After coasting through the early part of the season, it looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs have found a major problem: their lack of goaltending. Jack Campbell has struggled recently after looking like a Vezina Trophy candidate early on. Backup goalie Petr Mrazek hasn’t exactly been good either, and the two have struggled to make big saves over the past few months. The need for solid goaltending recently grew when news broke that Campbell will miss at least two weeks with a rib injury. One ideal option that the Leafs could target is Chicago Blackhawks‘ Marc-Andre Fleury at this year’s trade deadline.
Toronto Maple Leafs Could Target Marc-Andre Fleury at the Deadline
As the NHL’s trade deadline looms, the most likely goalie to be traded is Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury. A Canadian citizen, Fleury has yet to play for a Canadian team over his long-tenured NHL career. He does hold a no-movement clause, which would require him to accept a trade to Toronto before the Blackhawks can move him.
Whether or not Fleury wants to play in Toronto, the Leafs should still engage in trade talks with the Blackhawks. Fleury is currently on an expiring deal with a cap hit of $7 million. This is a contract that the Leafs will likely Chicago to retain part of. So what is Toronto getting in a Fleury trade?
While not having his greatest season, Fleury is a proven playoff performer who knows how to play in a playoff environment. Besides his on-ice play, the 37-year-old is also a proven leader in the dressing room.
Fleury hasn’t been great this season. He currently holds a 2.92 GAA with a .908 save percentage, which is not ideal for any acquiring team. However, Fleury is coming off one of his best seasons in the NHL, posting a 1.98 GAA and a .928 save percentage in 2021. The Leafs would acquire Fleury with the hope that he can regain his prior form in a change of scenery.
Potential Trade Structure
Although Fleury is on an expiring deal, has not had a great season, and is 37 years old, the Leafs will need to give up something to acquire him. Especially with Chicago likely having to retain salary, the Leafs are looking at giving up an asset for Fleury.
There are a few potential ways that the Leafs could go. One would be sending Petr Mrazek to Chicago. With Fleury likely gone next season, the Blackhawks do need a goalie in case they also lose pending UFA Kevin Lankinen next season. Mrazek has been a great goalie during his time with the Carolina Hurricanes and could be exactly what the Blackhawks need.
Another idea could be moving one of their young defencemen like Travis Dermott or Timothy Liljegren. The Leafs currently have eight NHL-caliber defencemen on their roster, and at least one of the two is likely expendable. Chicago would also be receiving a player for their future as they will likely be entering a rebuild.
Next Steps For The Leafs
A Marc-Andre Fleury trade to the Leafs would make sense. However, the Leafs quickly need to evaluate whether or not they will be in the goalie market at this year’s trade deadline. If they are, Fleury is a name that they should pursue. With a tough playoff match ahead of them in a crowded Atlantic division, the Leafs will need all the support that they can get to make an impact in this year’s postseason.
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