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Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has to be pondering and investigating what avenues he will pursue this summer in a number of different areas to find a pathway to improving his club’s chances of playoff success after a record-breaking regular season resulted in another early postseason exit. What the Leafs do in the trade market and/or free agency will depend on what they do with the players currently on their roster.
We start this look at where the club is with their goaltending.
After allowing Frederik Andersen to depart via free agency for Carolina last July, Toronto chose to give Jack Campbell the #1 goaltending job, but hedged their bets based on Campbell’s recent injury history and his lack of experience as a starter by signing Petr Mrazek to a three-year, $11.4 million contract.
The plan of the pair splitting the workload did not come to fruition, as Mrazek suffered the first of three groin injuries in his debut.
Campbell was pressed into heavy duty in the first two months of the season and posted the leagues most wins (13) and best save percentage (.943) in October and November, but from that point forward, the All-Star netminder put up below-average numbers (19-5-5, 3.22 GAA, .896 save percentage).
Mrazek never regained his footing, performing inconsistently (12-6-0, 3.34 GAA, .888 save percentage) before suffering a season-ending recurrence of his groin issues in late March, forcing the Leafs to go with untested Erik Kallgren in the final month.
Toronto faces an uncertain future with Campbell an unrestricted free agent and Mrazek a non-answer as a replacement starter. Kallgren or youngster Joseph Woll might be answers as inexpensive backups if Dubas has to pay a starter more than he would like, but the 25-year-old Swede put up only average numbers in his first NHL action and Woll went through another injury-plagued season after playing well in a short stint with the Leafs.
With the goaltending vacancies plentiful around the league, the Leafs may not have much trouble finding a trading partner for Mrazek, but it may require them to take a salary back or retain part of his $3.8 million AAV in the final two years of his deal.
Dubas attempted to get the 30-year-old former Stars first-rounder signed to a three-year extension reportedly for less than $3 million per season last summer, but Campbell chose to bet on himself and will likely see a windfall as a free agent this summer. Even if Mrazek is traded, a salary ask in the range of Cal Petersen, Robin Lehner or Juuse Saros $5 million AAV will likely see “Soup” not playing with the Leafs next season.