Breaking: Maple Leafs Are Working On A Deal To Sign $2.725 Million Goaltender As Free Agent

Breaking: Maple Leafs Are Working On A Deal To Sign $2.725 Million Goaltender As Free Agent

The goaltender situation for the Toronto Maple Leafs will probably be different coming into the 2024–25 campaign because Martin Jones and Ilya Samsonov are both pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) who are anticipated to enter the open market this summer. Matt Murray, who is still recuperating from an injury sustained in the previous season, will probably become a UFA and enter free agency.The Maple Leafs will almost definitely be looking to make some changes this offseason as they strive to make a long run in the 2024–25 season after a painful setback to the Boston Bruins in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. With Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan among prospects trying to make the roster full-time next season, other changes will likely be made as well.

While there have been various suggestions online about what the Maple Leafs can do to turn their club around and make a successful playoff run next season, it is evident that they must focus on acquiring a goaltender who can help them win crucial games down the stretch. Karel Vejmelka, a goaltender for Utah (previously the Arizona Coyotes), is a candidate who can consistently meet this requirement. It will be intriguing to observe Utah’s plans for their current roster as they continue their transformation. I would expect them to invest heavily and try to compete as quickly as possible, but if they don’t, Vejmelka could be a significant trade item for them.

Vejmelka is currently entering the final season of his current contract which is worth $2.725 million average annual value (AAV). At the end of his deal, he is a UFA. If Utah wants to switch things up a bit and they don’t see a world where they can re-sign Vejmelka, the Maple Leafs should be trying to pursue him. He currently has no clauses in his contract that would hold up a potential trade, giving the Maple Leafs some leverage, but it may still cost them a bit to bring him in. If they want to make a push for a Stanley Cup next season and finally break their slump which has been in effect since 1967, they need to utilize young goaltender Joseph Woll and try to bring in Vejmelka.

Who Is Karel Vejmelka & How Would He Benefit the Maple Leafs?

Vejmelka, 28, is an unusual right-handed catching goalie from Trebic, Czechia. He measures 6-foot-4, 203 pounds and was picked by the Nashville Predators in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, 145th overall, following a successful season in Czechia with HC Pardubice U20, where he had a 2.54 goals-against average (GAA) and a.928 save percentage (SV%) in 37 games. He remained in Czechia until the 2021-22 season, when he arrived in North America, but he was signed by the Coyotes, where he began his NHL career. In his first season, he played 52 games and had a 3.68 GAA and.898 SV%.

Vejmelka built on his successful debut season, posting a 3.43 GAA and.900 SV% through 50 games in 2022-23. This previous season, he had a 3.35 GAA and a.897 SV% in 38 games, keeping his solid performance on a failing squad that has been rebuilding for quite some time. He is a great goalie who might thrive with a stronger team in front of him, and the Maple Leafs are on the verge of being a Stanley Cup-winning organization; all they need are a few simple adjustments.

Adding Vejmelka is a boost for the Maple Leafs as they prepare to compete again next season. If Woll continues to play well and can supply the Maple Leafs with excellent performances, forming a solid “1A/1B” pairing with Vejmelka, they will be regarded Stanley Cup contenders moving into the 2024-25 season. One of their most serious difficulties over the last few seasons has been a lack of consistent goaltending, and despite dealing with injuries between the pipes this season, they were still unable to obtain it when they needed it in the playoffs. Realistically, acquiring Vejmelka would need the Maple Leafs surrendering Nick Abruzesse, Marshall Rifai, and a 2026 third-round pick in exchange for Vejmelka.

This summer, the Maple Leafs will face some difficult decisions as they seek to enhance their roster and, if necessary, make adjustments. While Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly are likely untouchable, some other key players could be traded as the franchise seeks to overhaul its culture. However, before they blow it up and make a lot of transactions, they need to try to find a solid goaltender, and Vejmelka might be one of the league’s best trade targets, as well as one of the most feasible.

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