For the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was one of three choices.
The first choice is that goalie Matt Murray was a player the team wanted all along – more than Jack Campbell – because he was known to both head coach Sheldon Keefe and general manager Kyle Dubas (he played junior hockey for them with the Soo Greyhounds).
The second choice is that the writing was on the wall that Jack Campbell wasn’t coming back (or wanted too much money) and the Maple Leafs management just (finally) decided to move on.
The third choice – and there was some speculation that this was the case – is that Campbell wasn’t in the plans at all because the team had “soured on him” for some reason. And, if that’s true, we won’t know why – probably ever.
The Maple Leafs Have Found Their Goalie in Murray
Later in the afternoon on Monday, the Maple Leafs announced they had acquired Murray, along with a third-round draft choice in 2023 and a seventh-round draft choice in 2024 from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for future considerations. What “future considerations” means I don’t know.
The specifics of the trade are that the Senators will retain 25% of Murray’s salary as part of the trade. The Maple Leafs also get two draft picks, although those don’t seem to be as big a deal as Murray’s history and his health. Can he play more than 20 games during the 2022-23 season?
Although due diligence was done on his medical status, if Murray misses significant time with injuries that would be a problem of huge proportion. The Maple Leafs, after getting the Senators to retain a fourth of Murray’s salary, are looking at a salary-cap hit of $4,687,500 over the next two seasons that Murray will be in Toronto.
The 28-year-old goalie has struggled for the past two years even when he’s been healthy; however, the Maple Leafs are not the Senators. Murray will get plenty of run support from the Maple Leafs’ high-powered offense.
The Best and the Worst of the Deal for the Maple Leafs and for Murray
Both GM Kyle Dubas and coach Sheldon Keefe are familiar with Murray, who was their goalie when the three were all in similar roles with the OHL Soo Greyhounds.
Maple Leafs’ general manager Dubas is betting on Murray to come through for the team. Should he be unable to do so, that might put Dubas’ career in trouble. On the other hand, if Murray can bounce back, it would be both a great story of redemption. At the same time, the team would have a great chance of postseason success.
Murray would likely be the Maple Leafs starting goalie with former Jack Campbell moving on. The rumor is that Campbell will be joining the Edmonton Oilers. At Day 1 of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Maple Leafs traded Petr Mrazek to the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade.
This is a big gamble for the Maple Leafs. It’s one of those classic high-risk/high-reward scenarios.