The Leafs need a goalie. This is not news, and has been true since about this time last year. They skated through the 2020-2021 season playing Frederik Andersen when he was injured while they waited for Jack Campbell to not be injured, and they got a lot better results from Michael Hutchinson than they had any right to expect.

Let’s not do that again.

Post-draft, Kyle Dubas made some comments about his goalie search that sidled up to something honest about his dilemma. He doesn’t really know what Jack Campbell can do. No one ever does with goalies, but in Campbell’s case. he had varying levels of regular-season results and good results in a very short playoff run. Campbell has never played a heavy workload in his life, and his seasons where he wasn’t very good are numerous, but this wasn’t his only ever good one.

The uncertainty around goalies is frustrating, so declaring — for example — one side or the other in the dispute over the value of Alex Nedeljkovic extremely stupid for their opinion on 23 games of NHL play is very satisfying in an argument. It’s not how a GM of a team looking to battle it out in a tough division can make his decisions, though. Kyle Dubas is not setting out to win a take contest, so he needs to do more that compose a short declarative sentence about who is good and who is bad.

It is clear that Dubas is setting out to have some kind of tandem. Tandems were the talking point of a few seasons ago, yet it’s a concept instantly undermined by how people talk about it. The second you start calling goalies 1A and 1B, you admit that you can’t help but rank them. No team truly has a tandem because, when the playoffs come, a decision gets made. Unless there’s an injury, one guy gets the job and the other watches.

Vegas made a dramatic exception to that standard operating procedure this year, and the outrage, shock and amazement flowed freely. They actually did play their goalies as something like a tandem in the games that mattered. Montréal is planning to play Carey Price and Jake Allen as a tandem in the regular season, but there is no question who will start in the playoffs, assuming they can get there in a division that has five teams who think they are in.

Somewhere between Vegas’s genuine tandem and Montréal’s regular season only arrangement is what the Leafs will shoot for. They want a winner declared between Campbell and the mystery man by the end of the season, but no one seems to be firmly naming Campbell a starter now. In other words, Dubas is not looking to acquire a goalie who will be assumed to be subordinate. He’s not looking for some AHLer to dream on either. This is not a Garret Sparks vs Curtis McElhinney question, this is a shopping trip for serious NHLers only, so I’m looking at them all.

There are 98 goalies from Aaron Dell to Vitek Vanecek who appeared in at least one game in 2020-2021. Because of the unique rules on emergency goalies and Taxi Squads, that’s more than usual, and a lot of them are Hutchinson-types. The first culling of this list is any goalie who played less than 10 games, and now I have 67 which represents all starters/backups/tandems in the NHL last season.

Gaolies, 2020-2021 with 10 or more games played

Aaron Dell20-21N.JG7319.1721.45153.29210.2311.8586.0189.894.36-4.57-9.6
Adin Hill20-21ARIG191005.945.09525.84721.3744.6491.4393.7593.81-0.06-0.45
Alex Lyon20-21PHIG6324.1518.19171.55231.6213.4289.492.1594.21-2.06-4.77
Alex Nedeljkovic20-21CARG231392.0343.43632.33880.9756.3593.1395.0793.61.4712.92
Alexandar Georgiev20-21NYRG19973.9343.97463.67667.6540.7890.5293.4193.89-0.48-3.19
Alexei Melnichuk20-21S.JG3130.5811.6289.24110.888.9986.9889.5291.89-2.37-2.63
Andrei Vasilevskiy20-21T.BG422523.6291.621207.781608.44103.7392.4194.393.550.7512.11
Anthony Stolarz20-21ANAG8464.316.98226.85305.818.3892.5194.4593.990.461.4
Anton Forsberg20-21OTTG8448.5523.71266.15362.0623.3391.0993.4593.56-0.1-0.38
Anton Khudobin20-21DALG321794.6276.42795.061134.3966.1390.3993.2694.17-0.91-10.29
Antti Raanta20-21ARIG12678.8338.79403.47559.3436.8890.3993.0793.41-0.34-1.91
Artyom Zagidulin20-21CGYG128.221.9812.1422.181.0283.6991.0795.4-4.33-0.96
Braden Holtby20-21VANG211260.4876.98714.461000.8868.3789.2392.3193.17-0.86-8.61
Brian Elliott20-21PHIG301607.7283.31759.911036.7962.8189.0491.9693.94-1.98-20.5
Calvin Petersen20-21L.AG352015.8598.051126.411537.4101.8191.393.6293.380.243.76
Calvin Pickard20-21DETG6303.5215.66128.96183.469.8887.8691.4694.61-3.15-5.78
Cam Talbot20-21MING331961.4585.821003.891407.3179.0991.4593.994.38-0.48-6.73
Carey Price20-21MTLG251478.7565.23651.15915.4657.1289.9892.8793.76-0.89-8.11
Carter Hart20-21PHIG271456.3289.75728.26973.3865.387.6890.7893.29-2.51-24.45
Carter Hutton20-21BUFG13674.7240.53363.56489.9232.888.8591.7393.31-1.58-7.73
Casey Desmith20-21PITG201132.3247.31542.82710.3351.291.2893.3492.790.553.89
Cayden Primeau20-21MTLG4201.913.9696.22135.169.185.4989.6793.27-3.6-4.86
Chris Driedger20-21FLAG231361.646.3640.04889.8553.3392.7794.894.010.797.03
Chris Gibson20-21T.BG2112.975.2339.6750.273.2786.8289.693.5-3.9-1.96
Collin Delia20-21CHIG6334.4819.49205.2272.0320.3290.592.8492.530.310.83
Connor Hellebuyck20-21WPGG452602.82113.241331.671843.77126.9691.593.8693.110.7413.72
Craig Anderson20-21WSHG4168.736.3176.22122.426.2891.7294.8594.87-0.02-0.03
Curtis McElhinney20-21T.BG12719.3237.56307.95406.0724.1687.890.7594.05-3.3-13.4
Dan Vladar20-21BOSG5300.0718.11158.01219.0413.3288.5491.7393.92-2.19-4.79
Darcy Kuemper20-21ARIG271546.6267.57731.181021.1166.3690.7693.3893.5-0.12-1.21
David Rittich20-21CGY/TORG19965.7645.61465.52663.8939.290.293.1394.1-0.97-6.41
Devan Dubnyk20-21COL/S.JG221182.3662.28601.51817.450.2989.6592.3893.85-1.47-11.99
Dustin Tokarski20-21BUFG13729.4343.39467.11634.8137.3290.7193.1694.12-0.96-6.07
Elvis Merzlikins20-21CBJG281496.8268.77834.091104.8566.3491.7693.7894-0.22-2.43
Eric Comrie20-21N.JG1602.6729.4344.982.9590.9394.0693.440.620.28
Filip Gustavsson20-21OTTG9471.5717.27255.81368.9820.2793.2595.3294.510.813
Frederik Andersen20-21TORG241420.1270.24663.15928.6459.0589.4192.4493.64-1.2-11.19
Hunter Miska20-21COLG5259.817.82107.87142.18.4983.4887.4694.03-6.57-9.33
Igor Shesterkin20-21NYRG351899.0283.58989.151364.187.5591.5593.8793.580.293.97
Ilya Samsonov20-21WSHG191092.8247.82488.03676.2141.1590.292.9393.91-0.99-6.67
Ilya Sorokin20-21NYIG221271.7845.57556785.7748.3191.894.293.850.352.74
Ivan Prosvetov20-21ARIG3130.028.8754.381.034.8783.6689.0593.99-4.94-4
Jack Campbell20-21TORG221284.444.89556.77773.9949.5391.9494.
Jacob Markstrom20-21CGYG432507.93112.951161.931579.199.7390.2892.8593.68-0.84-13.22
Jake Allen20-21MTLG291702.676.5833.761141.1972.2590.8293.393.67-0.37-4.25
Jake Oettinger20-21DALG291604.1363.05717.361021.6460.191.2193.8394.12-0.29-2.95
James Reimer20-21CARG221331.157.6613.28824.4354.990.6193.0193.34-0.33-2.7
Jaroslav Halak20-21BOSG191089.9246.28489.68676.4638.9290.5593.1694.25-1.09-7.36
Jeremy Swayman20-21BOSG10601.7214.23257.57362.4218.3294.4896.0794.951.134.09
Joey Daccord20-21OTTG8403.3721.74220.35305.42090.1392.8893.45-0.57-1.74
John Gibson20-21ANAG352030.5104.731072.931481.07100.2490.2492.9393.23-0.3-4.49
Jonas Johansson20-21BUF/COLG15816.8338.5380.36514.6631.7389.8892.5293.83-1.32-6.77
Jonathan Bernier20-21DETG241306.4565.6774.311008.3167.491.5393.4993.320.181.8
Jonathan Quick20-21L.AG221217.9858.44572.36821.1855.289.7992.8893.28-0.39-3.24
Joonas Korpisalo20-21CBJG331747.4396.68911.291258.5777.9689.3992.3293.81-1.49-18.72
Jordan Binnington20-21STLG422447.67108.611201.991667.96110.9990.9693.4993.350.142.38
Josef Korenar20-21S.JG10491.8326.61263.88362.5823.3889.9292.6693.55-0.89-3.23
Juuse Saros20-21NSHG362051.878.231072.911420.1585.1892.7194.49940.496.95
Kaapo Kahkonen20-21MING241414.4767.68683.7950.752.0990.192.8894.52-1.64-15.59
Kasimir Kaskisuo20-21NSHG115.3703.316.650.3510010094.745.260.35
Keith Kinkaid20-21NYRG9485.8820.75203.69287.9616.4889.8192.7994.28-1.48-4.27
Kevin Lankinen20-21CHIG372174.82109.431213.511570.93102.8690.9893.0393.45-0.42-6.57
Laurent Brossoit20-21WPGG14744.1229.77373.68505.7130.1992.0394.1194.030.080.42
Linus Ullmark20-21BUFG201117.0849.01590.66814.9646.7591.793.9994.26-0.28-2.26
Logan Thompson20-21VGKG18.2502.213.330.1510010095.54.50.15
Louis Domingue20-21CGYG157.72.9224.2533.691.587.9691.3395.55-4.21-1.42
Mackenzie Blackwood20-21N.JG352090.62107.631089.021466.1194.0490.1292.6693.59-0.93-13.59
Malcolm Subban20-21CHIG16881.2848.03486.84643.6543.5490.1392.5493.24-0.7-4.49
Marc-Andre Fleury20-21VGKG362146.670.31967.941313.7889.5192.7494.6593.191.4619.2
Marcus Hogberg20-21OTTG14641.8539.51331.54455.8427.6788.0891.3393.93-2.6-11.84
Martin Jones20-21S.JG341867.65102.39986.861400.1188.6889.6292.6993.67-0.98-13.71
Matiss Kivlenieks20-21CBJG2123.357.1872.8990.055.1690.1592.0394.27-2.24-2.02
Matt Murray20-21OTTG27140479.57750.331019.4464.2689.492.1993.7-1.5-15.31
Maxime Lagace20-21PITG160028.8336.842.2410010093.926.082.24
Michael Houser20-21BUFG4243.0314.05148.16184.79.9590.5292.3994.61-2.22-4.1
Michael Hutchinson20-21TORG8421.8717.25209.92285.4115.4291.7893.9694.6-0.64-1.83
Mike Smith20-21EDMG321846.5572.15920.511270.6879.3792.1694.3293.750.577.22
Mikko Koskinen20-21EDMG261437.3876.85754.731000.366.4889.8292.3293.35-1.04-10.37
Oscar Dansk20-21VGKG161.423.6825.9434.662.785.8189.3892.21-2.83-0.98
Pekka Rinne20-21NSHG241310.4862.46678.1885.2552.4690.7992.9494.07-1.13-10
Petr Mrazek20-21CARG12670.9823.1304422.6133.8392.494.5391.992.5410.73
Philipp Grubauer20-21COLG402366.576.5973.661336.180.7692.1494.2793.960.324.26
Robin Lehner20-21VGKG191155.3244.29502.36719.6349.2591.1893.8593.160.694.96
Ryan Miller20-21ANAG16870.9250.85441.65611.7940.1688.4991.6993.44-1.75-10.69
Scott Wedgewood20-21N.JG16888.0346.38467.99630.0140.490.0992.6493.59-0.95-5.98
Semyon Varlamov20-21NYIG362116.171.391014.161411.6880.9492.9694.9494.270.689.55
Sergei Bobrovsky20-21FLAG311814.8787.19920.551182.2876.7190.5392.6393.51-0.89-10.48
Spencer Knight20-21FLAG4206.97.9795.77114.776.3691.6893.0694.46-1.4-1.61
Stuart Skinner20-21EDMG159.685.0535.2447.253.6985.6789.3192.19-2.88-1.36
Thatcher Demko20-21VANG352086.77100.591180.251592.95108.4191.4893.6993.190.497.82
Thomas Greiss20-21DETG341754.5378.47903.081250.7271.9191.3193.7394.25-0.52-6.56
Tristan Jarry20-21PITG392183.7599.051085.861439.489.9290.8893.1293.75-0.63-9.13
Troy Grosenick20-21L.AG21205.7373.5998.717.2592.2194.292.661.541.52
Tuukka Rask20-21BOSG241395.7252.74599.59849.4251.5891.293.7993.93-0.14-1.16
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen20-21BUFG4216.713.63149.46204.0912.2790.8893.3293.99-0.67-1.36
Veini Vehvilainen20-21CBJG110.670.994.245.340.1576.6581.4697.19-15.73-0.84
Ville Husso20-21STLG17916.9748.76458.48639.9142.1489.3692.3893.41-1.03-6.62
Vitek Vanecek20-21WSHG372114.0394.481017.971441.986.0390.7293.4594.03-0.59-8.45

Somewhere in there is the goalie the Leafs will acquire. So now this needs to be really culled. Off the top end, I’m taking every player under contract at $5 million or more, the retired players, and anyone over 35. On the other end of the age spectrum, I’m taking out anyone 23 or younger because the chances of a team moving a goalie that young are just too small to entertain. That gets me to 43, so I’m going to pick out the career backups by hand and make a few quality judgements to get down to 31 names:

31 Reasonable Choices

PlayerAge2021 ContractTeamGPGAxGAFAFSv%xFSv%dFSv%GSAx
Petr Mrazek28UFACAR1223.133.83422.6194.5391.992.5410.73
Alex Nedeljkovic24$3,000,000CAR2343.4356.35880.9795.0793.61.4712.92
Chris Driedger26$3,500,000FLA2346.353.33889.8594.894.010.797.03
Jack Campbell28$1,650,000TOR2244.8949.53773.9994.
Casey Desmith28$1,250,000PIT2047.3151.2710.3393.3492.790.553.89
Thatcher Demko24$1,050,000VAN35100.59108.411592.9593.6993.190.497.82
Juuse Saros25$1,500,000NSH3678.2385.181420.1594.49940.496.95
Ilya Sorokin24RFANYI2245.5748.31785.7794.293.850.352.74
Philipp Grubauer28UFACOL4076.580.761336.194.2793.960.324.26
Igor Shesterkin24RFANYR3583.5887.551364.193.8793.580.293.97
Calvin Petersen25$858,333L.A3598.05101.811537.493.6293.380.243.76
Jonathan Bernier31UFADET2465.667.41008.3193.4993.320.181.8
Jordan Binnington26$4,400,000STL42108.61110.991667.9693.4993.350.142.38
Darcy Kuemper30$4,500,000ARI2767.5766.361021.1193.3893.5-0.12-1.21
Tuukka Rask33UFABOS2452.7451.58849.4293.7993.93-0.14-1.16
Elvis Merzlikins26$4,000,000CBJ2868.7766.341104.8593.7894-0.22-2.43
Linus Ullmark26UFABUF2049.0146.75814.9693.9994.26-0.28-2.26
James Reimer32UFACAR2257.654.9824.4393.0193.34-0.33-2.7
Antti Raanta31UFAARI1238.7936.88559.3493.0793.41-0.34-1.91
Jake Allen29$2,875,000MTL2976.572.251141.1993.393.67-0.37-4.25
Kevin Lankinen25$800,000CHI37109.43102.861570.9393.0393.45-0.42-6.57
Alexandar Georgiev24$2,425,000NYR1943.9740.78667.6593.4193.89-0.48-3.19
Cam Talbot32$3,666,667MIN3385.8279.091407.3193.994.38-0.48-6.73
Thomas Greiss34$3,600,000DET3478.4771.911250.7293.7394.25-0.52-6.56
Vitek Vanecek24$716,667WSH3794.4886.031441.993.4594.03-0.59-8.45
Tristan Jarry25$3,500,000PIT3999.0589.921439.493.1293.75-0.63-9.13
Braden Holtby30$4,300,000VAN2176.9868.371000.8892.3193.17-0.86-8.61
Anton Khudobin34$3,333,333DAL3276.4266.131134.3993.2694.17-0.91-10.29
Jaroslav Halak35UFABOS1946.2838.92676.4693.1694.25-1.09-7.36
Frederik Andersen30UFATOR2470.2459.05928.6492.4493.64-1.2-11.19
Joonas Korpisalo26$2,800,000CBJ3396.6877.961258.5792.3293.81-1.49-18.72

I’ve sorted this list (all data is from Evolving Hockey) by Delta Save % or the difference between the save percentage on unblocked shots and the Expected %. It gives a good broad-strokes measure of who was good. From the top then:

Petr Mrazek: has been playing the tandem/mentor role in Carolina and they now have no one under contract. He’s available and worth some thought.

Alex Nedeljkovic: Detroit has no reason to move him until they’ve got proof he’s good, and the price goes up, or they keep him. Not available.

Chris Driedger: Seattle made a fuss over him and re-signed him. I think he’s their starter for now.

Jack Campbell: Toronto wants him to repeat these results and can’t clone him.

Casey DeSmith: Pittsburgh has no reason to move him.

Thatcher Demko: Good on a terrible team and still  young, not moving.

Juuse Saros: Now a starter.

Ilya Sorokin: Their future, they hope.

Philipp Grubauer: Hard to picture a world where he’s not re-signed, but you never know.

Igor Shesterkin: Their future, they hope.

Cal Petersen: Next one after Quick, not available.

Jonathan Bernier: UFA now owned by Carolina, but no deal has been made, so available.

Jordan Binnington: Not moving.

Darcy Kuemper: Definitely a candidate.

Tuukka Rask: Heading to surgery, and is likely on the Bruins or not playing.

Elvis Merzlikins: Columbus has been said to be moving one of their goalies for two years, so yes.

Ullmark, Reimer, Raanta: all available UFAs

Jake Allen: of course not

Kevin Lankinen: Chicago has no reason to move him.

Alexandar Georgiev: Absolutely available.

Cam Talbot: Doubt anyone would take him, but I said that last year.

Thomas Greiss: May be available if he’s tired of losing.

Vitek Vanecek: Not very likely, but Seattle might flip him if they add someone over Driedger.

Tristan Jarry: Pittsburgh’s other half of their tandem, and seemingly the one they like better, so no.

Braden Holtby: very available.

Anton Khudobin: Not likely.

Halak and Andersen: Both available, and Halak is not interested in re-signing in Boston.

Joonas Korpisalo: coming off a very bad year, he’s likely who the Blue Jackets want to move.

That’s 15 names left, using a liberal definition of available.

15 Possible Choices

PlayerAge2021 ContractTeamGPGAxGAFAFSv%xFSv%dFSv%GSAx
Petr Mrazek28UFACAR1223.133.83422.6194.5391.992.5410.73
Philipp Grubauer28UFACOL4076.580.761336.194.2793.960.324.26
Jonathan Bernier31UFADET2465.667.41008.3193.4993.320.181.8
Darcy Kuemper30$4,500,000ARI2767.5766.361021.1193.3893.5-0.12-1.21
Elvis Merzlikins26$4,000,000CBJ2868.7766.341104.8593.7894-0.22-2.43
Linus Ullmark26UFABUF2049.0146.75814.9693.9994.26-0.28-2.26
James Reimer32UFACAR2257.654.9824.4393.0193.34-0.33-2.7
Antti Raanta31UFAARI1238.7936.88559.3493.0793.41-0.34-1.91
Alexandar Georgiev24$2,425,000NYR1943.9740.78667.6593.4193.89-0.48-3.19
Thomas Greiss34$3,600,000DET3478.4771.911250.7293.7394.25-0.52-6.56
Vitek Vanecek24$716,667WSH3794.4886.031441.993.4594.03-0.59-8.45
Braden Holtby30$4,300,000VAN2176.9868.371000.8892.3193.17-0.86-8.61
Jaroslav Halak35UFABOS1946.2838.92676.4693.1694.25-1.09-7.36
Frederik Andersen30UFATOR2470.2459.05928.6492.4493.64-1.2-11.19
Joonas Korpisalo26$2,800,000CBJ3396.6877.961258.5792.3293.81-1.49-18.72

My hard nos are: Bernier, Reimer, Greiss, Mrazek and Holtby for combinations of age, injury history and recent results. I know Bernier looked good in Detroit, but I don’t buy that as indicative of what he can do in serious games the team is trying to win.

I assume Andersen and Grubauer will command too much either relative to their value or the Leafs budget.

I think the real choices are:

Ullmark, Kuemper, Raanta, Georgiev, Halak and Korpisalo.

And given the contract status, the likely trade cost, and their chances of being good enough, I’d order that list as:

Georgiev: heavily contingent on the trade cost, but likely worth an amount that would make everyone very upset. Recent rumours indicate that the Rangers early very high price has come down some. His dFSv% over five seasons (or the portion he played) is 0.23. Jack Campbell is 0.28.

Halak: He’s done this job very well, but his age is the question. dFSv% over five seasons is 0.03.

Ullmark: If his bad years are mostly Buffalo-itis, then he’s still a big gamble. dFSv% over five seasons is -0.61.

Kuemper: The AAV is way too high, but he’s been good enough for the task. dFSv% over five seasons is 0.2.

Korpisalo: Really wide variation in results, but maybe. dFSv% over five seasons is -0.91.

Raanta: depends on the cost, and if he even really wants to leave Arizona. dFSv% over five seasons is 0.62.

Who do you like and why? I know Ullmark is a popular choice, but he’s seems like he’s getting more than Mr. 23 Games as a UFA, so he’ll cost Kuemper money without the track record. AAV is why the asset price of Georgiev might just be worth paying as well as why Grubauer is way out of reach.

The Leafs should have another goalie by noon on Wednesday. If they don’t, then Frederik Andersen’s agent may just give Kyle Dubas first refusal on whatever he’s been offered elsewhere. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that or to a game of chicken with trade partners that lasts all summer.