Leafs place Auston Matthews on injured reserve

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 20: Auston Matthews
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 20: Auston Matthews /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have placed superstar Auston Matthews on injured reserve.

Last week, Auston Matthews was sidelined by a shoulder injury that he sustained in a game against New York Islanders.

An MRI confirmed that Matthews had damaged his shoulder. He is out day-to-day with the injury, and has now been placed on injured reserve.

But it is believed that the move have more to do with creative roster management than the star center’s injury being any more severe than first thought, according to The Athletic’s James Mirtle:

Adding Matthews to the injured reserve list essentially removes him from the Toronto roster for now. It also removes his cap hit for the duration of his time on IR. This is all about adding flexibility for the Maple Leafs.

While there is usually a 23-player limit to the size of a team’s roster, this disappears after Monday’s trade deadline.

Toronto has already been active prior to the deadline, trading for versatile center Tomas Plekanec to boost its playoff bid. There may even be further moves in the pipeline. The club has also been linked with making a deal to upgrade defensively.

Moving Matthews to injured reserve opens up a roster spot for another addition and creates a bit of extra cap space. More importantly, with the roster limit ending on Monday, Matthews can be added right back in as soon as he’s ready to go.

Goalscoring extraordinaire Matthews was injured in the dying seconds of the clash with the Islanders on Thursday. He was sandwiched between two players and suffered a second-degree shoulder separation.

The Leafs will not rush him back into the lineup and want him at 100 percent fitness for their playoff run.

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A first overall draft pick, Matthews scored 40 goals and took home the Calder Trophy in his rookie campaign. This season he has 28 goals and 50 points in 53 games so far.