Blackhawks Have 3 Maple Leafs Targets in Fleury Blockbuster

The Toronto Maple Leafs have notable issues with their goaltending. Starter Jack Campbell is currently sidelined with a rib injury and will be out for at least two weeks. However, even before the injury, he cooled off dramatically, as he had under a .900 save percentage (SV%) in each of his last five starts. The same can be said about nine out of his last 13 appearances, too. As a result of this and their other goaltending options not being strong enough, they have reportedly talked to the Chicago Blackhawks about Marc-Andre Fleury, according to Pierre LeBrun.

Fleury would certainly provide the Maple Leafs with more stability in goal. After all, he is a future Hall of Famer, reigning Vezina Trophy winner, and three-time Stanley Cup champion. In 43 games this season, he has a 19-20-4 record, 2.92 goals-against average (GAA), and .908 SV%. Overall, it has been a year of mixed results for the 37-year-old, but playing for a much stronger team like Toronto would likely benefit him. It’s an avenue worth exploring, but what would it cost the team to get him? Let’s go over some of the Blackhawks’ trade targets in a blockbuster centering around him.

Petr Mrazek

For the Maple Leafs to successfully acquire Fleury, they would have to send Petr Mrazek the other way. They have limited cap space, and the latter carries a $3.8 million cap hit. The former, on the other hand, has a $7 million cap hit, but the Blackhawks could retain half of that to make a deal work.

Marc-Andre Fleury Chicago Blackhawks
Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

For a deal to go through, both goaltenders would need to accept it, however. The Blackhawks have made it known that they won’t trade Fleury without his approval. Although the Maple Leafs would likely be open to trading Mrazek anywhere, he also has a 10-team no-trade list. That makes things a bit more difficult, but given the way his tenure has gone with the team, he may be open to a change of scenery.

Related: Blackhawks Are Receiving Trade Interest in Calvin de Haan

In 17 appearances with the Maple Leafs, Mrazek has a 10-6-0 record, 3.48 GAA, and .884 SV%. With the Blackhawks rebuilding, they could be open to taking on his contract if it means they land an extra draft pick in a hypothetical swap. Furthermore, the 30-year-old is also only one year removed from sporting a .923 SV%, so he certainly is a bounce-back candidate from here.

Topi Niemela

Now that we have gotten Mrazek out of the way, let’s look at the much more appealing names for the Blackhawks. LeBrun recently reported that the team wants a first-round pick or first-round level prospect and a mid-round pick in any trade involving Fleury. One major prospect who could be an ideal trade candidate from the Maple Leafs is defenseman Topi Niemela.

Although Niemela was not a first-round pick, he certainly should have been. The 2020 third-round pick is thriving with Karpat of the Finnish Liiga this season, as he has nine goals and 21 assists in 44 contests. He has shown significant improvement from just last year, as he only had four assists in 15 contests with the team. Thus, he certainly is a prospect who fits exactly what the Blackhawks are looking for during their rebuild.

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Niemela has been noted for his excellent puck-moving abilities and strong defensive play. Therefore, if he can continue to develop at this rate, he could be a very effective NHL defenseman as soon as next season. However, the chances of this occurring would increase if he was dealt to the Blackhawks, as they of course have a far weaker roster than the Maple Leafs.

Nicholas Robertson

Like Niemela, Nicolas Robertson was not a first-round pick by the Maple Leafs. However, he has emerged as a prospect who ultimately should have been taken in the first round, too. The 20-year-old is viewed as having top-six potential, but due to the team’s immense forward depth, he hasn’t been able to receive too many chances at the NHL level yet. In seven games this season, he has one goal to go along with a minus-4 rating. He also skated in six games with the team last season, where he tallied an assist.

Nick Robertson Toronto Maple Leafs
Nick Robertson, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Although Robertson hasn’t taken the NHL by storm just yet, he has been a solid scorer with their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. In nine games in the AHL this season, he has three goals and five assists. This also comes after he recorded a 16-point campaign in 21 contests for the team last season. Although he missed the majority of 2021-22 with a fractured leg, he still has shown signs of progression. It now just needs to translate to the NHL level, and that could happen with the Blackhawks. Keep in mind, he would have more chances to play there too.

The Blackhawks also could have openings soon at left wing. Both Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Hagel have entered the rumor mill and may have new homes before the deadline passes. Yet, it’s far more likely that the former will be moved before the latter. No matter the case, the team will eventually need to improve upon its forward group, and adding a prospect like Robertson could be a very good way to do just that.

Nevertheless, it would be massive to see these two teams complete a Fleury blockbuster before the deadline passes. With the Maple Leafs having significant goaltending trouble and known interest, perhaps we could see it come to fruition. If they were to land either of those two prospects in a hypothetical swap, it would be massive for the rebuild. The same can be said about a first-round pick, too, of course. Either way, we will find out if anything comes from this very shortly.

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