Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a bit of a roster shuffle ahead of tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals, calling up Toronto Marlies goaltender Garret Sparks while sending down defenceman Scott Harrington to the Marlies.
The call-up of Sparks seems to indicate that James Reimer’s injury, suffered in practice on Tuesday, is worse than originally thought and since stated by Reimer and the Leafs coaching staff. In today’s practice, Jonathan Bernier was in the starter’s spot in goal and Reimer was nowhere to be seen.
If this is the case, it’s worrisome from a “try to win every night” perspective, seeing as Reimer has vastly outperformed Bernier throughout the season thus far, but at the same time, it’s wiser in the long run for the Leafs to not force Reimer through the injury. Reimer has come back curiously quick from injuries in the past and struggled heavily afterwards, so making sure he’s 100% is likely for the best.
Should something happen, the Sparks is likely capable of holding his own between the pipes. The 22-year-old American lead the ECHL in save percentage by a significant margin last year, posting a 0.936 on route to a 21-7-3 record with the Orlando Solar Bears. This year, he’s effectively flipped the tables on expectations of him being the Marlies’ 1B behind Antoine Bibeau, putting up a 0.938 that’s tied for first among goalies who have played at least ten games.
Sparks, who was a 7th round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, was named the AHL’s player of the week on November 9th.
Heading down to indirectly take his place is Scott Harrington. Many expected Harrington to start the year with the Marlies, but the young defenceman played his way onto the big club with a fantastic showing at training camp. Through fifteen games, the Kingston native has put up relatively solid possession numbers while contributing an assist and averaging 13 minutes of ice time.
While some many argue that Harrington’s best course of development is getting bigger minutes with the Marlies, it’s likely that this move was one to stay under the roster limit without placing Reimer on injured reserve. Harrington is the only non-core piece who does not require waivers. Martin Marincin is expected to draw in for Toronto tonight, presumably leaving Frank Corrado very confused.
Both teams will play at the Air Canada Centre tonight, with the Marlies starting at 2 PM while the Leafs begin at 7. For the Marlies, it’s their second game in as many nights, hot off the heels of a game against the Syracuse Crunch. Despite starting Solar Bears backup Ryan Massa in goal and giving rest-day scratches to William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov, Richard Panik, and Stuart Percy, Toronto sleepwalked their way to a 3-1 victory. The Marlies outshot Syracuse 30-17 and recieved goals from Josh Leivo, Sam Carrick, and Frederik Gauthier, while TJ Brennan added a pair of assists.