The Toronto Maple Leafs have been looking for the right combination of speedy young forwards, mobile defensemen and reliable top-notch goaltending to reinvigorate the somewhat stale reputation they have earned since the lockout.
The 2011-12 season is still building momentum, but the Leafs have unfortunately lost some of theirs after a strong start. Although they have still been playing .500 hockey in the absence of No. 1 goaltender James Reimer, they have been outscored 35 to 27 in the time frame.
What's even more concerning is that many of those goals against have been weak and ill-timed.
Based on some of the questionable play exhibited by Jonas Gustavsson and relative unpredictability of Ben Scrivens, it may be in the Maple Leafs' best interest to start shopping around for other options.
Let's take a look at seven goaltenders the Leafs could pursue now who could help keep them atop the northeast division.
Scott Clemmensen on March 3, 2011 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Scott Clemmensen of the Florida Panthers might be an interesting prospective option for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Clemmensen has already donned the Maple Leaf once before but could actually make a more significant impact this time around.
With a 2.62 GAA and .911 save percentage so far this season, those numbers could certainly give the Leafs the kind of statistical edge they have been lacking in James Reimer's absence.
With a relatively small cap hit (1.2 million), a healthy Clemmensen could also be a fairly economical choice should the Panthers choose to ride the strong play of Jose Theodore and their so-called "goalie of the future," Jacob Markstrom.
Sergei Bobrovsky shuts the door on Mikhail Grabovsky on October 24, 2011. The Flyers went on to win the game 4-2.
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Philadelphia Flyers is young and full of potential.
However, his performance thus far this season hasn't been as solid as the Flyers were hoping it would be.
Perhaps this promising netminder simply needs a new beginning to reinvigorate his budding career.
With sure-fire starter Ilya Bryzgalov taking the lead in net, the Flyers may be open to making a trade should the right deal present itself.
Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs. If they can somehow pry him out of Philadelphia, the deal may have to involve more than just a few pieces to make sense for both teams—Bobrovsky could, after all, fetch a fairly nice return for the Flyers.
Of course, the prospect of play-by-play commentators dealing with the Grabovsky/Bobrovsky tongue twister makes this acquisition all the more tantalizing and hilarious—but I digress.
Michael Leighton performing under pressure on April 22, 2011 against the Buffulo Sabres.
Landing Michael Leighton could be another possibility for the Toronto Maple Leafs via a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Leighton could be a more realistic trade option for the Leafs should the Flyers covet youth before experience and opt to keep Sergei Bobrovsky in the stable as a backup to Ilya Bryzgalov.
Especially now that Bryzgalov has found his game, what's stopping the Flyers from making a deal with the Leafs if it were to improve them in other areas?
Hypothetically, if a deal were to go down, I would suspect Brian Burke would be looking to take more out of Philadelphia than a goalie (ie. Brayden Schenn)—not to mention that a deal between Eastern Conference rivals so early in the season could be nearly impossible to get done.
Miikka Kiprusoff on November 3, 2011 versus the Detroit Red Wings.
Unfortunately, in the spectrum of realistic potential trades, this scenario is also the most unlikely to come to fruition.
General Manager Jay Feaster needs to shake things up in Calgary, and one way he could do it is to help find a new home for Kiprusoff.
He is certainly on the shortlist for players who could fetch a rather handsome return.
The cost to bring a player like Kiprusoff to the Leafs may just not make sense in the long run, considering Toronto still believes they have their No. 1 guy in James Reimer.
If there hasn't been a big enough goaltender controversy yet in Toronto this season, adding a goaltender of this calibre would certainly create one. Perhaps this is why he might not be Toronto's best option in the short term.
However, if the Leafs want to secure their position in the standings and push for a playoff spot by year's end with or without Reimer, this is definitely a guy who can help make that happen.
Evgeni Nabokov on October 27, 2011 versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Evgeni Nabokov makes this list of potential solutions to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs out of their goaltender doldrums.
With only a $570,000 cap hit, Nabokov should remain one of the biggest potential targets for Leafs general manager Brian Burke.
The New York Islanders have two other viable goaltending options in Rick DiPietro and Al Montoya, so why not try to move Nabokov in order to bring in some talent to improve at other positions?
There is also some history between him and Leafs head coach Ron Wilson, back when they were together and winning with the San Jose Sharks.
Although rumor has it that Islanders' GM Garth Snow may be asking for a high second-rounder for Nabokov's services, I can certainly see him fetching a larger return than that—especially considering there is likely more than a few suitors interested.
Cory Schneider makes a beautiful glove save on November 3, 2011 versus the Minnesota Wild.
Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks could very well be the right man for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While Roberto Luongo still soldiers on as the Canucks' No. 1 goaltender, Schneider has performed very well when called upon and could be looking for a place for that to happen on a more consistent basis.
WIth a 2.38 GAA and a .918 save percentage thus far in the 2011-12 season, he has the ability to be someone who could come to Toronto and thrive in this city right away.
This is the type of player Brian Burke would have to consider should he choose to go outside the Maple Leafs' depth charts to find the right fit.
Burke may be a patient man, but if Reimer's injury is as bad as it is ambiguous then Schneider may just be what the doctor ordered to keep them alive and well.
Marty Turco denies David Booth on March 8, 2011.
The way the Toronto Maple Leafs see it, they don't need a long-term solution to their goaltending woes, as they firmly believe that they have it already in James Reimer.
As for the short-term solution, Brian Burke might see Marty Turco as one of the best fits overall.
As an unrestricted free agent, the Leafs could swoop in to pick up the 36-year-old Turco without having to give up anything in return.
Having a veteran presence around couldn't hurt the development of Toronto's young netminders, either, considering how much pressure they have been under thus far into the 2011-12 season.
From Turco's perspective, this might be just the opportunity he has been looking for to bring his game back to the big stage.
Should the Maple Leafs decide that this experienced goaltender is capable of adding the stability they currently need in their goal crease, this could be a deal to consider.