It’s that time of year where free agent prospects start to have their names pop up in the NHL rumor mill. The Leafs have long participated in pursuing such players, with names likes Christian Hanson, Brayden Irwin, Spencer Abbott, and Tyler Brenner all making their mark in the hallowed halls of Air Canada Center. Well, it looks like the team is getting back in the game, and no, I’m not talking about Nikita Zaitsev. According to Elliott Friedman of Sportsnet, Toronto is among the teams that have pursued Mantas Armalis, a Lithuanian free agent goalie currently playing in Sweden. Just as notable is that, according to Friedman, Toronto is believed to be the favorite to land his services.
The move makes obvious sense for the Leafs. Goaltending is arguably the weakest position in the organization at this point, with Jonathan Bernier only recently showing signs of his former self. Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau are the team’s only goalie prospects, and while a guy like Sparks looks like he could be a legitimate NHL back-up one day, the team has an obvious lack of front-end talent at the position prospect-wise. The other goalie currently in the organization, Alex Stalock, is little more than a minor-league stopgap.
So Armalis represents an organizational shift to find “the next one” for the Leafs in net. I’d imagine the team will take to other avenues to try and secure their future in net as well, whether through trade, free agency, or perhaps most likely, the draft.
After all, the team doesn’t have a goalie prospect playing junior right now and hasn’t since the 2013-2014 season. It’s also considered a decent year for goalies in the draft, with names like Carter Hart and Zachary Sawchenko likely to be taken in the 2nd round or not long after.
But is Armalis any good? Well, frankly, I don’t know. What I can tell you about the guy is he’s 6″4′, he’s 23 going on 24, and has a .918 save percentage in 34 games played for Djurgardens in the Swedish Hockey League this season. Those are all pretty good numbers, but as we saw with a guy like Jonas Gustavsson, it only means so much until you can prove it in the big leagues.
Oh yeah, and one more thing…Armalis doubles as a male model, and it’s not hard to see why. Look at that beautiful bastard.
This of course raises the most important question we’ve asked on this site for a long time: why male models?
If the Leafs do indeed land Armalis, this is something the organization will no doubt have to answer for.