After trading Jonathan Bernier to the Ducks earlier this week, the Maple Leafs are in the market for a new backup goalie. Head coach Mike Babcock told reporters that they’re looking for a “good pro,” implying that they’re looking for an experienced veteran to work behind 26 year old Frederik Andersen.
Unfortunately for Toronto, there aren’t many quality veterans available in free agency. There are four NHL free agents with at least 100 games of experience in Jhonas Enroth, Anders Lindback, Karri Ramo, and Ben Scrivens. However, all four of those players have either struggled in recent years or are considerably undersized for the position (Enroth) leading many to assume the team will ultimately trade for a backup instead. With that in mind, here are some potential veteran trade candidates for the Leafs.
Thomas Greiss (New York I.) – This past week, the Islanders re-signed J-F Berube giving them three goalies on one-way deals. Jaroslav Halak is the clear #1 while the fact they are keeping Berube around suggests that management is high on his potential. That leaves Greiss as potentially the odd man out. Greiss is coming off the best season of his career plus a strong playoff run so the asking price should be somewhat high. However, the Leafs would be getting an above average backup and would give themselves two quality options between the pipes each and every night.
Curtis McElhinney (Columbus) – The Blue Jackets have youngster Joonas Korpisalo waiting in the wings who handled himself quite well in 31 NHL games last season. McElhinney is coming off a down season but has been a reliable backup in previous years. Considering Columbus is looking to get younger, the asking price here wouldn’t be terribly high and would allow the Leafs to add a short-term fix while they let youngsters Garret Sparks and Antoine Bibeau battle it out in the minors for another year.
Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg) – After trading a bad contract in Bernier away, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense on the surface to turn around and trade for another one in Pavelec. However, the Leafs have a couple of similarly-priced deals in Milan Michalek and Colin Greening that they could potentially flip to offset the salary. A deal like this would give the Leafs someone that could slide into a #1 role if Andersen gets hurt while Winnipeg would free up a spot for Connor Hellebuyck to join the NHL team on a full-time basis.
Failing that, a trade for Michael Hutchinson from Winnipeg could be another possibility. While he doesn’t have a ton of NHL experience, he has seen action in at least 30 NHL games in each of the last two seasons and dealing him away would allow the Jets to move Hellebuyck up full-time as well.
There aren’t a lot of veteran netminders out there for the Leafs but they still should be able to add one without much difficulty between now and the start of training camp in September.