The past two seasons of Joffrey Lupul’s career have been disappointing, to say the least. The veteran winger has missed more than 60 games since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, has all but lost his top-six role when healthy and hasn’t been the same player since his 22-goal, 44-point campaign in 2013-14.
Things aren’t getting any better for Lupul, either.
According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, Lupul, 32, has reportedly not been cleared to take part in Maple Leafs’ training camp and will be placed on the injured reserve when the season begins.
The nature of Lupul’s injury is unknown, but it could potentially be tied to the sports hernia which caused him to miss the final 31 games of the past season. Lupul suffered the injury on or around Feb. 6, and didn’t suit up for a single game in the next two months.
That Lupul has been sidelined with the ailment might not bode well for the rest of his time with the Maple Leafs, unless he can battle back from the injury and find his way back onto the roster. Even while he was with the team, though, Lupul watched as his job slowly slipped out of his grasps. After starting the past season off with games of 17 or 18-plus minutes of ice time, Lupul’s final handful of games in Toronto this past season were highlighted by games of 13 minutes of ice time, and he even took part in games where he skated little more than 10 or 11 minutes.
That his job was already being taken over by younger players doesn’t bode well, but it’s especially worrisome for Lupul considering the number of young players who will be coming into camp and battling for roster spots. Players such as Kasperi Kapanen, Mitch Marner, Connor Brown, Nikita Soshnikov and Zach Hyman could all be fighting for roles on the right wing, potentially replacing Lupul in the process.
Lupul’s contract makes his playing situation more difficult, too. He is set to earn $5.25 million in each of the next two seasons, and that’s a high price for the Maple Leafs to pay for a player who seemingly doesn’t factor into either their short- or long-term plans. Lupul’s high price tag doesn’t help the Maple Leafs in their attempts to move him, either, and there has been plenty of speculation that Toronto has at least tried to send Lupul elsewhere.
The Maple Leafs will announce their official training camp roster Thursday, and Seravalli reported that it’s expected Lupul’s situation will be addressed by Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello.
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