The Leafs have one possible solution to the Ilya Samsonov debacle, but fans won't like it

Ryan Smitheram
December 23, 2023  (9:52)

Photo credit: MSN

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a bind when it comes to goaltending, thanks to the subpar play of Ilya Samsonov, and with Joseph Woll being sidelined with a high-ankle sprain, Martin Jones has had to step in and play a larger role than originally expected. Jones has done an admirable job when called upon in Woll's absence and while he was the starter for the Seattle Kraken last season while Philipp Grubauer was out with injury, he is not a long-term fix for the Leafs.

The Leafs were hoping that with Woll sidelined, Samsonov would seize the opportunity and regain his form from last season. Unfortunately he has been unable to and it is forcing the Leafs to look at their options. One such option would be reuniting with a former Leaf.
Fans certainly won't like it, but Petr Mrazek in having a surprisingly decent year in Chicago. Traded in July of 2022 along with a first round pick to clear cap space, Mrazek is in the final year of the deal that Kyle Dubas signed him to ahead of the 2021-2022 season. His time in Toronto came to an end due to the number of injuries he suffered in his one season in Toronto and the Leafs felt his cap hit of $3.8M was not worth keeping him at the time.
Heading into last night's game against the Habs, Mrazek was 8-10-0 with a 3.04 GAA and .909 save percentage. While not outstanding, his numbers are still significantly better than Samsonov's on an awful Blackhawks team that is still rebuilding. So far this season, Mrazek has been able to stay healthy and should he continue to do so, could find himself dealt at the deadline with a handful of teams looking for help in net.
The Leafs will have to decide the best course of action with Samsonov, and if Woll has done enough to become their true number one, perhaps Samsonov could be slipped in a deal with Chicago for Mrazek to provide some stability in net behind Woll. Given the fact that difference in salary is miniscule, just $250K, the Leafs would not have to add additional sweeteners for a team to retain salary. Chicago would get a younger, but struggling goalie who might need a change of scenery, while the Leafs would get another veteran presence to support Woll. In this scenario, they'd still want to be able to retain Jones as the 3rd string goalie, running 3 netminders so as to avoid losing Jones on waivers.
Of course, this is a desperate option for the Leafs to explore, but it is an option nonetheless. It will be interesting to see what sort of plan the Leafs come up with to help Samsonov and if it doesn't work, Brad Treliving will certainly have to begin testing the market on the goalie front, because if Woll were to go down in the playoffs, Samsonov, as he currently stands, is clearly not the answer in goal for the Leafs.
The Leafs have one possible solution to the Ilya Samsonov debacle, but fans won't like it

Would you trade Samsonov for Mrazek 1-for-1 right now with the way Mrazek has played this year?

Yes, Samsonov has been awful27328.1 %
No, Mrazek failed here once already48249.7 %
Very tough decision.. I'm not sure21522.2 %
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