Flames’ Vladar May Be of Interest to the Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in need of a goaltender. They lost Matt Murray to an abductor injury after their first game of the regular season, and have recently placed Ilya Samsonov on the injured reserve with a knee issue. As a result of the latter’s injury, they were forced to sign Keith Petruzzelli to an entry-level deal, and currently have him paired with Erik Kallgren.

Safe to say, that duo won’t cut it for long. The good news for the Leafs is that Murray is expected to return soon, though, given his health struggles in recent years, one wonders how long it may be until another injury strikes.

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As a result of the Maple Leafs need for a goaltender, there has been plenty of speculation as to who they may look to add. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli wrote an article on just that, suggesting five goaltenders they could target. Among them was Calgary Flames’ own Dan Vladar, who Seravalli suggested would be a great goaltender to work in a tandem with Samsonov not only in 2022-23, but in future years down the road as well.

Flames Could Move Vladar for Right Price

By all accounts, the Flames organization is quite high on Vladar. They trusted him enough to acquire him during the 2021 offseason and immediately gave him the back up role, despite him having less than 10 games of NHL experience. He was then able to put together a solid rookie campaign behind Jacob Markstrom, and recently earned himself a two-year, $4.4 million extension.

That extension, which was signed less than a month ago, shows that the Flames are by no means in any rush to move Vladar, if at all. That said, the multi-year deal did catch some by surprise, as they already have Markstrom locked up long-term, and have stud prospect Dustin Wolf in the American Hockey League (AHL), eagerly awaiting an opportunity with the big club.

Dan Vladar Calgary Flames
Dan Vladar, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Wolf’s rookie AHL season in 2021-22 proved that he is ready for an opportunity with the Flames should one present itself, which could make Vladar expendable for the right price. The Leafs may have what they’re interested in, as Brad Treliving hasn’t been shy about the fact that he would like to add an offensively talented winger to his lineup. Perhaps Alex Kerfoot, a player who has been involved in trade rumors for some time, could be a target.

While the 28-year-old Kerfoot has at times found himself as a whipping boy from Maple Leafs faithful, he does possess plenty of skill, proven by the fact he recorded a career-high 51 points last season. He would be of use to the Flames, who are currently on a six-game losing streak.

Some Leafs fans will be quick to suggest they aren’t in need of a goaltender, as Murray and Samsonov were both back skating on Tuesday. That said, the former has missed plenty more games than he has played in recent years, meaning another trip back to injured reserve at some point in 2022-23 is certainly a possibility, if not a probability. Vladar, at the very least, would provide them with some depth, and on top of that appears to have a true number-one potential at the NHL level, as pointed out in Seravalli’s article.

Markstrom’s Struggles Could Leave Treliving Hesitant to Deal Vladar

At the end of the day, what this deal comes down to is whether or not Treliving is comfortable moving on from Vladar at this time. As mentioned, Wolf does appear NHL-ready, though it is worth mentioning that Markstrom hasn’t been at his best early into the 2022-23 campaign. Through 10 games, he owns a pedestrian 2.97 goals against average (GAA) along with a .893 save percentage (SV%). He should be able to turn things around eventually, but his early struggles may make Treliving hesitant to deal a goaltender just yet.

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