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Leafs sign Michael Hutchinson, causing me a brief flash of personal anxiety

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It’s fine, I tell myself, he’s fourth-string.

NHL: FEB 05 Maple Leafs at Rangers Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Leafs announced today that they have signed goalie Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract at an AAV of $725,000 in the NHL.

Hutchinson struggled mightily as an NHL backup this past year, saving a tragicomic .886 of the shots against him with Toronto. At the trade deadline, the Leafs flipped him to the Colorado Avalanche for depth defender Calle Rosen. Remarkably, Hutchinson put up two good playoff games and one bad one for a super talented but injured Colorado team. Despite the voice in my head yelling oh God it’s happening again, this is a different situation. He’s being asked to be fourth on the goalie depth chart behind Frederik Anderson, Jack Campbell, and Aaron Dell, not second. He still seems capable enough as an AHL goalie at this point. The Marlies could use him, and he is by all accounts a nice guy and an easy presence in the locker room.

There is some question as to how exactly the goaltending jobs will shake out this year with the pandemic and its impact on all three of the pro leagues in the system. Fourth would normally make Hutchinson into an AHL backup, potentially bumping prospect Joe Woll to the ECHL. What exactly will happen with those leagues, or how the NHL will accommodate teams in terms of roster size and taxi squads, we do not know; if there are three goalies in the NHL, Hutchinson may be the AHL starter or in a platoon.

If you’re wondering why this is a two-year deal for a 30-year-old AHL goalie, this will allow Hutchinson to satisfy the exposure requirement for the Seattle expansion draft in the event the Leafs decide to protect Jack Campbell.

Welcome back, Michael. Sorry for those things I said.