Alberga’s Take: Betting on Joseph Woll was the right decision

Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
26 days ago
Even though it can’t be made official until July 1st, as ESPN’s Kevin Weekes first reported on Monday morning, it sounds like the Leafs and Joseph Woll have all but found common ground on a three-year contract extension worth somewhere between $3.5-4 million per season.
If the report stands true, that deal could prove to be a nice piece of business consummated by Brad Treliving.
On the surface, because Woll only has 39 games of NHL experience to his name, the number seems rather polarizing. That said, when you take a step back and really analyze things, it’s easy to comprehend what the Leafs’ rationale could be. In essence, they’re banking on the 25-year-old to A) stay healthy moving forward, and B) keep trending upwards. If he does that, this purported contract will likely look like a home run in a year from now.
All things being equal, this would mark yet another directional shift for the organization following the departure of Kyle Dubas last spring. When it came to similar situations in the past, the former preached patience electing to kick the can down the road. On the other hand, the latter prefers paying for potential in hopes of finding value.

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If completed, the signing would keep Woll under team control for at least the next four seasons, and most importantly, it would be buying two UFA years from him. Furthermore, in many ways, the deal could look very similar to the three-year, $12 million pact that Woll’s buddy Jake Oettinger signed with Dallas in September of 2022.
It’s a calculated risk. The Leafs are gambling on Woll being the real deal, and while the sample size is relatively small, there’s no question that the Missouri native has severe upside. Again, health will be the true dictator here. Woll, who went 12-11-1 with a 2.94 goals against average and .907 save percentage in 25 outings this past season, needs to find a way to stay in the lineup. If he can do that, the Leafs should have no problem extracting supreme value from this contract.
The logic makes a lot of sense; it’s the safer way to go. If they don’t lock him up this summer, they run the risk of Woll really popping off next season, and then, you’re really going to have to pay him. Instead, they’re going to give him a bit of extra dough now.
It’s the right move.

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