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Maple Leafs should consider a tandem approach with goaltending situation

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs believe in Joseph Woll. General manager Brad Treliving made it very clear during the end-of-season press conference that he feels Woll has a bright future ahead of him in Toronto. Considering Woll’s age, untapped potential and the team’s cap situation, when it comes to the Leafs’ crease, Treliving should be solely focused on finding him a tandem partner.
The salary cap is going up to $88 million for next season which means Treliving has roughly $20 million in cap space to work with this summer. However, has a number of holes to fill on his roster, not just in the Leafs’ crease. This is one of the many reasons why the Maple Leafs GM shouldn’t be spending a large chunk of their cap space on a #1 goaltender.
Toronto needs much more than just another goalie, as Treliving needs to find two defencemen to play in his top-four, another depth blueline and if Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi don’t wind up re-signing, at least two more forwards for the top-nine. There’s plenty on Treliving’s plate which is why he shouldn’t be putting all of his eggs in one basket and should be open to looking for an affordable goalie to pair with Woll.
Recently, James Mirtle of the Athletic reported the Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets’ pending free-agent netminder Laurent Brossoit have mutual interest (from Mirtle: “How should the Maple Leafs spend $20 million in salary-cap space this summer? The Athletic, 6/10/24)
The 31-year-old goaltender was Connor Hellebuyck’s backup last season and appeared in 23 games. While the sample size was relatively small, Brossoit was lights out, posting a 15-5-2 record along with a 2.00 goals-against average (GAA) and .927 save percentage (Sv.%). His .927 Sv.% led all NHL goalies who appeared in at least 20 games last season.
This isn’t the first time Mirtle has mentioned Brossoit as an option as he feels the Leafs will be in the hunt for a tandem partner as opposed to a big-name 1A starter. Brossoit made just $1.75 million against the cap last season and Mirtle mentioned he could see something around $3 million annually on his next deal. If it’s at $3 million or just south, on a one or two-year deal, the Maple Leafs should consider it, but he isn’t necessarily the perfect fit. With Woll only making $766,667 against the cap next season, having two goalies under $4 million total would be smart business by Treliving and give him a chance to invest in upgrading his defense core.

Regardless of Partner, Woll Needs to Take Next Step

First and foremost, Woll needs to stay healthy. Injuries have tampered his young career, and last season’s 25 appearances were by far a career high. The former fourth-round pick has shown flashes of brilliance and if he managed to stay healthy in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there may have been a different outcome against Boston. Looking ahead to next season, his offseason training regime should be focused on becoming more flexible, and stronger and most importantly, increasing his durability.
Because Woll’s still relatively unproven, injury-prone and hasn’t even sniffed playing in 50-60 games at the NHL level, Treliving needs to bring in a veteran who has experience starting and carrying the load. One of the many reasons why Brossoit would be very risky to sign is he’s a career backup who hasn’t played more than 24 games in a season. Sure, the money could be right, but it’s not necessarily the perfect fit.
Other notable free agents include veteran Cam Talbot, Alex Nedeljkovic, Scott Wedgewood, Casey DeSmith, and Antti Raanta. Not necessarily grade-A talent and a number of career backups. Meanwhile, Martin Jones is reportedly open to staying with the Maple Leafs, which regardless of who else is brought in, could be a viable option as the third goalie once again next season. Jones stepped up in a major way and ended the year just one win back of Woll.
Treliving should strongly consider the trade route to find goaltending depth. This will allow him to zone in on the perfect fit. A goalie on the ‘good side’ of 30, has starting experience, a relatively cheap cap hit with a couple of seasons of term, and someone who is going to be a motivating partner for Woll. This would also allow Treliving to allocate all of his free-agent dollars to rebuilding his defensive corps, which with the amount of talent available come July 1, is something that should be feasible for the Maple Leafs.
The tandem approach can work in the regular season, but regardless of who is on the depth chart, one goalie needs to run away with the job when the games matter the most. Stuart Skinner has shown you just need to be good enough for the Edmonton Oilers, meanwhile, Sergei Bobrovsky started slow and now appears unbeatable for the Florida Panthers.
In Toronto, Woll just needs to stay healthy and Treliving needs to find him a more-than-capable partner, who is going to battle for the starter’s crease. The Maple Leafs’ offseason wish list is long, and a proven NHL goaltender should be near the very top of it.

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