The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Auston Matthews will make his return to the lineup against the Sharks on Wednesday. Matthews hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury in a game against Winnipeg on October 27.
Matthews’ return obviously bolsters the already potent offense of the Maple Leafs. In the 14 games they played without Matthews, the Leafs averaged 3.36 goals per game and posted a 9-5-0 record. They averaged 3.72 goals per game through the first 11 games of the season with Matthews in the lineup.
Matthews started the season hotter than any player in the league but suffered a relatively-cold streak just before his injury, going pointless in four straight. He has 10 goals and six assists in 11 games this season.
The Leafs held an optional skate this morning, so their lines for tonight’s game are unknown. Prior to his injury, Matthews skated alongside Kasperi Kapanen and Patrick Marleau on the top line tonight, while Nazem Kadri centered Andreas Johnsson and Connor Brown on line three. The line of John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and Zach Hyman remained in tact.
The Leafs’ lineup could see some additional shuffling in the coming days with William Nylander’s deadline to sign looming. If Nylander does not sign before 5 p.m. EST on December 1 he will be ineligible to play in the 2018-19 season. The two sides are reportedly close to getting a deal done, rumoured over the weekend to be less than half a million dollars apart in AAV.