The Toronto Maple Leafs are apparently shopping backup goalie, Garrett Sparks as the NHL draft closes in. If the Leafs can move him and free up some cap space *cough Connor Brown cough* these are the top free agents they could invest in.
These picks are based on the Leafs needing to rest Frederick Anderson for 20-25 games this season, keeping him at 55-60 starts next season.
The longtime Carolina Hurricanes goalie moved to Chicago last season as a backup to Corey Crawford. Injury ended up forcing Ward to start 33 games for the Blackhawks in which he played very well, better than you’d maybe assume from a 35-year-old “backup goalie”
Stats last season prove that Ward is still viable: 16 wins, 3.67 GAA, .897 save percentage. While far from elite, the Blackhawks are a shell of their former selves, especially defensively, so take those numbers with a grain of salt. He’s an acrobatic showman with plenty of veteran experience. He’d be a solid shout.
Potential deal: 2-years $4 million total
A far cry from how he looked when backing up Henrik Lundqvist or originally with the Oilers in that one good season, Cam Talbot’s stock is rock bottom right now. He’s coming off of a $4.1m deal he signed in Edmonton but that is far too inflated. At 31 years old, there are lots of miles left in him, and the Leafs could get a value deal out of him in free agency.
Last season between Edmonton and Philadelphia he had 11 wins, 3.40 GAA, and a save percentage of .892. Pretty bad numbers but he was cast as a starter. Could he improve on a better team with only 20-25 games to worry about?
Potential deal: 1-year $2.6 million
Petr Mrazek is quite familiar with the tandem role as he played 40 games last season with Carolina and helped them with their playoff run as well. At just 27 years old, Mrazek is a very interesting target for the Leafs. He is apparently a bit of a headcase, but if you lay out the plan and he agrees to sign in Toronto there are few surprises that could set him off.
Last season he registered 23 wins with four shutouts, a 2.39 GAA, and a save percentage of .914. These numbers are good… but almost too good for a tandem situation in Toronto. IF the Leafs can get him, and that’s a big if as he’ll likely be offered a starting job, it would be quite the signing of intent.
Potential deal: 1-year $3 million
The man who stole the spotlight from proposed franchise goaltender Corey Schneider, Keith Kinkaid could be the ideal man for the job behind Frederik Andersen. He’s 29 and offers the perfect balance between young and athletic and tenured and a veteran. New Jersey ended up trading him to Columbus last season as their playoff hopes dwindled, but he wasn’t signed by the Blue Jackets, so open season!
He played in 41 games winning 15 with 3 shutouts, a GAA of 3.36, and save percentage of .891. Again, like Ward and Talbot, the numbers aren’t great. If you look at the bigger picture, however, he could be a steal.
Potential deal: 2-year $3.25 million total
The big curveball is the cap not rising (as much as believed) which limits the room Dubas can play with on a backup goalie. Originally, if the cap rose to the proposed $84 million, the extra two million could allow some extra space for a veteran or just better option than Sparks. Now, Sparks’ $750,000 cost may be the only thing keeping him on the roster.
Also, Marner reportedly playing hardball squeezes the Leafs even more. Apparently, Marner isn’t willing to accept anything under $11 million, which, even if the Leafs wanted to upgrade $500k on their backup, hamstrings them. If Marner does hold out, the Leafs need to move Marleau and Zaitsev to better help the entire team.