The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that they have signed backup goaltender Garret Sparks to a one-year extension worth $750,000.

Sparks, 25, won the Leafs’ backup job last fall after a couple of sterling seasons with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.  The organization promptly lost much of its goaltending depth behind Sparks, as goalies Calvin Pickard and Curtis McElhinney were both claimed on waivers.

Garret has had an up and down season thus far, putting up an unsightly .902 save percentage in 14 games played.  He hasn’t been totally abject, but also hasn’t dazzled. McElhinney’s stellar season with the Carolina Hurricanes has occasioned some bitter comments from Leaf fans about whether the team chose to keep the right goalie.  Sparks is a highly athletic goaltender who can make brilliant saves and also glaring bobbles; his save percentage on high danger shots is actually very respectable, but he’s struggled with shots from distance.  Time will tell if there’s more improvement to be found there, or whether Sparks is at his peak as a good AHL starter/mediocre NHL backup.

Nonetheless, this is a no-brainer for the Leafs. Aside from Sparks and starter Frederik Andersen, the organization has one professional goalie with an NHL past (Michael Hutchinson) and none with a likely NHL future.  Prospects Ian Scott (playing for the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL) and Joseph Woll (playing for Boston College in the NCAA) are still a long way from taking starts with the Leafs.  Toronto sustaining its backup for a cheap, no-risk deal—the salary is buriable should the Leafs find someone better—is standard practice.

You can see some comparable contracts to Sparks’ here, a good reminder that these kind of deals happen around the league all the time.  Still, it’s a fine enough bit of work for an NHL GM on a March Tuesday.

And that clarifies the one-way nature of the deal, but it would be, this year on his current contract is one-way as well.