3) The Joseph Woll factor
As much as Mrazek’s early season injury issues played a part in Campbell starting the majority of games, so did the cancellation of Leafs games due to COVID-19. As a result, there was extra rest time to justify starting the latter more.
This is no longer the case, with Toronto facing 37 games in 75 days to close out the regular season. Playing at a rate of essentially every other day, the Leafs need all the goal-tending depth they can get, hence making arguably the most compelling case to keep Mrazek around.
In this respect, how much confidence would the Leafs have in giving other goalies more of an opportunity between the pipes? More specifically, Joseph Woll.
We know the Leafs rate Woll, as evidenced by recently signing him to a three-year contract extension. The deal will kick in next season and come with an annual cap hit of $766,667.
There is a lot to like about the 23-year-old, who has intriguing size, athleticism and potential. The main challenges he faces at this stage of his career, are improving his strength and consistency.
However, is Toronto ready yet to test their faith in Woll and allow him to start games on a semi-regular basis in the NHL? If nothing else, he has already shown glimpses of what he can do at the top level.
Woll made his NHL debut earlier this season and has a record of 3-1-0 in four starts. He is second among Leafs goalies, with a 2.76 GAA and .911 save percentage.
We appreciate this is a small sample size to go by. There is no way of knowing for sure if the 2016 third round draft pick will thrive or crumble under increased pressure and exposure to opposing NHL teams.
However, the Leafs also have Michael Hutchinson to provide some depth and experience. This could prove extremely beneficial to a developing Woll, both in terms of sharing the load and giving him someone to turn to.
Hutchinson has admittedly not been at his best this season, both during his two NHL appearances and down in the minors with the Marlies. He has performed well in the past however, including just last season for the Leafs when he went 4-2-0 in eight starts, while recording a 2.42 GAA and .919 save percentage.
Assuming Toronto does decide to trade Mrazek, there would be teams interested such as the Edmonton Oilers, who rank 23rd in team GAA and 26th in save percentage entering Monday’s games. And while we acknowledge the risk in moving him, it is a gamble the Leafs should seriously consider.
What would you do in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ position? Attempt to trade Mrazek before the March 21 deadline, or keep hold of him? Let us know in the comments section below.