Kyle Dubas has settled on his crease combination.
Now it’s on two of the newest Toronto Maple Leafs to prove the general manager right.
Dubas signed goaltender Ilya Samsonov to a one-year, US$1.8-million contract at the opening of free agency Wednesday, less than 48 hours after acquiring Matt Murray from the Ottawa Senators.
The moves came on the heels of Toronto trading the underperforming Petr Mrazek to the Chicago Blackhawks at last week’s NHL draft and allowing No. 1 option Jack Campbell to walk into unrestricted free agency.
“We knew very clearly from Jack’s representatives what the combination of terms and dollars would look like,” Dubas said of Campbell, who signed a five-year, $25-million contract with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
The 22nd pick at the 2015 draft, Samsonov became an unrestricted free agent after the Washington Capitals declined to tender the 25-year-old a qualifying offer.
In parts of three NHL seasons with Washington, the Russian netminder was 52-22-9 with a .902 save percentage and a 2.81 goals-against average. He owns a .907 save percentage and a 2.98 GAA in eight career playoff appearances.
Toronto shed the disappointing Mrazek’s $3.8-million salary before getting the 28-year-old Murray from Ottawa in a trade that will see the Senators pick up 25 per cent of his $6.25-million wage bill over the next two seasons.
“They’re both young enough that we’ll give them the runway here and see if they can become the long-term solution in net,” Dubas said of Murray and Samsonov, adding having the pair on shorter deals is a plus with regards to the salary cap and the event one of the organization’s younger options is ready in the next few years.
The Leafs also signed Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a one-year, $1 million contract and fellow forward Adam Gaudette for the same term at $750,000.
Aube-Kubel, who won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche last month, split last season between the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado, registering 11 goals and 22 points in 67 regular-season games before making 14 playoff appearances.
The Slave Lake, Alta., native has 21 goals and 50 points in 169 regular-season games as Dubas once again went shopping in the bargain bin to round out his bottom-6 forward group.
Gaudette, meanwhile, has collected 27 goals and 70 points in 218 regular-season games with the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks and Senators.
The Leafs, however, made goaltending their focus this off-season after it became Campbell apparent would hit the UFA market.
Despite an ultra-talented roster led by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, the Leafs are looking to get over a playoff hump that has included seven straight series defeats dating back to 2004.
Apart from losing Campbell, the Leafs saw winger Ilya Mikheyev sign a four-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks, while defenceman Iyla Lyubuskin agreed to a two-year term with the Buffalo Sabres.
Earlier in the day, Toronto announced it had signed goaltender and 2022 fourth-round pick Dennis Hildeby to a three-year, entry-level contract.
The 20-year-old Swede will attend the team’s development camp, which opens Sunday.