In today’s edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I will focus on two upcoming decisions the organization must make regarding their roster for next season. Obviously, one of the biggest issues is goalkeeper Jack Campbell’s status. I will share some news that emerges on this situation.
First though, I’ll try to unpack some of the rumors surrounding a possible Jake Muzzin trade during the offseason. As many different hockey writers – myself included – have talked about the possibility of trading Muzzin, is it even possible? Would everyone involved agree?
Point one: The implications of Jake Muzzin’s non-trade clause
The Maple Leafs, like many other NHL teams, seem to have salary cap issues that could only be fixed by trading a currently highly paid player. The name Jake Muzzin keeps popping up. In fact, I brought it up myself, wondering if he could waive his no-trade clause in his contract to return to the Los Angeles Kings. After all, the Kings are a team he’s played for throughout his career — eight seasons to be exact. There must be a certain appeal to living in Southern California.
But would Muzzin even consider waiving his no-trade clause? The Maple Leafs hockey writers, pundits, and fans seem to think it’s a possibility. In fact, we all seem to be ignoring the fact that he even has a no-trade clause in his contract.
Obviously this clause exists for some reason; and I cannot view this as the organization’s contract negotiation policy. It would be too restrictive on later trades. Logic suggests that this would be initiated by the player’s agent as part of their contract negotiations. Ergo, Muzzin must either want to stay in Toronto or want more choice in his movements.
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Yesterday, Kevin McGran from the Toronto Star wrote about Muzzin’s no-trade clause. He noted that if the Maple Leafs want to get Muzzin’s contract off their books (which means a $5.625 million salary cap), they need to honor that no-trade clause. The clause itself means that it can be waived but not traded.
McGran goes on to note that the Maple Leafs could do without Muzzin and hope another team claims him. Or the team could buy him. However, since so much of his money is included as a signing bonus, the salary cap savings would only be about $1.4 million in a buyout.
If Muzzin is lifted but not claimed and the team doesn’t buy him out of his contract, he could be sent to the Toronto Marlies. That would save the Maple Leafs $1.125 million in salary caps. In short, it might not be as easy as the Maple Leafs writers seem to think. (from “Leafs Mailbag: Playoff what-ifs, Format Riffs and the Trouble with ‘Hockey Night'”, Kevin McGran, Toronto Star06/03/2022).
Item 2: What do they think of Jack Campbell?
Aside from Muzzin, who’s already signed for $5.625 million, perhaps the Maple Leafs player getting the most metaphorical ink is Jack Campbell. Yesterday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Campbell’s agent Kurt Overhardt had noted that there had been “no significant contract talks” with the Maple Leafs since the end of the season. He also noted that what the two sides discussed at the time is probably no longer relevant.
None of this expressly means that Campbell will test agency; However, this means that the talks – for some reason – are not going ahead. Obviously, Campbell could still sign with the team; and there is no reason to think that there would not be a mutual interest in working something out.
I’m just guessing that the average salary for an NHL goaltender would be between $4.5 million and $6 million. Campbell is coming off a $1.65 million contract. When that contract was negotiated, Campbell was probably in no position to negotiate more. Then Frederik Andersen went down with an injury, and (as one THW reader noted with “nor”) Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas “caught lightning in a bottle.”
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But can an acceptable contract be negotiated? So many things go into this decision. For example, if Campbell leaves and shows he can stay healthy and play 55+ games a season; and if the Maple Leafs’ goalie situation faltered, the organization would suffer a setback and fans would be in an uproar. However, there is nothing in Campbell’s recent history to suggest he is that long-lived.
As such, the Maple Leafs, as an organization, must be careful about how they spend their salary cap resources. Obviously there are eyes on others (like second best date for prom). Some names that have been floated are Colorado Avalanche goalies Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz.
Then there’s current Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Edmonton Oilers’ Mikko Koskinen, longtime veterans Braden Holtby (of the Dallas Stars) or youngsters Ville Husso (of the St. Louis Blues) and Alexander Georgiev ( from the New York Rangers).
In other words, there’s a big “Who knows?” about what’s happening with Campbell’s future with the team.
What’s next for the Maple Leafs?
Again and again there was discussion that Auston Matthews could move to Arizona after his contract with the Maple Leafs expired. That has always been Brian Burke’s criticism of the current contract that Matthews has signed with the organization. He’ll let off steam while he’s young and in his prime; and his home is in the Phoenix area.
Just yesterday, the Tempe, Arizona City Council approved negotiations for a new $2.1 billion Arizona Coyotes Arena proposal. It’s likely the Coyotes would try to convince Mathews to return to Scottsdale.
Related: Maple Leafs may have reason to trade Matthews after 2021-22 season
By the way, for those parsing numbers, Tempe is about six miles from Matthews’ home in Scottsdale. Phoenix, on the other hand, is 12 miles from Scottsdale. And those of us who’ve lived in this area know that Phoenix traffic can be difficult at certain times of the day.
Who knows what will happen in two years?
The veteran professor (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years at the University of Alberta’s School of Education. He is a Canadian boy who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a PhD from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing his hockey cards and just being a sports fan—hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray embodies how a pro athlete should behave).
If you’re wondering why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son — who is also Jim Parsons — wrote for him The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use a different name so readers would not confuse their work.
Since Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher”. The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher”. That became his pseudonym. Today, except writing for The Hockey Writershe teaches research design at several Canadian universities.
He’s excited to share his insights on the Toronto Maple Leafs and how sports impact life more broadly. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf