Insider: Maple Leafs Going "Big Game Hunting" For Goalie

 With just one NHL goaltender under contract going into next season, and the certain departure of Ilya Samsonov in free agency, the Toronto Maple Leafs will need to find a partner for Joseph Woll between the pipes this offseason. But according to insider Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, it will likely be more than a partner. 

I do believe it’s very much true that the Leafs want to go big-game hunting to find an upper-echelon goalie to help out the young Woll.

Two of the biggest names he goes on to discuss as possibilities are Juuse Saros and Jacob Markstrom. 

The rumors about a Mitch Marner for Juuse Saros centered trade began right after the Leafs and the Nashville Predators were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs earlier this month. Nashville does have a top goaltending prospect ready to take over from Saros in 2020 first-round pick Yaroslav Askarov. And they do need a serious offensive boost, which Marner could obviously provide. But when asked about all of this, Preds GM Barry Trotz refused to bite.

As for the Flames' No. 1 goaltender, who was nearly traded at the deadline, LeBrun asks, "Does Treliving try to rekindle things with Jacob Markstrom from Calgary? It wouldn’t surprise me." It was Treliving, of course, who, as Flames GM, signed Markstrom to his current 6-year, $6M AAV pact, which runs its course at the end of next season. 

From all accounts, it does sound like Markstrom's days in Cowtown are numbered. 

There are other top netminders who could become available this summer for the Leafs to pursue as well, starting with Boston Bruins' Vezina Award Winner from last season, Linus Ullmark. He, too, was nearly traded at the deadline in March.

Others include John Gibson and Elvis Merzlikins, though those two don't truly fit the bill for the "big-game" hunting expedition that the Toronto front office will be on. 

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