.@SportChek Player Alert: The @MapleLeafs have acquired goaltender Michael Hutchinson from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Toronto’s fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 29, 2018
Details >> https://t.co/Ro26Hl8QCD#LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/fmW923uCgE
That was fast! With Frederik Andersen out with an injury forcing the Leafs to use Garret Sparks twice on back-to-back nights and with no option but Kasimir Kaskisuo or Eamon McAdam to call up, the Leafs made a move.
Michael Hutchinson is not a prospect, rather he’s a proven AHL goalie with a lot of experience as an NHL backup. He is 28, and was drafted originally by the Boston Bruins, but we shouldn’t hold that against him.
He played in the Winnipeg Jets organization for five years, largely as their backup seeing around 30 starts a year. Prior to that, he’d played in the AHL for Winnipeg (when their team was the IceCaps in St. John’s) and for the Bruins.
Last year, when it became clear he wasn’t going to be an NHL starter, the Jets moved him down to the AHL where he was the second best AHL goalie with a save percentage of .935. Garret Sparks had a .936.
In the summer, the Florida Panthers, who are always worried a little about injuries to Roberto Luongo, signed him to a one-year, one-way contract paying $1.3 million. This seemed like exactly what the Panthers needed, and I thought it was the smartest move they’d made in some time.
Hutchinson, however, never clicked in Florida. He struggled in four NHL starts, not coming close to the results he showed in Winnipeg. He was then very underwhelming in the AHL in Springfield, not coming close to his previous year’s glory.
Whatever is up with him this year, his track record is stellar, and if he can rehab back to his form of last year, the Leafs might just have a keeper as a backup to the NHL backup and an AHL starter.
Hutchinson has played 106 NHL games, mostly with the Winnipeg Jets. Has appeared in four games for the Panthers this season. Hutchinson will report to the Toronto Marlies as of now.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 29, 2018
If they leave him in the AHL, and he’s cleared waivers several times this year (it helps when you aren’t in Toronto) then $275,000 of his cap hit will count. The Leafs are blessed with a lot of cap space this year, so that’s not a major concern.
Where exactly Hutchinson will settle in in Toronto remains to be seen, but Garret Sparks has to feel some breath on his neck, and Kasimir Kaskisuo and Eamon McAdam just got some serious competition on the Marlies.