The Toronto Maple Leafs already have a lot of things to be happy about this season. They’ve found a way to win despite some big injuries, nearly all of their players are producing at or above expectations and their young goaltending has proven good enough to keep the team in playoff contention. The Maple Leafs got Matt Frattin back for Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and may now have Joffrey Lupul return within the next week or two.
Lupul has yet to be cleared for contact, but has returned to the ice. He played only three games this season before he suffered a fractured forearm. Toronto already ranks in the top ten in the league in goals per game and getting a proven scorer like Lupul back will only improve this team’s chance of staying in the playoff picture. Lupul scored 25 goals and had 67 points for the Maple Leafs last season, both of which were career highs. He’s going to be a part of this team for a long time thanks to a five-year contract extension signed in January, so it’s incredibly important that the Leafs don’t bring him back until he is ready.
When Lupul first went down, the timetable for his return was anywhere from six to eight weeks, and he’s right around six weeks now. Frattin and Phil Kessel have found a way to elevate their game in his absence, which has lessened the urgency to rush Lupul back into action. Frattin has seven goals and 11 points in 11 games this season, while Kessel has seven goals and 23 points. The Maple Leafs play on the road against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow before returning home for three games over seven days.