The Toronto Maple Leafs are playing hard to get, or Kyle Dubas is just not into Jack Campbell. The goaltender’s agent spoke with The Athletic about contract talks or lack thereof. The article reports that Kurt Overhardt said there had been conversations, but there haven’t been any discussions about numbers.
So let’s unpack that because there is a lot of material in just that tiny tidbit of information.
The first question is, why? Why is Campbell’s agent talking to the media? Dubas, like most general managers in pro sports, is adamant about not negotiating through the media. Due to that fact, it’s rare when an agent speaks publicly about a player or a team. So this discussion between agent and reporter alone is enough to question the motive. But Overhardt gave a little more information:
“With Jack, obviously, he’s really interested in coming back and would be committed to do that. We continue to talk to the club, and we’ve got an open dialogue. Nothing to report other than that.”
The Athletic, Latest on Jack Campbell-Maple Leafs negotiations and more: What we’re hearing, June 15, 2022
That is bouncing the ball in the Maple Leafs’ court and putting the onus on the team. The agent is telling fans that if Campbell, a new fan favourite, doesn’t return to blame Dubas, not his client.
Campbell Sounds Like Andersen
It is all reminiscent of the man that Campbell replaced. Frederik Andersen made it clear he wanted to stay in Toronto at the end of last season and said his first conversation would be with Dubas. However, a leak suggested Andersen was asking too much, and the Maple Leafs would be moving on. Instead, Andersen got a two-year deal worth $9 million and put up career-best numbers with his news team, the Carolina Hurricanes.
Now, Campbell is repeating Andersen’s words. One month ago, when the Leafs were cleaning out their lockers, Campbell said, “Winning here means everything to me. I love the city of Toronto. I love the fans, the support. My teammates are absolutely incredible, the coaching staff, really everything… As far as negotiating and all of that, that will be up to Kyle and my agent.” He was asked if he would take less money to stay in Toronto, Campbell said, “As far as me loving the city and doing whatever I can to stay here, that is up to Kurt and Kyle to discuss.”
Given the latest development in The Athletic article, there have been discussions but obviously not much more if numbers are not on the table yet. There is still plenty of time before the free-agent market opens on July 13, but Toronto was quick to make some other roster adjustments. The Zamboni had barely gotten off the ice after Game 7 when the team announced Mark Giordano had signed a two-year deal and Jason Spezza would not be returning. So the front office is still working but just not talking or saying much to Campbell’s agent.
Maple Leafs Have Options
Does that mean that Dubas moved on from Campbell the way it did with his predecessor? Interestingly enough, Campbell’s agent also represents a goalie many believe Toronto is interested in acquiring – John Gibson. However, that seems less and less likely. So as that rumour has slowed, a new story has the Maple Leafs acquiring Matt Murray from the Ottawa Senators. There are free agent goalies Toronto may pursue as well; Darcy Kuemper, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ville Husso are on that list.
Don’t forget, Toronto also has two more years of Petr Mrazek under contract. So Dubas and company have a lot of work to do. Can they find a trade partner to take Mrazek? Can they sign Campbell or someone of equal or better skillset for less than market value? At this point, the Maple Leafs could be starting the 2022-23 season with Mrazek in the net.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.