The trade deadline is fast approaching and the Toronto Maple Leafs will need to make a decision about how to approach their goaltender position.
The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to pick up results as they seek to cement their place in this year’s playoffs, but the play of goaltenders Jack Campbell and Petr Mrázek has garnered plenty of attention in recent weeks.
While neither have been at their best, giving rise to plenty of discussions over what the team should do with the pair, general manager Kyle Dubas has highlighted defence as the area most likely to be addressed at the deadline.
However, this has not stopped hypothetical situations linking the Leafs with goaltenders around the league from emerging – with one interesting name mentioned as a player that could help the team improve.
Marc-André Fleury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is in the final year of a $7 million AAV contract and could be looking to make one last push for another Stanley Cup before potentially hanging up his gloves, with the three-time cup winner already 37 years old.
This isn’t going to happen with the Chicago Blackhawks, who currently sit seventh in their division and should be looking to rebuild and change the make-up of the team for the future, leaving the possibility open for Fleury to be traded.
Frank Seravalli, via Mario Tirabassi, has even hypothesised the Leafs and Blackhawks being ideal trade partners for Fleury come the deadline, with a third team potentially involved to help with reducing his cap hit down to something the Leafs could manage.
If Chicago retained 50% of Fleury’s deal ($3.5 million), and a third team retained a further 50% ($1.75 million), it would give the Leafs an opportunity to truly upgrade between the pipes while having a very manageable cap hit through the rest of the regular season.
Seravalli’s hypothesising has even mentioned the potential for Mrázek to be sent the other way, giving the Blackhawks a goaltender who could be a starter for the next two seasons – with a cap hit of $3.8 million.
The cap savings alone would make the deal worth it for the Leafs, but the additional costs around it might give Dubas pause as the Blackhawks acquired Fleury for virtually nothing and should not expect to receive exceptionally high-value assets in return just for a few months of cap retention.
Playing behind a poor Blackhawks team has seen Fleury’s numbers dip this season, with a 18-20-4 record, a 2.92 goals against average and a save percentage of just .908 this season – though the latter are both better than Mrázek’s numbers in 15 games this year.
Both players have modified No-Trade Clauses, where they each have to submit a list of ten teams they can’t be traded to, so a deal would be contingent on both players accepting moves to the respective teams in the deal.
Defence should still be the priority for the Leafs to address at the trade deadline, giving Campbell and Mrázek better support and allowing them to work their numbers back up to expected levels, but it would not be surprising to see Dubas take a gamble on a deal such as this.
Playing behind the Leafs’ team would likely see Fleury’s individual stats improve and having a tandem of him and Campbell would be the best the Toronto Maple Leafs could imagine heading into a must-win series.
It’s not often the reigning Vezina winner is available in a trade and having a future hall of famer with cup-winning pedigree brought into a team that needs to progress beyond the first round of the playoffs could be a recipe for success.