Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours. Today, we explore if the Toronto Maple Leafs will explore trading for a goaltender due to the recent poor performances of Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek. We will look into the Washington Capitals’ interest in Seattle Kraken forward Calle Jarnkrok. Also, one of the league’s most “where did he come from” players might be on the move in Travis Boyd. Let’s dive in!
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: On Monday’s 32 Thoughts the Podcast, Elliotte Freidman said, “I do think (Toronto) is going to target a defenceman. I just don’t think they feel they can start going all the way around their line-up, forward, defenceman and goalie. I think they will go with what they got in goal and hope one of them figures it out.
Analysis: Up until the NHL all-star break, Jack Campbell was one of the best goalies in the league, winning 21 out of 31 games with a .925 save percentage. Petr Mrazek has been medicore. He won five out of seven games with a .902 save percentage. Since the break, Campbell has won two out of six games, with a .881 save percentage, and Mrazek hasn’t been any better. He’s won three out of five games with a .880 save percentage. The Maple Leafs want to improve their blue-line, add depth scoring and possibly fix their goaltending. They don’t have enough salary-cap space to fix all three, and Freidman says they are going to try to add a defenceman.
The defence could be a factor in the goaltenders’ poor play. Toronto went from allowing the eighth fewest to eighth most scoring chances against since before and after the all-star break, according to Natural Stat Trick. It’s a similar flip in the high danger category. I still think their goaltending has to be better, but improving their defence could help fix areas of their team. It will add depth to their defence and hopefully put the goalies in a better position to succeed.
Analysis: With Anthony Mantha‘s long-term injury, the Capitals are thin at left-wing, and Jarnkrok can certainly help. Connor McMichael is playing third line left-wing, and he has 15 points in 50 games. While he will improve with time, the win-now Capitals can upgrade in Jarnkrok who has 22 points in 43 games. Jarnkrok is a valuable player for the playoff-focused Capitals. He can play wing or centre in a skill top-six or a grinder bottom-six role. He scored seven goals in 21 playoff games when the Nashville Predators made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, proving that he can provide depth scoring in the playoffs. Overall, he’s a solid third-line player who can be slotted all over the line-up if needed. That is valuable when injuries arise or the lines have to be juggled in the playoffs.
Analysis: We know the Arizona Coyotes were supposed to be a bad team, but I don’t think anyone expected Boyd to somewhat successfully be their top centre. He’s fifth on the team in scoring with 24 points in 45 games, breaking his career-high in points by four. Boyd has excellent playmaking skills and hockey sense. His success has been supporting his more talented wingers in Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz. Boyd’s strong play combined with his $750,000 salary cap hit makes him an intriguing piece for cap-strapped contenders. However, he looks to be outmatched in his current role, highlighted by his 44.9 Corsi for percentage. A role lower in the line-up will better suit him.
Minnesota is an intriguing option. Their offence is driven from the wings, with five of their top six scorers being wingers. Adding a centre like Boyd, who complements good wingers, is a great fit. Tampa Bay doesn’t have a lot of room to get better, but Boyd’s low cap hit makes him an option. Pierre Eduoard Bellemare exceeded expectations as their third-line centre, but Tampa Bay could use an upgrade. Washington is a good fit for Boyd for all the same reasons would be a fit for them. Boyd’s best season before this one was as a member of the Capitals. He scored 20 points in 53 games in the 2018-19 season.
With Boyd’s success and low cap hit, expect many more NHL rumours about him in the next few weeks.