Michael Hutchinson (TOR) clears waivers.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 12, 2019
As hard as it may be to believe, teams weren’t lining up to put in claims for a goaltender who has gone 0-4-1 and in his first five starts, and has a .879 save percentage on the year. Considering that Hutchinson is nearly 30, and has a career save percentage of .906, well, that’s probably a good reminder that things aren’t going to get a whole lot better for him, and he’s now sliding into his ideal role, of 3rd string, emergency callup goaltender.
For the record, I never thought Hutchinson would be a good idea, but what are you going to do, and what can you really say when you were so adamant the Leafs move on from Sparks (still the right decision) and didn’t have money to spend on a capable/proven backup.
Hutchinson was put in over his head and by working exclusively on the second half of back to backs, he was also largely set up to fail. A true NHL backup will find a way to steal some of those back to backs for you, but like I said, Hutchinson was in over his head and can’t be the goaltender the Leafs need him to be. What he is and also should be, is the guy who we saw last year and that’s provide a brief cameo during the starter’s injury and push or take over for the backup when they can’t live up to expectations. As a number three goaltender, Hutchinson is probably the guy you want, as an actual backup, you’ll be left wanting.
So what next?
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 12, 2019
Kasimir Kaskisuo will at least in the short term get his chance to demonstrate what he can do. His Marlies success this season and the success during the playoffs last year have earned him a game or two, but likely with the knowledge that Kyle Dubas is looking for a more suitable replacement and is as soon as he finds a GM not inflating the price because of the Leafs desperation, he’s likely to pull the trigger.
As for the options for replacement, well, I don’t think most teams are planning on parting with their 3rd string depth guys or goaltending prospects. The best bet is probably a team that is four or five goaltenders deep at the moment and wants to find a way of getting their prospects more playing time instead of the veteran who is blocking their path. That would at least be the cheapest option for what the Leafs would have to give up.
Alternatively, the Leafs might be better off in attempting to dump some salary while in the process add a backup goaltender with a more reliable NHL resume. The lack of reliability has been the issue and bouncing from question mark to question mark might be the affordable route, and could eventually pay off, I’m far more intrigued by chasing a better goaltender, even if it comes at a higher cost to the Leafs, I’m just not sure who that would be.
In the meantime, Kasimir Kaskisuo seems like a good guy and I want him to be successful. The same was true of Michael Hutchinson though and the Leafs will have to arrive at a conclusion about how much importance they put on the backup goaltender position. If the past few seasons are any indication, they don’t place much on it, but perhaps a lesson has been learned or there’s also the equally likely chance that I’m missing the big picture and these are acceptable losses in an 82 game season.