Good news has been in short supply for the Toronto Maple Leafs as of late but on Saturday the Leafs received some significant updates that all have to be considered huge positives for the organization.
The first update on Saturday was relatively self evident as it came when veteran defenseman Cody Ceci hit the ice with his teammates for the first time since suffering a significant ankle injury, a sign that he was somewhat close to making his return. Ceci has yet to participate in a full contact practice with his teammates, but the fact that he was skating at all on Saturday, seemingly ahead of schedule no less, was of course a very positive sign for the Leafs organization. We would also learn that Ceci would be traveling with the team on their upcoming California road trip, again a sign that he is nearing a return to action.
The news is of course made all the more significant due to the fact that the Maple Leafs are currently without both defenseman Morgan Rielly and defenseman Jake Muzzin on the blue line, both of whom are dealing with long term injuries of their own. That is where the second bit of good news comes in however, and I must admit this comes as a bit of a surprise given that both players are expected to be out until sometime in mid March. According to a report from Sportsnet National Hockey League insider Chris Johnston both Muzzin and Rielly will also be joining the Maple Leafs on their upcoming road trip, an unexpected development given the expected timeframe for their respective recovery periods.
It does not sound like this will merely be a trip to sunny California for either man either as Johnston reports that they are both expected to skate with the team in spite of their injuries, a broken foot for Morgan Rielly and a broken hand for Jake Muzzin. This would appear to indicate that neither man is very far off from a potential return, however that may be premature given the original timeline for their injuries. The Leafs could certainly use them back sooner rather than later given that they have managed to pick up just a single win in their last 5 games, this in spite of being in a tight playoff race in the East.