Going into next season, there are some huge question marks surrounding the Leafs' goaltending situation. James Reimer has shown flashes of brilliance in his time with the Leafs, even though his season was derailed last year after suffering a neck injury early in the year. Ben Scrivens had a great playoff run with the Toronto Marlies last spring, but didn't look ready for the show in his 12 NHL appearances last season.
It’s unclear whether or not Leafs General Manager Brian Burke really feels comfortable starting the season with a combined 83 games of experience between the pipes. If he doesn't, then trading for help is a must.
One should also keep in mind that Scrivens is no longer waiver exempt, meaning that if another goalie was brought in to form a tandem with Reimer, Scrivens would need to first clear waivers before being sent down to the Marlies. It’s hard to believe another team wouldn't claim a talented goalkeeper such as Scrivens. Therefore, if Toronto does trade for another goaltender, the Leafs would essentially be giving up whatever the price is to acquire the other goalie, plus Scrivens. Just something to keep in mind.
Here are five goalies the Leafs should consider adding to help their goaltending situation.
I’ll get the most obvious one out of the way first. Luongo is an elite goaltender who could, if needed, play 70 games for the Leafs and carry them on his back into the playoffs. However, Luongo is 33 years of age and has 10 years remaining on his contract at $5.33 million per-season.
One has to wonder if Brian Burke would be interested in committing that much money and cap space to a player near the end of his career, who also holds one of the “cap-circumventing” contracts which Brian Burke has publicly stated he doesn't believe in.
Luongo might also not be a fit in that he wants to go to a team where he would be the undisputed No. 1 goalie. I believe a goalie who could split half his games with Reimer might be a better fit in Toronto.
Adding Luongo would be a great short-sighted move for Toronto, and would exponentially increase their chances of making the playoffs. Even though it may not make sense in the long term, the Leafs should consider adding the veteran goaltender.
Another one of the more obvious solutions to the Leafs' goaltending woes. Bernier is a young goalie looking to go to a team where he has an opportunity to be a starter. Although Toronto would present him with this opportunity—as the starting job is seemingly up for grabs—I really don’t believe he is an upgrade over Reimer.
However, Bernier does have great potential and could possibly emerge as a bonafide No. 1 goalie. But do the Leafs really want to roll the dice on another unproven goalie?
Despite the question marks surrounding Bernier, the Leafs should consider adding him. He’s an inexpensive option who may just need an opportunity to shine in a starter's role. If he does flourish, he could become the starting goalie the Leafs have needed since the days of Ed Belfour.
Jose Theodore is, in my mind, a perfect fit for Toronto. He’s 35 and signed for one more year at a very manageable $1.5 million. Theodore appeared in 53 games for the Panthers last season, which is approximately how many games he would play if he were to split time between the pipes with James Reimer. Being an accomplished veteran, he could also serve as a mentor for Reimer, offering guidance and invaluable experience.
Jose Theodore is a perfect fit for the Leafs, which is why I think Brian Burke should consider adding the former Vezina and Hart winner.
I know it’s a stretch seeing as Calgary has an unwavering belief that their current core of aging veterans can get them into the postseason. I suppose this deal would be based on Calgary general manager Jay Feaster finally waking up and realizing it’s time for a rebuild.
In Kiprusoff, the Leafs get a goalie who can start 70 games and carry them into the playoffs. However, seeing as he is 35, it may be in the best interest of both the team and the player that he start less games next season to reduce the wear and tear on his body and prolong his career.
With two years remaining his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.83 million, he’s a relatively expensive option. However, his experience coupled with the ability to play 70 or more games if needed could be great in both the short and long term.
Short-term, he turns the Leafs into a playoff contender and gives Reimer two seasons of mentorship and a cushion to fall back on when he falters. In the long-term, after Kiprusoff’s contract expires two seasons from now, Reimer will hopefully have gained some invaluable knowledge and experience from Kiprusoff and establish himself as a head goalie in the NHL.
Here’s a name you likely haven’t heard in a while. In 2008, Huet signed a four-year, $22.4 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, he was loaned to HC Fribourg-Gotteron SA of the Swiss National League A after the Blackhawks ran into salary cap issues before the start of the 2010 season.
Now that his contract with Chicago is over, Huet is free to sign with another NHL team and make a return to the best hockey league in the world. Apparently, he's interested in doing just this.
Although it is a question mark whether or not Huet still has what it takes to be a NHL goalie after two years away from the game, he still might be a good, inexpensive option for the Leafs.
If Huet could serve as a mentor for Reimer and make around 40 starts—which is about how many he made per season while playing Switzerland—Huet could be a real savvy pickup for Toronto.
There you have it, five goalies that the Leafs should consider adding.
I personally believe that Jose Theodore is the best option for the Leafs, with Miikka Kiprusoff a close second.
Who would you like to see the Leafs add to improve their goaltending situation? Or, are you comfortable going into the season with a Reimer/Scrivens tandem? Please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section below.