We are barely into the offseason and I feel that future goaltending concerns have been addressed quite well. When the 2009-10 season came to a close the Leafs goaltending prospects consisted of James Reimer and Grant Rollheiser. (I like James, but I think his potential is to be a Damian Rhodes level quality backup.) Burke has done an excellent job of filling in the blanks on the depth chart as Jussi Rynnas should quickly take over the bulk of the Marlies starts, and Ben Scrivens should push Reimer to get even better. The problem being what happens to the loser of that battle? Can they be loaned to another AHL team (not the greatest idea since they will be a backup behind that teams NHL affiliate’s top goaltending prospect) or they get sent to the ECHL (not exactly challenging or great development for any of Toronto’s goalies who have proven to be at a higher level).
I don’t think Ben Scrivens signed with Toronto to play in Reading. Most of this is going to be temporary to one year as I assume Rynnas will become Gustavssons backup while Scrivens and Reimer platoon for the Marlies in 2011-2012, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. Scrivens was a sought after Free Agent, why would he sign in Toronto (for one year) where he seemingly has no opportunity at playing time?
My most hopeful answer, and the basis for this post is that Burke has someone interested in James Reimer. He showed he can be a force at the AHL level, and like I mentioned earlier he can develop into a Damian Rhodes style (25 starts a season) backup. After spending the first hour of the work day dissecting every organizations Goaltending Depth Charts I’m convinced that Reimer is of value to over half the league. If I had to throw a name of a team out there for who might be interested I would start with Dallas, as Nieuwendyk chases down all of the same prospects Burke does, and he would have some familiarity with Reimer as well.
So this covers off three of the heads on the Monster, the top two heads Giguere and Gustavsson. There really isn’t much confusion about what is going to happen next season, and that is Gustavsson is going to see the majority of the starts and Giguere will likely start one-third of the games. If the Leafs remain the leagues punching bag for back-to-back games having a solid tandem could make a difference over this seasons results. The only other thought I have is load up Gigueres starts early in the season, and try and give him a bit of a stretch to shake off the cobwebs. One reason is if the Leafs make the playoffs (stop laughing now) he is a proven playoff performer. The second is to do the right thing and let the league see this guy can still play. Ideally this nets the Leafs something in trade at the deadline, but it also gives a class act player a few more options heading into Unrestricted Free Agency. The worst case scenario for this season is of course, Gustavsson’s second year resembles Andrew Raycroft and Steve Mason’s sophomore debacles, in which case Giguere rules the roost and we are back to square one on building from the net out.
One final thought, as much as this looks like a log jam of capable goaltenders, it will not last forever. Someone could be traded, it is likely this is Giguere’s last season with the Leafs, and of Rynnas, Reimer and Scrivens odds are at least one won’t pan out. My hope is that Burke still considers using a 6th or 7th Round pick to maintain this depth. As I’ve said on my blog before, I think it’s a good idea to look at Benjamin Conz who had a strong World Juniors for the Swiss, and that should help maintain a solid 3 goaltending prospect pool.
I will be re-posting this on my blog at yakovmironov.blogspot.com later today. Please visit for more Rambling, incomplete thoughts (with pictures!)