Almost a month removed from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and we talk about the Leafs. Just goes to show you that everything seems to involve Toronto, just don’t tell other teams that.
It is no secret that after not advancing past the Columbus Blue Jackets that the Leafs are looking to shake things up. Kasperi Kapanen was the first domino to fall, but who can be next? Aside from Andreas Johnsson, Frederik Andersens name enters the conversation.
With one year left on his contract, we could see Toronto move on from their man in between the pipes. If a trade were to happen, here are some names I could see the Leafs looking at getting. I am only discussing players via trade as signings will be once the offseason is in session. Let us do what every Leaf fan is good at; Speculating and playing Fantasy!
Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Murray
Let’s begin with the one everyone seems to be pointing to. It is clear to Pittsburgh General Manager, Jim Rutherford, that changes are imminent. He alluded to one of Murray or Tristan Jarry not returning next year. Based on the poor season by Murray, they may want to move on from him over Jarry.
Murray is an interesting goalie. A 3rd round pick of the Penguins back in 2012, he spent his junior years with the Soo Greyhounds with the GM at the time being none other than Kyle Dubas. Dubas knows Murray well as he spent four years in the Soo. With having one Soo alumni in Jack Campbell, some familiarity may be what Dubas wants with the current Leafs regime going forward.
Murray has also won back to back Stanley Cups in 2015-16 and 2016-17 with Pittsburgh as their starter. A winning history may sway the Leafs to bite on the line and scoop up Murray for the right price.
Calgary Flames: David Rittich
This one is interesting. The Flames were reportedly interested in Andersen back in the summer of 2016 but were not willing to offer a big haul to a divisional rival such as the Anaheim Ducks.
Fast forward four years later, and even though Calgary has much more stable goaltending now, but at what cost? The team has not taken the next step that everyone expected, and fingers are being pointed. If the team wants an upgrade in the crease, Andersen would be a great option under a stronger defense like the Flames have.
As for Rittich, the Leafs can bargain with him. He has one more year making $2.75 million and has proven to be a decent goalie. However, a .907 save percentage last year may hurt his chances. Andersen had a .909 save percentage for Toronto. Its a gamble move, but perhaps if pieced together for both sides, we could see the two Canadian teams make a deal.
Arizona Coyotes: Darcy Kuemper
This one is one many seem to believe to be happening. In a healthy season, many would consider Kuemper the defacto Vezina winner for the year. He put up an impressive .928 save percentage, which ranked him 3rd among all goalies. Despite only suiting up for 29 games, he returned for the playoffs, and despite the poor result, played his best given the way the games went.
So why trade with Arizona? Well, for one, they have no first-round pick in the upcoming 2020 draft. The Leafs recently acquired the 15th overall pick from the Penguins in the Kasperi Kapanen trade. As well, they have lost their first-round pick in next year’s draft after the league sanctioned them for their scandal at the combine.
Rumours have been swirling that the Coyotes are looking to tear it all down, and if that is the case, the Leafs would love to take on Kuemper ($4.5 million for the next two seasons). As well, Arizona has some defenders with expiring deals such as Jason Demers and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who could vastly improve the Leafs defensive game. A trade would perhaps also include Andreas Johnsson, as Arizona struggled to score this season (23rd overall). Perhaps a former 20 goal-scoring forward who put up 40 points could help them.
Carolina Hurricanes: James Reimer
This one would just be cathartic for many Leaf fans. James Reimer was a fan favorite in Toronto and single handily got them to the playoffs in 2013. The rest, we do not speak of ever again.
This may seem like a gamble, but Carolina has been inquiring about upgrading their goaltending, and Andersen would be a suitable replacement. In theory, a defender would most likely be the key part of a trade for Andersen, but a goalie could also be an option in return.
Reimer granted is 32 and likely is not a top NHL starter anymore. However, the Leafs organization is high on Jack Campbell in the six starts he made. Perhaps a platooning duo of Reimer and Campbell could work out for the Leafs. A combined cap hit of the two would equal approximately Andersens cap hit but could be an option going forward if a player like Brett Pesce is included in a possible deal.
This one is an interesting theory that I just thought of. Many look at this and wonder; Why would Colorado trade Grubauer? Didn’t they just make the playoffs with him twice? Well, for one, Gurbauer has had some pretty big injuries over the last few seasons. One of the main reasons why Colorado struggled to get over the hump this year was Grubauer going down in game two.
With Pavel Francouz most likely starting the beginning of next season with only 34 career starts under his belt (minus playoffs), it may be a little worrisome. Enter Frederik Andersen. Andersen has played at least twice the number of games that Grubauer has, so he is used to the big workload. Also, Andersen has some experience playing in the Western Conference with his old team, the Anaheim Ducks.
Toronto may be hesitant to make a deal with Colorado after the whole Nazem Kadri for Tyson Barrie trade, but stranger things have happened. For myself, I see this trade being a sneaky deal both GMs could pull off, should Colorado want to upgrade their goaltending. Grubauer, when healthy, is a solid goaltender and only making $3,333,333 million for the next season may be a smart bargain should the Leafs look at a platoon goalie set up.
Remember, this is all speculation for now. I am not by any means implying or saying that the Leafs should look at making trades with these teams. This upcoming offseason is going to be a hectic one, and should the Leafs explore trading Frederik Andersen and want a goalie in return, these should be players, that from a cap perspective, may help them. It’s a long way until the start of the 2020-21 season, expect many moves from the Leafs. Kyle Dubas said in his press conference after the Kapanen move: “I don’t believe this is going to be it for us.” Buckle up Leaf fans, it’s going to be an interesting next few months.
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