Maple Leafs goalie Matt Murray back on IR with ankle injury

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray is back on injured reserve with an ankle injury, the club announced Thursday.

The netminder began dealing with the issue late last month and was eventually forced out last minute from a scheduled start against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 27. Murray was monitored over the All-Star break, and it was ultimately determined he would need more time to recover.

Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas addressed Murray's status further during a Thursday afternoon media availability, saying he isn't expected back now for at least a couple more weeks.

Murray previously missed 15 games early this season with a groin problem. He's been limited now to just 19 appearances, with an 11-5-2 record, .911 save percentage and 2.73 goals against average.

The 28-year-old has struggled repeatedly to stay healthy in recent years. Murray dealt with hip, neck and head injuries from 2021-22 with the Senators, but that didn't dissuade Toronto from trading for Murray last summer to be their No. 1 goaltender.

It's been Ilya Samsonov -- another offseason acquisition by Toronto -- who's carried the load so far. Samsonov is 17-6-2 on the year, with a .913 SV% and 2.42 GAA and will now share the Leafs' cage with American Hockey League call-up Joseph Woll until Murray is healthy enough to return. Murray was on the ice ahead of Toronto's practice on Thursday working with goalie coach Curtis Sanford.

For now, at least, Murray's injury won't interrupt Toronto's plan ahead of the NHL's March 3 trade deadline. Dubas said he doesn't intend to target a goaltender in the next month and will keep his focus on offensive or defensive pieces.

On that note, Dubas said defenseman Jake Muzzin -- who's been out with a neck injury since October -- is still waiting to meet with a specialist later this month. That appointment will determine whether Muzzin returns this season or not.

Toronto's top center Auston Matthews was also on the ice Thursday in a noncontact practice jersey. He's coming back from a knee sprain suffered two weeks ago against the New York Rangers. The Leafs said at the time Matthews would need at least three weeks before coming back, and Dubas confirmed Matthews won't be in the lineup before he's able to take contract at practice.