The Toronto Maple Leafs will without captain John Tavares to start the 2022-23 season. Head coach Sheldon Keefe announced that Tavares had suffered an oblique injury in the preseason and will miss three weeks.
In his Tuesday press conference, Keefe said that Tavares underwent tests for a nagging injury and discovered that he suffered a strained oblique.
"He's been dealing with something since the game the other night and thought it was pretty minor," Keefe said. "They had some further tests here later after we started practice. It's an oblique strain, and it's gonna keep him out a minimum of three weeks."
If the timeline for Tavares' return holds, he would miss at least the first four games of the season. At that point, Tavares could be back in time for Toronto's home game against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 20.
Tavares has been an integral part of this Maple Leafs team since he signed with the franchise in the summer of 2018 and was named the captain in 2019. Last season, Tavares scored 27 goals and tallied 76 points in 79 games played.
Keefe said that, while Tavares' absence will be felt, it does present the opportunity for other players to get more time up the lineup in training camp.
"Obviously, he's a huge part of our team. It really does alter the plan, for sure, but we've played without guys before. For the remainder of camp, it's just additional opportunities for guys to step up and fill in that space. You're not going to replace John, but it does create an opportunity for us to look at other guys. It's up to others to step up and take advantage of that opportunity."
With Tavares out of the lineup to begin the season, David Kämpf or Alexander Kerfoot could be asked to slot into his role as the second-line center.