NHL Rumors: Will Maple Leafs let Jack Campbell walk for a cheaper option?

Jack Campbell Maple Leafs
May 14, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes a glove save against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs are the focus of today’s NHL Rumors. Primarily concerning their goaltending situation heading into next season.

During the season, many speculated that Jack Campbell and the Leafs would come to an extension. However, multiple reports indicated that the two sides haven’t spoken and that they are far apart on a new deal.

As for Jack Campbell, the last I’d heard is there hadn’t been any contract conversations for months and anything that was discussed — I’d heard the two sides were far apart — was, in the words of one source, “no longer relevant.” All his agent, Kurt Overhardt, would say is “there’s been no material contract conversation” since the end of the season.

Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts

NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs goalie situation

nhl rumors
Mar 8, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save against the Seattle Kraken at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been plenty of speculation that Campbell is looking for at least a three-year deal around $5M per season.

According to CapFriendly, the Leafs have a little over $7 million in cap space for next season and Campbell would pretty much eat that all up.

Toronto also has a number of key RFA’s they will need to sign. Defensemen Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sundin top the list. Forwards Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase are RFA’s with arbitration rights.

As for unrestricted free agents, I would assume they let them walk. Although forwards Ilya Mikheyev and defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin are players they’d like to keep.

The problem for the Leafs is they have $3.8M AAV locked up with Petr Mrazek for two more seasons. A buyout may be the move here as it would save $2.76M next season and $2.96M the following year. There would be a cap penalty of $1.4M for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 season, but Toronto can worry about at a later date.

If the Leafs do opt to buyout Mrazek, then they could give Campbell a three-year deal worth $15 million. He’s been solid and fits with the team chemistry.

The 30 year-old netminder was 31-9-6 with a 2.64 GAA and a .914 SV%.

Other options?

In truth, the Maple Leafs may find Campbell to be just too expensive and seek a cheaper option in net.

If GM Kyle Dubas wants to sign as many of his free agents as he can, a Mrazek buyout still seems like an obvious choice even if they let Campbell walk.

So who is out there? When it comes to the UFA market, the best options are likely ones Toronto can’t afford.

Marc-Andre Fleury is coming off a deal where he made $7M AAV. Even if he takes a reduction in pay, it won’t be for much less than Campbell.

Darcy Kuemper will be a UFA and made $4.5M on his last contract. Is he really worth it? I don’t think so.

When I look at what the Maple Leafs should do in net, their best option is to trade for RFA goalie Alexandar Georgiev of the New York Rangers.

This past season he posted a 15-10-2 record with an .898 SV% and a 2.92 GAA. For his career, he’s 58-48-11 and has a .908 SV% to go along with a 2.94 GAA. He’s been relegated to a career back up behind Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin, but has proven he can step up as the starter.

The Rangers are cap strapped and won’t be able to make the qualifying offer to him.

Georgiev, 26, is coming off a two-year deal at $2.424M AAV. Toronto could trade for his rights at the draft and qualify him while trying to work out an affordable deal.