The Toronto Maple Leafs are searching for an experienced goalie to backup newly acquired Frederik Andersen, according to head coach Mike Babcock.
— NHL (@NHL) July 10, 2016
The Maple Leafs traded away goalie Jonathan Bernier and his $4.15 million cap hit to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, which has effectively opened up a goalie spot on the club’s NHL roster.
The only other goalie in the Leafs’ organization with NHL experience is 23-year-old Garret Sparks, who appeared in 17 games last season and posted a 3.02 goals against average and .893 save percentage. He performed well in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies in 2015-16, recording a 2.33 goals against average and .928 save percentage in 21 games.
While Sparks may be on the verge of being an NHL quality goaltender, Babcock specifically said that he wants a veteran goalie to back up Andersen this upcoming season.
“Now we have to find a good pro to come in and support him, and we’ll do that,” Babcock said at development camp on Saturday.
Sparks is currently a restricted free agent
Mike Babcock didn’t mention any specific names that he was interested in, but there are several options for the Maple Leafs on the open market.
Karri Ramo, Anders Lindback, Ray Emery, Jason LaBarbera and former Maple Leaf Ben Scrivens are all unrestricted free agent goalies with a wealth of NHL experience.
Jhonas Enroth is another good option for the Leafs, but he left the Kings this offseason with the hopes of joining a team where he could get a lot of playing time. With Andersen set as Toronto’s goalie of the future, it seems unlikely that the 28-year-old Swede would want to sign with the Maple Leafs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are going through a big transitional period as they enter their 100th season as a franchise, and while the backup goalie job isn’t as glamorous of a position as franchise centerman, a title which the first-overall draft pick Auston Matthews now holds, it is still a very important position that the club will need to fill in the coming weeks.