With the twenty-four hour clock set to tick on the 2013 trade deadline, the Leafs find themselves in a buyer’s chair for the first time in nearly a decade.
Despite Toronto’s sudden success this season, goaltending still remains the elephant in the room. By no means am I saying the goaltending is a major concern or that the James Reimer-Ben Scrivens duo hasn’t been adequate, but to most, they haven’t blown anyone away.
The tandem has been good all year with minimal slip-ups, especially in a year riddled with struggling top-tier goaltenders. The main concern now becomes, can Reimer/Scrivens lead the Buds in a successful playoff run?
With the Stanley Cup Playoffs now a reality, Leafs management needs to weigh the pros and cons of bringing in a veteran netminder. Do they opt to trade for a middle-aged Roberto Luongo to take the reins for a five-to-eight-year span, or do they bring in Miikka Kiprusoff for a couple of years?
More importantly, do they make a trade at all?
There are a number of things to consider in the ultimate decision to make a deal or not.
First, consider the age of your current goaltenders. Reimer just turned 25 and Scrivens will be 27 in September. This becomes a factor in determining which goalie to trade for, if a trade must be made.
For the current tandem, who have proven to be adequate NHL goalies, trading for Luongo would effectively spell the end of each of their stints in Toronto. Luongo’s contract is one that would cover the duration of their prime years. This means if you get Luongo, you’d better be sure about it and commit to the long-term implications. The first of which being Reimer and Scrivens wanting out.
Trading for Kiprusoff, on the other hand, wouldn’t hurt the current tandem. “Kipper” has already said publicly he was considering retirement after this season. Reports also emerged yesterday that the Leafs have been granted permission to speak with him, likely about a one-year contract extension in the event the Leafs trade for him.
This all means if Kiprusoff ends up coming to Toronto, that it would be for the short-term. This wouldn’t mean the end of Reimer/Scrivens in Toronto but would rather give them a chance to learn from an elite veteran goaltender. Nevermind his 2013 statistics as they are a more-less a display of how poor a team the Flames are.
But there’s a lot more to the decision than just “who” or “if.”
Many analysts have noted this season to be a “bonus” year and that the Leafs simply need to make the playoffs. Reimer and Scrivens are certainly capable of that. It’s also a good point because in no way is the window of opportunity closing for Toronto, so why make a deal now?
That’s a question management will be going back-and-forth on until the deadline Wednesday. Do they consider themselves a legitimate Cup threat with Kiprusoff? Does he get them over that hump?
Two things are working against the justification of trading for Kipper.
Firstly, the staggeringly horrific numbers he’s put up this year. An .868 save percentage and a 3.64 goals-against average isn’t impressive, to say the least. As stated, take those numbers with a grain of salt and note how badly the Flames have played. At the same time, the lingering question now remains, has Miikka Kiprusoff lost it?
Secondly, going with the last point, is the price right? Is Kipper worth the x-amount of draft picks it’s going to cost Toronto? At the end of the day, Dave Nonis and the crew need to to determine where they stand with the team. Contender with Kiprusoff? Or still just a 5th-to-8th seed in the Standings with the Cup as wishful thinking. To most, talking about a Stanley Cup in Toronto is laughable. But that’s exactly what the discussion is in Toronto’s war room.
Unless management can convince themselves he makes them a serious contender, a deal for Kiprusoff likely won’t happen. On the other hand, the Leafs have arguably the best development program in the league and have a line of prospects, which could possibly make a Kiprusoff gamble justified.
Whatever side of the fence you’re on, know that the playoff result will become the reason for the one side to prove their point. If the Leafs pass on Kipper and go deep, it’ll be a good call, although the Kiprusoff side will then claim a Cup could have been won. If the Leafs do make the trade, the pressure of a deep playoff run is immediately there.
So if Nonis does elect to pull the trigger on the deal, give him props, because he’s taking on the pressure of Leafs Nation; pressure he wouldn’t have had without making the deal.
Heroes are born during the playoffs. Patrick Roy became a hero in the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not to say a Leaf will become a legend if they make the playoffs this year, but I think it’s time to explore the other extreme.
Instead of wondering whether Reimer-Scrivens will choke come playoff time, maybe it’s time to wonder whether they’ll become a future force through a successful Stanley Cup campaign.