Though the full list of waivers won’t come out for another hour, the Toronto Maple Leafs have announced their final few cuts. The team has placed Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard on waivers in order to send them to the minor leagues. The move signals that Garret Sparks has won the job as backup to Frederik Andersen, and several other players on the bubble like Igor Ozhiganov, Martin Marincin, Justin Holl and Frederik Gauthier will all start the year with the NHL team.
Interestingly the team also announced that Connor Carrick would be placed on waivers, though his name was not included on the list submitted to the NHL. That’s because he was later traded to the Dallas Stars for a conditional seventh-round pick.
In keeping Sparks with the NHL club, the team has seemingly handed over the backup role to a younger player with more potential, albeit one that may come with more risk. McElhinney has performed incredibly well for the Maple Leafs since being claimed from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but is now 35 years old and likely will be seeing a decline before long. Sparks, 25, is coming off an AHL Goaltender of the Year award and a Calder Cup with the Toronto Marlies, and would almost certainly be claimed by a goaltending-needy team somewhere around the league. That same thing may happen with the veteran McElhinney or Pickard, who also has plenty of NHL experience and is still young enough to have a bit of upside remaining.