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Between now and the NHL Draft, there are a number of factors that could affect the direction that the Toronto Maple Leafs take in regards to the club for next season. Arguably the most important decision is between the pipes, where the club appears to be ready to move on from Jack Campbell (based on his rumored price tag as an unrestricted free agent) and the speculation that GM Kyle Dubas will look to either trade or buyout Petr Mrazek one year into his three-year, $11.4 million deal.
TSN’s Chris Johnston recently speculated that the Leafs could be interested in two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray (possibly after being bought out by Ottawa or in a trade if the Sens retained salary or took back a contract like Mrazek in the deal). Other reports indicated that Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson may be on the market.
Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, unrestricted free agents Ville Husso, Darcy Kuemper, three-time Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury, two-time Cup winner Jonathan Quick, and former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky could also be options.
Another possible option could be Ilya Samsonov. The 25-year-old was a first-round pick of the Washington Capitals in 2015 and came to North America in 2018 after three successful seasons in the KHL. Samsonov played one year in the American Hockey League and replaced Philipp Grubauer as the backup for Braden Holtby in 2019, with the idea that he would step into the starting role after Holtby’s contract expired in 2020.
Over the last two seasons, Samsonov has been outperformed by tandem partner Vitek Vanecek, but it was Samsonov that got the majority of the starts in the Caps first-round matchup against Florida. This summer, both goalies are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. Washington was rumored to be exploring potential upgrades between the pipes at the trade deadline, and those rumors persist, which could mean if they sign a free agent like Husso or trade for Varlamov, that they would move one of their goalies to make room.
There are some that still believe that Samsonov can be an effective starter in this league and if Washington does not, there will be other clubs willing to take a chance.