NHL commerce grades: Maple Leafs unload Petr Mrazek to Blackhawks

the trade

Blackhawks get: Goaltender Petr Mrazek and a first-round pick, No. 25, used to select defenseman Sam Rinzel.

Maple Leafs get: A second-round pick, No. 38, in 2022.

Sean Gentille: This one is a little more straightforward than it looks. Toronto absolutely had to shed cap, and they did that in the form of moving out Mrazek and his $3.8 million AAV from him. He was awful last year and seemed like a buyout candidate if no draft-week deal (like this one) came along. It did, and now the Leafs have more money to spread among RFAs like Pierre Engvall, Ondrej Kase and Rasmus Sandin. That part is clean.

The issue for the Leafs is that, for all intents and purposes, they now have zero goalies. Jack Campbell is expected to hit the market on July 13. As Sean McIndoe said in our draft live blog, that’s quite the gamble, especially given how thin the goalie market has become. Yeah, they needed space, and yeah, they can also use that money on Campbell or someone else via trade. You gotta have a goalie. It’s a rule.

As for the Blackhawks—this is who they are now; a team where bad contracts go to disappear. Got a player you need to move and a willingness to send some draft capital along as well? Call Kyle Davidson. This move has no cap implications for them — they’re terrible, and they’re going to get worse. It’s about moving 13 picks up in the draft to 25th, where they selected defenseman Sam Rinzel. Rinzel, according to Corey Pronman, is a big, toolsy player who has long-term upside. Sounds good. It’s not like the Blackhawks need anybody who’s going to be good anytime soon, and Mrazek, based on last season, could be bad enough to help them lose games next season. That’s apparently all they care about.

maple leaves: A
Blackhawks: A

Shayna Goldman: The Maple Leafs need a solution to their goaltending, and Mrazek was clearly not it. After playing well in Carolina, his time in Toronto was pretty terrible — allowing 12.8 more goals than expected in 20 games, according to Evolving-Hockey. And his contract situation from him, a $3.8 million cap hit this and next season, limited what the team could do.

Trading a first-rounder to get out of this contract isn’t ideal, but clearing cap is the priority to give this team an entirely new look between the pipes if/when Campbell departs as a free agent. Honestly, it sounds like a bigger deal than it is to move a first-rounder to get out of this contract when they get a second in return. There isn’t that massive of a difference in value between 25th (3.4 wins) and 38th (2.2 wins). A creative scouting department can still find a gem at 38.

The Blackhawks’ goaltending was a disaster all year. Between all four goaltenders to play in Chicago, they allowed 45.6 more goals than expected. Mrazek, if healthy, can take some games and take the pressure off the other netminders on the roster. If he fails, it works for a team that may be trying to tank anyway. Adding a first-rounder in the process doesn’t hurt. Watching this team play next year, however, will hurt. But it is interesting that they turned around and used the pick on a player who is a bit of a reach. Maybe they know something we don’t and the upside will pay off when they eventually are relevant again.

maple leaves: B+
Blackhawks: B+

Dom Luszczyszyn: Salary cap flexibility was a definite priority going into the offseason for the Maple Leafs. With that in mind, the writing was on the wall for Petr Mrazek, who struggled in his first season as a Leaf. Injuries did not help, but his performance on the ice did not match the salary he was getting.

Goalies are fickle creatures, so there is always a chance Mrazek bounces back and returns to his previous solid self. But that wasn’t a bet Toronto could afford to make, especially with his injury history. Getting out of his contract was crucial to adding as much flexibility as possible.

The cost: Moving down 13 spots in the draft. Honestly, not a bad price to pay for a team that’s desperately in win-now mode. Going from 25th to 38th is a loss of 1.2 wins of value, which isn’t too hard to stomach for Toronto for the cap savings. Obviously, it’s not ideal that the team made the mistake in the first place, but getting out of it wasn’t all that painful.

As for Chicago, it’s the team’s best deal of the day, which is a pretty low bar considering what’s transpired. The Blackhawks moved up to seek yet another first-round pick in this draft, which should help with the team’s goals of rebuilding. Mrazek gives the team a proven goalie who can mentor Chicago’s younger netminders as well.

maple leaves: B+
Blackhawks: B+

(Photo: John E. Sokolowski/USA Today)


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