This afternoon, the Maple Leafs officially activated Frederik Andersen from IR and sent Michael Hutchinson to the AHL.
As of 3 p.m., that leaves the Marlies with four goaltenders. Some movement of extras to the Newfoundland Growlers is likely to come later today or tomorrow.
On Sunday at Maple Leafs practice, Michael Hutchinson worked with goalie coach Steve Briere, but it was Frederik Andersen and Garret Sparks in their regular spots for the practice itself, and both told reporters they felt ready to play. This seems to indicate that the emergency is over, and Michael Hutchinson will be going back to the AHL very soon.
But does he have to go? And if so when?
First the whole timeline, with all information compiled from Cap Friendly’s waiver and assignment trackers with a little clarification from NHL.com:
Hutchinson began the season on the Florida Panthers, and they put him through waivers on September 21 along with a healthy list of other players. He cleared the next day. No lost backups for them.
Florida sent Hutchinson to the minors on September 29, and he stayed there, playing for their AHL team, until October 8 when he was recalled to the NHL. The previous day, Roberto Luongo, who was hurt on opening day for the Panthers, was put on IR. That recall of Hutchinson is listed in the Panthers official release as an emergency recall.
For the full story on the two types of recall, go here:
Understanding Emergency Recall vs Regular Recall
During that emergency recall, which lasted until November 5, Hutchinson played in four games. He was called up again on emergency recall on November 24, and sent back on December 4, but he saw no game action.
As the article above details emergency recalls have a games played counter in effect to determine how long the player stays exempt from waivers, but they don’t have a days in the NHL counter like regular recalls do. so we don’t need to add up any days today.
Hutchinson was in the AHL at the time of the trade to Toronto, and he stayed there until January 3, when he was recalled to the Leafs on an emergency basis.
Since that time he’s played in five games for the Leafs.
Frederik Anderson was placed on IR on January 3, and he has not yet been activated off of IR, despite participating in some practices. Garret Sparks, who suffered a concussion in practice, has never been on IR. It’s not required to place injured players on IR, all it does is allow emergency recalls and reduce the official roster size.
Speaking of that roster size, Tyler Ennis was placed on IR on December 24. As of this morning, with Andersen still on IR, the Leafs have 22 of an allowed 23-man roster.
So, assuming Sparks is well enough to play, Andersen is about to be activated off of IR, and Hutchinson has played four plus five games on emergency recall and can’t play again without losing his waiver exemption ... nothing may happen.
Because of the roster size — the Leafs have chosen to play much of this season with no extra healthy forward on hand — they can keep Hutchinson with the Leafs beyond today. They may choose to exercise some caution and get their two regular goalies through one game before they decide to send Hutchinson off to the AHL again.
They can do that for up to 29 days by converting Hutchinson’s recall to a regular one as discussed in the article linked above.
The Marlies are about to embark on the Boat Show road trip. This is where the Coca-Cola Coliseum gets turned into an imaginary lake for boats to bob around on, and the Marlies play on the road for a week or so. They begin in Charlotte on January 19, and that gives the Leafs and the Marlies time to decide which goalie goes where before they even have to leave Toronto. But it’s not like Charlotte is that far away, and the Marlies play close to home for the rest of the road trip.
Right now the Marlies are blessed with three healthy goalies, and if that holds, and Kasimir Kaskisuo is done playing yo-yo backup, one of the three will likely be sent to the Growlers fairly soon.
The Leafs have five more games beginning tonight and running to the All-Star Game weekend. The AHL All-Star Game is the same weekend, so there’s no rush, but all the dominoes that fell when Andersen was hurt can go back where they belong. The only possible fly in any ointment here is that there is one quick Leafs road trip to Florida to play back-to-back games on January 17 and 18. Both goalies on that trip had better be really healthy and in game shape, for sure.
The timing seems to have worked out really well for everyone, and Hutchinson might well be back in the AHL as early as today, bumping someone else back to St. John’s.