11:35am: In a turn of events, Sparks was not at practice and his locker room stall has been removed according to Kristen Shilton of TSN. Head coach Mike Babcock said after practice that the goaltender would work on his own with the coaches to try and get his confidence back. Hutchinson will serve as backup for the time being.
8:42am: The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t been able to rely on backup goaltender Garret Sparks recently, who has won just a single game in his last eight appearances while posting an .891 save percentage during that time. Today, they made the interesting move of recalling Michael Hutchinson from the minor leagues. The Toronto Marlies, who are in a playoff position but have not clinched yet, play today and tomorrow.
Hutchinson is the fourth regular recall for the Maple Leafs, and will need waivers if the team wanted to send him back down. Sparks would also require waivers and is ineligible to play for the Marlies in the playoffs, meaning this move is likely just to give the Maple Leafs a third goaltender as they prepare for their first round series against the Boston Bruins. Obviously there could be an injury that hasn’t been announced, but so far Frederik Andersen is still scheduled to start game 82 against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
While Andersen is the obvious choice to start against the Bruins as well, Hutchinson’s presence gives the team an interesting decision on who to dress as a backup or insert into the net if needed. Sparks was retained at the beginning of the season over both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard because of his relative youth and success in the minor leagues, but now has just a .902 save percentage on the year and .898 across 37 NHL appearances. Hutchinson meanwhile performed well for the Maple Leafs after coming over in a trade earlier this year, but has also had his fair share of struggles in the minor leagues.
The Maple Leafs also technically have Joseph Woll on the NHL roster, but the young goaltender is working to graduate from Boston College early and is not expected to see any action outside of the odd practice.