I regret to inform you that the Toronto Maple Leafs once again have a goaltending situation.
Starter Frederik Andersen hasn’t played since March 19, as he’s been out with an undisclosed lingering injury.
When he has been in the Leafs net this year, he’s hardly looked himself, putting up just a .897 save percentage in his 23 appearances.
Jack Campbell, who came into the season as the team’s 1B netminder, has been close to perfect so far: he’s 8-0 in his eight starts, with a .951 save percentage to boot.
But he’s never been a starter in the playoffs, and anyone who’s followed hockey long enough knows that a hot goalie can easily cool off.
To add to the Leafs’ issues, it appears Campbell’s got some injury issues of his own, as he’s had a nearly three-week stint on the LTIR in February and has yet to play more than four games in a single month.
And then there’s Michael Hutchinson, who’s 4-2-1 with a .919 save percentage in eight games of his own this year, but has rarely inspired confidence with his play in Toronto, including an .886 save percentage in his 15 appearances last year.
With one week to go before the April 12 NHL trade deadline, the Leafs could be wise to look for some insurance. Should the Leafs choose to search outside for another member of their goaltending unit, here are five names that could find themselves in Toronto’s net moving forward.
1. David Rittich (Calgary Flames)
Cap hit: $2.75M (UFA 2021)
2020-21 stats: 4-7-1, .904 SV %
“Big Save Dave” as he’s nicknamed, David Rittich would be the easiest candidate to acquire. The Calgary Flames’ playoff odds are under 10% just about anywhere you look, and new head coach Darryl Sutter hasn’t really been able to do much to right what is a sinking ship.
Rittich has been relatively solid over his career, and doesn’t have the mileage on him that most other goalies his age might.
With a strong Leafs team at both ends of the ice, bringing in a guy like Rittich could be the easiest way to have a small move that could make a big difference.
2. Darcy Kuemper (Arizona Coyotes)
Cap hit: $4.5M UFA 2022
2020-21 stats: 7-7-2, .914 SV%
A veteran of 230 NHL games, you have to feel for a guy like Darcy Kuemper: he’s quietly been one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league, but never had much of a stage to do it on.
In last year’s Western Conference bubble, he played nine of his 18 career playoff games, and his first in five full years. He’s put up a .913 save percentage in those contests, to go along with a .918 save percentage in his regular season stints.
With Arizona currently on the outside looking in once again and Kuemper with one year left on his contract after this, there’s a decent chance he could be had for the right price if the Leafs are willing to pay for a guy that could return next year as well.
3. Jake Allen (Montreal Canadiens)
Cap hit: 2.875M (UFA 2021)
2020-21 stats: 5-3-4, .922 SV%
Hear me out: it’s obvious trading a quality goaltender to your biggest rival isn’t exactly the move that wins you too many fans, and Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin hasn’t always been the most popular executive in the league.
But it’s also hard to imagine the Canadiens run anybody but Carey Price out for their playoff games if they qualify, regardless of his on-ice performance this season.
Allen has been a great asset for the Canadiens to date this year, but if they need to pull Price come playoff time against a better opponent, they’re already in a dire enough position that makes it unlikely they’d have the juice for a long playoff run.
4. Jonathan Bernier (Detroit Red Wings)
Cap hit: $3M (UFA 2021)
2020-21 stats: 8-6-0, .917 SV%
Jonathan Bernier returning to the Maple Leafs’ net would be objectively hilarious for many reasons: one, they’d be bringing back a guy who already spent three seasons in Toronto, with each of those three teams finishing sixth, seventh, and eighth in the Atlantic Division respectively.
There was also the whole “not knowing who Nelson Mandela was” incident that is forever tied to his reputation as a Leaf.
But in case you’ve missed it: he’s actually still quite a serviceable NHL goalie, having put up a 72-66-15 record and a .911 save percentage on some pretty awful teams since leaving the Leafs.
He’s currently battling his own injury troubles which might make this a long shot, but if he’s healthy… he might just be on Toronto’s shortlist.
5. Scott Wedgewood (New Jersey Devils)
Cap hit: $700K (UFA 2021)
2020-21 stats: 3-5-3, .914 SV%
To be fully honest, it’s unlikely the Leafs see a 28-year-old Scott Wedgewood as their net saviour. His resume isn’t on the same level as their own Campbell, he has no playoff experience at the pro level outside of 14 AHL games and he’s only played 35 NHL games to this point.
But if they’re just looking for “a guy” that could be thrown into the fire if needed? Wedgewood’s passed most tests he’s had in his career to date, putting up a .907 mark in his 35 career games.
He’s nothing spectacular, but Wedgewood vs. The World would be one heck of a movie title if he became the Leafs’ new go-to guy.