TORONTO – Matt Murray’s flared-up ankle injury is “going require some time, for sure” to heal up, according to Sheldon Keefe.
The Toronto Maple Leafs coach did not estimate a recovery timeline for his goaltender’s return but is hopeful Murray will not be sidelined long-term.
Murray underwent testing Sunday and will take time to rest. Expect an update when the Maple Leafs return from their bye week and practice Feb. 9 in Columbus.
After suddenly pulling out of Friday’s showdown with his former team, the Ottawa Senators, Murray was deemed unable to play due to an aggravated ankle ailment he had quietly been nursing for a while.
The Maple Leafs took a chance on the oft-injured Murray’s health by trading for him in the off-season, considering he hasn’t made 40 appearances in a single season since 2018-19.
The 28-year-old already missed more than month this season when he injured his adductor during an October morning skate. Now, this injury could cost him another month between starts.
Since Murray was pulled in Toronto’s comeback win over the Florida Panthers on Jan. 17, Ilya Samsonov has established himself as the club’s No. 1. Samsonov will make his sixth consecutive start Sunday versus Washington.
“Matt was available and ready to play throughout,” Keefe noted of Samsonov’s solid run this month.
Until Murray (11-5-2, .911) pulled up lame during Friday’s warmups.
“It was a little bit of a surprise for everyone,” Mitch Marner said.
With Murray sidelined, the Maple Leafs recalled 24-year-old prospect Joseph Woll to back up.
Woll is off to his greatest pro season down on the farm, mounting a 12-1 record and a .928 for the Marlies and earning an invite to the AHL all-star game.
Erik Källgren had performed admirably for the Leafs (3-2-4) when Murray and Samsonov were sidelined in the fall, but his .874 save percentage at the AHL level made it clear that Woll would be next man up.
“(Woll) has been tremendously consistent. Given them a chance to win every night. At times being the reason why they’re winning games,” Keefe said.
“Since he’s been healthy, he really hasn’t missed a beat. So, it’s a good opportunity for us to get him in here and work with him and get a sense of where he’s at.”
Kyle Dubas bought low on Woll last season, extending him through 2024-25 at a $766,667 cap hit.
The organization has been patient with the 2016 third-rounder’s development and was impressed by his emergency four-game showcase at the NHL level last season, when the third-stringer went 3-1 with a .911.
“Just confidence,” Keefe said. “He came in at a time when we really needed solid performances from our goaltenders. As a young guy coming in with no experience, he came in and gave us really good minutes and kinda learned on the fly and just soaked it all in…. Our confidence in him grew a lot through that process.
“The start to the season that he’s had here has been tremendous, and lots of reasons for us to be excited about him.”
To make room for Woll, the Maple Leafs returned forward Bobby McMann to the Marlies.
They also placed Auston Matthews (knee) on injured reserve Sunday in order to active T.J. Brodie (rib) for action against the Capitals.