The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be hard-pressed to keep all of their players and re-sign goaltender Jack Campbell. Campbell is having an incredible season, is a pending UFA and the Maple Leafs will have to fork out good money to keep him, even if he elects to take a team-friendly discount to stick around. As such, not everyone currently on the roster will be with the team next season.
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Each summer there is inevitable movement. Short-term contracts expire and players sign elsewhere. Free agents are brought in to fill holes and salary-cap trades are made to make room for players (like Campbell) who get a lot more expensive than they were the season prior. In Campbell’s case, he could jump from a netminder making $1.65 million to a goaltender making between three times and four times that amount.
Understanding that someone has to go, here are a few names the Maple Leafs might have to consider moving if they’re going to keep Campbell around.
Get Rid of Petr Mrazek
The most obvious option is to move the other goaltender. Keeping the most money available for the starter, Petr Mrazek would certainly be the backup in Toronto and as such, his $3.8 million salary would be best shipped somewhere else and a less expensive backup brought in. Unfortunately, that’s a lot easier said than done.
Mrazek has been anything but healthy since coming over as a free agent from the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s played in only three games so far in 2021-22 and there’s this feeling around Toronto as though he’s the kind of guy that just can’t stay in the lineup. That doesn’t make him an easy player to trade as few other teams will want an expensive, injury-prone goalie.
GM Kyle Dubas gave a pile of money to a goaltender who was supposed to compete with Campbell for the starting job. Since Campbell has clearly won that job, there’s really no need for Mrazek while the team is dealing with salary cap issues. Luke Fox of Sportsnet believes a buyout might be necessary if the Leafs can’t entice another team with a sweetener of some kind.
Muzzin Is Moveable Now, Will He Be Later?
A defenseman who eats a lot of minutes for the Maple Leafs, the team would rather not trade Jake Muzzin if they don’t have to. That said, they might have to and an argument can be made that Muzzin is a declining asset that should be moved while there are teams around that might have an interest.
At 32 years old, it’s fair to suggest his game has fallen off a touch and while it hasn’t necessarily fallen off enough to scare every team away from his $5.625 million contract, it’s not clear how long the Leafs will have before his deal is one that becomes exponentially harder to move. He’s getting slower, but he’s still tough to play against, and currently, he’s a player who will be attractive for other teams looking for a top-four option and at a price point that can be worked into the budget of teams who plan to use him often.
If Dubas can move Muzzin, he can try and acquire another defenseman at a cheaper price point or hope that a player like Travis Dermott or Rasmus Sandin can take the next step.
Alex Kerfoot Always In the Rumor Mill
One player who never seems like he’s able to escape the trade rumor mill is Alex Kerfoot. That could be because he’s a useful asset to a lot of teams and on a decent contract, or because he’s not at the level of some of Toronto’s highly-skilled players the team has been hesitant to move.
Kerfoot is in the third year of a four-year, $14 million contract and a cap hit of $3.5 million. That’s a tradeable contract and because of that, he’s always going to be vulnerable when the Maple Leafs need to make room for a bigger contract. So too, because Kerfoot has a modified no-trade clause that kicks in this summer, sooner than later would be the time to make a deal.
Essentially, Kerfoot becomes a sacrifice the Leafs have to be willing to make. Others can step up and try to fill his role while it would be difficult to impossible to find a goaltender to replace Campbell. Every other tradable center/winger on the roster makes 50% or less than what Kerfoot does and moving those players doesn’t get the Maple Leafs the necessary space to get Campbell’s deal finalized.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”