The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without first-line center Tyler Bozak until at least Nov. 19 as he has been placed on long-term injured reserve according to David Alter of Sportsnet.ca. Bozak has not played in more than a week with what the team has termed a lower-body injury.
The move makes room for Nikolai Kulemin to make his return from the IR according to Alter's report. It also means Nazem Kadri will likely remain with Toronto's top wings Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.
Though Bozak has been pretty solid this year with six points in 11 games, Kardri has filled in more than adequately with five points since moving up the depth chart. Meanwhile, Kessel has had six points and van Riemsdyk has five. So this is working out quite well.
That line now has a chance to gain a little more chemistry and may make it difficult for Randy Carlyle to put Bozak back between Kessel and van Riemsdyk when he returns.
Bozak was re-signed by Toronto over the summer to a five-year $21 million deal with a $4.2 million cap hit. Kadri meanwhile re-upped for two years at $5.8 million for an annual hit at $2.9 million. So Bozak is certainly being paid like the Maple Leafs' No. 1 center, but it's hard to deny what Kadri has brought to the Leafs' top line.
Toronto currently sits atop the Atlantic Division with a 10-4-0 record and is fourth in the NHL with an average of 3.36 goals scored per game.