The Toronto Maple Leafs have been known for their strategic roster management. However, they are in an interesting situation with goaltender Matt Murray. Many fans and hockey pundits expected the team to buy him out, yet they hesitated. The question is why? Is there something else up?

Making Sense of the Maple Leafs’ Approach

The Maple Leafs must be keenly aware of the importance of managing their salary cap well. That’s true every season; but, it seems especially in the current season. It would seem that avoiding a buyout is a priority for the team. With a buyout, they waste valuable salary-cap space.

Additionally, the difficulty of expecting your goalies to make it through a season without an injury is something the organization must consider. Goalies experience ups and downs in performance. The job can also result in a variety of injuries. As a result, it’s essential to assess the overall situation before making any drastic moves. Is that what the Maple Leafs are doing?

Is the Real Reason for No Action Samsonov’s Lack of a Contract?

Another factor that might be contributing to the Maple Leafs’ decision-making (or what seems like a lack of decision-making) is uncertainty surrounding goalie Ilya Samsonov. Yesterday, the Maple Leafs tendered Samsonov a qualifying offer to keep his rights. However, as of right now, and as far as we know, Samsonov remains unsigned.

I must admit that I had thought that Treliving had let the cat out of the bag when he spoke about having three good goalies coming to training camp. He mentioned both Murray and Joseph Woll by name; so, I suspected, the third goalie must be Samsonov.

Perhaps Treliving was just faking it. It’s tough to know. But I was surprised there was no announcement about his being re-signed.

Is There a Backup Plan in Case Samsonov Remains Unsigned?

Obviously, behind the scenes, the Maple Leafs must at least be talking about a backup plan for their goalie situation. After his promising play last season, it was widely believed that Samsonov possessed huge talent and potential. It was also assumed that the Maple Leafs would pony up a strong-enough salary to keep him in Toronto.

That said, given his limited NHL experience, are the Maple Leafs blinking? Are they hesitant to hand over the reins entirely to him? Are they keeping Murray around just to ensure they maintain a level of stability and avoid being left short-handed is crucial for the team?

I can’t imagine that, but it could be.

There Is a Second Buyout Window

The Maple Leafs missed the first buyout window yesterday; however, there’s a second one upcoming. In cases where a team has a pending arbitration decision, that team has the option to utilize a second buyout. This feature provides flexibility and allows teams to make further adjustments to their rosters.

While the Maple Leafs are not obligated to use this option, it is open for them to explore if it’s necessary. I’m guessing that the team isn’t planning to have Murray on its roster this season. But there are other ways to move him than buying him out.

The Bottom Line

The situation surrounding Murray and the Maple Leafs is intriguing because there’s much in the dark. The team’s both being cautious and silent.

It would seem that re-signing Samsonov is a tipping-point decision. If he is re-signed, that contract should give more wiggle room to further decisions by the organization.

What we can know is that the Maple Leafs are busy behind the scenes working to figure out how to proceed through the offseason. There are options, but we (as fans) simply don’t know what they are.

Expect to see a number of moves to unfold over the next few days. We might know by later today what the Maple Leafs have been planning behind the scenes. One key decision will be around the issue of who will be the team’s goalie.

I’m guessing Samsonov and Woll will be the tandem that begins the season. However, I can’t be sure. But I do trust that someone in the Maple Leafs’ organization is sure.

It would seem to spell disaster if no one were on top of this situation.

Related: Keefe Returns as Maple Leafs’ Coach: What Do Fans Think?

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