When Kyle Dubas was asked directly about his level of ease in leaving his goalie depth chart as it heads into the postseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager began his response with a qualification.
“I think in good health, when everyone is in good shape, I think it’s a great tandem. And rabbit hutch [Michael Hutchinson] came and gave us good minutes, ”said Dubas, when he was available at mid-season.
In good health.
Eleven days have passed since Frederik Andersen (lower body) last slipped on a pair of skates. It’s been three years for Campbell, who held the fort in Toronto’s overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Since the win, Campbell has been absent from training on Sunday and was deemed unfit to retreat in Monday’s loss, leaving the ball to newly acquired player Veini Vehviläinen.
Post-game Monday, Sheldon Keefe had no more clarity on Andersen’s schedule for the return, and the coach’s voice was less than certain when he proposed that Campbell “should be OK” to start Wednesday in an important game against the Winnipeg Jets.
We believe Dubas when he says that the bulk of his business focus has revolved around recruiting one of the top six forwards. We also believe him when he says, “It will be up to me to do everything within reason to improve the group.”
Outside of the 2020 Tampa Bay Lightning champion – blessed with Andrei Vasilevskiy, the best goalkeeper in the world, in his prime – every team that did a deep run last summer had two or three goalies.
Toronto currently has two goaltenders and a third goalscorer, at Hutchinson, who did well to earn seven points in the standings in seven starts, posting a respectable .915 save percentage.
“I have a lot of faith in Fred [Andersen] and Jack Campbell and Hutch when he’s in it. We will look to continue to keep everyone healthy and riding, and we’ll take it from there, ”Dubas said. “I have no doubts that Fred, over time, has continuously shown us that he can and will do it.
If Andersen and Campbell sense something close to 100% healthy before the April 12 deadline, the Leafs will likely stick to their guns and stick to the net.
If one is to move to the long-term injured reserve, however, Dubas has to go shopping.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the goalie market.
Linus Ullmark (5-5-3, 0.916, $ 2.6 million threshold reached)
At 27, Ullmark is the youngest pure tenant on the market – and most importantly, he’s healthy again. The Sabers have nothing to play, but they also do not have a starting goaltender under contract for 2021-22. GM Kevyn Adams is at risk of knocking Ullmark out of the door if he doesn’t trade or re-sign Ullmark by April 12. His numbers are incredible considering how poor the Sabers are. What would Ullmark look behind a competitor?
Scott Wedgewood (3-5-3, 0,914, 700 000 $)
The name doesn’t turn heads, but the price is right. Wedgewood is a 28-year-old journeyman from Brampton, Ont., And his strong performance in a tough division makes him an intriguing target. Dubas and Devils chief executive Tom Fitzgerald – a smart and aggressive salesman by the 2020 deadline – has found common ground on the deal with Andreas Johnsson during the offseason. Wedgewood might be worth an appeal. And he’s a better option at this point than Devils third player Aaron Dell, who has barely played hockey since being pulled from Leafs quits in January.
James Reimer (13-4-1, .907, $ 3.4 million)
With the RFA on hold Alex Nedeljkovic coming in from minors and making a case to be Carolina No.1, and Petr Mrazek healthier by the minute, where does that leave 33-year-old James Reimer? It’s not only irony that Reimer is on a Leafs’ trading options list, but imagine Carolina trading a goalie in Toronto after the Hurricanes find out about Andersen?
Jonathan Bernier (8-6-0, .918, $ 3 million)
Let’s stay on the theme of reunion. Bernier (leg) is back on the ice, but there is still no day set for a return to action. He’s quietly had a great season for a basement franchise, and his career .913 save percentage is more than respectable.
Ryan Miller (3-8-1, .882, 1 million de dollars)
The 40-year-old replacement is loath to leave California as his career comes to an end, but the Ducks are rebuilding themselves and he brings nearly 800 games of experience. Three seasons of a declining statistics line raises a red flag.
Devan Dubnyk (3-9-1, .897, 4,33 millions de dollars)
The affable 35-year-old would certainly be available. The trick is to figure out how much of Dubnyk’s back-to-back seasons with a losing record and save percentage below 0.900 are the result of hitting the wall and how much can be attributed to playing behind mediocre teams.
David Rittich (4-6-1, .907, $ 2.7 million)
Jacob Markstrom’s long-term contract ensured that the 28-year-old Rittich would not become the No.1 option in Calgary, although his shining moments are to be seen. We’re ready to qualify the Flames’ playoff hopefuls dead – their odds have dropped to 2.2%, according to SportsClubStats.com – but that doesn’t mean Brad Treliving will be keen to help out a (temporary) division rival.
Pekka Rinne (9-11-1, 0.900, 5 million dollars)
Rinne wants to retire to Nashville, and the suddenly hot Predators resume racing. But if David Poile decides to sell, he has coins to attract Toronto to every position.
The problem with spending a big asset on a long-term goalie, like Kuemper or Korpisalo, this year is that each club is only allowed to protect one goalie in the Seattle expansion draft. (Remember, Vegas selected three goalies in 2017.)
As it stands, Toronto plans to protect Campbell, but signing a bigger goalie changes the landscape. That’s why Dubas said going to lease may be the more prudent plan for 2021.
Darcy Kuemper (cap reached $ 4.5 million, UFA 2022)
Under normal circumstances, Kuemper (7-7-2, .914) may be the most coveted target on this list. Arizona would love a few draft picks. But the 30-year-old is injured himself, being tried week to week with a lower body injury himself on March 10. This can throw a wrench in all plans.
Elvis Merzlikins (4 million dollars, UFA 2022) ou Joonas Korpisalo (2.8 million dollars, UFA 2022)
Both 26 and both in line for a raise by the summer of 2022, it is unlikely that the Blue Jackets – whose playoff odds have fallen to 2.5% – will be able to keep both goalies. happy, especially when Seth Jones turns UFA that same season.
Alexandar Georgiev (2,425 millions de dollars, RFA 2022)
The Rangers are nowhere near making the postseason at this point, and they carry three goalkeepers. Igor Shesterkin is the goalkeeper of the future here, and with Keith Kinkaid and Georgiev (5-5-0, .897) sharing the back-up duties, we don’t know if the Bulgarian is in the Blueshirts’ long-term plans.
Jonathan Quick (5,8 millions de dollars, UFA 2023)
Quick has two Cup rings, a competitive streak and a strong relationship with Campbell. He also wears an AAV limiting the cap and a ton of duration on his contract. Would the rebuilding kings be interested in finding a new home for Quick and the anointing Cal Petersen the man? Sure. But finding a team to take Quick’s shot – even at a reduced price – in that buyer’s market won’t be easy.