Multiple teams approaching Maple Leafs for goalie trades

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. (Christopher Katsarov/CP)

MONTREAL – Kyle Dubas was suddenly the most popular guy in school.

Freeing the Toronto Maple Leafs of the $3.8-million salary-cap burden that was Petr Mrazek Thursday night on the NHL Draft floor, Dubas slashed a wide-open spot for a No. 1 goaltender and now has the funds to fill that void.

All he must do now is select a dance partner.

“After we made the deal last night and got more space, every team that had someone was coming up to us this morning,” Toronto’s general manager said, following Day 2 of the draft.

“There just seems there's a greater surplus in that (trade) market than there is in free agency. But there's usually something you have to pay on that end as well. So, it's just measuring the cost versus what we expect to get from the goaltender.”

Dubas is playing the field, surveying the landscape.

Name a goaltender who was scratched off the availability list this week — Alexandar Georgiev, Vitek Vanecek, Ville Husso, Casey DeSmith, Marc-Andre Fleury, Craig Anderson, Scott Wedgewood — and Toronto had kicked tires.

Until free agency hits Wednesday, Dubas has exclusive negotiating rights with his own pending UFA, Jack Campbell, but he’s certainly researching all other options.

“We're looking at everybody. So, it's safe to say that everybody that was moved, everybody that was traded, everybody that was traded and signed, or signed with their own team was on our list. So, it just takes a situation where there was a clear surplus and begins to make it more scarce. We believe that our situation should be enticing for a goaltender, and we'll count on that as we roll and measure the market,” Dubas said.

Toronto has company in an aggressive game of musical chairs, as multiple teams will bid for the services of Campbell and fellow UFA Darcy Kuemper, whose negotiating rights Colorado GM Joe Sakic had been willing to deal for a pick.

The names Jake Allen, Matt Murray, John Gibson continue to circulate on the trade mill.

And then there was the fact that Dubas had multiple draft-floor conversations with Minnesota GM Bill Guerin on Friday.

Cam Talbot's agent, George Bazos, met with Guerin Friday, following Fleury’s two-year extension. (Fleury expects a 50/50 split with Talbot.)

“We both stated our positions,” Bazos told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun via text. “Billy has a lot to think about.”

Guerin’s response, via Wild beat reporter Michael Russo: “I don’t have s--- to do. Cam Talbot’s under contract. George can say whatever the hell he wants. My team’s set right now, and that’s the way it goes. We can have all the discussions we want. Cam’s a member of our team. We really like Cam. All we’re trying to do is win.”

Ditto the Leafs, who desperately need the right goalie to do so.

“My phone isn't working at present, so it's great everyone was here,” Dubas said. “You get a good sense of where the market’s at, where it's going, and who's available, what the cost is going to be in trade. And now we'll work through our own situation with Jack. And then if it gets to that point, we'll work through the situation with the remaining free agents.

“We like the options that we have available to us, both our internal options and the trade options.”

Dubas characterizes the Leafs as still in the “information gathering stage,” yet Edmonton, Washington and Buffalo are in hot pursuit of the same targets.

“A team or a goalie may be left without a spot, or a spot that either the team or the goaltender doesn't desire as much,” said Dubas, thinking back to his Mrazek decision last summer.

“We signed Petr. Colorado, when their goaltender [Philipp Grubauer] signed with Seattle, they were left at the end (of free agency) and then they elected to pay the price (in trade for Kuemper). And it ended up paying off for them quite well. So, there’s always that option as well.”

Dubas is playing a little hard-to-get here. The GM believes what he can offer in number of starts and opportunity to play behind a dynamic offence (yes, goalies love their run support) puts him in a decent spot, despite the shrinking list of candidates.

“Depending on who you talk to, they might think (a trade) is closer. But from our perspective, we're a team that obviously has an open slot. So teams with excess may feel that things are very close with us when we're just surveying all the options,” Dubas said.

“We're going to do everything we can to get our team in the best spot and build it out the position the way we need.”

Get your popcorn ready.

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