Kyle Dubas and Brandon Pridham are at it again with the extension of Garret Sparks. The Leafs so-so backup goalie has been inked for another year on a cap friendly deal to levy the hit of Patrick Marleau
Boiled down to as simple of a reason as I could find, the Maple Leafs are leveraging a low-risk position, the backup goalie, to accommodate Patrick Marleau’s $6 million contract for it’s final year in 2019/2020.
Rather than dip into free agency for a low-value position like a maximum 20-game backup goalie, Dubas is riding out Sparks. Sparks is a completely adequate backup for Frederick Andersen and at $750k is a bargain.
The gamble is that Andersen won’t get injured. If that should happen, Toronto will be forced into a Sparks/Kaskisuo tandem that just about no one would be confident in.
The benefit of Sparks over a free agent is that he is homegrown. He knows the coaches, he knows the systems, he knows the building, he knows the team. He’s another stable player who helps solidify a team that will likely see quite a bit of turnover before the start of next season.
As well, Sparks signing this extension now allows for yet another piece of the puzzle to fall into place for Dubas before he tries to resign Mitch Marner, Andreas Johnsson, and Kasperi Kapanen.
The upside of a one year deal is that band-aid style resolution it gives the team; a low risk, apply as you need it smart bit of business. Should Joseph Woll and Ian Scott make the jump to the AHL or ECHL for next season then the contingency plan is essentially in effect, and Sparks’ one-year deals stop.
It’s shrewd business from Dubas and Pridham who are trying to shoehorn the top end talent into this deep, young team. Even Sparks’ harshest critics surely wouldn’t have a problem with this deal if it helped sign one of Marner, Johnsson, or Kapanen, right?