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With Markstrom off the board, a dive into Maple Leafs’ goaltending trade targets

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
22 days ago
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving has one less goaltending trade option to consider. Jacob Markstrom, who Treliving is very familiar with and someone he has recently targeted, was dealt to the New Jersey Devils.
Treliving now turns his attention to finding Joseph Woll a partner outside of the Flames organization and while Markstrom made a ton of sense, there’s plenty of other options to ponder.
If the Markstrom trade taught us anything, it’s that it’s a buyer’s market: Markstrom was sent to the Devils for 23-year-old stay-at-home defenseman Kevin Bahl and a 2025 top-10 protected first-round pick, while Calgary retains 30 percent of Markstrom’s salary. Markstrom went 23-23-2 last season but this seems like a very minor acquisition price for the Devils, who also convinced Flames’ GM Craig Conroy to retain 31.25% of Markstrom’s salary the next two seasons.
New Jersey will pay Markstrom $4.12 million the next two years, which is a very affordable contract for a veteran goalie of his caliber. Frankly, given the cost and the cap hit moving forward, the Maple Leafs missed out.
Regardless, there’s still several trade options out there for Treliving to consider. While the Leafs are juggling pending extensions for Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi, it’s becoming more and more obvious where Treliving’s priorities lie. Just ask Bertuzzi’s agent, Todd Reynolds, who provided some clarity recently on how extension talks were going for his client via Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun.
Here are three prime trade candidates for Treliving and the Maple Leafs:

Filip Gustavsson, Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild are in a cap crunch once again heading into next season as GM Bill Guerin has over $14 million tied into dead cap space due to buying out both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Guerin has several holes in his lineup and will be looking to get creative, using an area of depth to re-allocate resources. That’s where Gustavsson comes in.
Guerin re-signed Marc-Andre Fleury to a one-year contract and the Wild have top prospect Jesper Wallstedt who is ready for prime time, so Gustavsson has been laced throughout trade boards of several insiders. He’s set to make $3.75 million the next two seasons, which is a very affordable cap hit for Treliving to handle on the Leafs’ books.
Gustavsson is in the prime of his career at 26 years old and even though he’s coming off a down season, if you circle back to 2022-23, the Swedish netminder posted a .931 save percentage in 39 appearances and recorded a .921 save percentage in five playoff games.
Woll needs a partner who has some starting experience and can handle a workload in case of injuries and Gustavsson can. He played a career high 45 games last season and also represented his country at the World Championships. This familiarity with several Swedish-born Maple Leafs would also help make the transition to Toronto easier to adapt to. Small detail but one with major impacts off the ice.
Gustavsson does not have any trade protection and can be moved at will. The Wild need help on defense, so perhaps a deal involving Timothy Liljegren could be something they consider. Recent reports suggest Liljegren’s camp hasn’t heard anything from the Maple Leafs on a new contract. Regardless of the return, the Wild’s goaltender should be someone Treliving has high on their radar.

Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators

This trade would be much more complex and a much more significant asking price would be involved from the Predators than Gustavsson and the Wild, however if Nashville isn’t able to get Saros extended, Treliving could be calling with a serious offer.
There’s been a lot of chatter recently if the Maple Leafs should be going bargain shopping or landing themselves a big fish like Saros, but regardless of where you align, adding Saros in Toronto moves the needle a ton and gives them an elite goaltender.
Nashville has Yaroslav Askarov waiting in the wings as perhaps the best goaltender outside of the NHL and while they’d like to have Saros around long term to mentor Askarov and ease him into the league, if Toronto calls with a hefty package, perhaps Predators GM Barry Trotz will consider it.
Trotz has admitted Nashville is a one-line offensive team and needs more secondary scoring, so perhaps there would be interest in a package including Nick Robertson, who with regular second-line minutes, could very well hit 20-25 goals next season.
As for Saros, he has one season left on his contract at $5 million, does not have any trade protection and will be looking for a hefty raise on his next deal. This past season he posted a 35-24-5 record, along with a 2.86 goals against average and .906 save percentage. He owns a career .917 save percentage and would immediately push Woll to backup duties.

Jordan Binnington, St Louis Blues

Reminder that a lot of NHL transactions have ‘familiarity’ as a huge element, so perhaps Binnington reuniting with Craig Berube is something Treliving considers. St Louis is looking to become more flexible under the cap, they have Joel Hofer ready and able as their #1 starter and even though Binnington has an 18-team no-trade clause, there has to be some thought given from the Richmond Hill, ON native to ‘come home’ to Toronto.
Binnington has a ton starting experience, he has performed well in the playoffs and on the international stage. He costs $6 million per year over the next three seasons and would give the Maple Leafs some stability in net for years to come. He’d allow for Woll to sit around that 30-35 game mark next season which in turn, also keeps his average annual value down on his next contract. Sounds like a win-win!
Binnington dealing with Toronto’s media could be very entertaining and while there’s certainly a level of risk involved trading for a soon-to-be 31-year-old goaltender, he still has lots left in the tank. The veteran goalie posted a 28-21-5 record, along with a 2.84 GAA and .913 save percentage. Binnington’s 57 games were almost a career-high and perhaps scaling the appearances back just a touch could help keep him fresh down the stretch and into the postseason.
With the Maple Leafs reportedly interested in Markstrom prior to the trade, it’s obvious they don’t mind the $6-million cap hit on their books the next couple of seasons and of course, some salary retention could be in play. Any return for Binnington will be slightly more than Markstrom, who fetched a young defenseman and protected first rounder.
At the end of the day, Treliving and the Maple Leafs have serious options to consider on the trade market. Gustavsson makes the most sense, given his age and his cap hit, meanwhile Saros is a long shot and the Binnington deal could be the most complex of the three. With the free-agent market extremely thin on goaltending talent, Treliving needs to find a dance partner and soon.

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