With the Penguin acquisition of two time NHL All-Star, Tomas Vokoun, the Leafs`focus shifts elsewhere in search of a capable veteran goaltender. Or has the focus shifted at all? Reports last week already suggested that the Leafs were interested in Rangers backup Martin Biron all along. Is this the right approach necessary to turn around the goaltending situation in Toronto? I think it is. Biron’s experience and intangible leadership qualities are just what the Leafs need between the pipes and in the locker room.
For much of his NHL career, Marty Biron has played the role of backup. But come on, this position he played in under the likes of Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Miller.. two of the best in the business.
Biron’s first stint was in Buffalo. He played six seasons, three and a half as a starter, and posted only one losing season. However, he lost his starting job to the future outstanding Olympian, Ryan Miller. After back to back Eastern Conference Final appearances in 2006 and 2007, the Sabres lost their two premier players and co-captains, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. Biron requested a trade in order to acquire more playing time. He was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers for a second round pick and signed a two year extension to become the starting goaltender in the City of Brotherly Love.
After a couple of playoff runs in Philadelphia, including a Conference Final trip in which they lost to the eventual Cup champs, Biron was thrown under the bus.. along with every other goaltender to go through that franchise. The following offseason, Biron ran out of options and signed in Long Island. He only played 29 games in a disappointing season with one of the worst teams in the league.
He, then, signed with the Rangers and posted career high statistics in 2011, though only appearing in 17 games behind Henrik Lundqvist, who had earned his second All-Star selection in three years. He finished off his contract in New York City with a deep playoff run to the 2012 Eastern Conference Final in an ironically identical series to the Devils-Rangers 1994 Conference Final. However, the Devils fended off a Ranger comeback in Game 6 to avoid a similar fate, sending Marty Biron into the 2012 free agency.
Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs.. and the goaltending situation. For the last three years, Biron has been looking for ice time. This seems like a perfect fit for both sides then, no? Problem: a very active market for a goaltender like Biron. Teams like New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Columbus, Chicago, and Detroit could all be looking for his services next year. But as stated, Biron is looking for premium playing time. He has played at a very high level in recent years with Philly, but is itching for more playing time after three years as a backup.
Toronto seems like a golden opportunity for Martin Biron.. a chance to prove himself in the greatest hockey market on the planet. Toronto is attempting to season two young goaltenders, and a teammate like Biron seems to be the ideal mentor for the youngsters. Biron has a certain personality and teammate quality, the intangibles that the situation in Toronto so badly needs. His price tag should be relatively low, despite the active upcoming goalie market this summer.
Now that the prime bang-for-the-buck deal that is Vokoun has been shipped to Pittsburgh, Biron is now one of the few ideal solutions that the Leafs are seeking to solve in net. I believe Martin Biron to be the most rounded goaltender left in the free agency, in terms of experience, leadership, and ability.
The Leafs` need for help in goal and Biron`s desire to play could be the formula that finds its solution in Toronto.