According to a report from iSport in the Czech Republic, veteran goaltender Michal Neuvirth will sign a professional tryout with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Neuvirth is an unrestricted free agent after his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers expired, and would be battling with other goaltenders like Garret Sparks and Michael Hutchinson who are both already signed to one-way contracts.
Neuvirth, 31, has a long history in the NHL but not all of it has been successful. Originally selected 34th overall by the Washington Capitals—quite a high pick for a goaltender—he quickly made it to their NHL squad and played parts of six seasons. In Washington he had a .910 save percentage and even started nine games during their playoff run in 2011. Neuvirth has suited up for the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres in addition to Washington and Philadelphia, and has 257 games under his belt over an 11-year career.
That experience may not mean anything if he can’t show a substantial upgrade over Sparks and Hutchinson. The two backups will both require waivers to be sent down to the minor leagues, leaving Toronto in the same vulnerable situation they found themselves in last fall. Deciding to keep the younger Sparks, Toronto placed both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard on waivers and when both were claimed the team suddenly had no goaltending depth. They eventually traded for Hutchinson, while Sparks had an up-and-down season as Frederik Andersen’s primary backup. That situation could potentially happen again, though it is unclear at this point how many teams will be looking for goaltending at the end of camp.