Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Maple Leafs viewed as unenthusiastic to make a goalie trade
By Shane Seney1 month ago
The current topic of conversation surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs is goaltending and while the focus has mostly been on Ilya Samsonov of late, the spotlight is now shining on general manager Brad Treliving.
The Leafs fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Saturday night in their final game of 2023 and now pack their bags for a west-coast road trip starting in Los Angeles on Tuesday and then in Anaheim the next night. With Samsonov’s game in serious question it could be time for a break and according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, there’s belief the Leafs are considering calling up 22-year-old prospect Dennis Hildeby for one start on the California trip, with the likely scenario Wednesday night against the Ducks.
Friedman also made an interesting comment during his Saturday Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada, stating the Leafs are being viewed around the league as not every “enthusiastic” to make a goalie trade. With Joseph Woll coming back in a month or so, it sounds like Treliving is staying active in the market but remaining very patient. With so many variables involved and the Maple Leafs in playoff position entering 2024, the team could turn to internal options before moving out someone off their roster.
As for Samsonov, he’s allowed 21 goals over the course of his last four games and while there’s been some bad bounces along the way, the Russian netminder is putting the Maple Leafs in a very tough spot with his play. Of all the goalies in the NHL who have appeared in at least 10 games, Samsonov ranks dead last in save percentage. Owed $3.5 million against the cap, the 26-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent next summer. Friedman made note the Leafs have been encouraged by Samsonov’s practice habits, however it hasn’t translated to being steady in games.
Martin Jones is likely to start against the Kings to kick off the road trip, as the Leafs look to get back on track in the new year. Jones played parts of two seasons in LA, serving as Jonathan Quick’s backup during the Kings Cup run in 2014. Jones made two appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, stopping all seven shots he faced. He stopped 25 of 27 against the ‘Canes and wasn’t the reason for the loss. Toronto was sloppy throughout the game and couldn’t seem to get on the same page in time.
Goalie Market Starting to Take Shape
During Friedman’s segment he mentioned teams who he’d consider the buyers and sellers in the goalie market and some teams who are watching intently from the sidelines. Toronto, Edmonton, Carolina, New Jersey and L.A are buying, and the likes of Montreal, Anaheim, San Jose, Chicago and Columbus are selling. Calgary, Detroit, and Florida could get into the mix depending on injury statuses and their team’s performance leading up to March’s trade deadline.
Friedman cited the Maple Leafs don’t have a ton of players they want to trade and it’s no secret Treliving’s not working with much when it comes to draft picks to include in a deal. While Toronto have their 2024 first-round pick and a third-rounder from trading Pierre Engvall to the New York Islanders, they don’t have a second-round pick for the next three drafts.
The Maple Leafs are weighing goalie their options. They’re hopeful Samsonov can get back on track, but it may take some time in the minors to reset his game. Leafs fans are likely quite thrilled that Friedman confirms Hildeby is in the conversation to start a game in California. The former fourth-round pick has played in 15 games posting a 2.20 GAA. Hildeby was named third star in his latest start, stopping 29 of 32 shots and his next shot could be his first in the NHL.
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