Relax, Ranger fans. It's just an example.
Yes. The Toronto Maple Leafs need to address their problems in net.
No. They are not going to acquire Henrik Lundqvist. He's just sitting pretty, as usual, up there as a perfect example of what good goaltending does for you.
Toronto GM Brian Burke has another "big summer" ahead of him, but as this season crashed around the fans, team, front office and players, nothing was featured more prominently than the Leafs' utter ineptitude in net.
Apologies to Jonas Gustavsson. I know you tried. I enjoyed seeing how angry you'd get. I like a player with fire.
James Reimer, you were the latest kid with a mountain thrown on top of him. You're not the guy.
Yes, Toronto need to get bigger and meaner, but what they need above all else is goaltending. As such, the following slideshow features some of the prize goalies heading into this summer's free agent pool, under the ideal circumstances according to Leafs fans.
No particular order and, no, I'm not getting into any ridiculous trade scenarios.
Reimer and Gustavsson are nice enough guys and all, but I just don't want to see them anywhere near the Leafs' net for the rest of my life. That said, I am not above wanting to be proven very, very wrong (and my general bitterness will likely mitigate over the summer months).
I don't want to jump too quickly here. If I was going to rank these dudes, I'd probably put a nice No. 5 on Brian Elliott. A pending unrestricted free agent coming into the season, he re-signed with the Blues until 2014, but Halak seems like their guy. Why not play the role of poacher, Mr. Burke?
Let's peek at his 2011-12 stats:
Sure, the nine shutouts look pretty, as does the 1.56 GAA over 38 games this season, but he's not that good in the long-term. That .940 save percentage is disgusting and cannot possibly last.
His goals-against during his years in Ottawa weren't awful (2.57 in 2009-10 and 2.77 in 2008-09), but his save percentage wasn't pretty (.909 and .902 in that same order).
The year he was shipped out was ugly, but I'm willing to bet he's somewhere between this season and his two years in Ottawa. For propaganda purposes, I will not include his bad stats. Google is probably your homepage. Go be a detective.
He's been dogged over his consistency issues in the past, but he looked pretty consistent this year, didn't he? I know. It's hard to be accurate when looking back on the last lost season, but there shouldn't be any doubt that the Newmarket, Ontario native (Cherry Points!) would be an improvement over Gustavsson and Reimer.
He's cheap, too.
Brian Burke could not be reached for comments pertaining to the cost needed to acquire him.
LA's Bernier has come up in the rumors, dreams, wishes, prayers and nightmares of Leafs fans all season.
He's sort of like this year's Reimer, but not really. He's young. His stats are comparable to Reimer's first year. And there's the fear that he might go the way of Reimer and all of those guys Reimer was explicitly warned about by Brian Burke.
He's signed through next season, but should he stay his course, and even improve, it seems silly, and selfish, for the Kings to employ this man for several years down the line when it appears that Jonathan Quick really, really wants to be the guy in Los Angeles.
Let's look at Bernier's stats this season:
Clearly, his stats don't blow anyone away, but when compared to the year before:
It appears he's staying buoyed in a decent area with plenty of time for his upside to kick in as he is only 23 years-old. Not great, but certainly not awful.
The biggest risk with Bernier is the sample size. Having only played in a total of 40 NHL games, he sits at a career goals against of 2.50 and save percentage of .910—if he can build from this, he would certainly be worth it.
Let's be clear, Reimer was impressive at the end of the 2010-11 season, but his stats didn't exactly scream at you with a goals-against of 2.60 and a save percentage of .921 to cap off last season.
Essentially, Bernier is Reimer without the injury history. And a little shorter. The same risks associated with age still apply. Bernier is an upgrade, just like last year's Reimer would be, but he is a gamble. That save percentage is a big concern given the Leafs' penchant for awful defense.
Brian Burke did not return phone calls about what it would take to acquire Bernier. It's tampering. Yes. But he has a better idea than I do, thus, no speculation from me yet again.
Old Faithful. Tomas Vokoun.
This clearly isn't a long-term plan, but it could buy Toronto some time. Given the age of their roster, they could use some.
Over his career, Vokoun has been a solid netminder. At 35, his best days are behind him. Still, a stabilizing presence he could be for the Maple Leafs.
This has J.S. Giguere part deux written all over it, but this season aside, Vokoun tends to be healthier. At 35 years of age, injuries heal slower and have more of an impact. I lied when I said that I'd rank Elliott No. 5 if I were to rank these guys. Vokoun would definitely be the No. 5 option.
