Maple Leafs Free Agency: 5 Goaltenders Toronto Must Target ASAP
With the NHL lockout going into effect last weekend, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be able to make any improvements to their roster until a new deal is reached. However, the lockout does not make the fact that the Leafs may have one of the worst situations in the entire NHL between the pipes just disappear.
The situation got even stickier this week when legendary goaltending consultant Francois Allaire decided not to return for a fourth season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Allaire cited differing philosophies and organizational turmoil as the two main factors in his decision.
If the team hopes to make a return to the playoffs, they will have to bring in a goaltender via free agency or trade. Here are five options Toronto must target as soon as possible to solve their problem between the pipes.
As recently as Tuesday it was being reported that the Maple Leafs were still interested in the services of 33-year-old Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
According to TVA Sports hockey analyst Enrico Ciccone, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke contacted his Vancouver Canucks counterpart, Mike Gillis, about the 33-year-old goaltender last weekend.
The Canucks signed backup Cory Schneider to a three-year, $12-million contract this offseason. The signing led to speculation that Luongo would not return. Luongo still has a ridiculous 10 years left on a 12-year, $64-million contract.
Luongo's play is hit-or-miss—and lately it has been a lot more miss than hit. The Leafs would be getting a former All-Star veteran in net, but they would also have to take on his ludicrous contract.
It would be a risk, but for the right price, Luongo could be the solution.
Yes, you read that right—Dominik Hasek.
Hasek is 47 years old and has not played in the NHL since the 2007-08 season, but his agent is convinced the aging goaltender will play next season—and do well.
“He will play,” Hasek's agent Ritch Winter told ProHockeyTalk. “There is no option. He will play and he will excel and he will do all of the things he can do."
Winter claimed that a half-dozen teams have inquired about the former league MVP. Could the Maple Leafs had been one of them?
It would make sense. The Leafs have young goalies Ben Scrivens and James Reimer, but neither is proven. In a lockout-shortened season Hasek could provide the Leafs with some solid playing time and be directly responsible for wins.
The youngsters could pick up the slack when the veteran needs some rest, and hopefully gain some knowledge from the future Hall of Famer.
Despite being 42, Dwayne Roloson could still be the best goalie on the Maple Leafs roster if given the chance.
Last season, Roloson won just 13 of his 31 starts, and had arguably the worst season of his career.
Roloson played with little confidence and did not look like the goaltender that just two years ago led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Roloson won five out of his last eight starts, and looked to regain the form Lightning fans were used to.
Could a change of scenery be what Roloson needs to end his career on a high note?
Brent Johnson has been a solid backup in Pittsburgh for the last three years, but with the signing of Tomas Vokoun, there was no room for Johnson on the roster.
Last year Johnson started 14 games, finishing with a 6-7 record and a .883 save percentage. While shaky last year, Johnson is still a proven veteran goalie—something the Leafs don't have.
Johnson hasn't started more than 28 games since 2007, but he could add to his workload if he lands in Toronto.
Even if the Leafs signed him to be a reliable backup to either Reimer or Scrivens, he would be an upgrade. Pairing a veteran who has been in a winning system will do wonders down the road for the Leafs' youthful goaltenders.
Not to mention if Rick DiPietro or any other goalie gets too mouthy, Johnson could take them out with his now legendary right hand.
Jonathan Bernier won a Stanley Cup last year with the Los Angeles Kings, but he made it clear in the offseason that he is no longer satisfied to playing second fiddle to Jonathan Quick.
Bernier has starter talent, and would be the ideal candidate for the Leafs. However, they will have to give up some major assets to land the disgruntled goaltender.
Bernier has been linked to the Leafs (h/t Toronto Sun) multiple times this offseason, but nothing has come of the rumors.
Quick, the Kings' Conn Smythe Trophy winner last season, had surgery in the offseason and it is not certain how healthy he will be when the regular season comes around. This will make it very difficult to pry him from the Kings, unless the deal is right.
The deal will surely require prospects and picks, but it is one the Leafs need to make if they hope to be a cup contender.
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