Around the NHL: the Johnny Gaudreau sweepstakes, Evgeni Malkin stays home and Matt Murray to the Leafs

Free agency is set to begin in less than 12 hours, and everybody is wondering where will Johnny Gaudreau end up. While Gaudreau is the most exciting unrestricted free agent to hit the market since John Tavares, there are several other intriguing players available in all price ranges.
We have also seen a few high profile trades in the past seven days and plenty of rumours surrounding other quality players who could be on the move.
Free Agency
As mentioned above Gaudreau is the top unrestricted free agent available. After eight seasons in Calgary, he has informed the Flames organization that he will not be returning. It has been reported that this is solely a family decision. Gaudreau would like to move closer to home as he is expecting a baby.
The New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers have been the most common destinations linked to Gaudreau and it seems both the Devils and Islanders are prepared to offer him long-term deals north of nine million per season.
Philadelphia is the closest geographic location to where Gaudreau grew up and his childhood team. They also have his close friend and former college teammate Kevin Hayes locked up for four more seasons. However, they do not currently have anywhere near enough cap space to …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

Staff Picks: Who we like for the Leafs in free agency

Here we are on the eve of free agency, and 25 hours away from the madness truly beginning. It seems like the last chance for us to weigh in on who are targets are before we start justifying who was actually signed. That’s why the question posed to the TLN writers this week is, “Who is your free agent target and why?”
Dylan Strome by Michael Mazzei
I believe the Leafs should focus their efforts on the non-tendered RFAs that are set to hit the open market, and the top choice for me is Dylan Strome. He has been making strides in his game despite Chicago mishandling him and barely giving him consistent playing time. The underlying metrics imply that he is a solid player and is more than deserving a a permanent roster spot, but Chicago apparently doesn’t think the same way and did not give him a qualifying offer. He should come at a reasonable price and would be a solid addition to the middle-six both this coming year and going forward given that he is right in the middle of his prime. He could be a hidden gem in free agency this summer and he is my choice for top target for the Leafs to acquire on July 13.
Eric …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs have acquired Matt Murray from the Senators

Over 24 hours after the initial report from Elliotte Friedman, the Matt Murray trade is now official.

TRADE: We have acquired goaltender Matt Murray & two draft picks from Ottawa in exchange for future considerations. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 12, 2022

The Leafs also acquired a third-round pick in 2023 and a seventh-round pick in 2024 in exchange for future consideration. Ottawa will be retaining 25% of his salary for the final two years, bringing his cap hit to roughly $4.68 million.
This comes mere days after the Leafs made the move to dump Petr Mrazek’s salary cap in Chicago while Jack Campbell appears all but likely to be hitting the open market on Wednesday (with reports suggesting that he will likely be joining the Oilers).
Murray is coming off a bit of a bounceback campaign statistically speaking as he recorded a .906 SV% and a 3.05 GAA despite going 5-12-2 in only 20 starts. He recorded an SV% above .900 for the first time since the 2018-19 campaign, although his GAA has been above three in his two seasons with the Senators.
There are plenty of risks that come with the move, given his injury troubles over the past two seasons, this is also a goalie who has proven himself to be a solid option when he’s on his game. Murray made an immediate impact in his first two seasons by helping the Penguins win two straight Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 while being reliable throughout his other postseason runs.
After spending the majority of the opening quarter of the 2021-22 campaign on IR with a head and neck injury, Murray seemed to have found his groove during a 12-game stretch that saw him post a .932 SV% and a 13.78 GSAx. Had it not been for his last two games where he gave up a combined 13 goals against the Lightning and Coyotes, he would have finished the season with a .920 SV%. The latter game not only saw his numbers take a massive drop, but he also suffered a season …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation