Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander will miss a minimum of the team’s next three games and remains in quarantine due to exposure to a possible COVID-19 positive case with a close contact outside of the team.
“I believe the expectation is he’s going to miss a minimum of seven days here and then we’ll just have to see how it goes,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said.
Nylander entered the NHL’s COVID-19 list shortly after the team’s morning skate on Wednesday.
“We had a good sense around lunchtime that there was a situation,” Keefe said after the team’s 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens. “Credit to Will for how he handled it in terms of being upfront.”
Keefe also stressed that Nylander didn’t break any protocols and no other Leafs have shown up on the league’s COVID-19 list.
“From what I have heard, the tests (for Nylander) have come back negative, which is a great sign,” Leafs forward Mitch Marner said.
NHL protocol dictates that Nylander must have three negative tests during his quarantine before he can rejoin his teammates.
Nylander has 13 goals and 17 assists in 39 games this season.
Without Nylander, the team shuffled up their top two lines at practice on Friday. Alex Galchenyuk moved up to the team’s top line to skate alongside Auston Matthews and Marner.
Ilya Mikheyev, who moved up to the second line on Wednesday, stayed there with John Tavares. Zach Hyman joins the line on the right-wing.
“Not having Nylander breaks up that Tavares line that we liked,” Keefe said. “I think it’s just great for us now to get a look at Galchenyuk, who’s been playing really very well.”
Galchenyuk has a goal and three assists in ten games with the Leafs. He’s averaged 12:32 of ice time in that span.
“I’m excited to see how it’s going to go tomorrow,” Marner said of playing with Galchenyuk. “Hopefully we get the chemistry going right away.”
With Nylander out, Galchenyuk also saw some time on the team’s second power-play unit on Wednesday and that continued at practice on Friday.
The only other player missing at practice was Frederik Andersen. The goaltender has not been seen since his last start on Mar. 19 when he allowed four goals on 18 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames.
The NHL Trade Deadline is three days away. The team has approximately $1.7 million in deadline cap space, according to CapFriendly.com. If Andersen is determined to be unavailable for the remainder of the regular season, Toronto could place him on long-term injured reserve and increase their available cap space to $5 million, the exact total of Andersen’s cap hit.