TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without Wayne Simmonds until mid-March.
The team has announced the bruising winger is set to miss six weeks after suffering a broken wrist in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Simmonds, 32, scored twice in the game, but took a clearing attempt off his left arm in the third period. The injury was looked at by a trainer on the bench before Simmonds headed to the locker room for more treatment.
The Toronto native, who signed a one-year, US$1.5-million contract in free agency to play in his hometown with the Leafs looking to add grit and leadership, failed to register a point in the first half-dozen games of the abbreviated schedule, but put up five goals in his last six outings.
The net-front presence on one of Toronto’s potent, balanced power-play units, Simmonds skated with John Tavares and William Nylander as part of the Leafs’ second line the last two games.
The club is already minus another veteran voice, with 41-year-old Joe Thornton still recovering from a fractured rib suffered Jan. 20, while rookie Nick Robertson has been out since sustaining a knee injury Jan. 16. Both wingers were given four-week timetables for their return to the lineup.
“He’s a big loss for us,” head coach Sheldon Keefe said of Simmonds prior to Monday’s game at Scotiabank Arena against Vancouver. “He’s been playing well, not just with his play, but he brings a lot to our room in a lot of other areas.
“That certainly will be missed, but like other injuries that we’ve had, it’s opportunities for other people to step up.”
Keefe added the Leafs will go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen Monday as they look to sweep their three-game series versus the Canucks, with second-year defenceman Rasmus Sandin seeing his first action in nearly 11 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Toronto has outscored Vancouver 12-4 through the first two contests, including Thursday’s 7-3 triumph.
Simmonds, who battled various injuries in recent years, has 256 goals, 504 points and 1,145 penalty minutes in 921 career regular-season games with five NHL teams.
Selected 61st overall by the Los Angeles Kings at the 2007 NHL draft, he’s added eight goals and 21 points in 44 playoff appearances.
Simmonds had his best years with Philadelphia Flyers, scoring at least 28 goals in his first five full seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, and cracking the 60-point mark in both 2013-14 and 2015-16.
He managed just eight goals and 25 points in 68 games with the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres before last season was derailed by the coronavirus.
Keefe said both Thornton and Robertson are at least a week away from returning, while Travis Dermott could be available when Toronto travels to Montreal for a date with the Canadiens on Wednesday. The blue-liner left Thursday’s game against Vancouver with what was described at the time as a charley horse. Backup goalie Jack Campbell also remains out with a leg injury.
The Leafs sat atop both the North Division and the NHL overall standings with 19 points heading into Monday’s games thanks to a 6-0-1 stretch.