The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired forward Ryan O'Reilly at the NHL Trade Deadline hoping to fortify their depth down the middle. Unfortunately, O'Reilly suffered a broken finger and has missed some time.
However, O'Reilly could be close to a return to the ice. The Maple Leafs forward is doing well, and head coach Sheldon Keefe told the media Tuesday that a return next week is a possibility.
Right now, O'Reilly is working with the team, and trying to get back into game shape. “Just to continue to ramp him up and make sure things respond positively both as he is shooting more, handling pucks more and then also just making sure he's safe in terms of minimizing risk for re-injury,” Keefe said of his veteran forward.
O'Reilly played eight games for the Maple Leafs prior to his broken finger. He had three goals and five points in those games following a trade from the St. Louis Blues.
“Today he didn't practice, but he did everything but practice and he got a lot of work in individually himself before we even got out there,” Keefe said. “The hope is he will continue to progress towards practice here.”
The Maple Leafs clinched a playoff spot on Monday, so there is no rush to bring O'Reilly back. The team can take their time with the veteran forward and prepare for the inevitable first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Maple Leafs are in second place in the Atlantic Division on 98 points. They are six points clear of the third-place Lightning, who hold a healthy lead over the fourth-place Florida Panthers in the division.