The Toronto Maple Leafs have placed goaltender Petr Mrazek on LTIR with a groin injury. He is expected to miss four weeks.
Mrazek has stopped 50 of 57 shots in five periods of play for the Maple Leafs this season. That .877 save percentage is not representative of his typical play. In the past three seasons, with Carolina, he had a .911 save percentage in 92 games. That is a little better than league average goaltending.
What is the impact on the Maple Leafs when it comes to Mrazek’s absence?
While the Maple Leafs’ plan this season was to run a goaltending tandem, with maybe a little lean towards Jack Campbell, Mrazek’s injuries have forced the Leafs to use Campbell a lot. He has started nine of 12 games, which is a lot for any goaltender in the modern NHL, but Campbell has never started more than 26 games in an NHL season.
As long as he stays healthy, the Maple Leafs will continue to use Campbell a lot, but the team will need to address the backup goaltender spot for the next month.
It could end up being a rotation of Marlies goalies. Joseph Woll is up with the Maple Leafs now.
Michael Hutchinson is an option, and an option that at least has some NHL experience. His start against San Jose earlier this season was not his best but, as a spot starter, Hutchinson still might be the leading candidate.
Erik Kallgren has a .910 save percentage in six appearances for the Marlies. He could find his way into the mix, too.
Which back-to-back situations are coming?
Saturday Nov. 13 at Buffalo, after home game against Calgary the night before.
Sunday, Nov. 21 at Islanders, after home game against Pittsburgh the night before
Sunday, Dec. 5 at Winnipeg, after road game at Minnesota the night before.
Can the Maple Leafs get three starts out of AHL goaltenders over the next month? That does not seem an unreasonable ask under the circumstances. Could Campbell take on a back-to-back assignment? That is possible, too, but the Maple Leafs have to be really careful here. It is bad enough to be missing Mrazek. It would be exponentially worse if Campbell was overworked and ended up injured, too.
Free up cap space
With Petr Mrazek, and his $3.8 million cap hit, going on LTIR that decreases the need to deal Travis Dermott or Justin Holl. That does not mean those defencemen can’t be dealt. If part of the impetus for moving a defenceman was to gain some salary cap flexibility, that should not be such an urgent concern now.
That extra cap space also allows the Maple Leafs to bring up some forward depth from the Marlies. Kirill Semyonov and Joey Anderson have been recalled and might give the Leafs some additional lineup options. Semyonov has nine points (1 G, 8 A) and 21 shots on goal in nine games for the Marlies. Anderson has four points (3 G, 1 A) and 24 shots on goal for the Marlies. He has 13 points (8 G, 5 A) in 53 career NHL games.
There was some risk when the Maple Leafs signed Petr Mrazek to a tree-year, $11.4 million contract in the offseason. He had played just 12 games last season so good health was hardly a sure thing. The challenge for the Maple Leafs is that Campbell is still awaiting a new contract for next season and if he does get that deal, it will probably mean that the Maple Leafs can’t realistically afford to keep Mrazek. It would certainly help matters for the Maple Leafs to potentially deal Mrazek if he plays well enough to attract interest. For that to happen, though, he has to be healthy enough to play.
Not a member? Subscribe to TorontoHockeyNow today and get $10 dollars off our subscription fee of $39.99 for access to all four Canadian sites. Use promo code “Maple Leafs” to get $10 off!