The interesting saga of Dryden McKay is heading to Toronto, as the free agent goaltender has signed a two-year AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies. Of note, McKay is currently serving a six-month sanction for breaking anti-doping rules by unknowingly ingesting a banned substance. He will be eligible to practice with a team in August and play in early October, meaning his professional career will not be significantly affected.
McKay, 24, is the reigning Hobey Baker winner after another outstanding college season, where he posted a .931 save percentage in 43 games for Minnesota State-Mankato. He led the group all the way to the national championship game (eventually losing to the University of Denver) and went 38-5 overall. Those kinds of numbers are nothing new for McKay, who posted a .932 save percentage and 113-20-4 record over 140 career appearances at the NCAA level, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker in each of the previous two seasons.
It’s easy to see why he would choose Toronto. The Maple Leafs have had goaltending issues all season long after free agent signing Petr Mrazek never really got off the ground, and are facing the potential loss of Jack Campbell to unrestricted free agency in the summer. The team is currently using 25-year-old Erik Kallgren as the backup, who is signed through next season on a two-way deal, and also have the oft-injured Joseph Woll in the organization along with Mrazek. That doesn’t represent a ton of depth at the position, meaning McKay will have a clear path to playing time in the AHL if he shows his performance from college can carry over to the next level.
That’s by no means a certainty, though the Maple Leafs also have a strong development and support system to help him along the way. The organization has done exactly that for fellow college free agent Keith Petruzzelli, who decided to sign a similar minor league deal with Toronto last summer and has progressed nicely through the system. It appears as though the Maple Leafs are trying their hardest to add depth at the position in any way they can, including even trying to bring over KHL netminder Harri Sateri at the trade deadline; Sateri was eventually lost on waivers to the Arizona Coyotes.
This contract means he is not call-up eligible and will still need to sign an entry-level deal in order to play in the NHL.