When Sheldon Keefe told reporters on Wednesday morning that starting goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo would be out long-term with a lower body injury, the Marlies’ head coach was announcing yet another blow to the organizations goalie depth.
#Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe injured G Kasimir Kaskisuo (lower body): “We don’t have any sort of final word on timeline or anything only that it’s a significant injury and it’s going to be longer term.”
— Dhiren Mahiban (@dcmahiban) October 17, 2018
After Garret Sparks was named the team’s backup goaltender at the conclusion of training camp, Calvin Pickard and Curtis McElhinney, the runner-ups for the job, were placed on waivers, eventually landing with Philadelphia and Carolina, respectively. After losing both Pickard and McElhinney to waivers, the Marlies were left with just Kasimir Kaskisuo to start the season.
After releasing former NHL goaltender Justin Peters from a (brief) PTO, the Marlies went out and signed 13-year pro Jeff Glass to an AHL contract.
Albeit a small sample size, the Marlies goalies have struggled to keep the puck out of their net through the teams first five games.
Marlies goaltending through first five games
*Marlies sacrifice 34.6 shots against per game, second most in the AHL*
Kasimir Kaskisuo: 1-2-0, 5.31 GAA, .860 SV%.
Jeff Glass: 0-2-0, 4.87 GAA, .844 SV%.
Now, with Kaskisuo’s injury, the organization’s goaltender situation has become even more dire.
If Andersen or Sparks were to get injured for the Leafs, Eamon McAdam, who started the year out with the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers, is currently slated as the organization’s third-string goalie, and that’s concerning. The Marlies, on the other hand, desperately need to add a quality AHL starter, fast, to get their season back on track.
So, what shall the organization do?
Scan the Waiver Wire
If either McElhinney or Pickard hit the waiver wire, the Leafs have first priority to reclaim either of their former goalies. Pickard, who is 2-0-0 to start the year, is likely pencilled in as the Flyers backup goalie for the next little bit, at least, as he’s capitalized on his latest NHL opportunity.
McElhinney, however, could become expandable as the Hurricanes may not want to keep three goalies on their NHL roster for long. I can’t imagine the Hurricanes giving up on Peter Mrazek so quickly, leaving McElhinney as the odd man out. But if the Leafs were to re-claim the 35-year-old net minder and no other team were to put in a claim, McElhinney would not have to clear through waivers again.
Meaning the Marlies would get McElhinney, an NHL-calibre goalie, as their starter and the Leafs would acquire a reliable third-string goalie.
There’s a lot of ifs, ands and butts associated with a possible McElhinney return, so the Leafs can’t bank on that to put a bandaid on their goaltender dilemma.
To acquire a third-string goalie/ AHL starter, Marlies general manager Laurence Gilman is going to have to get creative.
If McElhinney doesn’t hit waivers any time soon, they could seek a trade. Or perhaps they even venture out overseas and see if they could reel someone back to North America, but that’s easier said than done.
The bottom line is–the Leafs/Marlies need to add another goalie to the system, fast. If they don’t, the Leafs organization is playing with fire with their goalie situation, and in turn, leaving the Marlies to rot with their current goalie situation.