Folks, sooner or later the Leafs will be Soo Greyhounds alumni team and Auston Matthews. It appears to be inevitable, and after adding one former Greyhound in goal last season by bringing in Jack Campbell, it is entirely possible that Dubas and Keefe are primed to bring in another, and in this instance I’m not talking about Robin Lehner.
My guess is the Leafs wouldn’t want to trade for a goalie without knowing if they could move Andersen. I did have an executive from a rival NHL team tell me this week that Dubas does have interest in Murray. So perhaps there’s a deal to be made there after all but later on.
Frank Seravalli: “The Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to have one standing offer on the table for Matt Murray. The Maple Leafs, Oilers, Flames, Senators, Sabres and Avalanche are among the potential suitors for Murray’s services – a list that may soon grow.” #LetsGoPens
— NHL News (@puck_report2) September 3, 2020
So there the Leafs are at the top of the list for Matt Murray. Cool. Of course there’s also this…
Friedman said on the latest 31 Thoughts pod that Matt Murray's potential arb reward was too rich for the Leafs when the Leafs and Pens were negotiating the Kapanen trade
— J (@Account4hockey) September 1, 2020
So potentially the Penguins have given the Leafs and/or other teams the opportunity to talk to Murray at this point to establish what he’s looking for in a contract. You’d hope that coming off a year when Murray failed to hit .900 for his save percentage the contract demands aren’t too ridiculous. And considering that Murray has never played more than 50 games in a NHL season, paying him as a bonafide starter seems like a stretch, especially in a flat cap. Not getting locked into a high arbitration settlement needs to be considered, although if the Penguins don’t qualify him, presumably there would be a bidding war for his services that would price him out of Toronto, as non-playoff teams are likely to invest in a 26 year old goaltender rather than shop the unrestricted free agent market.
WAIT! Murray didn’t even crack .900 for his save percentage?
Yeah, we should probably talk about the fact that on paper Murray looks like a downgrade from Andersen. On the ice he’s likely to be a downgrade as well. If you didn’t like the step back Andersen took last season, I’m not sure I can understand the mental gymnastics you’re doing to talk yourself into Murray being an upgrade. I get that you like playoff wins, and in the his rookie season(s), Murray was outstanding, but it’s hard not to reflect on what could be a decidedly Cam Ward-esque career trajectory.
|stats from naturalstattrick.com|
So that’s not ideal. There is a benefit to Murray being five years younger than Andersen, but really want does that do for the Leafs today? On a team that is trying to win now the best possible goaltender should be the target, and that player isn’t Murray.
Now there is something to be said for familiarity, and Murray knowing how to play behind a Sheldon Keefe coached team makes some sense. There’s also something to be said for what Steve Briere thinks is best. If he’s going to be the guy primarily working with the goaltender, perhaps a goaltender that is complimentary to the style he coaches will work best. There are reasons to not completely dismiss the idea of Murray, but understandably enthusiasm for many people might be limited.
He also says Carolina is the team that likes Andersen, but Leafs are going to wait to see where everything lands with the free agent goalies, Markstrom, holtby, greiss, talbot, Khudobin, Lehner and the potential trades in Murray, Kuemper etc. till they make a decision.
— Ah yes, the Leafs. (@LeafsAllDayy) September 3, 2020
Despite the Kapanen trade showing the Leafs are open for business, and the early movement in the goalie market with Jake Allen being shipped off to the Habs, it appears that the rumour mill is pointing towards Dubas being patient on what happens with Andersen and also Murray. There doesn’t seem to be much interest from Dubas in moving on from Andersen unless he knows he can find a replacement, but there also seems to be a perception that Dubas doesn’t want to risk being stuck with two starting goaltenders, and isn’t going to act on a goaltender unless he has a deal to ship Andersen out.
For teams wanting to be frugal about goaltending, the Leafs are their best friend and perhaps that is the guarantee that Andersen will be moved. His $1M of owed salary appeals to teams on a budget (read: Coyotes if they move on from Kuemper, Canes, Devils, etc.) and his no trade clause is limited to 10 teams, so that probably crushes any Andersen to Edmonton, Calgary, or Ottawa possibilities.
Back to Murray, with the Oilers, Flames, Sabres, and Senators among the potential suitors, and Murray ineligible for a no trade clause, his options for movement and movement to a less desirable team are possible. And perhaps he needs to hold out hope that the Avs come at Pittsburgh with a good offer.
He does hold some cards in the form of his arbitration rights and his age. A one year arbitration settlement would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer and he would have the opportunity to choose his new home. Again that’s why it’s probably in the best interest of the Pens to allow interested teams to talk to Murray’s agent about an extension prior to a trade to maximize the return.
If the Leafs do decide to pursue Murray, I wonder if they’ll go one step further and grab another Soo Greyhound as well in Jared McCann, a player that could be a very useful bottom six center for the Leafs.
And as for what the Leafs would be giving up, Kerfoot, Johnsson, Engvall, Dermott, and Holl are probably the roster player options out there.