It’s not a season without the requisite January league-wide goaltending disaster circus, with teams scrambling to ice healthy tandems in net during the tough doldrums of the mid-season.
The Leafs managed to avoid that with moderate success during their 2017-18 season, when they had two debatably NHL-caliber goaltenders being iced as an AHL tandem for the Marlies while Frederik Andersen played the lion’s share of the NHL starts. Curtis McElhinney remained well-rested throughout the season and available if needed, giving the team security at both the minor and major pro levels of the organization.
This year, though, the wheels have fallen off. After losing both McElhinney and 2017-18 Marlies backup Calvin Pickard to waivers at the start of the year, they’ve now lost both Frederik Andersen – who is out with a groin injury – and Garret Sparks, who underwent concussion protocol on Thursday and was diagnosed with the head injury officially on Friday.
The team first picked up Michael Hutchinson from the Florida Panthers via waiver claim, giving them a starting goaltender for their matinee game against the Minnesota Wild.
Although he allowed four goals on 34 shots, though, it appears that the team needs Kaskisuo down with the Marlies more than they need him on the bench, and a promising practice from Frederik Andersen left the team willing to send down their current number two (using the term in the loosest manner allowable) and ice… an EBUG at practice?
No surprise Michael Hutchinson will start for #Leafs tomorrow vs. Canucks. Babcock said on Wednesday Andersen unlikely to practice once and return. Who will back up for Hutchinson, though, we will see.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 4, 2019
The Leafs announced on Friday morning that Kaskisuo has been reassigned to the AHL’s Marlies, where he’s probable to start in one of their upcoming games this week.
While Andersen was ready to participate in a full practice on Friday, they also saw York University’s Alex Fotinos join as a placeholder for Sparks – and with Andersen uncertain to return for the team’s Saturday game, there’s always a chance the team has another exciting placeholder situation there.
Fotinos has decent USports stats this year, and he’s a former Barrie Colts and Windsor Spitfires netminder – so given the upheaval around the league this year (which includes a waiver claim on Friday of Mike McKenna by the tailspin-happy Philadelphia Flyers), there’s always a chance he’d be one of the more competent netminders on the ice if he did have to dress as backup tomorrow.