It wouldn't be a spectacular signing. But it's still an upgrade, and it would likely come cheap. I'd say for two years. With Vokoun starting to show some signs of age, he wouldn't be around long. Again, he would probably be capable of delivering "good enough" goaltending while the Maple Leafs mature a bit more.
Here's a look at his stats this past season for the Capitals:
Not bad. His save percentage is under the league average, but not far from it. Goals-against may seem a little dubious, but his career goals against average is 2.55, and dare I say that that would have been quite welcome in Toronto over the past several seasons.
Brian Burke did not bite on the potential cost of this scenario either.
Minnesota's Josh Harding has a lot of people convinced that he's the kind of guy who would flourish with more ice time. His stats really aren't attractive, but, as mentioned before, he did play for Minnesota. Still, he assumes the status of "upgrade" as far as the Maple Leafs are concerned.
He had a great start to the season when the Wild, much like the Leafs, were playing over their heads. As to which team played more so over their collective heads is a matter of bias. At 27 years old, he's not a bad age for a goalie.
Other than that, I know nothing about him as I've paid this man zero attention. Ever.
Let's look at his 2011-12 statistics:
Now, it's only fair to Mr. Harding to take into account his poor stats while tending goal on a poor team. However, the Maple Leafs aren't exactly defensive wizards, so there's a caveat there as well.
The hope that Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle can get the Buds playing better defensively isn't exactly promising given the recent past. It likely wouldn't be fair to assume that Harding would be playing in front of a better Maple Leafs team when Minnesota has always instituted a sound, defensive style over the years, and Harding's career goals against average is still a 2.65, coupled with a career save percentage of only .916.
I essentially added Harding because the list of UFA goalies is quite shallow, there's a lot of talk about this guy and I'm hoping that someone can let me in on this and tell me I did a good job including him.
Brian Burke is not commenting on the likelihood of any of these scenarios happening and neither am I!
That's what the comment section is for.
No. 1 on my unranked list.
Cory Schneider is the man that I will be trolling everyone else's articles about for the foreseeable future. In my opinion, this is not a move Burke must make—it is the move.
The knock against Schneider is his sample size. He's not even compiled a season's worth of NHL games. I don't care.
He's got some serious upside. Sometimes you gamble in professional sports. I like it. I enjoy bravado and generally cavalier dispositions. I don't blame people for falling short if they go hard at whatever it is they're looking to accomplish (unless they're trying to invade Russia).
Cory Schneider is a guy I'd gamble on given what has been seen of him in his relatively short tenure in the NHL for the Canucks. His 2011-12 stats:
A more than capable backup, Schneider is never going to steal the show for keeps in Vancouver. Roberto Luongo is the man there. And he is good. Real good.
While Schneider's services could do well for a host of teams, I am not a fan of them, so I will not waste time entertaining those silly thoughts. Let's face it, he's pretty much exactly what the Leafs need. He's not an average goaltender. He's got very strong potential to be a consistently above-average goaltender.
However, not only is he an RFA, he's an RFA in Vancouver. Enter GM Mike Gillis and his relationship with Brian Burke. While it was Burke who encouraged Gillis to initially go into team management in the early 1990s, the relationship has since soured.
In 2009 Gillis filed tampering charges against the Leafs for comments made by then-head coach Ron Wilson about the possibility of pursuing the Sedin twins during free agency that summer.
Also, comments by Burke in a Leafs TV draft documentary about Gillis potentially going after high picks in the '09 draft irked the Vancouver organization just a bit. It's not a great relationship. We'll just leave it at that.
It would definitely take the most effort to bring in Schneider of any goalie listed, and it would no doubt be the highest cost, but the Leafs will certainly get what they pay for.
Included in that cost, of course, will have to be any mix of picks, prospects, players and for sure an I'm Sorry card. Preferably one with some kind of dog staring out of a doghouse with ridiculously exaggerated puppy eyes.
The thought of the Leafs giving up future talent for goaltenders is going to make some hearts skip beats, deep breaths be drawn and palms slap foreheads, but if Schneider performs like he's very well expected to, those lost picks could be made up in about the same time it took to acquire them.
Cory Schneider is not Vesa Toskala. He's not Andrew Raycroft.
He fills the Maple Leafs' most gaping gap. If goaltending is not addressed aggressively during this upcoming offseason, then the Leafs have no shot at the playoffs next year, either.
Let's get one thing straight:
Ray Emery's inclusion is strictly based on his proclivity for punching people in the face. Plus he signed a one-year extension with Chicago.
Still, given the type of players that Burke and Carlyle prefer, I thought I'd throw him in here for S & G's.
Also, Brian Burke was not in any way associated with this article in real life (as if anyone took my awful sarcasm seriously).