Zach Hyman (ankle sprain) will be out a minimum of three weeks.— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 21, 2018
Wondering if this is where Hyman got hurt. Legs taken out under him in NJ pic.twitter.com/QcVmzeGz76— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 20, 2018
That video does indeed show the spot where Zach Hyman was hurt in the game on Tuesday against the Devils. He finished the game, although, in hindsight, he likely shouldn’t have, and he played over 16 minutes, so there was no attempt to limit his minutes.
Mike Babcock’s full update on Zach Hyman’s injury, which will sideline him at least three weeks pic.twitter.com/WsIM0v7bk0— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 21, 2018
With Hyman out of the lineup on Thursday at home to the Panthers, the Leafs rolled over the weaker competition. Mike Babcock moved Connor Brown up and to the left side, but he only went so far as to put him on the Nazem Kadri line. Patrick Marleau moved up from there to the Matthews line (and that worked out well, although it hadn’t in the early part of the season). Andreas Johnsson joined John Tavares and Mitch Marner in ripping up the Panthers and making them regret their life choices. That line rocked. But I do note they weren’t matched up against Aleksander Barkov’s line like they were in the recent loss to the Panthers in Florida.
The Leafs added Frederik Gauthier back into the lineup, and the fourth line did okay against a fairly weak Panthers’ depth.
The Leafs have two more games, both at home, before Christmas. They host the Rangers and then the Red Wings in a back-to-back set on Saturday and Sunday. The Marlies aren’t far away; they’re playing in Laval on Friday and Saturday, and then they come home to play the Boxing Day Classic on the 26th. The Leafs are off until December 28, when they play in Columbus as the roster freeze ends.
The roster freeze, which is now in effect, does not prevent the Leafs from calling up a player to replace Hyman or just to have on hand.
The #NHL Holiday Roster Freeze officially begins tonight at 11:59pm local time, and remains in effect until December 28th at 12:01am local time.— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) December 19, 2018
What does that mean, and how are clubs impacted?
Below you'll find a detailed breakdown of all the key points to remember. pic.twitter.com/hpru2MqDRm
The key point is that the Leafs may go over the 23-man limit by calling up a player now, as long as they send the player down as soon as they are allowed to after midnight on December 28. That’s the morning of December 28, please note — 12:01 a.m., so before the Columbus game.
If they place Hyman on IR, and there’s no reason not too, they can keep a called up player around as long as Hyman remains off the 23-man roster. They have lots of cap space, so that’s not a consideration.
Should they call someone up? Maybe. It’s the safer move, considering that the Marlies are not right there in Toronto. But it’s not totally necessary. The Leafs did some road-tripping already without an extra forward on hand.
The Marlies did some callling up of their own, and of course, they recently signed Tom Sestito to a PTO, so they have lots of warm bodies. They can afford to have a winger go sit in the Leafs press box and earn some tasty NHL-level money for Christmas. Please note: Sestito is not eligible to be called up.
Trevor Moore or Mason Marchment are the obvious choices. Neither requires waivers to be sent back, so it’s an easy up for the duration and then back down when Hyman returns.
Three weeks takes up to game number 43, and there is a set of four days inactive over New Year’s in addition to the Christmas break, so from Hyman’s point of view, he won’t miss as many games as usual in that amount of time off.
We’ll let you know the Leafs next move whenever they make it.