Monday Mailbag: What’s up with that new goalie?

Hey, guys! It’s Cat Goalieman here to do your Monday Mailbag; I’ve been collecting your questions since yesterday, and I’m here to provide you with all (kind of) the answers. 

(FWIW, the answer is “Goat”. #PatsNation4Lyfe.)

Of the number of you who answered my request for questions, exactly two were related to something other than the Leafs’ current goaltending situation. 

While I’m as excited for Garret Sparks to make his NHL debut tonight as you guys are, though, keep in mind: Sparks is 22, he’s never seen NHL action, and he’s standing behind a rebuilding team. 

I’m older than Sparks, and I sometimes feel overwhelmed when I have to publish an article about an NHL debut; there’s a lot of pressure already put on a player when they first take the ice in the big show, and there’s arguably even more when a player is dealing with a goaltending controversy. 

With that said, let’s get into the questions: 

@matthew_gooding: will Frank Corrado play a game for the Leafs in 2015? 

Honestly, I would say yes – he has to, right? In theory, it’s a wasted roster spot to keep a player in the press box for an entire half of the season (and potentially beyond). 

I never really understand what Lou Lamoriello does, though. He’s always kind of scared me, so it doesn’t take much imagination to picture him being spiteful and holding Corrado hostage for the rest of the year, just because he can. 

@bruvark: Is Garret Sparks a real person, or just Trevor Kidd in disguise, as his pads seem to indicate? 

That’s… a very good question. Does anyone know whether or not Trevor Kidd has an unhealthy obsession with burritos? Has anyone ever seen Garret Sparks and Trevor Kidd in the same place? These are the real questions we have to answer in order to figure this out. 

@bruvark (continued): Also, if white pads might give the goalie an advantage, wtf is the checkerboard pattern supposed to do? Confuse people? 

Distract them. The only downside is that they sometimes distract you, the goaltender, too. I love fancy pads, but I’ve definitely gotten distracted by my own nifty designs; obviously, Trevor Kidd and Garret Sparks have high mental focus. 

@Totally_Offside: Which of the Leafs goalies has the highest trade value? 

At this point, James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier are the most likely goaltenders to be picked up – because at this point in the year, teams aren’t picking up goaltending prospects. If a team picks up someone in net, it’s going to be an immediate replacement for someone who either isn’t working with the lineup they skate on or someone who’s injured (a la Carey Price); while Sparks is looking like he could be the real deal, he’s a long-term option. Teams want something now, and that’s either Bernier or Reimer. 

Depending on the GM you talk to, though, Bernier and Reimer are both viable options. Bernier is the guy a GM picks up hoping to see him play better in a different system; Reimer is the guy a GM picks up as a low-risk, high-reward pending UFA. 

@matthew_gooding: If Sparks plays well, could we see a Reimer-Sparks duo with Bernier in the press box for the rest of the year? 

Honestly, I don’t think so. If Sparks plays well, Toronto needs to start considering whether he’s a long-term starting option (either as a potentially late-blooming franchise starter or as a 1A). You can keep him in the show for the rest of the season, but it benefits him more to take the majority of starts in the AHL instead; by keeping him up as Reimer’s backup, you’re taking a prospect who’s the perfect age to develop alongside the team’s rebuild and you’re potentially stunting any further development he needs. 

With goaltenders, fans have to stop thinking of an AHL assignment as punishment, particularly with prospects. After all, 40 starts in the minors is better for a goaltender long-term than 10 in the majors. 

@Great_brittonn: All bias aside, hypothetically, I (Wings GM) offer you (Leafs GM) Dylan Larkin for William Nylander, do you accept? 

If you’re the Leafs, maybe. What do you want in the deal? 

Honestly, though, that’s a tough one. Larkin provides a big, smart centre for the Leafs if Kadri doesn’t pan out; they already have Marner, who’s smart and shifty, but Larkin adds size. Do the Wings need Nylander more than the Leafs need Larkin, though? I would think so – and that means that the Leafs consider whether they can get more out of something like this. 

@JDylanBurke: Why are goaltenders voodoo, Cat. 

Fight me, Joseph.