Tavares cleared to return to ice, should be ready for Maple Leafs camp


John Tavares has been fully cleared to return to on-ice activity and the forward is expected to be ready for Toronto Maple Leafs training camp in September, general manager Kyle Dubas said Thursday.

“All indications are that he will be good to go,” Dubas told TSN Toronto 1050. “It will just be a matter of him getting back into rhythm as best he can and us supporting him in that regard.”

Tavares was hospitalized overnight after he sustained a concussion and knee injury in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Montreal Canadiens on May 20 when he fell after being checked by defenseman Ben Chiarot and then was hit in the head by the left knee of Montreal forward Corey Perry.

Tavares did not play the remainder of the best-of-7 series, won by the Canadiens in seven games after the Maple Leafs lost the final three, but did participate in an optional morning skate prior to Game 7 on May 31.

Dubas said Tavares mostly will be kept away from contact until training camp, though he “may be able to replicate a little bit of that” in informal skates with other players.

“I think with an injury of that nature, you’re always very cautious about the way that a player returns,” Dubas said. “I think in this case, with there being a lot of time elapsing between the injury there in late May and training camp opening in mid-September, that’s a good thing for us and certainly for John. … We certainly can’t take anything lightly. We’ve got to do right by John, and we certainly will.”

Tavares turns 31 on Sept. 20. He has scored 198 points (92 goals, 106 assists) in 201 games, including 50 (19 goals, 31 assists) in 56 games this season, since signing with the Maple Leafs on July 1, 2018, after playing his first nine NHL seasons with the New York Islanders. Tavares was named Toronto captain Oct. 2, 2019.

Forward Zach Hyman, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 28, was given permission last week to speak with other teams about a contract, Dubas said.

“(Hyman’s agent) Todd [Reynolds] had kind of told me what other teams were hinting at they may do, which were beyond what we had thought we would be willing to do and are able to do given our constraints with the [NHL] salary cap (of $81.5 million) and so on,” Dubas said. “… We’ll see where that goes. We try to be kind of, to get ahead of it a little bit and really ensure that what they thought was going to be out there was out there, and then we’ll see where it all lands here in the next week. We’ll continue to have discussions if they’re warranted and proceed from there.”

Hyman has scored 185 points (86 goals, 99 assists) in 345 games with the Maple Leafs. The 29-year-old scored 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 43 regular-season games this season and had one assist in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Dubas said it is possible Toronto will re-sign pending unrestricted free agent goalie Frederik Andersen, who turns 32 on Oct. 2.

“The door is definitely not closed on Fred,” Dubas said.

Andersen played 24 games this season, the fewest in his eight NHL seasons because of a lower-body injury, and was 13-8-3 with a 2.96 goals-against average and an .895 save percentage, each an NHL career worst. He did not play in the series against Montreal.

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