After your starter goes down and you doesn’t return the last thing you want to see is that a goaltender has been recalled from your farm team.
Bad news, everyone…
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 4, 2020
Yes, that’s a thing that just happened.
Before we completely start panicking, this could be a recall just to get Kaskisuo some work with the Leafs while Andersen receives a full evaluation from the Leafs medical staff today. It could also be an opportunity to give Andersen the next game off, and Kaskisuo will back up Hutchinson, which isn’t the absolute worst thing that could happen.
There’s the fact that if you ignore his relief outings, Michael Hutchinson has been pretty good when he starts lately. There’s also the fact that Kaskisuo hasn’t been bad on the Marlies, and maybe, just maybe he’s gonna surprise us all someday.
That’s the end of the optimism.
The reality is the Leafs are very possibly in a situation of their own making, where the team is on the bubble of making the playoffs and will now need to attempt to do so without a viable option in net.
Rushing Andersen back from an injury is a terrible idea on both a hockey and human level, so hopefully that option is taken off the table. He needs to be healthy, not healthy enough that he wants to play, not “85%” or whatever nonsense will get thrown around, he needs to be healthy. Andersen playing through a head injury and whatever else he’s dealing with means the Leafs are playing with a goaltender that will probably be the equivalent of the two goaltending options they have in Michael Hutchinson and Kasimir Kaskisuo.
Between Hutchinson and Kaskisuo they have 15 games played this season. Only one of those belongs to Kaskisuo. That number drops to 11, when you look at games started, and Hutchinson is sporting a .886 save percentage, while Kaskisuo put up a .842 in the game that ultimately led to the firing of Mike Babcock. Not a lot of reason for hope.
According to Hockey Reference, Hutchinson has 3 Quality Starts, (3 of his last four starts though), and only has those three starts as his games with a save percentage over .900. His GSAA on the year is -8.64, which is equally terrifying.
Yet those are the options if Andersen is out. Those are the goaltenders that will keep the Leafs in the playoff hunt.
I know it’s not common to see things critical of Kyle Dubas on a Leafs blog, but can we all admit that this goaltending situation is largely of his making. We’re in year two of knowing the Leafs don’t have a viable backup goaltending option, and after living through the Andersen injury last year, Toronto has doubled down on that approach and now we find ourselves staring into the unknown, with nothing but fear and faint optimism for what could possibly be coming next.
The goaltending trade market is not going to be a favourable place for Kyle Dubas today, or in the coming weeks, but may have become a necessary evil. The Leafs are technically in 10th place in the Conference, and out of both a Wild Card and Divisional playoff spot, but the next win changes that, but without their starter it’s going to be a fierce fight to the finish, when it was already feeling that way with Andersen. Arguably, the Leafs might be best to cut their losses and be damned for what they are than overpaying on a goaltender that might lead them to a 9th place finish and cost their futures in the process.
As for now we know this…
Sheldon Keefe said Frederik Andersen is feeling better. Going to give him the night to see how he feels. Went through concussion protocol, results were good. But team wanted to be cautious. See what happens tomorrow.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 4, 2020
The team wanted to see what happens tomorrow and we now have Kaskisuo on the roster. That’s not conclusive, but not encouraging. Is it too early for a drink?