The Toronto Maple Leafs enter the 2021-22 season in the best goaltending shape they’ve been in years. The duo of returning starter Jack Campbell and newcomer Petr Mrazek are two talented netminders who are both capable of playing starter’s minutes. Their versatility is what makes them great and the people they are off the ice is just the cherry on top. “Soupy” and “Magic Mrazek” are both coming off fine performances last season and look for the Maple Leafs duo to be in the conversation for league’s best at season’s end.
Campbell Cares and Wears His Heart on His Sleeve
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of predictions, but this one seems more of an educated guess. Sure, the sample size wasn’t tremendously big from last season, but with a shortened season those types of things can happen when injuries occur. Regardless of only playing 22 games, Campbell was historic last season. Everyone’s favorite teammate is entering a contract year, and there’s no doubt he’s motivated as ever to excel.
It’s a great opportunity for him to secure the bag and perhaps earn a similar contract to what Mrazek signed last offseason. Moving forward financially for the Maple Leafs, that would be an ideal set up. Expect Campbell to have the crease opening night against the Montreal Canadiens and look for “Soupy” to be sharp from the get go.
Coming off a 17-3-2 season, Campbell’s numbers were off the charts last season. Of all the goalies in the league who played a minimum of 14 games, Campbell ranked top-10 in both goals against average and save percentage. No other goalie in the top-10 had a better winning percentage than the Leafs netminder.
Entering this season on a heater is a complete understatement for the back stop. And Leafs Nation , don’t let some playoff disappointment change your expectations of his game. Get ready for another huge year from the 29-year-old, and don’t be surprised if he signs a contract extension to stick around Toronto for a few more years.
Mrazek Has Been Magical At Times During Preseason
They always say not to put much stock in the preseason but it’s hard to ignore how well Mrazek has played. He makes himself big in the net and doesn’t go down right away. He’s a hybrid style and a style we haven’t seen much of from a Leafs netminder in a long time.
Mrazek has spent the past three seasons splitting time in Carolina with the Hurricanes and ex-Maple Leaf James Reimer, and all he’s done is go a combined 50-32-8. Throw in the 10 shutouts and you can expect more bagels this season out of him over Campbell, who only has two shutouts in the past three seasons.
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has seen the 29-year-old playing goal for over a decade now, dating back to their time in the Ontario Hockey League. A goaltender Dubas signed for a number of reasons, including the price tag, term, last season’s statistics, and the fact Mrazek’s comfortable sharing the net. It feels like there’s going to be a point this season where the newcomer takes the crease and runs with it. Head coach Sheldon Keefe is going to have his work cut out for him to keep both goalies fresh and as sharp as possible. Certainly going to be an early focus for the newly extended bench boss and the hope is they both shine and make it easy on everyone involved.
While there might be some issues that pop up for this Maple Leafs team, one thing Leafs Nation won’t have to worry about is having a capable starting goalie. While Mrazek is brand new to the fold, the Maple Leafs have a bunch of familiar faces on defense, so this should benefit on those in between types of plays, where both the goalie and defenseman need to be on the same page. Turnovers that lead to goals are always gut-wrenching.
Maple Leafs Can Play a Confident Style
I think we’re going to hear a lot quotes from Toronto players stating how they don’t care who’s in net, they’re confident with whoever is back there. Facts are facts. Long gone are the days of holding your breath cause a shot was coming in from the point on Andrew Raycroft or when Reimer looked like he was trying to catch the puck wrong-handed. The team is set in net and it’s going to be a fun year to watch the offense go to work because of it.
While you should certainly expect a 6-5 game from time-to-time, get ready for some 4-1 and 5-1 games. The Maple Leafs are trying to become more responsible defensively and their chemistry on the blue line should help, along with a bunch of familiar faces up front. Throw in the talent in the crease and we should see the Leafs goals against improve drastically this season. It also doesn’t hurt when you have the puck most of the time. Some say the best defense is a better offense.
Go ahead, you can keep this receipt. I’m making a prediction, and I understand they don’t normally end well. However, I truly feel this really isn’t that bold of a prediction, and can totally see Campbell and Mrazek shining bright this season in Toronto. When it’s all said and done, look for their names when you filter through the NHL’s goaltending stats next May.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game results in some diverse content. Certainly versatile, you can also find him contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween