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Woll Getting Closer, Matthews Closing In On 50; Leafs vs. Coyotes

February 21, 2024, 11:17 PM ET [464 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs will hope to erase the final game of the five-game suspension to defenseman Morgan Rielly as they have the first four games, with a winning effort. The Leafs take on the Arizona Coyotes at the cavernous Mullett Arena on Wednesday, in the second of their four-game Western road swing.

The contest is a return home for Arizona natives and linemates Matthew Knies and Auston Matthews, with the NHL’s leading goal scorer having a chance to hit the 50-goal mark in just his 54th game. The Leafs are expected to dress the same lineup that was victorious 4-2 over St. Louis on Monday. Head coach Sheldon Keefe tweaked his line combinations against the Blues, shifting team captain John Tavares between Bobby McMann and Nick Robertson, and playing Max Domi in between Tyler Bertuzzi and William Nylander.

With Rielly out and Mark Girodano and Conor Timmins unavailable, Toronto will be forced to rely mostly on the top two pairings of TJ Brodie – Timothy Liljegren and Sion Benoit and Jake McCabe, while limiting minutes on the AHL pairing of Maxime Lajoie and Marshall Rifai.

Ilya Samsonov will get the start vs. the Coyotes, with Martin Jones undoubtedly going in the second of back-to-back games against the Golden Knights in Las Vegas on Thursday.

On the goaltending front, the news was encouraging regarding the return of Joseph Woll, who was sent to the AHL Toronto Marlies on a conditioning stint. It is unknown whether Woll will see game action in either weekend game against the Laval Rockets, but it sounds as if Toronto is hoping to get the 25-year-old back before the end of February or before the March 8th trade deadline at the latest.

"I wouldn't say we have a target date necessarily, other than to say the hope is that he feels good at the end of this week to be able to rejoin our team, and then, kind of get back up to NHL speed, which he has been working his way towards that in practices.” Keefe said. "He'll get a couple of Marlies practices here this week with hopes that he builds towards playing in a game for them this weekend. And then, we'll take it from there, whether to give him more time there or bring him back. But it's going to be, really, based on how he feels.”

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David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period is reporting that the Leafs have interest in San Jose Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro and possibly center Luke Kunin, as the club will look to trade off some assets as part of their long-term rebuild strategy. Ferraro has played five seasons in Northern California, and unlike a number of other deadline targets the Leafs have been linked to, the 25-year-old Toronto native has two years remaining on his contract at an AAV of $3.25 million.

Kunin is a former Minnesota Wild first-rounder and has eight goals this season for the Sharks, but makes $2.75 million this season and is a restricted free agent.

It is hard to imagine the Leafs interest in Kunin based on their limited cap availability, but Ferraro with term remaining would be an attractive get for GM Brad Treliving and his pursuit of blueline help.

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