Sheldon Keefe reveals recovery timelines for Liljegren and Jarnkrok

Mike Armenti
April 7, 2024  (12:37)

Timothy Liljegren out for a skate during warmups on the road
Photo credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Following a big win in Montreal last night, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe shared highly anticipated updates on both Timothy Liljegren and Calle Jarnkrok.

The Leafs put forth an excellent effort on Saturday night against the Canadiens, playing with a purpose and dictating the pace for most of the game. Still, even with how well the team played last night, the Leafs are still not running their optimal lineup. The absences of Liljegren and Jarnkrok have been felt, but as Keefe pointed out after last night's win, we may yet see both players return prior to the end of the regular season.
"It's a possibility [that Liljegren and Jarnkrok will return this season]. It's not ruled out. There's a chance. Probably it would just be those last two games that would be good in consideration, but it's possible."
-Keefe on Liljegren and Jarnkrok

An 82-game season is a long season. There's a lot of wear and tear and players are fighting through minor ailments at this time of the year. So, with that in mind, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Leafs rest some of their players down the home stretch as we approach the playoffs, particularly on the blueline.
We know thatJoel Edmundson has been skating with the team and appears to be close to a return. After a couple of weeks off as he works his way back from an undisclosed injury, we should see Edmundson back this week. The Leafs have 9 NHL defensemen on the roster at the moment, if you include Liljegren, so we should expect to see a rotation over these last six games to ensure that everyone gets an additional day or two off.
Sheldon Keefe revealed during last night's postgame media availability that the goal here for the Leafs is to try to get through these final 6 games without any injuries, while still maintaining the team's good habits. This can be challenging with players coming in and out of the lineup, but as long as everyone is buying into the system and knows where they need to be, the Leafs are certainly capable enough to finish strong and lock down 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, though the 2nd spot in the Atlantic Division is still very much up for grabs with the Leafs just 5 points back of Florida with two games in hand. Florida has not been playing well of late, going 3-5-2 over their last 10 games, while the Leafs have gone 6-4-0 in their last 10. Still, Keefe's message to the players isn't to get into a dog fight over home ice advantage, but rather just to get through these games as healthy as possible.
"Get through them. Get through them and then you get through them with good habits and good detail and you just try to stay healthy. That's really it. You know, stay on top of the habits that allow us to keep going. I mean, you got a chance here to really narrow our focus. You know what you're playing for here now, which is to get yourself ready. So that's it. We wanna do it with good habits and feeling good about your game. And that's really it, but obviously we just wanna get through these and be ready to go."
-Keefe on the Leafs' final 6 games

Up front, Jarnkrok's return is certainly not going to do Nick Robertson any favours. Robertson, who came out of the lineup last night to make room for the return of Mitch Marner, could be a candidate to be sent down to the Toronto Marlies in the coming weeks to make room to activate Jarnkrok from LTIR. We may see a similar situation with Matthew Knies, as they're the only two players exempt from waivers on the roster. The idea here wouldn't be to actually play Knies or Robertson with the Marlies, risking an injury, but just to serve as a paper transaction to provide them with some rest and create enough cap space to activate Jarnkrok and get him into some games before the playoffs begin.
At the moment, the Leafs have 14 forwards on the roster as well, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see Robertson and Noah Gregor to see some action this week to provide others with a day or two of rest as well before Robertson is sent down, which seems like the most plausible situation if the goal is to bring Jarnkrok back before the playoffs begin.
APRIL 7   |   418 ANSWERS
Sheldon Keefe reveals recovery timelines for Liljegren and Jarnkrok

Do you think the Leafs sign Timothy Liljegren to an extension this summer or package him in a deal for a defensive upgrade?

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