Toronto Maple Leafs Key Piece Returns After 14 Game Absence

It was the Toronto Maple Leafs' biggest acquisition (of many) at the trade deadline. But as quickly as he made an impact, he was out of the lineup just as fast with a fractured finger. Now, after 14 games, Ryan O'Reilly will make his return Thursday night.

With a real gut-check test for the team against the Boston Bruins, O'Reilly says he's "going in and going right into the fire.”

“It feels 100%,” he told reporters. And while head coach Sheldon Keefe has teased that he loved the way O'Reilly fit with Mitch Marner and John Tavares, as well as when he was paired up with Auston Matthews, for Thursday's game, O'Reilly will be centering a third-line, with his former St. Louis Blues teammate Noel Acciari, and Alexander Kerfoot.

"He brings a bit of swagger to our team, I think," said Kerfoot, thrilled to be joining a line with O'Reilly. "He has that experience. He's won a Cup, won a Conn Smythe. He's been there before. He's done it. (He) completes our lineup."

The big trade to acquire O'Reilly paid immediate dividends for the Leafs, as he notched a hat trick in just his third contest with the team. But five games later, he would be down and out with the fractured finger. Getting him back now, five games before the playoffs, is certainly a boost for the team.

“He’s got that presence about him," said Keefe. "Super confident in who he is.”

Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports