Who Will Put a Stop to the Leafs’ Goaltending Carousel?

Past Goaltending

The Leafs’ abysmal goaltending carousel over the last decade has been well documented. Ever since the departure of Eddie Belfour, the Leafs have looked like the Flyers in terms of the goalie graveyard they have become. At one point they drafted Tuuka Rask in the first round and the Leafs looked like they might have a future star in the crease. That was before good old John Ferguson Jr. traded him for Andrew Raycroft, who was replaced by Vesa Toskala. Remember him?

Yeah, you remember him. Toskala was later replaced by 37-year-old J.S. Giguere. Who was replaced by Jonas Gustavsson. Anyway, you get the picture. Where are the Leafs at now?

James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier

After the Leafs realized they didn’t have much in Gustavsson, they turned to James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. Reimer won the starting job in the 2013 lockout shortened season and brought the Leafs to the playoffs. The Leafs brought the heavily favourited Boston Bruins to a game 7 and then nothing happened. The Leafs just lost in a very regular game where they definitely didn’t give up a three goal lead in the last 12 minutes of the third period. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. It didn’t happen. Anyway, the Leafs decided that Reimer wasn’t the answer anymore and traded for Jonathan Bernier in that off season, who is also quite clearly not the answer in the crease. Despite Reimer’s strong play of late, he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and it is not likely that he will be back, at least for the long-term plan. I found this video hilarious along with the title.

Now What?

This is the biggest question mark around the future of the Leafs in my mind. They have quickly built their prospect pool up to one of the best in hockey, but they still don’t have a sure-fire NHL starter waiting in the weeds. Many people had their eye on the Marlies’ Chris Gibson, but the Leafs management clearly did not. They traded him on the first day of training camp along with four other fringe prospects to the Islanders for Michael Grabner. The Leafs clearly did not have any of these prospects in their future plans, so they traded them for Grabner who is in the last year of his contract. The idea here is that Grabner would have a good year and the Leafs could flip him at the trade deadline for a draft pick or two. This hasn’t exactly worked out yet. Anyway, this trade left two options for the future of the Leafs’ net.

Garret Sparks 

After spending the 2013-14 backing up Drew MacIntyre for the Toronto Marlies, Garret Sparks spent last season as the starting goaltender for the Leafs’ ECHL affiliate Orlando Solar Bears. He had a solid year finishing with a 21-7-3 record, a .936 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.34. The 2011 seventh round pick (#190 overall) made the jump back up to the Marlies this season and has run away with the starting job. The 22-year-old goaltender is rolling right along with the Marlies’ hot start, putting up a record of 8-2-1 to go along with his .938 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average. Sparks is also 6’3, which is  a very important trait for a goaltender in the eyes of NHL executives and scouts.

Antoine Bibeau

The Leafs drafted Bibeau in the sixth round of the 2013 NHL entry draft with the 172nd overall pick. While Bibeau is a year younger than Sparks, he built up a little more hype around himself, winning the goaltender of the tournament award at the 2014 Memorial Cup Tournament. He played 31 games for the Marlies last year, putting up a .913 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average to go with his 15-10-5 record. Pretty good for a rookie, not great, but pretty good. The 6’2 goaltender was viewed as having a really good chance at running away with the Marlies’ starting job this season, but he has faltered a little bit. While he has a 6-1 record, his save percentage is very pedestrian at .881 and his goals against average is not great either at 3.26. It will be hard to get back on track the way Sparks is playing, but Bibeau still has a lot of potential.

They Both Answered My Important Questions Today

Sparks and Bibeau took over the Marlies twitter account today to answer questions from the fans. I live for this stuff. They didn’t answer my question about how much product William Nylander uses in his hair, though, which was disappointing.




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