Erik Gustafsson leaves Leafs to deal with personal situation

Mar 25 2023, 5:21 pm

Erik Gustafsson will be away from the Toronto Maple Leafs for the foreseeable future.

Gustafsson, acquired with a first-round pick from the Washington Capitals on February 28 in exchange for Rasmus Sandin, is back in Washington as he deals with a personal family situation.

“Gustafsson is not with the team. He had a personal situation,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters Saturday morning. “He had to head back to Washington. We’ll give him the time that he needs to get that sorted out.”

Gustafsson, 31, has one assist in eight games with Toronto, and 39 points (seven goals, 32 assists) in 69 games with the Maple Leafs and Capitals.

Defenceman Morgan Rielly will return to the lineup for Toronto in Gustafsson’s place. Rielly was scratched for rest in a 6-2 win at the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

Rielly will be joined in the lineup by six other blueliners, including TJ Brodie, Timothy Liljegren, Jake McCabe, Justin Holl, and Luke Schenn, as the Maple Leafs opt for an 11-forward, seven-defenceman configuration.

Toronto is opening with the first of back-to-back games at the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday before facing the Nashville Predators on Sunday. The Leafs then return home to host the Florida Panthers on Wednesday to close out the month of March.

The team sits second in the Atlantic Division, five points up on the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning and 20 points back of the Boston Bruins for the division lead.

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