There’s a lot of questioning as to who will go in net for the Toronto Maple Leafs next year. Not in the starting role; Jonathan Bernier has that covered, but as the backup. What options do the Toronto Maple Leafs have? As we can clearly see, it won’t be me. Lets break it down..
Pay James Reimer
Reimer has filed for salary arbitration, which means that his contract will be settled quickly. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement soon, an arbitrator will decide his cap hit for next year. If it’s under $3.5 million, which is likely, the Leafs have to sign him.
Positives: Reimer is good at goaltending when he doesn’t take hits to the head, and is bound to bounce back this season.
Negatives: Depending on what he gets awarded, he may be a detriment to the Leafs’ cap situation. Doesn’t particularly want to be here in the current climate, which may prove problematic.
Sign a Free Agent
There’s still a few goaltenders left on the UFA market. Notable names include Martin Brodeur, Tomas Vokoun, Tim Thomas, Nikolai Khabibulin, and Ilya Bryzgalov.
Positives: A UFA only costs money, not assets. As well, some of these guys have a wealth of experience and stories to possibly provide Bernier and the rest of the team.
Negatives: Pretty much every veteran goaltender on this list was once great, but now terrible. Vokoun was good the last time he played, but that was well over a year ago. Guys like Nathan Lawson and Cal Heeter have never been good. Bryzgalov might be alright if you get the one that played for Minnesota instead of Edmonton, but he’s a distraction even in smaller markets.
Make a Trade
Surely some team will be willing to give up a good AHL starter or a prospect who doesn’t quite fit into their organization, right? Somebody like Jacob Markstrom, who is now an odd man out with Ryan Miller coming in for the Canucks. Or just whatever fodder has to come back from the other team in a potential Reimer trade.
Positives: Would likely come at a low price, given the current goaltending market. May need to take somebody by default in any event. Some seriously good talent has been acquired on the cheap by teams in the past with this method.
Negatives: Unlikely to find a safe bet goaltender on the market right now. Those that are safe will likely be retained by teams who own them until at least the 20 game mark as they evaluate their place on the market.
Bring Back Jussi Rynnas
Once signed as a maybe out of Finland, the man they call “the bus” showed moments of elite potential, more moments of collapse, and a quite a few injuries with his time with the Marlies. His one attempt at playing for the Leafs was a disaster. But he’s torn up the SM-Liiga again, and he’s back for another shot at North America!
Negatives: Because the Stars just signed him. Maybe they’re hoping to recreate Kari Lehtonen? Hey, I wonder if Jack Campbell is available..
Free Garret Sparks
Maybe it’s time to just flat out rush the youth movement? Antoine Bibeau is going to be hitting the pros up this year, and there are three Leafs goaltending prospects below the NHL that are 21 or younger. Why not just swing for the fences and move the remaining Marlies goalie with the most games played up a level?
Positives: Sparks would get to learn about the NHL grind at a very early age. He’s already familiar with the city. Cheered for the Blackhawks in the 2013 cup run, which basically makes him David Bolland. Might influence Phil Kessel to grow the best flow of all time.
Negatives: Plays better when he has consistent starts, which isn’t super likely. Probably isn’t ready to play in the NHL. Might spend his first paycheque on a lethal dose of Chipotle and Sushi.