On today’s episode of Daily Faceoff Live, Frank Seravalli wondered if the Toronto Maple Leafs could create some salary cap flexibility ahead of the NHL trade deadline by keeping Matt Murray on the LTIR until the playoffs. Could this be a path for the Leafs to make more moves than expected?
With David Alter as a guest on Monday’s episode of Daily Faceoff Live, Frank pondered the situation for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders, and specifically whether Matt Murray’s return might be delayed in order to to create some ceiling flexibility. Murray has been on the LTIR since Feb. 9 after suffering an ankle injury before the All-Star break, but can return on Feb. 28 provided he is deemed ready to play.
When asked if the Leafs could consider keeping Murray on the LTIR, Alter indicated that could be a possibility, however, the 28-year-old goaltender seems close based on how he trains:
« Technically it looks good, but I know they’re trying to rebuild it. I watch the goalkeeper coach and Murray’s dialogue that often happens before practice. You see everything from how to hold the stick, how to move from position to position, and a lot of different things that seem to rebuild it all over again. It’s interesting, but it also justifies him not being ready in case they make that decision.
If Murray’s ankle keeps him out of the lineup longer than originally planned, the Leafs have a few options as to how they might approach this final stretch of the season.
“I think ideally, based on what the Leafs are doing and what’s on the table, they absolutely don’t have to do anything (for now). It’s eerily similar to 2021 when Frederic Andersen was injured – they had nothing to do with his cap shot – and with 11 or 12 games to go they injured Zach Hyman and Bogosian, and they were able to move the LTI money around to allow Andersen one last regular season game before the playoffs start. Certainly, this is not without precedent.
When Murray will be available to return remains to be seen, but the Leafs certainly won’t rush him until he’s absolutely ready to go.
« There is no timetable for Murray to return. Whenever we asked, they just didn’t put a deadline. All they said was that February 28 is the sooner where it can be activated, if they choose to do so, and if it’s ready. There are a lot of different permutations that could happen with that money cap, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it helps them build their list.
Matt Murray has already missed some injury time prior to what would have been his first start against the Ottawa Senators earlier this year due to a kidnapper injury.
The 28-year-old goaltender is 11-5-2 to go along with a .911 save percentage and 2.73 GAA, but is 2-2-0 in 2023. Murray was retired after allowing four goals on eight shots against Florida in his last start Jan. 17, a game in which the Leafs came back to win with Samsonov in net.