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Maple Leafs Continue to Hunt for a Backup Goaltender

August 19, 2016, 9:51 AM ET [396 Comments]
Lucas Neilson
Blogger •Atlantic Division Writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
We have thirteen days remaining in August, so the dog days of summer are almost behind us and some new and exciting topics will be discussed with enriched enthusiasm.

There’s a lot of hype building up for this upcoming season, mostly to see the Maple Leafs inject the likes of newcomers Matthews, Zaitsev, Andersen and Martin, but exclusively the possible emergence of Mitch Marner. He is the true wild card this year and could be a game changer for the Maple Leafs on the power play with his extremely high level of craftiness with the puck. Remember, it’s either Marner plays with the big boys in the NHL or he goes back to the London Knights for one final lap. Marner is not eligible for the AHL (Toronto Marlies) next season due to his age, it will be very interesting to see how Babcock handles the situation, ultimately making the decision if Marner is ready or not.

That’s why Toronto pays Mike Babcock the big bucks.

As the hockey world awaits Jimmy Vesey’s decision, there likely won’t be a ton of action until the 23 year old signs a contract as a number of teams could be waiting on potential moves to take place if they do or don’t land the Harvard graduate.

One thing the Leafs are still kicking the can at is finding a goaltender to back-up their newly acquired Frederik Andersen. The reason they are not counting on Sparks to handle the load is in-case of an injury to Andersen, which would leave too big of a load for Sparks (in my opinion) and could potentially do more harm to him as he continues to work on his game for the Toronto Marlies, where he would be playing much more often. This would give Sparks opportunity to be called up if needed, but get a lot of time playing against quality competition in the AHL.

There is also something to be said about having a veteran goaltender as a backup to help ease the mind of your starter. Especially in Toronto I feel it will be quite worthy of the Leafs to add someone who has been through up’s and down’s and experience that he can pass along to Andersen as he establishes himself as the Leafs number one for years to come.

Toronto’s goaltending situation was rectified when the Leafs traded Reimer last season and then dumped Bernier off to Anaheim for a couple of cashews and a potential pick. Obviously management knew their goaltending wasn’t going to take them to the promise land and with haste they changed the direction of the franchise.

A backup goalie is important in many ways, injuries happen, slumps happen and having depth at all positions is how to build a successful roster. Look at the Penguins last year, how about that Matt Murray kid? The Maple Leafs have some progress to make before they are to be mentioned in comparison with the Pens, but with confident drafting and building techniques, time and patience is all it will take.

That’s one thing that’s certain about this management team that Shanahan has put together, they assess and they act. No time to waste, continue to move forward and get ready for the next impactful move.

As of now the Leafs have Sparks, Bibeau, Kaskisuo and Woll in their pipeline.

Looking at some possible options for the number two in between the pipes:

Karri Ramo:

Ramo is 30 years old and comes in at 6’2, 205 pounds and has quite a bit of NHL experience as well as three consecutive seasons of (.911, .912 and .909 save %). Ramo maybe one of the better options out there and someone who could use a change of scenery as Calgary has been somewhat of a gong show in the blue paint.

Jhonas Enroth:

Enroth is 28 and comes in at 5’10, 170 pounds and is a goalie who uses his athleticism to make saves, he reminds me of Bernier a bit and where he may be a decent option just to backup Andersen, I’m not ‘huge’ on him as the goaltending equipment is tightening up and that may hurt him when trying to play big covering his angles. A decent option though for one season.

Reto Berra:

Berra is twenty nine years old and is a big goalie like Andersen, coming in at 6’4, 210 pounds. Berra who plays the butterfly is quite a mobile goalie for his size. Berra has fallen down the depth chart because the Panthers added Reimer and Luongo still manages to hold the number one spot in Florida. Perhaps Berra could be had?

There are some other options in Dan Ellis, Anders Lindback and Jason LaBarbera.

The Leafs could also be looking at a team like New Jersey to snag one of their younger goalies, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, trading for a goalie that is hurting a team’s cap situation. One of Lehtonen or Niemi from Dallas, or possibly taking on Pavelec from Winnipeg could bode well for the Leafs as they would receive a pick or prospect in return.

What backup goaltender(s) do you think the Leafs should look at scooping up?

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend.
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