The Maple Leafs need to move on from Matt Murray as soon as possible
Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
By Shane Seney2 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a goaltending issue and it’s all thanks to former general manager Kyle Dubas. Signing Ilya Samsonov last summer? Not the issue. Helping to draft Joseph Woll in 2016? Not the issue. It all comes down to trading for Matt Murray last summer and now general manager (GM) Brad Treliving is left with a $4.68-million problem on his hands that directly ties into other business he’d like to complete this offseason.
Quite frankly, the Leafs need to get rid of Murray. He’s a pro’s pro and works extremely hard and this has nothing to do from a character perspective. It has everything to do with consistent production and Murray’s injury troubles haven’t gone away and Toronto shouldn’t have gambled when they did. Dubas was loyal to the former Sault St Marie Greyhound and it’s time for Treliving to right the ship.
While a buy out route appears more and more likely as we creep closer to the window closing, if a trade does go down, look for these three teams to be linked:
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks are an interesting team to watch this summer as GM Mike Grier continues to rebuild. The team has informed James Reimer he won’t be back next season and now they are in the market for a running mate for Kaapo Kahkonen. Insert Murray.
Any trade for the Leafs netminder will be tricky because Treliving is going to have to weigh some pros and cons here. How much of a sweetener do they need? How much salary would be retained? The buy out only costs the Leafs $687,500 in 2023-24 and $2 million in 24-25. Well, next season it’s likely the massive contract extensions of William Nylander and Auston Matthews are kicking in, so does Treliving really want to have a $2 million charge for a goalie not even dressing for his team?
The trade route should be the priority here. Treliving should add a mid-level prospect to the deal and sell Grier on adding another asset to his organization, while finding a two-time Stanley Cup champion to help mentor the 26-year-old Kahkonen.
The Jets are going to look much different next season and there’s a very strong chance they’ll need some more help in their crease. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has the tall task of trying to get full value for Connor Hellebuyck, who has informed the team he’s looking for a change of scenery.
While any package for the Vezina trophy winner will be massive, it doesn’t necessarily mean a starting goaltender will be heading to Winnipeg in the deal. The scenario here would be a Hellebuyck trade, followed by a second move to land Murray from the Maple Leafs for basically nothing.
Treliving just needs to get Murray off the cap. Toronto has a dyer need to get some more help on defense and right now their bottom six is non-existent. There’s also been talk about Ryan O’Reilly coming back and he’ll demand north of $4.5 million per season. Moving Murray’s cap hit out means there’s room for O’Reilly to return and that’s very good news for Leafs Nation.
Detroit Red Wings
It’s hard to say how much Red Wings’ GM Steve Yzerman would be interested in adding Murray, but Detroit does need some depth in their crease. Right now they have Ville Husso signed, but after that is anyone’s guess. The team is looking to get into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference and could see Murray as a reclamation project.
While he couldn’t stay healthy and ended up getting leap frogged by Woll in the playoffs, Murray’s 14-8-2 record in Toronto wasn’t the worst possible outcome. He proved at times he’s still a very capable 1-B goalie and with only one season left on his contract, it wouldn’t be a massive risk for Yzerman and the Red Wings.
Speaking of risks, if Treliving doesn’t rid himself of Murray soon, there’s a risk this financial burden could get in the way of several other transactions this summer, including bringing back O’Reilly and potentially defenseman Luke Schenn. The Maple Leafs GM needs to get down to business and cut ties with Murray. It would be quite the opening act.
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