The Toronto Maple Leafs thought they had the answer in goal. Petr Mrazek was going to help finally get them over the hump and into a deep playoff run.
We’re not even a year removed from Mrazek signing a three-year deal with the Maple Leafs that carries an AAV of $3.8 million. Despite going 12-6 in 2021-22, he had career-worst numbers with a 3.34 goals-against and an .888 save percentage. He needed to provide a backstop on the nights Jack Campbell needed a night off.
So far, it just hasn’t been good enough for Mrazek. With the Maple Leafs seemingly a good starting goalie away from being a serious Stanley Cup contender, it’s no surprise they’re out looking for someone to replace Campbell, who has seemingly priced himself out of Toronto.
But then there’s Mrazek sitting and waiting for his fate to be determined. Given his AAV, the Maple Leafs cannot afford to keep him as their backup. They have to better allocate their precious cap dollars.
The challenge for the Maple Leafs is to find a taker of the remaining two years of his contract. Luckily for them, they have potential options for trade available to them given the needs of other teams.
In terms of importance, trading Mrazek is perhaps at the top of the list for the Maple Leafs. Which five teams make the most logical sense for a trade?
The Coyotes will always come up in situations where another team is looking to offload a bad contract. They just might have room for Mrazek should they get something good in return that will help them.
Karel Vejmelka came on and earned a three-year contract and is presumably the starter. But it is unknown who would open as the backup. Harri Sateri is a UFA. Josef Korenar is an RFA. Ivan Prosvetov has some experience and is under contract.
If the Coyotes want to bring in a veteran to help Vejmelka along, there could be a fit for Mrazek. This would give him an opportunity to bounce back in a much less stressful situation.
The Coyotes would have no trouble taking on the contract. They’re on record as saying they’d take bad contracts if they got assets to go along with them. The question here is what asset would they want and would the Maple Leafs be willing to meet the price. Given the level of desperation the Leafs will have to find a trade, the Coyotes could get something useful out of it. They need all the assets they can get.
The Blackhawks as we speak don’t have their starter or backup under contract. Given the need for a veteran presence, Mrazek could provide a fit here in either role. The issue is going to be the cap.
The Blackhawks have their own business to take care of. Although they have plenty of cap space available, much of it will go to their free agents. That doesn’t leave much to bring in new money. My colleague Shane Seney also believes the Blackhawks are a fit here.
But if they can’t convince anyone to come into their current situation through free agency, they can likely get Mrazek on the very cheap. The Maple Leafs want the full contract off the books so they wouldn’t need much in return to make it happen.
Coming to the Blackhawks would allow Mrazek a chance to rebound as a potential number-one starter. This presents one of the best opportunities available to start right away.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils are proving to be the ultimate wildcard. They can go in any number of directions given their need to improve and ample cap space available.
They also have a need for another goalie to go alongside Mackenzie Blackwood. Jonathan Bernier’s situation remains tricky at best.
Campbell has been rumored to the Devils. So has goalies like Ville Husso or even Darcy Kuemper although he’s a longshot. If they can’t land any of the big goalies in free agency, they can bring Mrazek in on the cheap and can take on the full cap hit.
The Devils are closer than many realize. If they figure out their net and add a couple key pieces, they’re starting to look real good especially given their youth starting to mature. Having a solid backup will be of utmost importance. Mrazek could fill that role.
The Sabres brought Craig Anderson back for another season. The thought was that Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen could be ready for a full-time role. But that’s not guaranteed.
Dustin Tokarski is a UFA. If the plan is for Luukkonen to start in the AHL, the Sabres will need to find a capable backup. This is where Mrazek would fit.
The Sabres have the cap space. They have the opportunity. And even though it’s in division, the Maple Leafs would likely accept a trade just to get that cap hit off their books.
The Sabres have to address this in some capacity. If they miss out on some of the bigger names, Mrazek could be a good backup plan for them.
This one has a caveat attached to it. This would only make sense if the Ducks deal John Gibson to another team. In that case, they would need to find someone to replace him.
Given the rumors surrounding Gibson, it’s not out of the question. The Ducks could land Mrazek on the cheap and maybe even get an asset for taking on the salary in full.
You Might Also Like
- Kyle Dubas: One of the Best Maple Leafs’ GMs Over Past 50 Years
- Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Bunting, Tavares, Matthews & Marner
- Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Gaudette, Murray, Samsonov & Clune
- Maple Leafs’ Dream Team of Current & Former Active Players
- Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Ritchie, Vesey, Knies, Hirvonen & Niemela
In this scenario, Mrazek could potentially be the starter giving him another chance to rebound. The market would also be much quieter than Toronto.
The Ducks are expected to be very busy with several key decisions to be made. If Gibson is among those decisions, I could see a swap happen here.
If the Maple Leafs can’t find a trade, they could go the buyout route. They would save $2.76 million and then $2.96 million in the first two years before having to eat a dead cap hit of $1.43 million in the final two years.
The Maple Leafs do have options available though. All of these teams can take on the full cap hit and they provide an opportunity for bounce back. That’s why these five teams make the most logical sense for Mrazek if a trade were to happen.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.