NHL Rumor Mill – July 11, 2022
The Leafs and Senators are discussing a trade regarding Matt Murray. Are there better options available to the Leafs? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
LEAFS AND SENATORS DISCUSSING A MATT MURRAY TRADE
The Leafs could be in need of a starting goalie if Jack Campbell heads to free agency on July 13 while the Senators are trying to clear a logjam in their crease by moving Murray. The 28-year-old netminder struggled through two injury-shortened seasons with the Senators and has been overtaken on their depth chart by Anton Forsberg and Filip Gustavsson.
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas knows Murray well as the goalie played for him when he was GM of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was also the Greyhounds coach at that time.
Last week, Murray rejected a trade to the Buffalo Sabres. However, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports he’s open to moving to Edmonton or Toronto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This shows the level of desperation Dubas must be feeling right now. Dreger reported the Leafs GM met with Campbell on Saturday but no progress was made toward a new contract. Having shipped Petr Mrazek to Chicago last Thursday in a cost-cutting move, Dubas is scrambling to find a suitable starting goaltender for the upcoming season.
Dubas’ interest in Murray suggests he can’t afford to pursue Darcy Kuemper, whose tenure with the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche ended last week with their acquisition of Alexandar Georgiev. It’s believed the 32-year-old Kuemper seeks a long-term deal worth close to $6 million per season.
In his prime, Murray backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. Injuries, however, hampered his performance and were part of the reason the Penguins traded him to the Senators in 2020.
Murray’s abysmal stats with the Senators are due in part to having a lousy defense in front of him. Nevertheless, his frequent absences from the lineup haven’t helped his play. Even with a better team in front of him, there’s no certainty the oft-injured Murray can provide that club with the type of goaltending necessary to at least win a playoff round.
He also carries a $6.25 million annual cap hit for two more seasons. The Senators are reportedly reluctant to retain any portion of it, though that could change if they’re determined to trade him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal Hockey Now’s Marco D’Amico reports the Oilers, Capitals and Buffalo Sabres have also expressed interest in Allen. However, Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has stated Allen’s not going anywhere as long as uncertainty remains about Carey Price’s status next season. Until there’s more clarity on Price’s ongoing rehab from last summer’s knee surgery, forget about Allen being on the move this summer.
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz cites a league source speculating the New York Islanders might not fully close the door on trading Semyon Varlamov given the need for starting goalies in this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. That source thinks Isles GM Lou Lamoriello could be receptive if a rival club becomes desperate enough to overpay for the 32-year-old netminder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Complicating that scenario is Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade clause. The teams looking for goalies could be on that list.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons points out that Dubas must also find a decent backup goaltender once he lands a starter. “Dubas is kidding himself if he believes that one of Erik Kallgren or Joseph Woll will be his backup this coming season,” writes Simmons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas should have an easier time finding a backup than a starter. Then again, that’s no certainty given his apparent blind spot in evaluating NHL goaltenders.