The Maple Leafs don’t have to trade goalie Carter Hart.
In Ilya Samsonov, the Leafs have a goaltender who continues to be on the upswing after cleaning up his goalie house last season.
In Joseph Woll, the Leafs have a goaltender who has made it clear he’s ready for a full-time job with the National Hockey League, whether as a backup or in a tandem role.
The Philadelphia Flyers under rookie general manager Daniel Briere are in rebuild mode, beginning their new era with defenseman Ivan Provorov moving to Columbus in a three-team deal on Tuesday.
Hart could be next to leave Philly, and there will be keen interest in a goaltender who turns 25 this summer but already has five seasons in the NHL on his résumé. Brad Treliving Hart is believed to have called, which shouldn’t come as a surprise nor lead anyone to believe that the Leafs’ new GM is about to strike a deal with Briere.
Naturally, as he settles into his role at Toronto, Treliving will want to put feelers out with his peers across the NHL. You would expect that too.
If the Leafs traded for Hart, it would presumably mean that they would forfeit at least one first-round pick. The Leafs need to beef up the farm system themselves — Kyle Dubas hasn’t left an organization of many prospects — and since they already don’t have a first-round pick in 2025, they’ll be traded to Chicago with conditions as part of the deal that brought in Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty in February to Toronto.
Furthermore, it would be foolish to trade Matthew Knies when the young winger has proven he will be an everyday player next season with a bright future ahead of him.
The Leafs would have no guarantee that Hart, who has one year left on contract and a $3.9 million cap hit before becoming a restricted free agent, would do any better than what they are in now have Samsonov. The latter was one of the NHL’s top goaltenders in the 2022-23 season and had a .919 save percentage, which is good for seventh overall. Hart, who admittedly played on a weak Flyers team, had a .907 save percentage, ranking 24th in that category.
There is something else to consider. Hart was part of the 2018 Canada junior team awaiting the report of the investigation into the group’s alleged sexual assault involving players from that team. Hockey Canada banned players from this team in Latvia last spring from representing Canada at the World Cup.
Until the report comes out, teams may not want to swap for players who were on that Canada junior squad, whoever it is.
The fact is, the Leafs aren’t focused on improving their goalkeeping skills. Matt Murray and his contract issue needs to be resolved as it would be prudent for Treliving to take his $4.7 million cap hit off the books (for another season).
Samsonov improved technically and mentally in his freshman year under the guidance of Leafs goalkeeping coach Curtis Sanford. There’s no reason to think the improvement won’t continue next season.
Samsonov is up for a new contract as a restricted free agent, and a salary in the region of $4 million a year is likely.
As for Woll, he represents an opportunity for something the Leafs have struggled to achieve since the days of Felix Potvin: a goaltender drafted by the Leafs and developed so well that he’s making a lasting impression in the NHL .
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In 1990, the Leafs picked Potvin 31st overall, and the Quebec native played for Toronto in the decade that followed.
Between Potvin and Woll in 2016, the Leafs picked 18 goaltenders. Eleven have never played in the NHL; 13 never played for the Leafs. Of those who qualified for Toronto, only James Reimer did anything notable (the others were Mikael Tellqvist, Justin Pogge, Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau). Of the two who played in the NHL but not for the Leafs – Eric Fichaud and Tuukka Rask – you know how Rask fared in Boston.
Woll would need to send waivers to the underage next season and we bet he would be claimed in the first year of Auston Matthews’ next contract. And think of the value Woll could offer with a cap hit of just $766,667.
The Leafs have their goaltenders for next season.
If you are looking for a Treliving trading start, join those of us who believe it will happen on the blue line.
https://torontosun.com/sports/hockey/nhl/toronto-maple-leafs/samsonov-woll-give-maple-leafs-bright-outlook-in-goal-no-hart-required Samsonov and Woll give the Maple Leafs good prospects in goal, Hart is not necessary