Last week I took a look at how the Leafs should explore the waiver wire to expand their NHL ready goaltending depth. It was a smart piece, perhaps the finest piece of analysis ever written, and now that a week has passed, Neuvirth has been released, and a number of the goaltenders who were mentioned have been waived and cleared already, it’s time to take a look at the last options of goaltenders to claim before the season starts.
Much to chagrin of many, Tristan Jarry was not placed on waivers. The Penguins instead opted to waive Casey DeSmith who is probably more noteworthy for his domestic assault and resisting arrest charges than anything he’s ever done in net. I’m going to say the Leafs would be wise to pass on this guy.
Rather than focusing on the negative, we’ll look at the two options who I highlighted previously and are sitting on waivers today…
There is Anton Forsberg, an experienced goaltender who is a season removed from playing 35 games for the Blackhawks. Last season in the AHL he had a .919 save percentage, and may fit the Mike Babcock bill of veteran backup more than our next contestant. There isn’t anything particularly flashy about Forsberg as an option, but he’s proven that he can run with the net for a while if injuries come up, and he’s pretty consistent and you know what he’ll provide you with in net. It’s hard to make a surefire case that he’s worth casting aside Hutchinson for.
The flashy and more appealing option is Eric Comrie. Comrie is 24 and still has a bit of potential attached to him. As a former 2nd round pick, there’s a sense that he might turn into something, but not beating out Laurent Brossoit for the backup gig in Winnipeg isn’t a good start. Across three seasons, Comrie only has 5 NHL games to his name, none of which went particularly well. Still, there’s that potential. He’s been consistently good in the AHL, if you want to believe that means a lot, but throwing him into the NHL when he hasn’t had a camp or played with any of the roster before seems like a bit of a risk.
All and all, I realize my eggs were heavily in the Jarry & Dansk basket when it came to claiming a goaltender
The Devil you know
Mostly I find myself at least in the short term heavily endorsing Michael Hutchinson. Honestly, you can’t really have asked much more from him in training camp, as he turned into a shutout machine, and established himself as the backup early in the process. It’s probably not a good idea to take the #2 job away from him at this point, but it’s also not worth excluding that may become a possibility somewhere down the line if he delivers Sparksian performances.
That leads to the question of if the Leafs would be wise to look around at the goaltenders who safely cleared waivers and landed in the AHL and possibly pursue a trade for one of them. It’s just a matter of how many teams are looking to trade their 3rd string goaltender, that they will need just as much as the Leafs will, and why would they give them up for a price that the Leafs should be willing to pay?
Other than the Leafs might have some appealing depth options like Aberg, Schmaltz, and possibly Petan that might be of greater need than that goaltender, we should be settling into the idea that the health of Freddie Andersen will be very important this year. And managing his workload will be essential in a year where there are big question marks behind him.
Claiming Comrie or Forsberg may still have some appeal, as Hutchinson is a goaltender who stands a good chance of clearing waivers and making it to the Marlies. The Leafs would be able to explore the new option while retaining Hutchinson, but it seems doubtful it will play out like this.
Much more likely we are looking at the roster that the Leafs will start the season with. And that’s really not a bad thing and it’s nice to have backup goaltending debates be one of the biggest roster concerns.