Kerfoot originally sustained the injury on Nov. 5 vs. Los Angeles. After Kerfoot reported ongoing discomfort while the team was in New York to face the Islanders, consultation testing determined that surgery was required to repair the facial dental fractures. (2/2) #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) November 15, 2019
First, this sucks terribly for Kerfoot. None of that sounds like fun, and I truly hope he enjoys smoothies.
Kerfoot has performed adequately in a role that he seems to inherited by default. He hasn’t been stellar, but he’s kept the third line from sinking into the ocean, largely through the support of Ilya Mikheyev. His absence likely thrusts Jason Spezza into a full time 3C situation until his return, but honestly Spezza hasn’t been too bad and might even make a case for Mikheyev-Spezza-Kerfoot line in the post injury world.
Well, the name we seem to hearing the most of is Pierre Engvall. Engvall doesn’t require waivers so there’s no risk associated with recalling him and him not working out. He’s got the skillset to play center if needed, although at a NHL level that might be less than ideal to start. Engvall playing with Timashov and Moore could make for a fun former Marlies line, and I’d be all for it.
Engvall would also add some much needed size to the Leafs roster, although size does not equal grit, but really the only grit in the organization is Mason Marchment and he’s still sitting on the LTIR.
Additionally the Leafs could look at Egor Korshkov, who like Engvall, has had a strong start to his AHL season. He’s more skilled than Engvall, but doesn’t have the versatility of being able to line up at center.
Finally, there’s nothing to say the Leafs need to go with a forward, and there are several interesting defensive options with Sandin and Liljegren being the inspired choices, and Gravel being the more likely one.
As long as Marner is injured, the Leafs aren’t facing any salary cap issues, but potentially putting Kerfoot on the long term injured reserve might be an option if he’s expected to be gone for four weeks or more as well. If Kerfoot is expected to be gone beyond the assumed the return of Marner, the Leafs can take advantage of that salary cap cushion and we don’t need to go through the trauma of watching Nic Petan get waived again.
The Leafs didn’t need another injury to a key player. They’ve been playing poorly enough without losing more players from their lineup. This also seems to be a means for the coaching staff and management group to escape responsibility for underwhelming results. It remains an uphill battle to find things to be optimistic about with the Leafs.