TORONTO – If the newest Toronto Maple Leaf gets into the club’s playoff lineup, coach Sheldon Keefe expects Riley Nash to make a defensive impact.
“What stands out to me is the way he played against us in the series against Columbus,” Keefe said Saturday morning, thinking back to Toronto’s five-game bubble elimination at the hand of the Blue Jackets.
“I just thought he was a real factor. I really got a sense of what he can bring there as a guy that gets really difficult matchups, starts in his own end, plays against good players. I thought he had a lot of shifts against our best players where you thought, perhaps, we’d be getting the upper hand — and it didn’t work out that way.”
If you can’t beat ’em, trade for ’em.
Nash is a 31-year-old, bottom-six centreman on an expiring contract. He was acquired by the Maple Leafs Friday in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2022.
That pick upgrades to a sixth-rounder if Nash participates in a quarter of the Leafs’ postseason games this spring.
Nash sprained his knee in a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday and will be sidelined for four to six weeks. Meaning he may not be ready when playoffs begin next month.
“The priority is to get him healthy and take it from there, but we’re excited to add him to the group,” Keefe said.