Auston Matthews’ readiness for the start of training camp is in question after the Maple Leafs’ star center underwent wrist surgery Friday.
The team announced that Matthews’ recovery time will be at least six weeks. Toronto has not yet announced when its camp will begin, but its first preseason game is set for Sept. 25.
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Matthews played with a wrist injury for most of the 2021 season, yet still led the league with 41 goals. He felt increasing discomfort in the wrist as he ramped up his offseason activity this week, the Leafs said in their announcement. Surgery was recommended after he consulted with specialists and team medical staff.
The 23-year-old Matthews was hurt Jan. 20 against the Oilers and missed the rematch between the teams on Jan. 22 with an upper-body injury. Matthews said then that the injury was to his hand area. He returned to the lineup Jan. 24 for a game vs. the Flames.
He missed two more games against the Oilers on Feb. 27 and March 1. A few days before Matthews’ absence, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said the wrist had been an issue for most of the season.
“He’s been dealing with it for a long time now throughout this season,” Keefe said after Toronto’s overtime win over the Flames on Feb. 24. Matthews felt discomfort taking a faceoff in OT in that game. “It hasn’t slowed him down. Obviously, today it was a factor, but we do have a couple days here before we play again.”
Matthews ended up playing in 52 of the Leafs’ 56 games in the regular season and all seven of Toronto’s playoff games. He won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer.
Toronto won the North Division title last season, its first division crown since the 1999-2000 season. It then lost in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs to Montreal after taking a 3-1 series lead.