Matt Murray trouble rearing it's ugly head for the Maple Leafs.
Rick Madonik/Toronto Star  

Matt Murray trouble rearing it's ugly head for the Maple Leafs.

Matt Murray has been out of the picture for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that may be about to change.

Jonathan Larivee

The Toronto Maple Leafs haven't seen Matt Murray on the ice for a very long time. It's been so long in fact that you would be hard pressed to blame casual fans for forgetting that he was a member of this current iteration of the Maple Leafs altogether.

Murray last saw action all the way back on April 2nd of last year in an abysmal game against the Detroit Red Wings that saw him record a .714 save percentage, and since then the veteran National Hockey League goaltender has been on the sidelines due to injury.

This has largely proven to be a positive for the Maple Leafs who have had the luxury of burying Murray's cap hit on long term injured reserve, a luxury that the Maple Leafs may soon be about to lose. Roughly one month ago Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe indicated that Murray was making significant progress in his recovery and now the latest update suggests things have continued to trend in that direction.

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman has revealed that Murray could be back as soon as April, which would mean he would return prior to the conclusion of the regular season.

"I think he could get cleared to play sometime in early April. I should say cleared some time in early April," said Friedman as per The Hockey News.

Friedman dismissed the notion of Murray being a factor on the ice down the stretch, indicating that he does not believe the Maple Leafs will even look to bring him to the NHL level upon his return from injury.

"And then I would assume he's going to end up on a conditioning stint because they're not going to throw him right into the NHL right away," added Friedman. "But I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that we could see him in the AHL at some point."

Murray carries an ugly cap hit of $6.25 million per season but, thanks to a retained salary transaction with the Ottawa Senators, the Maple Leafs are only on the hook for $4.687 million of that per season. That is too large of a cap hit for the Maple Leafs to bury in the American Hockey League however, so Murray coming off long term injured reserve could cause the Maple Leafs a few headaches down the road.

How Brad Treliving and company plan to navigate this situation if it does come up before the end of the regular season remains to be seen.