Best-Case Scenarios for the Toronto Maple Leafs at Goalie
The Toronto Maple Leafs need to find a plan for the present and future at the goaltender position before general manager Brian Burke can build a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
There are quite a few options for Burke to consider, some of which include looking outside the team for help by acquiring a veteran or an established young player, or giving the goalies already in the Leafs organization another chance to prove themselves.
Let's look at some best-case scenarios for the Leafs between the pipes.
Roberto Luongo is Acquired via Trade
Acquiring Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo would turn one of the Leafs' biggest weaknesses from last year into a strength heading into this season.
Luongo knows what its like to play in a major hockey market for a team that is under constant pressure to win from fans and the media on a daily basis. Being blamed for most of his team's losses wouldn't be something new for him if he was traded to Toronto.
Despite his well-documented failures in the playoffs throughout his career, Luongo has arguably been the best regular-season goaltender since the last lockout.
He has seven straight seasons with 30-plus wins, and in his six seasons with the Canucks, Luongo has an average save percentage of .919 and a 2.35 GAA.
The Northeast was the only division last season in which all five teams finished in the top 20 in goals scored per game, so for the Leafs to contend this season, they need a top goalie like Luongo.
James Reimer Stays Healthy, Proves He Can Be a No. 1 NHL Goalie
One best-case scenario for Leafs fans is that James Reimer proves he can be a durable player and the team's No. 1 goaltender of the present and future.
There's no question that Reimer has the ability to be successful goalie for a playoff contender, but for that to happen, he needs to stay healthy so he can earn more NHL experience.
Reimer has good size and enough athleticism to frustrate opposing forwards, and after two years in the NHL, he understands the pressure and expectations that the starting goaltender for the Leafs faces on an everyday basis. He also works hard and will put in all the time and effort needed to become the best player possible.
The lockout has given Reimer even more time to be fully healthy for when the labor dispute ends and training camp gets underway. The starting job will be his to lose this season, and if he can establish himself as a top-tier goaltender, Leafs fans will be very happy.
Another benefit to Reimer playing well is that Toronto wouldn't have to trade away quality prospects and/or draft picks for Luongo.
Ben Scrivens Proves He Belongs in the NHL Full-time
The Leafs need a dependable backup this season regardless of who is the starter, and Ben Scrivens should be able to fill this role. Through five games in the AHL this year, he has a record of 2-3 for the Toronto Marlies.
If Reimer struggles as the starter, then Scrivens should be given an opportunity to win the job. He has the potential to be a good player, but sooner or later, he's going to want a chance to win an NHL job, whether it's with the Leafs or another team.
He's 26 years old, and after going 22-15-1 with the Marlies last year, it's time for Scrivens to prove he belongs in the NHL.
Scrivens should give the Leafs depth between the pipes this season, which is something that the team needs to make the playoffs.
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