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Maple Leafs sign Kasimir Kaskisuo to an extension

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The ranks of AHL goalies is beginning to swell for next year. Training camp should be one big goalie hunger games.

Kasimir Kaskisuo in goal for the Orlando Solar Bears
Once the Solar Bears best goalie, he spent the season in Chicago with the Wolves.
Orlando Solar Bears

The Maple Leafs have a lot of goalies, and you’re forgiven if you’ve forgotten about Kasimir Kaskisuo, but today the Leafs made him their first RFA to be signed to an extension.

The deal is reported to be a two-year two-way contract with an AAV of $675,000. There’s no word yet on the interesting question, which is how high his AHL salary is.

Now there is:

At $100,000, that’s half the AHL salary Sparks is commanding this season.

Kaskisuo was signed by the Leafs in the spring of 2016 as an NCAA free agent. He only spent two years in college after struggling to get an opportunity in the crowded crease for his home club, Jokerit. Jokerit had advanced from the Liiga to the KHL too, so his chances there had dried right up. The move to a US college was a very smart one.

Since joining the Leafs on a two-year ELC, he’s played 34 games in the ECHL for the Orlando Solar Bears, mostly in the 2016-2017 season, but this year, he spent the bulk of his time on the Chicago Wolves in the AHL.

The same old situation he faced with Jokerit appeared in Toronto again when the Leafs traded for Calvin Pickard. Pickard — at that time under contract to the Vegas Golden Knights and having cleared waivers to be demoted to their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves — was a surplus goalie until about five minutes after he was traded. Both Vegas and the Wolves then suffered the epic list of goalie injuries that saw them dig into the WHL for a draftee to play on the NHL team.

The Leafs loaned Kaskisuo to the Wolves to solve two problems — the shortage in Chicago, and the surplus in Toronto. And possibly to salve the sting to George McPhee of having made a hasty decision (in hindsight) in moving out Pickard.

Kaskisuo had good results in Chicago, with a .914 Save Percentage in 28 games, but by the time the playoffs rolled around, most of Chicago’s regular goalies were healthy and he saw no playoff action. There was too big a crowd still in Toronto, so he finished his season early.

By signing him now, the signal is clear. The AHL crease is up for grabs in Toronto, and so too is the NHL backup position. The only goalie not under contract for next year is Pickard, and he’s an RFA still, and playing still, so we shouldn’t expect those contract talks to begin until the AHL playoffs are over. Curtis McElhinney and Garret Sparks are both on one-way deals next year at $850,000 and $675,000 respectively.

Frederik Andersen is not going to have to play much in the pre-season, but the competition for the rest of the spots is going to be fierce.

Kasimir Kaskisuo can’t be intimidated by facing a crowd all looking to occupy the same crease. He’s done it several times before. He turns 25 just as the season begins this fall, so he’s not as young as he seems, just going by pro experience. He still has room to grow, but right now, he’s a very good AHL goalie and an asset to the team.