with.”
With Muzzin on LTIR, along with teammates Matt Murray, Timothy Liljegren and Jordie Benn, the Maple Leafs currently feature roughly $12.46 million in relief space, according to . The team has already used $6.75 million of that figure, with $5.52 million remaining.
If the 33-year-old misses extended time, management could utilize those cap savings to address other areas of its roster, namely on the blue line. And they could do the same next season if he’s still unable to return.
Muzzin’s four-and-a-half seasons in Toronto have been littered with extended injury-related absences, preventing him from playing more than 53 games in a single season. He suffered two concussions last season before unexpectedly returning for the 2022 playoffs.
The Maple Leafs acquired Muzzin in January 2019 from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for the rights to defenceman Sean Durzi, forward Carl Grundstrom and 2019 first-round pick (Tobias Bjornfot).
The fifth-round selection from 2007 has logged 683 career NHL contests across 12 seasons split between the Kings and Maple Leafs, scoring 69 goals and 294 points. He won a Stanley Cup with the Kings while posting six goals and 12 points during the 2014 post-season.
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