Maple Leafs, Penguins linked to Connor Hellebuyck

This would be a swing for the fences from both teams.



The 2022-23 NHL season for the Winnipeg Jets came to an unceremonious close earlier this spring against the Vegas Golden Knights, bowing out in a quick five game series. And immediately after their season ended, the sparring between head coach Rick Bowness and former captain Blake Wheeler was made public, giving fans a foreshadowing of what will likely be a summer of major changes. 

One player who is entering the final season of his contract is goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who is arguably the most important figure on the roster. If the Jets are considering beginning a rebuilding process, there's no doubt that Hellebuyck would want to seek greener pastures having just turned 30 years old. 

Meanwhile, there are a handful of teams who could be considering making a run at Hellebuyck to shore up their crease, and according to The Athletic, the two most intriguing squads that could have interest are the two teams that don't have a general manager at the moment.

Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins were listed by author Shayna Goldman as having potential interest in bringing the Michigan native aboard. Take a look at her reasoning, beginning with Pittsburgh: 

"The clock is ticking in Pittsburgh. Their core is aging and Sidney Crosby only has two more years on his contract. Missing the playoffs was a total failure for the Penguins, and now ownership is building a new management team to lead this group forward."

And Toronto:

"Considering the pressure on this team, under new management that’s to be decided, to maximize these next couple of years before those costs rise (or players depart), there may be a desire to have more security in net. Ilya Samsonov, who is a restricted free agent this summer, was better than expected in Toronto this year. But he doesn’t have a huge history to fall back on. Matt Murray, who has another year on his deal, was sidelined with injury a few times, and disappointing when healthy."

Source: The Athletic