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Maple Leafs' Marner and Sandin on IR, Steeves and Rubins to make NHL Debut

The Maple Leafs expect to be without Mitch Marner for three-to-four weeks while Rasmus Sandin may be out two-to-three weeks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to cope without star forward Mitch Marner and defenseman Rasmus Sandin in the short term.

Marner is expected to be out of the team's lineup for three-to-four weeks with a knee injury, while Sandin's timeline is approximately two-to-three weeks, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe.

"I mean, he plays I-don't-know-how-many minutes a night but he's on the ice the whole game," Alex Kerfoot said of Marner. "Everyone's got to step up. No one guy is going to fill that role and we just kind of have to do it as a group."

Marner sustained a shoulder injury when he was involved in a collision at practice with defenseman Jake Muzzin on Friday. The team boarded a plane immediately after the session for games against the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Marner missed both contests.

"There was a sense that it just needed some time to settle," Keefe said. "After giving it some time and seeing where it was at, it was a little bit worse than they thought it was going to be." 

Sandin sustained a knee injury after he was on the receiving end of a knee-on-keen hit from Jets defenseman Neal Pionk on Sunday.

The defenseman had to be assisted to the locker room by teammates Ondrej Kase and Wayne Simmonds shortly after the hit.

"He had an MRI as well and the results came back very positive, in the sense of no structural damage knee," Keefe said of Sandin. "It's just going to take some time for it to settle down. Swelling, bruising; They think once that settles that he'll recover pretty quickly."

Keefe said the estimated timeline for Sandin's injury is "two-to-three weeks," but it depends on how quickly he recovers.

"He had an MRI and the results came back very positive, in the sense of no structural damage knee," Keefe said. "It's just going to take some time for it [swelling and bruising] to settle down. 

Pionk was suspended for two games by the NHL's Department of Player Safety (DOPS) for the hit on Sandin. 

In addition to Marner and Sandin, Travis Dermott also sustained a shoulder injury, although that ailment isn't expected to keep the defenseman out for an extended period of time.

The Leafs will also not have the services of Jason Spezza for the foreseeable future after having a hearing with the NHL DOPS over his low hit to the head of Pionk. The team moved Marner and Sandin to the injured reserve and called up forward Alex Steeves and defensemen Kristian Rubins and Alex Biega from the Toronto Marlies.

Steeves and Rubins will make their NHL debuts on Tuesday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Leafs signed Steeves as a free agent in March shortly after he finished his collegiate career with the University of Notre Dame. He missed training camp after he sustained a shoulder injury during the team's rookie tournament in Traverse City, Michigan in September.

"Steeves is a guy we were really excited about," Keefe said. "A lot of people in the organization like him, Marlies coaches can't say enough positive things about him and the job he's done since coming back from injury."

Steeves has seven goals and five assists in 12 games with the Marlies this season.

Rubins has been in the Leafs' organization for four years, beginning with the ECHL Newfoundland Growlers and has worked his way up the organization.

The Leafs made some adjustments to their lines that included Wayne Simmonds moving back to the top line alongside Michael Bunting and Auston Matthews. 

Simmonds started the team's game on the top line against the Wild on Saturday but Keefe shuffled up the lines throughout the evening and Matthews is expected to have various linemates throughout their game against the Blue Jackets.

Without Marner, Sandin and Spezza, the Leafs had to make significant changes to their power-play units. Kase moves from the second power-play unit to skate on the bumper spot of the first unit.

Muzzin will now quarterback the second power-play unit and  Simmonds will move into the net-front spot.

Mrazek returned to the Leafs for the morning skate after serving a one-game conditioning stint with the Marlies. He remaining on the long-term injured reserve and Joseph Woll will back up Jack Campbell on Tuesday.

Ilya Mikheyev took part in the team's morning skate as an extra player.

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