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The Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot on their to-do list this summer, with 10 unrestricted free agents and the contract situations of Auston Matthews and William Nylander at the top, but the club’s goaltending situation is something that new GM Brad Treliving may want to address.
It seems likely that the Leafs will move on from Matt Murray in some way, either dispatching him to Robidas Island and LTIR for the final year of his contract, buying him out, or giving up a draft pick to get another team to take his contract a la Petr Mrazek.
Ilya Samsonov performed well during the regular season and playoffs until getting injured, but the 26-year-old is an RFA with arbitration rights and one year away from being a UFA, while Joseph Woll had an excellent season in the American Hockey League, went 6-1-0 late in the season with the Leafs and took over for Samsonov against Florida after he was injured in Game 3.
The question is whether Treliving will simply go the uncomplicated direction, qualify Samsonov, sign him to a one-year deal, and pair him with Woll, or believes he has to address the goaltending situation in a more permanent manner.
The Connor Hellebuyck situation in Winnipeg is fluid, with Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff open to offers for the Vezina Trophy nominee, but he is one year out from being a UFA. He could look to his former club, who may be open to moving out either starter Jacob Markstrom (three years left at $6 million AAV) or big backup Daniel Vladar (two years left at $2.2 million AAV) to clear the way for youngster Dustin Wolf.
Another possibility may have revealed itself on Monday, as Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reported that Anaheim goalie John Gibson is looking for a change of scenery.
The 29-year-old is one of the best goalies in the NHL, but his statistics have been dragged down by a young and defensively inept Ducks squad, who are in the midst of a rebuild around youngsters like Mason McTavish, Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, and likely Adam Fantilli.
The complication according to Lisa Dillman of the of the Orange County Register is that GM Pat Verbeek would want significant assets for Gibson, and contending teams like Toronto, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh might have a tough time fitting his $6.4 million cap hit (through 2026-27) into their budget.
Treliving appears to be more a believer in having a solid starting goaltender than Kyle Dubas was, citing his signing of Markstrom as a free agent in Calgary, while Toronto had hole pluggers like Jack Campbell, Murray, Mrazek, and Samsonov over the last three years, but the question is whether he would be willing to pay the cost?