Center Auston Matthews, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, did not accompany the Toronto Maple Leafs for their preseason game at the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
Matthews, who played for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, had been expected to make his debut against the Sabres but stayed in Toronto with the second practice group.
"Sooner or later, he's going to get in, but not tonight," assistant coach Jim Hiller told the Maple Leafs website after practice Friday. "The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It's a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They'll get a lot of ice time. They'll get in shortly."
Video: Auston Matthews shatters glass in 1st day of practice
Hiller, who has been running Maple Leafs practices in the absence of coach Mike Babcock, said the decision not to play Matthews against the Sabres was not a health issue.
Toronto's next preseason game is at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.
Babcock, who coached Team Canada to the World Cup championship on Thursday, was back at work with the Maple Leafs on Friday. Hiller said Babcock would make the trip to Buffalo but would watch the game with general manager Lou Lamoriello.
"I'm not surprised to see him here today," Hiller said. "He got his job done, but this of course is priority No. 1 for him."