The Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation has had its ups and downs over the last few years, but as of right now, next season appears to be the most unclear in recent memory when it comes to who will be between the pipes.
Right now, the Maple Leafs have three goalies on their roster: James Reimer, Jonas Gustavsson and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Reimer, who has been more than impressive this season, has managed to improve upon his American Hockey League statistics while playing in the big leagues.
In 15 games with the Toronto Marlies this season, Reimer has a goals against average of 2.59 and a save percentage of .920. In twice the amount of games, he has a GAA of 2.51 and a save percentage of .924. That’s not too bad for a goalie who was only called up due to an injury.
Unfortunately though, Giguere and Gustavsson have not been quite as successful.
In 32 games with the Leafs this season, Giguere is 11-11-4, has a GAA of 2.90 and a save percentage of .898. With no more years remaining on his current contract and so many prospects below him, it is very unlikely Giguere will get another shot with the Maple Leafs next season.
While Giguere has struggled, Gustavsson has played even worse. He is 6-13-2, has a GAA of 3.29 and a save percentage of .890 in 23 games with the Leafs. Like Giguere, he has not been able to regain his form from a year ago, although Gustavsson was sent down to the AHL after clearly losing all of his confidence.
In five games with the Marlies, Gustavsson had a 1.14 GAA and a .955 save percentage. Since then, Gustavsson has only dressed once but has not played with the Leafs since January 19 when he allowed six goals on 25 shots.
Now that you’ve read so many numbers and statistics, it’s time to figure out what the Leafs’ goaltending will look like when the puck drops on the 2011-2012 season about six and a half months from now.
Currently playing goal for the Toronto Marlies are Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens. Both are talented young goalies who have had a roller coaster seasons of their own. Rynnas has been floating from backup to starter all season long with the Marlies, while Scrivens has been moving from the Marlies to the Reading Royals of the ECHL all season.
While Rynnas has been playing OK, Scrivens has been playing especially well. Both have the potential to be NHL goalies, but that is the question: are either one of them actually ready to play in the NHL, even as a backup that starts about 20 games in a season?
Maybe the answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean they should be.
Having the duo of Reimer/Rynnas, Reimer/Scrivens or Scrivens/Rynnas would be way too risky. There has been too many goalies like Reimer in the past, where they have been very impressive for a decent amount of games but fail to carry that into a full-time starting role the next season. You also need to consider that Rynnas and Scrivens have yet to play in the NHL.
Perhaps a smarter idea would be to have Jonas Gustavsson as one of the two netminders, since he has the most experience at the NHL level. Still though, you would be running the risk of having an unproven goalie at the NHL level as either your starting goalie, or your ‘plan B’.
As of right now, it looks like Reimer has one of the two spots all locked up, but a lot of things can happen between now and then.
If the Maple Leafs plan on having an experienced NHL goalie to use if things go south with the young guys, it’s time to look diving into the free agent pool on or after July 1. If they decide to go with no goalie who you can legitimately call a veteran, it looks like the combination of James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson best fits the Buds.
Don’t forget, though: a lot can happen between now and the first day of the 2011-2012 NHL season.