Here’s the situation for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team has had great regular seasons for the past few seasons but has been pushed out of the playoff picture early each of those seasons as well. The pressure is on the organization to succeed in the postseason, but it hasn’t done so – yet.
This regular season, the team set franchise records in wins (54) and points (115). As well, Auston Matthews led the NHL in goals with 60 and set the Maple Leafs’ all-time franchise goal-scoring record in doing so. The team earned those franchise records. It was very good.
Jack Campbell Was One Reason the Team Was So Good
Part of the team’s great regular season team was its goalie Jack Campbell. Cambell came to the team as a backup from the Los Angeles Kings where he had backed up Jonathan Quick for a few seasons. When he got to Toronto, he played behind Frederik Andersen, who was himself a really good goalie for several seasons.
— NHL (@NHL) May 7, 2022
When Andersen went down in injuries during the 2020-21 season, Campbell stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. He set the NHL’s all-time record for wins in a row starting the season and had a solid rest of the regular season. Andersen couldn’t go in the postseason because of his injury, and Campbell started and played well enough to win. The team didn’t.
It’s Not a Good Time in the Life of the Franchise to Be Without Great Goalie Play
Now Campbell is on an expiring contract and he needs to sign with the Maple Leafs or he’ll sign with another NHL organization. Should he not sign with Toronto the organization’s goalie situation might be dire. With the pressure on within the franchise to compete more successfully into the postseason, it would seem that signing Campbell should be a priority.
And, that’s the rub. While Campbell is saying all the right things, he’s going to allow his agent to do the negotiating with the Maple Leafs. Given the history of the team’s contract negotiations with both Mitch Marner and William Nylander, Maple Leafs’ fans know how that can work.
A lot of factors must be considered, but it isn’t a good time to have iffy goal-tending heading into a season when the nucleus of the team is both set and solid. If the team lost Campbell to another team there’s really no one yet to step in. What to do?
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 19, 2022
Any goalie who came to the team after Campbell left would be under a great deal of pressure to at least match Campbell’s record with the team, which wasn’t too shabby. Over the last two seasons with the team, Campbell’s record was 48-12-8. He also made the NHL All-Star team this past season.
What Kind of a Goalie Should the Maple Leafs Consider?
What goalie out there could handle that situation? Would the Maple Leafs bring in an established goalie just to appease the fans? Someone like Marc-Andre Fleury, for example? Fleury would be a big-ticket item? And he would bring with him a winning personality. But that would be costly.
Or does the team bring in another backup goalie with strong potential, just as Campbell had (but no one knew it at the time)? Two backup goalies come to mind.
One is Ville Husso who’s now playing with the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the playoff series. Husso is a 27-year-old Finn who’s coming off of a two-year, $750,000 contract with the Blues and is a UFA. He’s played 40 games this season with the Blues, with a 25-7-6 record, a save percentage of 0.919, and a 2.56 goals-against average.
Hochman: Let’s not forget how recently St. Louis was confident in Ville Husso https://t.co/67G1GsmznY
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch (@stltoday) May 23, 2022
Another backup is American-born Casey DeSmith, who’s an undrafted 30-year-old who’s played 96 games over the past four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. During those four seasons, DeSmith has put together a 43-28-11 record, with a save percentage of 0.915, and a goals-against-average of 2.67. DeSmith’s current contract pays him $1.25 million each season.
Either of these goalies could be had for considerably less than the projected $5 million over four seasons that Campbell is expected to sign for – somewhere.
The Truth Is the Maple Leafs Should Allow Jack Campbell to Walk at $5 Million
The truth is that Campbell at $5 million is simply too risky a move for the Maple Leafs. Campbell at $3.5 million is a reasonable asking price, but it’s likely not going to be enough to sign the Port Huron, Michigan, native.
Even if the Maple Leafs signed Mark Giordano to an amazingly team-friendly contract of $800,000 for two seasons yesterday, there’s still not enough money left in the salary-cap coffers to sign Campbell for the money he will probably be seeking.
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