Blessed Or Cursed, Goaltending Depth


James Reimer was expected to spend most of the season with the Toronto Marlies this year, while J.S. Giguere and Jonas ‘The Monster’ Gustavsson were supposed to be the go to goalies with the Maple Leafs, but as the season creeps on, James Reimer is proving that he belongs in this league.

With Reimer, Gustavsson, and Giguere both up in the NHL, Ben Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas both have gotten starting time in the American Hockey League, and both goaltender deserve to be with the Marlies, so my question is…..What comes next?

For me, I say, make a deal to trade J.S. Giguere. Now that might sound simple, but in all actuality, it will be quite difficult. You first have to find a trading partner, someone who could use a goaltender. Teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals, the San Jose Sharks or the Colorado Avalanche could probably use a goaltender for the playoffs. Adding a goaltender who has won the Conn Smythe trophy while playing on the losing team could never hurt.

What blocks a deal from being made? Well lets start with the basics, Giguere has a $6.0M cap hit, that alone is something hard to swallow for most NHL teams at this point as the salary cap is a big issue for a lot of playoff teams. Lets toss in Giggy’s NTC. Would he accept a trade? Possibly, but, to where? He’ll have his choice to where he goes.

Needless to say, it really ties Burke hands on making a deal. Rumors that Giguere would waive his NTC for Burke have been out there, but who knows if those rumors are true?

If capable of dealing Giguere, you’re going future first with Reimer and Gustavsson in net for the rest of the season and ideally for next season as well.

Another option would be demoting Gustavsson and playing Giguere and Reimer the rest of the season. Gustavsson has struggled mightily for the Leafs this season after many expected him to really break out this season, but has underperformed to most standards.

Gustavsson has said he’d be willing to spend time with the Marlies if that is what Burke asked him to do, but he hasn’t been asked yet to do so.

This will give Gustavsson a chance to play against lesser talents in the AHL and get his confidence back up. This will move would likely send Scrivens back to the Reading Royals of the East Coast Hockey League where he has been successful. Many want to see Scrivens in the American Hockey League playing where the pace is faster, the players are better, and the game is just better. Now that is where my question comes in, are we blessed with the depth we have in goal, or are we cursed?

Blessed, that if a goalie goes down, we have someone to immediately step up and take his place, or cursed, with that a better goalie is playing his game down against lesser opponents and hurting him in the long run?

I would expect a goaltender to be moved at the trade deadline. That is my gut feeling, now who will be the one moved is up in the air. I’m going to go against the grain and say that Gustavsson is moved at the deadline, making space for Reimer with the Leafs. Giguere’s contract is up at the end of this season, then you get aggressive in free agency. Go after a guy like Tomas Vokoun (Florida) or (if he makes it to free agency), Ilya Bryzgalov (Phoenix).  There are a few options that route, or you could resign Giguere and roll with the veteran with the rookie in Reimer.

It is a risk, nonetheless. It could totally bomb and the Leafs end up scrambling in net, like this season. If you could get one of the top free agents, then the Leafs go into the season with a strong goaltending duo.

Burke is going to have some tough decisions to make, just inside the crease. So for fun, you take the reigns of Leafs GM, what move do you make?