A lot of the heavily lifting has been done. Tweaking remains, and it might be heavy tweaking, but there really only seems to be one must do left on the Leafs to do list and that is track down a third string goaltender.
Toronto.. Thank You💙
These last 4 years have been filled with amazing moments like Fox’s birth, my NHL debut with @MapleLeafs, and playoff runs with @TorontoMarlies. We are grateful for all the teammates and friends we’ve met along the way.
– Kaskisuo Family pic.twitter.com/5EZOMZazEr
— Kasimir Kaskisuo (@Kaskisuo) October 12, 2020
Kaskisuo leaving creates a hole in the Leafs depth chart, and it’s one that we can comfortably fill with Joseph Woll or Ian Scott, although that tandem might be how things end up playing out. Instead the Leafs could be looking to upgrade at the position, which no offense to Kaskisuo, who is great person by all accounts, he was not a goaltender you’d feel comfortable sliding into the backup role if one of the two NHL goaltenders was injured. The Leafs needed to move on, and that is especially true in a year that is going to feature more back to backs than ever, not to mention the global pandemic and it’s influence on the roster.
Free Agency Options Are Limited
This is a bit of an understatement. There are 8 goaltenders left in Unrestricted Free Agency who played a game in the NHL last season. Four of those goaltenders, Kaskisuo, Bibeau, Sparks, and Hutchinson, have already been bounced out of the Leafs organization. Three of the others, Ryan Miller, Jimmy Howard, and Craig Anderson are very old and likely not looking for a primarily AHL gig. That leaves Aaron Dell as the best option there. Really the only option.
Expanding beyond those with NHL experience from last season, there is the travelling third string option, J.F. Berube who could bring his talents to Toronto, and at 28, is still at the age where he could be trying to push for a backup gig. On the younger side there is Phillippe Desrosiers who has been a solid performer at the AHL level, and didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Florida Panthers. At 25, the Leafs might be bringing in an interesting project that they could develop into a backup goaltender.
What about trade?
I don’t want to exhaust the never ending options of depth goaltending, as there are 30 other teams and about half of them will have a goaltending prospect that wouldn’t be a bad target. Of course those teams aren’t wanting to give that player up. If those teams are interested in a NHL capable defenseman or a depth forward like Pierre Engvall, there might be a deal to be had, but if we are looking at cheap and reasonable options, perhaps someone like Pheonix Copley makes more sense. The 28 year old has struggled to land a gig in the NHL, and is now behind both Samsonov and Lundqvist. His $1.1M cap hit means some money wouldn’t make it down to the AHL with him, but also makes it so he’d probably clear waivers quite easily and make it highly likely that the Capitals are shopping him.
The possibilities are endless, and ultimately whoever the Leafs land on it won’t matter too much unless they suddenly show a ton of promise. Nevertheless it’s a transaction that is still looming and requiring completion before the offseason is over, so we’ll keep an eye out for a minor move.