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The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to be busy this offseason, with their goaltending situation in question, the need to clear salary to re-sign pending free agents, add draft choices, and change the composition of their roster after a sixth consecutive early exit.
GM Kyle Dubas has just under $8 million in cap space going into the summer, which means that he will have to make a number of important decisions to improve his club with his job likely on the line.
Today we look at the odds of the club trading some of their goalies and blueliners:
Petr Mrazek – 30% Trade, 70% Keep/Buyout/LTIR
The 30-year-old goalie had a disastrous debut season in Toronto, with three separate stints on the IR due to groin issues, and below-average numbers (12-6-0, 3.34 GAA, .888 save percentage). With two years left on a three-year, $11.4 million deal, the possibility of a buyout because the contract does not have any signing bonuses attached would give the Leafs nearly $2.8 million in cap relief next season and nearly $3 million in 2023-24. A year or two residing on Robidas Island because of his chronic groin injury is possible but less likely while giving him another go is probably a longshot.
Dubas could find a taker for Mrazek with a number of teams looking for tandem/backup options, especially if he would be open in retaining some salary to make the cap hit less onerous.
Best return – mid-round pick
Jake Muzzin – 20% Trade, 80% Keep/Buyout/LTIR
Muzzin’s struggles and recurrent concussion issues last season was cause for concern, but the 33-year-old played very well as part of the shutdown pairing with TJ Brodie in the playoffs. The retirement of Jason Spezza makes the veteran blueliner’s presence in the locker room that much more important, and he is the only defenseman on the roster that provides physicality.
A trade would give the Leafs $5.625 million in cap space, but his 10-team no-trade clause would limit their ability to generate a market for the Cup-winner. A buyout makes little sense since it would not provide much cap relief.
Best Return – prospect and second-round pick
Justin Holl – 75% Trade, 25% Keep/Buyout/LTIR
The 30-year-old had an inconsistent season, struggling alongside Muzzin, but playing better partnered with Brodie and Mark Giordano in the second half. Holl’s $2 million contract is reasonable for an experienced righty blueliner (which could make moving him quite easy), and the Leafs likely will need to open up room to re-sign free agents Rasmus Sandin / Timothy Liljegren (RFA) and/or Ilya Lyubushkin (UFA).
Best Return – Third-round pick
Rasmus Sandin – 15% Trade, 85% Keep/Buyout/LTIR
The 22-year-old has shown flashes of offensive upside 5-on-5 and as a power-play quarterback but missed significant time with a pair of knee injuries. The big question regarding Sandin is not if he will be a quality NHLer, but whether he can play RD with Morgan Rielly, Muzzin, and Giordano playing the left side. The only way dealing Sandin makes sense is if the Leafs are convinced he cannot play the right side and Dubas is able to gets a similarly talented player at another position on his entry-level contract to fill another need.
Best Return – 18 – 22-year-old forward/right D/goalie prospect