This week seems like Jack Campbell rumours are front and center so that’s going to make up the meat of what we’re dealing with here. The Leafs goaltender seems to be awfully close to being referred to as the Leafs former goaltender as none of the talk seems to be about him returning to Toronto.
We’re told by one informant that New Jersey may attempt to jump the process by dealing for the 30-year-old’s rights if the Maple Leafs cannot or will not extend the netminder, who started more than 26 games (47) in a season for the first time in his career.The idea would be to move Mackenzie Blackwood, whose career has somehow careened off course during a couple of drama-filled seasons this fragile team does not need. It also does not need an older veteran coming off injuries to serve as the backup; e.g., Corey Crawford; Jonathan Bernier.
There’s no real sense the Sabres have any interest in Kuemper but that’s not the case when it comes to Jack Campbell of Toronto.
Kuemper, meanwhile, could be a fit in Toronto going forward if Campbell goes elsewhere. Campbell may want a deal of 3-4 years and the Sabres aren’t all that interested in that kind of term. Maybe they can get it down with a bigger offer in dollars, but the Sabres can’t leave themselves vulnerable either.
Alongside Darren Dreger’s statement of “he will probably get $6M” and we are clearly in the final days of Jack Campbell. Still. Let’s break down some of what is going on here.
Let’s start with what Mike Harrington said and couple it with Dreger’s statement. There is absolutely the possibility for an overpayment coming out of a team like Buffalo and relatively speaking Jack Campbell would barely need to move any of his things. Buffalo desperately needs better goaltending even if the rest of their team isn’t going to be very good for a while and Campbell gets them back to at least making it worthwhile to show up to their games.
The Devils rumour certainly has some appeal to it as no matter what happens the Leafs walk away with a consolation prize. It also hasn’t taken too long for absolutely everyone to connect the idea of Mackenzie Blackwood being the return for a shot at Campbell could benefit both teams. (Although if we’re being honest the Leafs are clearly picking up a lot more in this transaction.)
The Devils goaltending situation seems to be in constant flux and I’m not sure whether Campbell stabilizes it much more than any of the predecessors, but it is interesting, as is the idea of the Leafs bringing in Blackwood who is a solid tandem option.
Now as for the Dreger $6M statement, it’s probably not a huge shock that someone will pay big for Campbell and no matter what you thought of Campbell’s time in Toronto the idea of paying him $6M AAV after the backhalf of his season and his injury should raise a ton of red flags. It’s probably best to move on.
How does the Fiala trade affect the Leafs?
This is not so much a rumour but it will certainly have a significant impact on the trade and free agent markets. Fiala bringing in a 19th overall pick and a solid prospect in Brock Faber seems to set the market for a scoring winger and this impacts the Leafs if they are in fact looking to sell, and definitely makes things more difficult if they were looking to acquire someone as well.
The Kings in addition to two good futures pieces gave the Wild a ton of cap flexibility, an often underrated asset. Fiala’s new contract sees him making just shy of $8M AAV, something that the Wild could not or should not have committed to. So essentially three good pieces that look great for the future, but also address some immediate needs now.
That is going to set the bar high for potential forward options like Boeser or Garland, assuming the Leafs ever stood a chance in hell of landing them, but also gives some pause about what the return could look like for someone like William Nylander.
Sandin and offer sheets
It feels like we’ve explored this topic a fair bit on TLN and this won’t be the last time, but with Frank Seravalli listing him as one of the seven most likely players to receive an offer sheet, here we go again.
The Leafs contract with Liljegren really sets the bar for what they are willing to do for Sandin. That doesn’t mean that Rasmus Sandin agrees, and he could very well make things difficult for the Leafs pushing them past the opening of free agency without a contract. The opportunity for an offer sheet means a great cap hit, but the term will potentially be more favourable than we saw with Liljegren. It’s likely the Leafs would match the offer, but that doesn’t mean they’d be excited about it. I don’t think Toronto is in the full blown cap hell that Seravalli alludes to, but a deal mirroring that of Liljegren is definitely preferable.
It’s entirely possible that if Sandin isn’t onboard with a Liljegren style contract or in any rush to get a deal done quickly so he can enjoy that leverage, it could lead to him being available in the trade market.
The feeling seems to be the Leafs view Sandin as the better defensive prospect, but also don’t have an opening on the left side for him, perhaps exploring the market isn’t the end of the world as long as the return yields something better than a second round pick (the compensation the Leafs would likely receive through a successful offer sheet.)
It is still most likely something gets done, and it is relatively team-friendly, but Sandin remains a player to watch.
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