Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Mikheyev, Campbell, Sateri & Players Rights

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at a unique situation in Toronto where two players the team would like to keep might be leaving. If the Maple Leafs know they cannot keep either Ilya Mikheyev or Jack Campbell, would they try to trade their negotiation rights to another team prior to July 13, 2022, when the free agency period begins?

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kadri, Campbell, Mikheyev & Goodbye

In this post, I’ll take a look at these possibilities. It wouldn’t the best situation for the team, but getting something for players who were going to walk anyway seems better than getting nothing in return.

Item One: Have the Maple Leafs Given Up on Mikheyev?

It seems that, after all the history between Ilya Mikheyev and the Maple Leafs, the two parties are parting company. A number of reports have noted that there appears to be no way the stars will align to allow Mikheyev to remain on the Maple Leafs’ roster for the 2022-23 regular season.

Ilya Mikheyev Toronto Maple Leafs
Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There’s not much doubt that the team would love to bring Mikheyev back; however, from a salary-cap perspective, it simply doesn’t seem possible. In addition, there might be long-standing, deeply-harbored resentments on Mikheyev’s side – the kind that, according to a September 9 (2021) report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman, prompted Mikheyev to ask for a trade. 

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Going back to the Amazon Prime documentaryAll or Nothing: Maple Leafs‘ it’s clear why Mikheyev might have wanted out of Toronto. There are a small number of instances where Mikheyev and the organization engage in conversations about his ice time and skating. On one hand, the team is encouraging; on the other hand, the coaches and management are critical. However, they didn’t capitulate to his desire for more ice time and a bigger role because Mikheyev desired it.

Related: Maple Leafs Should Trade Mikheyev and Offer PTOs

One can read between the lines that, although the organization continued to tell Mikheyev he was a key part of the team and was counting on him to have a big year, it was obvious Mikheyev’s confidence was impacted. It makes one wonder if there ever was a chance that the organization could have re-signed the Russian winger.

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Now Friedman enters the picture again to suggest that the Maple Leafs have informed other NHL teams that Mikheyev’s rights are up for grabs and can be had in a trade. One can only guess that the organization has come to believe the two sides are too far apart – either in money or philosophy – to find common ground. 

As a result, any team interested in signing Mikheyev is invited to make a deal for him ahead of free agency. They would have about a two-week window to negotiate and ink a deal before the official opening of free agency on July 13.

If they are successful in trading his rights to another team, the Maple Leafs won’t get much return. However, a later-round draft choice is better than nothing. 

I enjoyed Mikheyev during his time with the team; and, if he really is ready to move on, I wish him well wherever he lands.

Item Two: Would the Devils Want Campbell Enough to Trade for His Rights?

From everything we hear, which is more speculation than information, Jack Campbell does not appear close to re-signing with the Maple Leafs. Similar to Mikheyev, it might be a case where re-signing Campbell was a long shot even from the start. However, differently from Mikheyev, there was never a sense that Campbell ever wanted out of Toronto. 

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the end, it might be a case that the Maple Leafs simply either (a) didn’t have the funds to re-sign him or (b) logically, could have found the funds but were unwilling to fork them over for the kind of long-term deal Campbell’s side wanted. I can see the decision being a strictly logical, analytics-based decision that only considers the mathematics of it all. 

Amid all this speculation, it seems that the New Jersey Devils have risen as a possible suitor for the 30-year-old Campbell if he tests the open market. A recent source apparently has reported that the Devils might try to trade for Campbell’s rights before July 13. If so, it looks like – as the New York Post‘s Larry Brooks reports –  “The idea would be to move Mackenzie Blackwood.” (from “Steven Stamkos has been key to Lightning’s sustained run,” Larry Brooks, New York Post, 25/06/2022).

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The Devils are looking to upgrade their goalie situation and Campbell is rumored to be on their want list. Even if Campbell leaves, Maple Leafs’ fans won’t blame Campbell for taking advantage of his biggest chance to find a well-paying, long-term deal. He’s too good a person to wish him ill.

Campbell will likely earn around $5 million annually on a five-year deal. As Maple Leafs’ fans know, the organization lacks the salary-cap space to match what Campbell could receive on the open market.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

With all this goalie talk, the one name that hasn’t come up often is Harri Sateri. Obviously, the Maple Leafs wanted the gold-medal-winning Team Finland goalie and signed him for the remainder of the 2021-22 season fresh off his gold medal success this past winter’s Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Harri Sateri Grand Rapids Griffins
Harri Sateri, when he was with the Grand Rapids Griffins
(Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

However, Sateri had to clear waivers to find his way to the Maple Leafs’ roster. The Arizona Coyotes spoiled that party when they claimed him. He played six games with them and his numbers didn’t impress; however, it was the Coyotes after all. 

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Is there a chance he might be on the Maple Leafs’ radar? Again, there are less than two weeks before some of these speculations are turned into actions. We’ll see.