It’s been all quiet on the Toronto Maple Leaf’s goalie front this past week, despite a need at backup to starter Frederik Andersen. However, with free agency about to open, the Leafs have announced an extension for impending UFA goalie Curtis McElhinney as well as a new deal for restricted free agent keeper Garret Sparks. The pair both inked two-year deals, with McElhinney making $850 on a one-way contract and Sparks earning $675K at the NHL level on a two-way contract in year one and $700K on a one-way contract in year two.
McElhinney was acquired by the Leafs via waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets last January and went on to post a .914 save percentage and 2.85 goal against average in 14 appearances with Toronto. Combined with seven appearances for Columbus, 2016-17 was the best season of the journeyman goalkeeper’s career. While there may have been superior talent available on the free agent market, the Leafs appear content to stick with McElhinney as the primary backup to Andersen as he was nothing if not consistent for them down the stretch last season.
Should the 34-year-old McElhinney falter, Sparks appears poised to take over the backup job if given the opportunity. The 24-year-old did not see any NHL action last season, but appeared in 17 games for the Leafs in 2015-16. The 2011 seventh-round pick followed that up with the best minor league campaign of his career, making 31 starts for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and posting a 2.16 goals against average and .922 save percentage. Sparks is a more than capable safety blanket in net for Toronto.