In sacrificing its first-round choice, Toronto unloaded the final two seasons of Mrazek's contract and retained none of the $3.8 million per year cap hit. The backup goalie is coming off an injury-plagued campaign where he went 12-6-0 with an .888 SV% and 3.34 GAA. Mrazek was eventually sidelined late in the regular season by a groin injury that would also keep him out of Toronto's first-round playoff run.
That wasn't the production Toronto was looking for when general manager Kyle Dubas brought Mrazek on board last summer to support incumbent Jack Campbell. Now, Campbell is a pending unrestricted free agent, and Toronto needed more space to potentially re-sign not only Campbell but also restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Sandin.
Taking Mrazek off the books gives the Leafs over $10 million in space next season.
In Mrazek, the Blackhawks will have a goaltender looking to rebound. The veteran played well for the Carolina Hurricanes from 2018 to 2021, going 50-32-8 with a .911 SV%. If that's the sort of output Chicago can get from Mrazek, its crease should be in better shape than it has been since Marc-Andre Fleury was traded to Minnesota in March.
The Blackhawks had cap space to burn -- especially after trading Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa earlier in the day -- and no NHL-caliber goalies signed for next season. This gives them a known commodity to fill in that gap.