The Toronto Maple Leafs need a new back-up goalie.
Assuming the Blackhawks won last night (they were beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 as I wrote this), then the Leafs need to replace Michael Hutchinson.
In fact, even if the Leafs did make a comeback, they still need to make the move.
I feel bad for Hutchinson, because he hasn’t exactly been put into a position to succeed, but even if the reasons for replacing him are only psychological, a move has to be done.
Toronto Maple Leafs Back-Up Goalie
The Leafs have started Hutchinson in all five games they’ve played that were the last half of a back-to-back situation.
In four of those five games, the Leafs were playing a rested opponent.
So it’s not like he is expected to steal a bunch of wins. In fact, you can make a very good case that it’s not his fault at all that he’s not doing better.
But, on the other side of the coin, it’s the NHL and you’ve got to do your job because it’s a professional league and you’re being paid more to be a back-up goalie than almost all doctors make.
The easy thing to do here would be to criticize the Toronto Maple Leafs for not having the money to spend on a better option than Hutchinson.
That, however, would be wrong. All goalies capable of making the NHL are capable of going on a hot streak that makes the guy who signed them look like a genius.
The St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup last year because Jordan Binnington came out of nowhere to be the best goalie in the league. He led the Playoffs in save percentage, and the Blues won the Cup.
Binnington started the year as a lower ranked prospect than Garret Sparks, who famously did not do a good job for the Leafs last season, and is now the third string goalie in Vegas.
There is no rhyme or reason to why some random goalie might find success, and so there’s really no reason to spend big on a goalie unless you’re getting one of the ten or so elite ones in the world.
If the Leafs had $2 million to spend on a back-up goalie, there’s no better odds that they’d get a better goalie than Hutchinson.
The back-up goalie position provides the least amount of value per dollar spent and so it is the right decision to allocate funds elsewhere. Just sometimes the results are not good, even if the decision making behind them is solid.
In this case, Hutchinson is a psychological liability for the team so he should be replaced.
The obvious option is AHL starter Kasimir Kaskisuo who currently has a 2.13 / .927 line and a 6-1-1 record. (hockeydb.com).
At the very least, he won’t be worse than Hutchinson.