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Very surprising development coming out of Leafs practice


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Mike Armenti
February 15, 2024  (10:00)
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Leafs netminder Matt Murray tracking a puck
Photo credit: TSN

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot going on right now, with the impending return of Joseph Woll, the suspension appeal for Morgan Rielly, the new flu-like illness sweeping through the locker room and their pursuit of a playoff spot. However, one story that flew under the radar on Wednesday is now raising more than a few eyebrows.

On Wednesday, as the Leafs took to practice, most of the focus was on the absence of Ilya Samsonov, who was not with the team, but rather taking on some 1-on-1 work with goalie coach Curtis Sanford on a different sheet of ice. This led many to speculate over whether the aforementioned Woll would finally be making his NHL return or whether Martin Jones or rookie Dennis Hildeby would start against Philadelphia on Thursday.
When the dust had settled after practice, head coach Sheldon Keefe told the media that Samsonov would indeed get the start again on Thursday after winning 5 of his last 7 games. However, one reporter noticed something very strange in the Leafs' locker room that is now generating a bit of a buzz.
Per The Athletic's Jonas Siegel, the Leafs had more than just 4 goaltending stalls set up in the locker room. They had 5. So who had a stall set up aside from Joseph Woll, Ilya Samsonov, Martin Jones and Dennis Hildeby? It was none other than Matt Murray.
Murray has been sidelined since the summer after undergoing major hip surgery and was originally expected to miss the entire 2023-24 season. That still very well may be the case, but could we be potentially looking at a scenario in which Murray is healthy and ready to go for the playoffs? If so, how does that impact the Leafs' goaltending situation come the trade deadline? Could we see one of Ilya Samsonov or Martin Jones moved in a deal to bring back an asset? Will the Leafs simply retain 4 goaltenders in the playoffs (Hildeby will eventually be sent back down to the minors)?
Murray's original timeline for recovery were anticipated to be sometime between April and May, which could conceivably mean that he may be ready to go in time for the playoffs. However, the more likely scenario is not that Murray will return to action, even if he does join the team for practice between now and the end of the season. His presence on the ice will likely be more about testing out his surgically repaired hip and ramping up his activity level to ensure that he's ready to go in time for the 2024-25 season. Still, with how early his stall is set up in the Leafs' locker room, you have to wonder if it means he might be ahead of schedule.
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Very surprising development coming out of Leafs practice

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