Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle of the Athletic (subscription required) examined a number of options the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to consider this offseason including which forward(s) to trade, who is untouchable on the roster, if the Leafs should trade their first-round pick and more. Topping the list of questions was whether or not the Leafs should really pursue defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he makes it to free agency.
Both Seigel and Mirtle seemed to hint that they should but there was a caveat to that thinking. Outside of already understanding that the Maple Leafs would have to move more salary, GM Kyle Dubas would need to be prepared to head into next season with a “mystery goalie.”
What is a mystery goalie? As Siegel notes, it’s a goaltender who will be making around $3.5 million or less per season. That certainly isn’t Frederik Andersen which means the Leafs will need to move Andersen and sign a less expensive option on the free agent market.
If that’s something the team does, Mirtle says, “let’s do the math.” He adds:
“To fit in Pietrangelo at $8.5 million, you have to use the $3 million in space they have now (Kapanen hole), minus Johnsson (gets you to $6.4 million) and bring in a cheaper goalie than Andersen. That gets you close.”
Seigel then noted, “It can work — a super top-heavy approach that is — but it demands the stars being STARS.” He added that there would be no room for the kind of B-C list performances from stars like Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander. “Those guys, plus Pietrangelo, plus Rielly, would all need to be pretty close to great. And the Leafs would have to hit on that mystery goalie.”
Who Would the Mystery Goalie Be?
A quick look at the top netminders potentially hitting free agency:
- Braden Holtby
- Jacbob Markstrom
- Robin Lehner
- Corey Crawford
- Craig Anderson
- Jimmy Howard
- Thomas Greiss
- Anton Khudobin
- Cam Talbot
- Mike Smith
- Brian Elliott
Of this list, a number of these guys will come in well above $3.5 million, including Markstrom and Lehner (assuming they aren’t signed first.) Holtby will likely want more than $3.5 million considering he’s coming from a $6.1 million deal. And, if Corey Crawford is willing to take $3.5 million, he’ll likely stay in Chicago.
Others who might be in that range are older. Anderson would fit, as would Howard and Smith. But, is older where you want to go? Cam Talbot isn’t necessarily a starter in the NHL and neither is Elliott.
That leaves Khudobin and Greiss.
Another option would be the Maple Leafs digging into the buyout or trade market. That opens up the door to a few more possibilities.
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