Breaking: Leafs lose another key player in last stretch and ahead of the playoffs

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Sorry Toronto Maple Leafs fans, we aren't bringing you good news today. 

The Maple Leafs held practice on Wednesday morning and when reporters noted that defenseman Jake Gardiner was missing from the skate once again, head coach Mike Babcock did not have the most positive answer to their questions. 

"Uh, did we make an announcement on [Gardiner]? Ok, we didn't make an announcement on Gards. Not playing today. I'll let someone else make the announcement," the head coach commented, adding that the blue liner will not be in the lineup tonight as the Leafs face the visiting Edmonton Oilers. 

Back spasms sidelined Gardiner for two games back in January and Babcock revealed after Tuesday’s practice that the blue liner was dealing with a “lingering” issue.

The 28-year-old, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, has recorded  two goals and 27 assists in 60 games this season with a plus-17 rating.

Russian defender Igor Ozhiganov is expected to replace Gardiner in the lineup. Ozhiganov has been a healthy scratch for the past 13 contests. 

Some insiders fear that Gardiner will be out for the remainder of the regular season, as some believe he might need to undergo surgery. It would be a blow to the Leafs' blue line seeing that they did not manage to add more on the back end at the trade deadline on Monday. 

Prior to today's practice, Leafs forward Nazem Kadri skated for the second consecutive day ahead of his team's morning skate as he works his way back from a concussion he suffered in a February 19 game against the St. Louis Blues.

The 28-year-old forward has appeared in 59 games this season for the Leafs and has 15 goals and 20 assists.

We will keep you updated on Gardiner's status.