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SportMaple Leafs could face another goalie dilemma

04:05  13 january  2019
04:05  13 january  2019 Source:   prohockeyrumors.com

Maple Leafs' Tavares to face Islanders for first time

Maple Leafs' Tavares to face Islanders for first time John Tavares used to be a mainstay of the New York Islanders, eventually becoming their captain. The 28-year-old center, however, will be on the opposing team for the first time in his career Saturday night when the Islanders visit the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Scotiabank Arena. "I assume it will be strange for sure at some level," said Tavares, who signed as a free agent with the Maple Leafs during the offseason. "It's really hard to say because I've never done it before.

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The Leafs have a surplus of backup goalies . Sportsnet posted an article recently, suggesting the one neat trick to solve the Leafs backup goalie surplus was to waive Curtis McElhinney, and then have him standing by available to call up for up to 9 NHL games before he’d need waivers again as a Plan

Maple Leafs could face another goalie dilemma© Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

It has been two weeks since the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Michael Hutchinson from the Florida Panthers to combat the outside chance that both starter Frederik Andersen and backup Garret Sparks could miss significant time. In those two weeks, the only goalie to appear in the Toronto net has been Hutchinson, as that outside chance has turned into reality. Saturday night, Hutchinson makes his fifth straight start, and again it is unproven emergency recall Kasimir Kaskisuo as his backup. Andersen is still recovering from his groin injury and now has the flu on top of it, while Sparks has returned to practice but has not been cleared to play yet as he fights concussion symptoms. A short-term stopgap solution has turned into a lengthy stretch with Hutchinson as the starting goalie and as a result more problems could be headed Toronto’s way.

Tavares scores a pair as Maple Leafs beat Blue Jackets 4-2

Tavares scores a pair as Maple Leafs beat Blue Jackets 4-2 The Toronto Maple Leafs looked like a well-rested team coming off a five-day holiday break. They were fast and opportunistic in handling the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were playing the second night of a back-to-back. John Tavares scored two goals, and backup goalie Garret Sparks had 27 saves to lift the streaking Maple Leafs over Columbus 4-2 on Friday night. BOX SCORE: MAPLE LEAFS 4, BLUE JACKETS 2 "Sometimes after a few days you can feel a little flat, just out of rhythm and just timing and everything, so I thought overall we played a pretty solid game," Tavares said.

(The Ducks are facing a rough cap situation ; the Leafs , meanwhile, have plenty of money to give Andersen the million or so AAV he’s going to But the move is also a reaction to the recently formalized NHL Expansion Draft rules, which will prevent teams from protecting more than one goalie .

The Leafs ’ only exempt goalie is Kasimir Kaskisuo. He spent almost all season in the ECHL before his recent call-up for the Calder Cup Playoffs. If the Leafs wanted to protect one of Martin or Fehr, one possibility could be to re-sign Ben Smith. Then the Leafs could expose Smith and, say, protect

Sportsnet’s John Shannon made note that when Hutchinson takes the ice Saturday night against the visiting Boston Bruins, it will be his ninth NHL appearance of the season — he made three starts and a relief appearance for the Panthers. When that number hits 10, which could be as early as Monday if one or both of Andersen and Sparks are not yet ready to return, Hutchinson will require waivers to be sent to the AHL. Waivers has been a thorn in the side of the Maple Leafs all season, as it is what originally cost them both Curtis McElhinney (PHI) and Calvin Pickard (ARI) before the campaign even began and what prevents them from moving Sparks to the minors without risk. Should that happen, more of a when than an if, Toronto will again face a goalie conundrum in which they would either have to carry three goaltenders or potentially lose Hutchinson on waivers. While Hutchinson struggled in Florida to begin the year, he has vastly improved since landing in Toronto, posting a .919 save percentage and 2.53 goals against average. He would likely be an attractive option on the waiver wire for many teams in need of depth in net. By no means is Toronto guaranteed that he would clear.

Islanders crush Maple Leafs in first game against Tavares

Islanders crush Maple Leafs in first game against Tavares Mathew Barzal had a natural hat trick in the win.

When Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer was injured 0:32 into Thursday's game against the Hurricanes, Jonathan Bernier took over in the net. While one goalie replacing another is no outstanding occurrence in hockey, Toronto was faced with a dilemma : what happens if Bernier goes

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The injuries to Andersen and Sparks could linger, and even if they didn’t, losing Hutchinson would be a blow to their depth in net. Toronto would yet again need to acquire a goaltender if Hutchinson is lost to waivers. On the other hand, keeping three goalies on the roster through the trade deadline late next month, after which roster limits expand, would also hamstring the team at other positions. There is no easy answer to the potential problem, as the waiver status of the team’s goaltenders continues to plague the Maple Leafs this season. During the all-important stretch run, and even more so the postseason, the team needs to be prepared for all possibilities, including one of their keepers going down yet again. While they had hoped Hutchinson would be that security blanket, that likely won’t occur without taking a major risk or making sacrifices.

Blue Jackets take goalie Sergei Bobrovsky off roster for failure to meet 'expectations and values'.
Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will not be on the roster against the Predators because he failed to meet the team's 'expectations and values.'

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