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Leafs add Michael Hutchinson to the roster with their last recall

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The Leafs had one of the four allowed recalls from the AHL left, and they used it to add another goalie.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs
Back when he still had his Florida pads.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As reported by Bob McKenzie on a recent game, the last one Garret Sparks played in to be exact, the Leafs had used three of the four recalls from the AHL that NHL teams are allowed to use from the trade deadline to the end of the AHL team’s season. They had one left, and today they’ve used it to bring Michael Hutchinson up to the NHL.

The timing isn’t ideal for Hutchinson, who just had a stinker of a game with the Marlies, where he was pulled for Kasimir Kaskisuo. But the stinker was atypical of his AHL season.

In 31 AHL games, Hutchinson has a total save percentage this season of .909. In his 23 games in Toronto, it’s .910. That’s not quite his .935 of last year (one hundredth of a point behind Garret Sparks), but it’s a good AHL starter’s number.

In five NHL games this season for Toronto, Hutchinson has a Fenwick Save Percentage just slightly under his Expected Fenwick Save Percentage. (All NHL goalie stats are all-situations and from Offside Review.) This amounts to half of one actual goal saved under expected, which means he performed as a league average goalie in those five starts, which makes him above average for backups. It’s only five starts, though, so it’s not predictive of anything but that he has goalie equipment and an NHL contract.

In his four games for Florida prior to coming to the Leafs, the picture was much less rosy. He was deeply into the negative numbers, and allowed over 10 goals over expected.

Garret Sparks, on the season, has very poor results with a deeply negative Fenwick Save Percentage compared to Expected. In 20 games played, he’s allowed almost 10 goals more than an average goalie would have.

What’s the difference between them? If I may be so bold as to speculate, it’s that the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs has not had to watch Michael Hutchinson let in a lot of bad goals. But beyond that, I believe that the Leafs coaching staff listen to their goalie coach, and their other training staff, and they might simply want to have Hutchinson on hand in case of injury, to have another look at him in practice, or to sit on the bench in the last game in Montréal and collect faceoff stats on the clipboard like a good pro.

The Leafs have a gigantic roster now of four goalies, 10 defenders and 14 forwards. All those cap hits still leave them with $3,883,526 in projected end-of-year space, per Cap Friendly. So there’s lots of room to absorb the bonuses that will get added to the total cap hit at season’s end.

The Marlies have an extra goalie now in Zachary Bouthillier, so if this recall is long-term, they’ll be in an interesting position as they run to the end of their season. Their next game is tonight on the road in Utica.

Updated to add:

Hutchinson has cleared waivers this season, however that was back when he was bad in Florida.

But wait, there’s more:

This implies the one of the Growlers goalies is coming up to the AHL, likely Eamon McAdam. The Growlers are poised to have a great playoff run, and that just got a little harder for them, but they’ve handled it before well, and they can now as well.

The Marlies will have the more difficult time judging by past performance without Hutchinson.