Goaltending is emerging as the offseason priority for the Maple Leafs
Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Jon Steitzer7 months ago
It seems like every offseason has a theme. Last year so much of the focus was on the expansion draft and a prolonged debate amongst Leafs fans about how much Kyle Dubas truly was going to keep the band together. This year we still have the “run it back” debate, although not fueled by a Dubas promise, and in lieu of an expansion draft, we’ll have to make do with goaltending grabbing the headlines. There seems to be pretty close to a consensus that Petr Mrazek won’t be back, and that makes the bigger question, what’s happening with Jack Campbell. Or as we phrased it for our roundtable question, Who is your realistic top choice for Leafs starting goaltender next season?
The market for goalies this summer is pretty bare at the moment, and the only potential avenue that the Leafs could find something of value is through a trade. It’s for this reason why I believe John Gibson should be the top target. His numbers over the past three years have taken a step back and it can be a bit concerning, but then again the Ducks are in the midst of a rebuild and some regression was to be expected. The fact he was able to keep his SV% above .900 and his GAA fairly consistent speaks wonders to his talent level, and his numbers might improve on a more competitive team like the Leafs. Of course, the big question is whether he would accept a move to Toronto as it’s unclear whether he has listed the team on his NTC. But if they could find a way to make him waive it, Gibson is the clear cut target for the Leafs in net
I’m torn between Jack Campbell, and a mystery box that could be anything; it could even be Jack Campbell!
I love Jack. We all love Jack. I just don’t think he has proven he’s capable of managing a full season’s workload, and his multiple injuries last season make me feel we need a better insurance option. Ideally, if you can sign both to under $8M collectively, I’d be fine with running a Campbell-Ville Husso tandem next season.One thing is for sure: when we say “run it back” we should probably qualify that doesn’t mean bringing back Campbell-Mrazek for another season. That was a disaster for much of last season, and the fact the Leafs still put up 115 points despite bottom-5 goaltending is a minor miracle. Mrazek absolutely cannot wear the Leaf again, and the price to make that happen may hurt.
I think for the vibes alone, Jack Campbell needs to return next year, provided his salary is reasonable. A guy like him keeps the locker room light, and that’s an underratedly powerful thing that leads to success. With Campbell’s results so far, I think it’s fair to say that he’s utilized best as a tandem goalie, and a guy like Ville Husso or Eric Comrie could be the perfect partner to put in there alongside Jack
I’d be perfectly fine with the Maple Leafs re-signing Jack Campbell and giving Petr Mrazek another go. Toronto’s salary cap might have other opinions on that though.While it seemed like a disastrous season for Mrazek, there’s always the chance he bounces back. It’s the risk with any goaltender they sign. Would you rather someone brand new or someone you at least know a little bit about? I’d go with the first.At this point, there’s no goaltender that’s a UFA who I’d be comfortable giving the starting job to. Obviously, Darcy Kuemper will be a UFA, but I highly doubt the Maple Leafs lock him up if they can’t get a deal done with Campbell. That’s just my gut speaking.So again, I’d say give the Campbell-Mrazek tandem one more go. It can either be a good or bad thing.
The way I look at the Leafs goaltending situation is they have two ways of approaching their goaltending for next season. They can either go all-in on chasing down a goaltender who has the potential to be a game-breaker or regain their status as one, or the Leafs can commit to spending in other areas, realizing that all they really want in net is someone who can hit league average results at close to league minimum cost. I don’t know which one I truly want, but in either situation, I think I want Eric Comrie to backup.
If the Leafs are chasing upside, John Gibson is the name that gets thrown around the most, but I want to float another. Philipp Grubauer thrived behind run and gun offensive teams in both Washington and Colorado, and could potentially find a fit in Toronto as well. He’s never been a workhorse, and a solid backup or 1B would run up costs further, but the cost to acquire should be significantly less and give the Leafs a chance to upgrade. The fact that Grubauer’s been solid in the playoffs is a definite selling point too.
On the cheaper side of things, there are plenty of names in addition to Eric Comrie that have some appeal. Kevin Lankinen, Braden Holtby, and Alexandar Georgiev all shouldn’t cost much.
The Leafs current situation is too average to be as expensive as it is about to become. A fresh approach is required.
Who do you want in goal next season? Tell us in the comments below.
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