The writing’s on the wall; Goodbye Garret Sparks, hello Michael Hutchinson!

Looks like the Leafs found their backup goalie for next season and still somehow saved money over Garret Sparks’ contract! The Leafs inked Michael Hutchinson to a one-year deal worth $700k and it’s becoming clear, Garret Sparks time with the Maple Leafs is quickly coming to an end.

We all saw this coming, right? Last season he played in 20 games for the Leafs and put up some sub-standard numbers. A 3.15 GAA, a .902 save percentage, 8/20 quality starts, allowed 4+ goals in seven games including 6 GA in three separate occasions. Those aren’t numbers that can be associated with a backup keeper on an elite team. The Leafs can’t trust the player right now, and Hutchinson looks like a better option as Andersen’s relief.

Hutchinson, last season, put up some better numbers, albeit at the AHL level. In his 5 games with the Leafs last season, he put up a .914 save percentage, and 2.64 GAA. In the AHL he posted a .910 S% and a GAA of 2.70. While not elite, Dubas, who has more than a solid pulse on the AHL team, has more faith in Hutchinson as Andersen’s back up and this is probably due to his NHL experience over Sparks’.

With the Raptor’s success with Kawhi Leonard’s load management, I could see a shift to resting Frederik Andersen more this season. Instead of mostly back-to-back games off, getting Andersen down to less than 60 games is a must for a deep playoff run.

Goalie tandems are also all the rage these days in the NHL so why not implement one in Toronto too? The next step after Hutchinson’s signing has to be defense focused. Improve team defense and watch the goalie numbers skyrocket. All the best, Sparks, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Edmonton next season!

The plan is now set for the uncharacteristically strong Leafs goalie depth chart. Andersen and Hutchinson at the NHL level, then Kasimir Kaskisuo and Joseph Woll at the AHL level. Mix in Ian Scott to the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL and we’re all set. All three teams are poised for championship runs and the internal competition and depth should keep every player motivated to take the next step.

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Adam Smith

Avid fan of The Toronto Maple Leafs, West Ham United, Minnesota Vikings, and Toronto Blue Jays. Involved in all things sports from playing (poorly) to tracking on twitter, my love for the teams I support tends to bleed into all aspects of my life!

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