With Jack Campbell being the clear number one goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they no longer need a backup making $3.8 million a season.
When Frederik Andersen left Toronto in free agency Jack Campbell was poised to become the new number one starting goaltender. However, Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas wasn’t one hundred percent sure if Campbell could handle the workload. So, the GM brought in Petr Mrazek to work with Campbell in a tandem format where they both get to play regularly.
Due to injuries and postponed games, Mrazek has not been able to play all that much. Many were thinking that when Toronto has to play all the postponed games in February, the schedule would be so jam-packed that Mrazek will get some playing time.
It turns out that Toronto’s schedule for February is not that bad. They start the month with the second game of a back-to-back series with the New Jersey Devils, then have five days off before playing the Carolina Hurricanes on February 7th. After that, they play ten games in 20 days with only one other back-to-back.
If Toronto plays Mrazek on February 1st against the Devils, they likely don’t need him to play again until February 21st or 22nd. So unless the Toronto Maple Leafs feel like giving Campbell a break, Mrazek will play just two games in February.
Petr Mrazek Not In Toronto Maple Leafs Future
I don’t think I am alone in thinking that $3.8 million is a lot to be paying a guy who plays two or three times a month. Do the Maple Leafs want to be doing that for two more seasons after this one? I don’t think so. If GM Kyle Dubas is confident that he will get Campbell re-signed, then he needs to trade Mrazek at the March 21st trade deadline.
Trading Mrazek at the deadline will help Toronto in two ways. It will open up more cap space to upgrade the team for the playoffs, and it will also free up much-needed cap space for the next two seasons. I believe that Campbell’s new contract with Toronto will be somewhere between $5 million – $6 million annually. The team also has a few RFAs to re-sign this summer, so the more cap space Toronto has, the better.
If Toronto trades Mrazek at the deadline, they could swap him for another team’s goaltender. The best-case scenario would be to trade him for a goaltender with a lower cap hit but has more experience. Here is a look at a few possible targets to replace Mrazek as the backup for the NHL playoffs.
Braden Holtby is currently playing for the Dallas Stars. Taking a look at the current NHL standings will show that the Stars are on the outside looking in for a chance to make the playoffs. If they continue to be on the outside by the trade deadline, they might be willing to trade Holtby, who becomes a UFA this summer.
Holtby has a salary cap hit of $2 million and would offer a cap relief of $1.8 million if Toronto trades Mrazek to Dallas in a one-for-one trade. He also gives Toronto plenty of playoff experience should he need to replace Campbell. This season, Holtby has played in 21 games and has a 2.60 GAA with a .917 SV%. (Stats from: Hockey-Reference.com) Cap Stats from: Capfriendly.com)
Martin Jones is currently the backup goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers. He has a cap hit of $2 million, just like Holtby. Jones is a veteran of 62 NHL playoff games and is a UFA this summer. He can provide experience and cap relief if Toronto can swap Mrazek for him at the deadline.
The Flyers will not be a playoff team this season and will be looking to trade some expiring contracts. Jones could be one of those contracts dealt at the deadline. This season, Jones has a record of 6-8-2 with a 3.56 GAA and a .901 SV%.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have some tough decisions to make before the trade deadline. If they want to go all-in on a player to boost their playoff chances, they need to clear cap space. Trading players like Nick Ritchie and Petr Mrazek can help do that. Will we see Mrazek get traded for a cheaper backup with playoff experience? One can only hope.