The Toronto Maple Leafs don't know when Dave Bolland will be back, so now they must plan for life without him.
Bolland is out indefinitely after having surgery to repair a severed tendon on the outside of his left ankle. Coach Randy Carlyle said the team doesn't have a time frame on his recovery after being cut by Canucks forward Zack Kassian's skate blade Saturday night.
"It's too early to say," Carlyle said Monday. "[Doctors] don't really give you that. They can say that it's five months and then we hope it's two. We don't really know until the healing process starts and they do an assessment and then we'll get more tightened in on the time frame."
Bolland's injury comes at a bad time for the Leafs, who are also without No. 1 centre Tyler Bozak, who's dealing with a hamstring injury. Carlyle said there's no time frame on Bozak's return, noting that he hadn't progressed to be able to ride a bike yet.
With Bolland and Bozak out, the Leafs could experiment with James van Riemsdyk at centre. The 24-year-old played down the middle while at the University of New Hampshire but has been used primarily on left wing since he was drafted second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007 and since the Leafs acquired him in the summer of 2012.
Carlyle said it "doesn't take rocket science" to consider van Riemsdyk at centre given his university experience there. Van Riemsdyk skated with Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel during Monday's practice at Air Canada Centre.
The Leafs don't play again until hosting the New Jersey Devils on Friday. That begins a stretch of five games in nine days.
Before his injury, Bolland was enjoying an impressive offensive output with six goals and four assists in 15 games. He had seven goals and seven assists in 35 games last season for the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Bolland's injury conjured up memories of a similar incident involving Erik Karlsson from last season, when the Ottawa Senators defenceman suffered a severed Achilles tendon after being cut by the skate blade of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke. Karlsson missed more than two months, beating the expected recovery time by several weeks.
"Hope you doing okay man," Karlsson wrote to Bolland on Twitter. "I feel for you. Wish you all the best."