The Toronto Maple Leafs Big Gamble That Did Not Work

The Toronto Maple Leafs took a gamble and it didn't pay off. (Photo by Niels Wenstedt/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
The Toronto Maple Leafs took a gamble and it didn't pay off. (Photo by Niels Wenstedt/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs decided to diverge from a safe path this past offseason in favor of a gamble. Unfortunately, the team rolled snake eyes.

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a number of moves in the offseason to prepare for a successful run through 2021-22.

While some have worked out, such as signing Michael Bunting and Ondrej kase, others haven’t been as prosperous for the Leafs.

Unfortunately, there is one giant miss that stands out.

Toronto Maple Leafs Roll Snake Eyes

General Manager Kyle Dubas made a significant choice when free agency opened. He and the team walked away from their goaltender of five years, Frederik Andersen. Jack Campbell was trusted to take over duties in Toronto’s net in a tandem with the free-agent signing, Petr Mrazek.

There were many comparables between Andersen and Mrzak, but Dubas and company emphatically chose the latter as a target. Andersen was never even offered a contract. As a result, the Leafs lost their two-time all-star backstop to the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a big gamble considering that, due to injury, Andersen was limited to playing just 24 games last season, but he had previously proven himself to be reliable during the regular season.

Andersen didn’t look as sharp last year as he had in the past, and his statistics suggested the same. His goals-against average was 2.96 with a save percentage of .895. Those numbers were down from the previous year when he posted a 2.85 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

This year, Andersen has been phenomenal. His numbers are the best they’ve been in his professional career. He has a 2.06 goals-against average with a .928 save percentage. Mrazek, meanwhile has also had a career year but not in the way the Leafs would like. His statistics are the worst they’ve been in his 10 years as an NHL goalie. For his career, Mrazek owns a 2.64 goals-against average with a .909 save percentage. This season, he’s recorded a 3.48 goals-against average and a .884 save percentage.

One of the reasons that the Leafs chose not to bring back Andersen in favor of signing Mrazek was the discrepancy in compensation. According to CapFriendly, Mrazek was signed to a three-year $11.4 million contract that carries a $3.8 million cap hit each season. Andersen has a bigger ticket. He signed for $9 million over two seasons with a cap hit of $4.5 million. Though the term is longer, choosing Mrazek provided the Leafs $700,000 in additional cap space. In retrospect, that would have been a very worthwhile investment.

The Leafs just waived Mrazek and tried to acquire an unproven Finnish goalie, Harri Sateri in a move that fell through. This has just highlighted the gamble the team made prior to the start of the season and how poorly it has worked out.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping that once Campbell returns from injury, he will be able to provide the level of goaltending he has proven he’s capable to deliver. Ultimately, a true evaluation of the Leafs offseason decision making will become clear based on the level of the team’s playoff success.