Skip to main content
Publish date:

Maple Leafs Notebook: Matthews Participates In Contract Drills

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews took part in contact drills at practice for the first time since undergoing wrist surgery in August.

Auston Matthews continues to make progress toward a return to full health.

The Toronto Maple Leafs' star forward took part in full-contact drills during one of the team's practice sessions on Sunday. 

"It's a really good step, he did a lot more today than we were expecting of him, frankly," Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. "He wanted to keep going and felt good, (he) shot the puck hard. I thought today, it was the first time I really saw him leaning into one-timers."

The 24-year-old participated in practice sessions this week, but he was limited to non-contact drills. He also continued to work with Leafs development consultant Darryl Belfry on another ice pad prior to joining his teammates.

The Maple Leafs announced on Aug. 13 that Matthews would miss a minimum of six weeks after undergoing wrist surgery. Although the minimum portion of that timeline has elapsed, there isn't clarity yet on if he will be ready in time for the team's season opener on Oct. 13 against the Montreal Canadiens or any of the team's remaining three pre-season games.

"When he says he's ready and the medical team says he's ready, he'll be in," Keefe said of Matthews. "Whether that's in preseason, whether it's Game 1 or whether it's after we don't know but we're trending in the right direction for sure."

Matthews' wrist had bothered the Arizona native for much of last season. It didn't stop him from winning the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy, handed out annually to the player who scores the most goals in a season.

Matthews scored 41 in 52 games in 2020-21.

"It's great to have him out there and he just pushes everyone to be better just because he's so good," Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said of Matthews.

New look lines at practice

The Maple Leafs moved a few things around with their lines as the team prepares for back-to-back pre-season games against the Ottawa Senators on Monday and Canadiens on Tuesday. 

The most notable change among the forward groups sees Kirill Semyonov skate up the middle with Michael Bunting and Josh Ho-Sang. Alex Kerfoot occupied the spot that had been occupied by tryout player Nikita Gusev alongside forwards David Kampf and Ondrej Kase.

The players that skated in Group 1 will suit up against the Senators on Monday, according to Keefe. From there, they will make a decision about Tuesday's game.

"I expect there will be some guys who play in both games," Keefe said. 

Keefe said expects the current group at training camp will be "significantly reduced" following Tuesday's game. Toronto Marlies camp opens this week.

Group 2 saw Ilya Mikheyev skate alongside Tavares and William Nylander. 

The next couple of games present an opportunity for players on the bubble to make their case. One of those players that continues to be a lock is Kase.

"I made a point about Kase that at some point here it's clear that when you watch him that he's an everyday player," Keefe said. "That's the level of separation that you are looking for, that's really it."

TOP HEADLINES

Kampftroller
Play

Maple Leafs' Woll to Start Against Sharks, Kampf Practices

David Kampf was a full participant at Maple Leafs practice on Thursday after leaving early in the team's 6-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings.

Zam
Play

2021-22 Minnesota High School Players to Watch

Our prospect expert takes a look at 10 players eligible for the 2022 draft who will be fighting for that coveted state title this season.

Storytellers Featuring Ian Pulver: Tom Kurvers, from Stanley Cup to NHL Management

Storytellers with Ian Pulver: James Boyd on Building a Great Junior Hockey Team

Ian Pulver met up with Ottawa 67s GM James Boyd to talk about turning his junior hockey career into a university degree, coaching in the Ontario Hockey League and building Canada's next World Junior Championship team.