A rumor is floating around the internet that the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in acquiring Jordan Binnington in the off-season, but does this make any sense?
We’ve been down this road with rumors by Eklund of HockeyBuzz.com before, and although we don’t know how much truth there is to it, it’s fun to discuss anyway.
According to the website, the Leafs “are absolutely interested in signing the goaltender (Binnington) to a long-term deal should he still be available at season’s end.” In addition to that quote, it was also mentioned that Binnginton “would consider it a dream come true to pull on the Leafs jersey.”
All of this could be true, but who knows? Binnington grew up playing minor hockey in Toronto and is from Richmond Hill, ON. With his friends and family still in the area, you’d have to think that any kid from the region would dream about being apart of the Toronto Maple Leafs one day.
Would Binnington Make Sense in Toronto?
The Toronto Maple Leafs have roughly $13M in cap-space next season, but that doesn’t include resigning Freddie Andersen or Zach Hyman. Binnington is four years younger than Andersen so I could see the reason why Toronto would want to acquire him. However, I don’t see how the money would work.
Even with Andersen’s current $5M contract, the team is tight to the salary cap. At this rate, the team probably wouldn’t be able to afford a goaltender making much more than that number right now, especially if they want to resign Hyman.
All numbers aside, would Binnington be a better fit than Andersen or even back-up goalie Jack Campbell for example. At $1.6M, the Leafs could get incredibly creative with their salary cap if they let Campbell be the starter for one season. In limited action, he’s been pretty good, despite never being a true number-one yet.
In three seasons, here are Binnington’s numbers (stats via: hockeyreference.com):
- 2018-19: .927 SV %, 1.89 GAA (32 starts)
- 2019-20: .912 SV%, 2.56 GAA (50 starts)
- 2020-21: .920 SV%, 2.34 GAA (13 starts)
In Binnington’s only true season as a number-one starter, he finished 16th in GAA and 35th in SV%. Although his numbers are better through 13 starts this season, he’s still in the middle of the pack around 16th in both categories.
From looking at these numbers, it reminds me a lot of Matt Murray’s early start with Pittsburgh. Murray posted a .930 SV% and 2.00 GAA in 13 starts with Pittsburgh, before ultimately leading them to the Stanley Cup. His stats digressed the following season (.923 SV% and 2.41 GAA), but he was still able to get hot when it counted and lead Pittsburgh to back-to-back championship’s.
Binnington had a magical first season with the Blues and without him, they probably wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup, but that one season shouldn’t dictate a career.
When Murray became a Free Agent, he locked into a four-year contract worth $6.25M annually, so you’d expect Binnington to get the same deal, if not better.
Eklund’s post mentioned that the Leafs could “back up the Brinks truck” to get Binnington, but I really don’t see the point in that. As much as goaltending is mandatory to win a Stanley Cup, Binnington and Murray have shown us that you don’t need to pay a goalie monster money to win. Instead, you just need one to get hot at the right spot. The Leafs are the foremost user of analytics in hockey and it seems extremely unlikely that they would think goaltending is the best way to spend limited cap resources.
Although I love a good Toronto Maple Leafs rumor, I’d hope the Leafs shy away from Binnington if he becomes available this off-season, unless the price was $5M or less.