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SIMMONS: Is Marc-Andre Fleury the answer in goal for the Leafs? – Toronto Sun

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Feb 27, 2022  •  3 hours ago  •  4 minute read  •  6 Comments

Marc-Andre Fleury is having a splendid season for the Blackhawks and should draw interest at the trade deadline from a handful of contending teams.
Marc-Andre Fleury is having a splendid season for the Blackhawks and should draw interest at the trade deadline from a handful of contending teams. Photo by Jonathan Daniel /Getty Images

Sand is rapidly running through the hourglass that has been Jack Campbell’s storybook career in goal for the Maple Leafs and time is now of the essence.


There are just three weeks to the NHL’s trade deadline and the Leafs are caught in a dilemma: What to do with their failing goaltending and whether they believe that the very likable Campbell can find his way again in time for the post-season.

There is another factor in all of this and that is the availability of Marc-Andre Fleury, who is having a rather spectacular season with the highly unspectacular Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury wouldn’t mind being traded to a contending team. He wouldn’t mind another shot at a Stanley Cup. There may be a lineup of teams looking to acquire him in the coming weeks — a lineup that should include the Leafs, Edmonton, Boston, Washington and Colorado.

Not all of them will have interest in the veteran. But right now, playing as he has all season in Chicago, Fleury would enhance the fortunes of any of those teams.


Campbell is a player you can’t help but cheer for. His story and his ascent are an unmade movie of the week. His humility and modesty are exemplary and admired in this age of look-at-me professional athletes. He came to the Leafs as additional depth, pushed hard, won the first-string job, made the all-star game and looked to put all of the goaltending demons of his past behind him.

But this isn’t about all the bad goals he let in on Saturday night in Detroit. Anyone can have a game like that. It’s about what has happened in goal for the Leafs in the second half of Campbell’s all-star season.

He has played in 38 games for Toronto, starting 37 of them. As of Dec. 2, he had played in 19 games. At that time, he ranked first in the NHL in games played, first in wins, first in save percentage, first in goals-against average.


His numbers were remarkable. He was in the early Vezina Trophy conversation. He had a 1.72 goals-against average, a .943 save percentage ­— Hall of Fame figures for the first part of this Leafs season which got him to his first NHL all-star game.

That was then, this is now. Since Dec. 2, Campbell’s play has fallen like a bad stock. In that time, he has dropped to 15th in games played, 16th in wins, 28th in save percentage, 27th in goals against. The Leafs can’t hide from that.

No, the Leafs aren’t the best defensive team in the NHL and yes they leave people alone too often around the net. But the kind of numbers Campbell has put up — a 3.37 goals-against average, a .892 save percentage for a winning team, and he still gets his share of victories — won’t take a team on any kind of post-season ride.


The Leafs are unfortunate victims of their own division. That’s their reality. They will almost certainly open the playoffs against either Tampa Bay or Florida. That means they would be facing Andrei Vasilevskiy or Sergei Bobrovsky in that omnipresent first round. You can’t have the Campbell who is currently playing for the Leafs in goal and have any realistic chance of winning against either of those teams and goaltenders.

The Campbell of his first half was elite. This Campbell is bottom-of-the-barrel NHL goalie. The truth of his abilities may be somewhere in between but it puts Campbell, goaltending coach Steve Briere, head coach Sheldon Keefe and general manager Kyle Dubas in a rather challenging position as the trade deadline approaches.


Can they find a way to fix Campbell as they have already done once? Or do they get in the Fleury bidding, assuming there is bidding, with interim general manager Kyle Davidson in Chicago?

And please don’t tell me the Leafs have Petr Mrazek ready to go if Campbell can’t be trusted. Mrazek is a bottom-half NHL goalie. Contending Carolina allowed him to walk away for nothing. He’s here filling up space on the roster and on the Leafs payroll. You can’t put Mrazek in any competition against Vasilevskiy or Bobrovsky and have any hope of success.

Fleury’s salary cap hit is $7 million for this season and that’s rich, even for just six weeks. With Jake Muzzin out on the long-term injured list, the Leafs would have to do some manoeuvring to bring Fleury in, but if not, what’s the alternative? What do the Leafs expect to happen in goal between now and the beginning of May when playoffs begin?


All of this is happening with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly having career years, playing the best they’ve ever played before. The Matthews-Marner combination along with Michael Bunting has been spectacular. Do you waste that kind of possibility because your goaltending doesn’t hold up?

Vasilevskiy has a 2.28 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. Bobrovsky has a rather high 2.63 GAA on the freewheeling Panthers, but a .915 save percentage and most impressively a 26-6-1 won-lost record. The Vezina favourite, Rangers’ Igor Shesterskin, has a 1.95 GAA and a .941 save percentage.

Campbell has a 23-8-4 won-lost record and even as his game has slipped, the Leafs are still playing .692 hockey on the season and will likely finish with more points than any Toronto team in history.

But when you break down the goals scored against Campbell in the second half of his season, the rebounds allowed, the mental mistakes made, the positioning, that kind of goaltending just isn’t good enough now — or at playoff time.

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