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Matthews not at practice, Leafs recall Gauthier, send Kapanen down

The Kid goes up, Kasperi goes down

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, the Leafs announced that they were sending Kasperi Kapanen to the minors, and recalling Frederik Gauthier

On its face, this is a little weird. Kapanen is a NHL player right now. Gauthier is a marginal one, at best. Unfortunately for the Leafs, it appears this may have to do with Auston Matthews’ general soreness.

He was not present at practice today, and despite a decently strong game against the Knights, it seems as though the Leafs are preparing to take on the Wild on Wednesday night without him.

Woof. Those lines are kind of dire, though it’s nice to see Kadri with someone who can also carry the puck. While Gauthier is an extra by these lines, Babcock may prefer to have an additional centre in case he decides against putting Marleau in that spot. If that is the case, you’d have to imagine Leivo draws out for Gauthier, and the roster above looks even worse. It’s also interesting that Babcock has chosen not to place Nylander at centre, given that all reports indicated that he was going to do that if Matthews couldn’t play against Vegas. Doing so would allow for a spot in the lineup for Kapanen, likely at the expense of Dominic Moore.

It’s worth noting that the Marlies play tomorrow, so Kapanen seems likely to suit up for that game. As such, this may be a move to let Kapanen get some game time - you’d have to imagine the Leafs would do everything in their power to not play Moore and Gauthier in the same lineup. That said, I’ve been wrong before, so we’ll have to wait and see.