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Photo Credit: © John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rumours: Matt Murray Speculation, Campbell’s agent is talking to the Leafs, and John Gibson talk won’t go away

The downside to the cone of silence around the Leafs is the fact that we’ve really got little to go off of for credible rumours. There’s no shortage of wild speculation and flights of fancy, but trying to guess what the Leafs are up to remains a mystery or is in fact being determined this week.

Jonas Siegel’s report on Campbell (which we’ll get to later) had this little tidbit from Campbell’s agent about where the Leafs are presently focused:

“There’s still so much time,” Overhardt said, noting that teams, including the Leafs, were likely in the midst of, or had recently completed, their pro scouting meetings.

So that’s something worth noting. If teams are just closing off their pro scout meetings it’s highly likely that next week is when we start getting leaks of the players discussed. Please. Give us something and preferably not goalie related. Anyways, here’s some goalie related stuff.

Matt Murray isn’t a good idea even if he isn’t the worst idea either

Initially Murray’s name was dropped by Chris Johnston on a TSN radio hit and that led to The Athletic exploring the idea of the Leafs acquiring Matt Murray in a back and forth between Ian Mendes and Jonas Siegel. As far as I can tell the only basis for this speculation is that Matt Murray played for the Keefe/Dubas era Soo Greyhounds. That’s not nothing and as Dubas has shown time and time again, there is some value in familiarity. Still Matt Murray isn’t an ideal target.

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Murray is three years removed from being healthy, and three years removed from strong results, although last year saw somewhat of a result rebound, but definitely not a health one. His .906 save percentage on a bad team is encouraging in a year that saw save percentages drop dramatically, but Murray was only healthy enough to get into 20 games. That’s a problem. Link that to a $6.25M cap hit with even more money owed to him, and Murray is a hard sell.

The idea of dumping Mrazek’s contract to give Murray a try might be an angle to consider, but that’s where the health factor creeps in again. There is another option out there and that’s pursuing Murray if the Senators buy him out. That’s the angle purposed by Frank Seravalli who has Matt Murray as the second most likely buyout candidate on his top 10 list:

$5 million. That’s how much the Sens would save in real cash over the next two seasons by executing the buyout on Murray this summer, who ranks 51st of 63 goaltenders in save percentage since signing his $25 million deal in 2020. That’s an amount that matters to an Ottawa bottom line that has been ravaged during the pandemic, and it renders the mostly benign cap charges that come with a buyout moot.

That money matters to Ottawa and as much as they probably aren’t thrilled about paying someone to go away, if there isn’t a trade option for Murray it probably makes more sense than running three goaltenders all season.

Jack Campbell’s agent is talking with the Leafs but offers haven’t been exchanged yet

Sticking with Jonas Siegel and The Athletic, he has a recent report that the Campbell camp and the Leafs are still exploring the idea of re-signing in Toronto. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as Campbell is the known option and the goaltending option that can come into training camp and know exactly what the Leafs are trying to do in front of him.

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From the Campbell camp perspective, the article mentions Campbell’s enthusiasm for returning to the Leafs and that the talks have been positive, but no numbers have been exchanged at this point. Much of this reads to me as the Leafs really wanting to explore their other options before doubling back around to Campbell and maybe I read it that way because that’s the approach I’d take.

Both sides are keeping things positive because neither side really hates the other. Campbell wants to be a Leaf, but he’s also probably well aware of the fact this contract is the big one. This is his retirement plan and he needs to cash in. On the Leafs side the upside of Jack Campbell outperforming a discount contract is gone and paying Campbell what he’s worth isn’t as appealing as finding someone cheap who could potentially do the same thing, or if they are going to pay up, pursue someone with the potential to deliver more than they’ll get from Campbell.

Obviously, the goaltending coach factor weighs into this as well, but the Leafs moving on from Campbell’s goaltending coach again points to the fact that there is a commitment to Campbell being brought back.

Leafs not interested in Gibson?

Chris Johnston in one of his radio appearances mentioned that the Leafs did not have interest in John Gibson and that coupled with a week of reports that Gibson wanted to be traded and then that was denied, and the fact that Pat Verbeek probably still wants to gain assets for his rebuild of the Ducks probably means that there is a lot out there and nothing is definitive.

Related: 

Report: John Gibson not in the Leafs plans

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So the easy thing to do here is to take everyone at their word and say Gibson to Toronto is dead. This will please everyone who is heavily invested in the past three years of Gibson’s goals saved above expected numbers. However Gibson’s high danger outcomes are significantly better than what Campbell or Mrazek had last season and that could be a reason, along with his elite upside that keeps him on the radar and makes him somewhat worth the gamble.

The other thing to consider here is how this article began and teams are just now in or concluding their pro scouting sessions. There is a very real chance that the Leafs are only now establishing their game plan for what they are going to do in net.

Michael Leighton’s season is over

Just a quick follow-up on a potential goalie coach of interest for the Leafs. The Windsor Spitfires season has come to an end and with that Michael Leighton is available to be signed on as a goaltending coach, Director of Goaltending, or whatever. Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman had discussed the Leafs as a team interested in him and if this is the direction they are planning on going it could be announced in the coming days.

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