Toronto Maple Leafs: John Tavares makes small progress

Toronto Maple Leafs: John Tavares making small progress

UPGRADE DAY

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe notices improvement in captain John Tavares' health, but he still isn't expected to be ready in time for the regular season, as the team Queen City will start next Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens. 

The center player had to take at least three weeks to heal an oblique muscle injury he suffered on September 24 in a preseason duel against the Ottawa Senators. The 32-year-old veteran started skating again on Monday and his appearance for the opener had not yet been ruled out, but it is becoming less and less likely. 

“Everything will depend on his recovery,” Keefe said on Wednesday, his remarks being reported by the National Hockey League website. I think it was a very positive day for him today, but with the way things are going, the plan is that he wouldn't be available. It's his body that will dictate what happens next.”

If his fitness goes as planned, Tavares could be back for the second week of activities. His absence is currently causing a gaping hole in the center. Alex Kerfoot and William Nylander had to play that position during the preseason schedule, something they haven't done often with the Maple Leafs.

“Whether it's sooner or later, it's will have to deal with. We're only going to go one day at a time with him. Today was a good day for him, but I certainly don't expect him to be ready this week,” Keefe reiterated.

Last season, the former Islanders New York has 76 points, including 27 goals, in 79 games. He added six points in seven playoff games.