If you are counting on the Spanish Hasek next year, well...stop it. The potential options for upgrading the Leafs in net are starting to shrink, so should we just start getting used to the idea of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens?
When looking at the options to upgrade Toronto's goalie situation, there is not very much to get excited about. After the announcement of the "deal in principle" between the Nucks and Schneider, Roberto Luongo will become a hot topic again in media land and message boards. I have to be honest, a potential trade with the Leafs and Luongo scares me a lot. However, with Luongo apparently preferring to take his talents to South Beach, this may not even happen anyway. Even if the Florida situation did not exist and the Leafs jump back into the fray, Gillis needs to recoup something of value for Luongo. Every time I see an article that has both the names "Roberto Luongo" and "Jake Gardiner" in them, I involuntarily throw up in my mouth a little. To be honest, if the Leafs have to purge their top quality prospects for Luongo, I don't think I really want him around at that cost. Even thought it may just be posturing, Brian Burke's quotes lately back this up.
On the flip side, simply dumping Luongo's contract will not be enough of a win for Vancouver. When I see "Roberto Luongo" and "Mike Komisarek" in the same article, I chuckle a bit and assume Canuck fans are throwing up in their mouths. Let's face it, there is no way Gillis can sell that to his fan base. If his only option is to get a bag of pucks for Luongo, Gillis would be better off sending Luongo to Florida than watching him every Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada.
Let's just assume that the Canucks and Leafs cannot get anything done here, and I don't think this is a scenario that is too far fetched. What other options are out there at this point?
Trades: So if Luongo does not work, who else is available? The only guy around that might be somewhat comparable to Bobby Lou is Mikka Kiprusoff. There have been some rumblings about Kiprusoff being traded, but those have faded lately. Since the Flames are loading up on terrible and overpriced defensemen, they will need quality goaltending behind them and likely wouldn't trade him. I would also be surprised if the Blues traded either Brian Elliott or Jaroslav Halak. They had a good thing going on so why screw with that.
The Kings would likely move Jonathan Bernier given the big contract Jonathan Quick just signed. That being said, he will not come cheap and he has not really established himself as of yet. His numbers look a lot better on the Kings with their defense-first style. Would he really be a huge upgrade compared to Reimer? Plus, if Anders Lindback commanded a minor league goalie and two second round picks and Semyon Varlamov fetched a first and second round pick this time last year, what would Bernier fetch now?
Other than that, there does not really appear to be a lot available on the trade market right now.
Stand pat with Reimer and Scrivens: Could this actually work? Well, the Leafs went with the goaltending combo of young and inexperienced last year, and that did not really end well. Could Reimer and Scrivens be better than Reimer and Gustavsson last year? Sure, I would almost bet on it. As long as injuries didn't get in the way, of course. Plus, Reimer and Scrivens could be this generation's young Wregget and Bester! Oh boy.
Other than injuries, the big concern here (other than the potential for total suckage) would be the lack of organizational depth. If something were to happen to either one of them, there would be big problems. It simply does not leave much room for injury and/or error in the organization. The Leafs may not be well served to have two young and relatively unproven keepers, and how confident would you be if they had to raid the Marlies for Rynnas or Owuya? I think the Leafs have to add a body at any rate, which leads me to...
Free Agents: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than this years UFA goalie crop. I won't even include Martin Brodeur in the conversation even though he is thinking about testing the market. I just don't think that there is any chance Brodeur is leaving New Jersey for any team.
To say that this year's UFA goalies are wafer thin is by no means an understatement. AT this point, Dwayne Roloson should be taken out behind the barn and shot. Antero Niittymäki has a career GAA of 2.95. Last year his save percentage was below .900...playing for San Jose, which is a better defensive team. What would that translate to in Toronto? Nobody should get very excited about Chris Mason, Michael Leighton, Alex Auld, Dan Ellis or Scott Clemmensen.
Call me crazy, but there is one name on the UFA list that actually intrigues me. He has an NHL record of 129 wins and 90 losses. His career save percentage is .913 and his GAA is 2.46. Who is this potential hidden gem?
Christobal Huet. Stop laughing.
Hear me out. I am assuming that Huet would sign a short-term contract on the cheap to get back into the NHL to prove himself. Think about what Vokoun had to do to stick in the NHL last year (1 year, $1.5M with Washington). What if you offered Huet a similar contract with the opportunity of breaking camp with Reimer. He acts as a back up unless he can win the job. Scrivens goes back to the Marlies (which may not be his preference but can't be bad for his development). If Huet sucks, he takes over the Marlies and Scrivens is back in the picture. Is this a terrible idea? Talk me out of it.
The Leafs would get a guy who has some experience, some motivation to succeed and a contract that doesn't kill the team or the development of the prospects. It would buy some time as well (as opposed to taking on Luongo until the end of time...and trust me, by 2022 you would likely be praying for the end of time). In 2013 (assuming they don't sign extensions), Kari Lehtonen, Niklas Backstrom, Mike Smith and Jimmy Howard are all UFAs. Compared to this years crop of free agents, that group looks like Dryden, Roy, Hasek and Plante.
I am not sure why, but the more I think of this the better it sounds. I keep thinking things like, "hey, Huet played 39 games last year, had a 1.99 GAA and a .932 SV%. That is great, right? I know it was the Swiss NLA, but hell, .932!!! I am a little confused as to why the stats I found on his wikipedia page don't have wins and losses (is the NLA like my 5 year old's soccer league, they don't keep track and just play for fun? Do they go out for Timbits or icecream if they play well?). Maybe the summer heat is getting to me, but I am thinking of getting a Leaf jersey with Huet on the back later today.
As a comparison, I looked up the 2008-09 statistics of the Monster in the (assuredly better) Swedish Elite League. Dear God. 42 games played, 1.96 GAA and .932 SV%. That looks remarkably similar.
Maybe I should have a couple beers and rethink this a little.
What do you say Leaf fans?