Welcome to another edition of NHL Rumours! The All-Stars’ first 32 names got released yesterday so that is a massive plus. The PWHL has been off to a roaring start and the swirl around the league grows more and more. Today’s rumours focus on the goaltending surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Rumour: Luke Fox on Sportsnet brings up the goalie situation in Toronto
Things have gotten dark in the Toronto Maple Leafs goal crease. After what was a promising rookie season for Joseph Woll, he is out with a high ankle sprain. Furthermore, Ilya Samsonov is in the minors to work on his game. It has been a tough stint for Samsonov, as he has the worst goals saved above expected across the league with -13.3. This has put Toronto in a predicament.
Toronto has a potent offence and is led by Auston Matthews who already has 30 goals on the season. As good as the offence is, they cannot outscore their goalie problems. The Maple Leafs currently sit 19th in team save percentage with .897. So where do they go from here?
The price to pay for a premium goalie is hefty. After the crushing defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 29, head coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t mince words and said, “I’m sure Tre is going to consider everything,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday night. “You’re already into your third goalie with Marty Jones here. Now you’re starting to get into our guys who are developing. Now you gotta think about them and putting them in positions to succeed and not derail their development that’s going well. At the same time, it’s the NHL.”
There is optimism at the moment surrounding the position. Martin Jones is 3-2 in his last five starts and is coming off a shutout victory against the Los Angeles Kings. If they can ride the wave and wait until Woll returns then that’s great, but if things spiral out of control then a move could be made to keep things afloat.
New Jersey Devils
Rumour: Elliote Friedman joins NHLN to discuss the latest around the Devils goaltending
Our next set of NHL Rumours stays in the conference. The New Jersey Devils have a good offence. It is led by the 1-2 punch down the middle in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier and complemented by Tyler Toffoli and Jesper Bratt. Also, you have Michael McLeod coming into his own and Dawson Mercer elevating his play. Defensively the Devils have not taken as far of a step back as you’d think, and rookies Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec are holding their own. As it stands, the Devils hold a playoff spot, but the question is if the goalies can hold up. The team’s biggest issue is the goaltending.
New Jersey owns the worst save percentage in the league (.879) and has a combined goals saved above expected of -16.6. The expectations were set high for Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid but they have not given the team the goaltending they need. This is where Friedman comes in and examines the situation.
Friedman labels out a few goalies on a panel board that could be available. Among those names are John Gibson, Jacob Markstrom, Elvis Merzlikins, and Jake Allen. He mentions that the Devils have been poking around and looking but the premium price for a goalie remains high.
Friedman also mentions a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is part of this Rumours segment. Teams who have a surplus of goaltending have the leverage and know if a team gets desperate enough, they could pay the price. The most intriguing one is Gibson, who has a salary cap hit of $6.4 million. Teams likely will need to retain salary and the price to retain goes up as well.
There are names out there but the price to pay is hefty. The Devils have been playing better as of late, 4-1 in their last five games and will need strong goaltending if they want to win anything meaningful.
Main Photo: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
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