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Photo Credit: © Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Hutchinson 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Leafs certainly are making sure they don’t find themselves in the awkward situation of having Michael Hutchinson as their backup goaltender again. The way they are ensuring that is by bringing back Michael Hutchinson as their fourth string goaltender.

The press release:

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has signed goaltender Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract. The contract carries an NHL average annual value of $725,000.

Hutchinson, 30, split his 2019-20 season at the NHL level between the Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche and had a 5-9-1 record, posting a 3.47 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. In four appearances for the Avalanche during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he was 2-1 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Hutchinson also appeared in four games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) during the 2019-20 season and went 3-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. In 127 career NHL games between Winnipeg, Florida, Toronto and Colorado, the Barrie, Ontario, native is 51-52-14 and has a 2.80 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

Hutchinson was originally selected by the Boston Bruins in the third round (77th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft.

So, there’s a few pieces that need to be considered with this return, and those are as follows:

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What becomes of Woll and Scott?

With a healthy Ian Scott available this year, and Joseph Woll entering his second pro season, there is no doubt the Leafs would like to get the kids some icetime in the AHL or ECHL. On the surface Michael Hutchinson presents a roadblock to that, as in a traditional year it would appear that Dell and Hutchinson are the AHL tandem, and Woll and Scott would be the ECHL tandem.

Is Andersen going to be traded?

Probably not, but Hutchinson certainly looks like a safety net for if the Leafs change their minds. If the Leafs decide that they are moving on from either Andersen (or less likely Campbell) this would give the Leafs the depth we’d expect to see goaltending wise, with a NHL capable third string, and a couple of developing prospects making up the minor league depth.

Is there a taxi squad this year?

There could be. If so Dell would likely stay with the Leafs and not head to the Marlies this year. A tandem of Hutchinson/Woll on the Marlies makes a lot of sense, and that’s probably what we’ll see. Scott will be the ECHL guy if there is an ECHL season this year, if not he’ll be hanging with the Marlies as well I guess because good luck finding a European team looking to adopt a goaltender. If there isn’t and Dell needs to be sent to the Marlies, Hutchinson also acts as some insurance in case someone claims Dell.

Expansion Draft

The other piece that is important here is that it’s a two year contract, and that gives the Leafs a NHL goaltender they can expose in the draft. This allows the Leafs to protect Jack Campbell (assuming he’s who the Leafs want to protect). So that’s some smart business.

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In summary,

The Leafs are likely sticking with Andersen/Campbell as their main tandem, but Dell being on the team taxi squad, and likely seeing some work with the Leafs as well. Michael Hutchinson has been brought in to do some work with the Marlies, and share the net with Woll, and Ian Scott will get his chance on The Rock.

Hutchinson might not be a goaltender we associate with success as a Leaf, but he’s a depth guy who thrives in that third string spot. He’s got a great attitude and team seems to like having him around, so this seems good even if it is a bit surprising.