Toronto Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews (upper body) has been ruled out for Friday’s game vs. the Edmonton Oilers. Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters on Friday morning that he’s not too concerned with Matthews’ injury, but wanted to play it safe.
Update: Here are the Leafs lines for Friday night’s game. Hyman is up with Tavares and Marner on the first line. Second line is Nylander — Kerfoot — Hyman:
Toronto veteran C/W Joe Thornton is expected to miss one month due to a fractured rib, Keefe also announced. Thornton was signed to a one-year deal by the Leafs this offseason to chase the elusive Cup. Thornton had started the season at LW on the top line with Matthews and Mitchell Marner. The veteran was replaced by Jimmy Vesey, who will be in line or a new center on Friday night.
So if Vesey and Marner stick on the top line for the Leafs, we could see John Tavares bumped up to center them. It’s somewhat unlikely considering Tavares, William Nylander and Zach Hyman have been the Leafs’ best line so far this season, combining for six goals. If that’s the case, maybe Keefe decides to keep Nylander and Tavares together up top with Marner, which would create a pretty potent line, but hurt Toronto’s depth overall.
Jonas Siegel of The Athletic suggest the Leafs simply move the second line up to the first-line slot and plug in the rest of the pieces for tonight:
Sheldon Keefe wouldn’t reveal what his forward lines would look like with Auston Matthews and Joe Thornton both sidelined.— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) January 22, 2021
Here’s one way the Leafs could go:
If this is the case, there will be a lot of chalky plays on Toronto. Tavares ($6,600) was already underpriced considering how well he’s looked this season. Now, he’ll be the first-line center and likely have to play more ice time with Matthews out. Nylander ($5,700) and Hyman ($4,400) are both affordable and make this line easy to stack. You also may end up getting full PP1 exposure if Hyman replaces Matthews.
As for value, Alexander Kerfoot ($2,700) centering the second line at min-price is pretty appealing. Kerfoot has two points through 5 games this season while averaging around 14:00 of ice time. If that number increases — both at EV and on the PP — he’ll have a shot at returning some value.
The line has the Leafs favored by 1.5 goals at home and are -129 on the moneyline on DraftKings Sportsbook. When a team is missing its best player, you always have to consider the road dog. The Oilers also just beat the Maple Leafs on the road 3-1 with Matthews in the lineup. Matthews was also the best player in that game for Toronto. Edmonton on the ML and even getting 1.5 goals at -240 (possibly in a parlay) stands out.
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