Alexander Kerfoot is out indefinitely for the Toronto Maple Leafs after having surgery to repair dental fractures.
The center was injured during a game against the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 5 but played the next four games. He reported ongoing discomfort after a 5-4 loss against the New York Islanders on Wednesday, and further testing determined surgery was needed.
Kerfoot has eight points (five goals, three assists) in 20 games.
"Kerfoot and his style of play and what he's meant for our team, with the production he's brought and responsibility at both ends of the ice, has been crucial for us," center John Tavares said, "but we've got a guy in [center] Jason Spezza who has played in this League a long time and is a great hockey player. He'll be able to go out there and do a great job. That's why you need depth and everyone collectively coming together."
Spezza, who has been a healthy scratch in four of the past five games and nine times this season, will take Kerfoot's place on a line with forwards Ilya Mikheyev and Trevor Moore when the Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Arena on Friday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, TVAS4, TSN4, NESN, NHL.TV).
"I played with Moore and Mikheyev a little bit [at the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 2]," the center said. "Tonight's a big game, so I'm looking forward to playing with those guys again. They move well and we need to be a good forechecking line."
"You want to get into a rhythm so it's a good opportunity for me to have a good impact on the lineup. We have an important stretch of hockey coming up, so that's why you keep yourself sharp and stay ready."
Kerfoot, a fifth-round pick (No. 150) by the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 NHL Draft, has 93 points (39 goals, 54 assists) in 177 NHL games in three seasons with the Colorado Avalanche and Maple Leafs.
He was acquired by Toronto with defenseman Tyson Barrie and a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in a trade with Colorado on July 1 for center Nazem Kadri, defenseman Calle Rosen and a third-round pick in the 2020 draft.
NHL.com independent correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report