The Toronto Maple Leafs are not looking for a goalie.
Let me repeat that: There is no chance – not even a tiny sliver of a chance – that the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in trading for a new goalie.
They already have two very good goalies, thankyouverymuch.
They are also the NHL team with the biggest analytics department, and if there is one team who will not be coerced into a knee-jerk move due to a slump, it’s them.
Look for Jack Campbell to maybe sign a contract extension, but don’t expect the Leafs to get a new starting goalie anytime soon.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Their Goalies
In the NHL, there is not a more mercurial position than that of the goalie. Though he is – by far – the most important player on any team, his performance cannot be predicted.
Despite the NHL being a billion dollar industry, there isn’t a single person among either the professional or amateur scouting or analytical ranks who looked at Jack Campbell in 2020 and thought to themselves “this is going to be the best goalie in the world during the year 2021.”
Look above at that tweet, which ranks NHL goalie performance this season. No one alive could have predicted that Igor Shesterkin would be the best goalie in the NHL this year, or that Freddie Anderson would be the second best. Sure, anyone could have guessed that, but no one knew.
Andre Vasilesvskiy as only the sixth best goalie? What about the career resurrections of Sergei Bobrovsky, Jacob Markstrom, or John Quick? Where are Connor Hellebyuck and Jordan Binnington?
If the NHL Hart Trophy for league MVP went to the statistically most valuable player every single season, it would go to a goalie, and that goalie would almost never win it twice. No goalie can match the consistency of a star skater – that’s why forwards and defenseman are always the league’s biggest stars.
Given the extreme unpredictability of the position, spending assets on a goalie is almost always counterproductive. From a game theory perspective, you should spend assets on what you know will improve your team, and take as many flyers on as many low-cost goalies as you can.
The Leafs lucked out on Campbell – at least so far – and there is no reason to bail after 12 months of glory and two so-so months. If there was a way that you could predict an improvement, I’d say make the move – but no reasonably available goalie is guaranteed to be an improvement.
Let’s say you could get Marc Andre-Fleury. It sounds awesome, but he’s 37. He isn’t having a good year, and in fact has been down-right bad in two of the last three seasons. Of course in the season where he was good, he was the absolute best, so…..unpredictable.
The best thing the Toronto Maple Leafs can do is give the net to whoever is hot out of what they have, while using their assets and cap space to acquire players with a better chance of helping improve the team.
Lot’s of people complain about the Leafs cap allotment, but the fact that the team understands the goalie position and don’t spend a lot of money on it allows them to put their money where they know it will help more.
Jack Campbell – and every goalie capable of making the NHL – is more than capable of going on a great run at any time, you just don’t know when.
The Leafs fans might be getting restless due to a little slump, but the fact is, Jack Campbell’s regression was among the most predictable things to ever occur. His bounce back – not to previous heights, but to being an above-average goalie – is just as predictable.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have two great goalies and no interest in acquiring anyone to take their spots.