With goaltending notables such as Tomas Vokoun, Tim Thomas and Martin Brodeur now off of the table, everyone in Leafs Nation is wondering what the best possible goaltending option for the Toronto Maple Leafs is for next season.
Brian Burke has already told the media that he will not overpay for a number one goaltender and that he still has faith in James Reimer to be the future netminder going forward. If Burke is offered a quality goaltender in exchange for two assets or so, it’s debatable as to whether he’ll want to give up so much. Considering Leaf fans want playoffs and they want them now, you would figure Burke would pull off a trade for a goaltender in order to avoid having an even hotter seat.
Let’s take a look at the goaltending help that could come from inside the organization.
James Reimer (Drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2006 (4/99):
Winning a stellar 20 games down the stretch of the Maple Leafs’ 2010-2011 season, mouths gaped open in disbelief from all over the NHL. When it looked like the Leafs’ playoff hopes were no longer plausible, Reimer stepped into the limelight and almost carried the Leafs to their first playoff birth since 2004. Even more impressive was the fact that he posted a 2.60 goals against average over that run despite playing behind a defense corps that was notorious for turning the puck over.
With this all said and done, it looked like the Leafs had found their number one going forward. The next season, Reimer returned between the pipes and looked as good as always until suffering a neck injury from the knee of Brian Gionta on October 22. Although some speculate it was a concussion, it has been recently confirmed by doctors that it was in fact a neck injury. This is very good news for Leafs’ fans, especially since he has been symptom-free this entire off-season.
Once he returned from injury, he never quite found his groove again and finished the season with a .500 record. With his goals against average still a decent 2.83 during his first two partial NHL seasons and being healthy again, Reimer looks like he could reclaim the throne.
He has been working out very diligently and has been described as seeming more determined than ever.
Ben Scrivens (Undrafted free agent signed by the Maple Leafs in 2010):
Throughout Scrivens’ career as a goaltender, it seems he has seen nothing but success.
It all started at Cornell in the ECAC where he posted a GAA of 1.93 over four seasons. Making the jump to the AHL, he finished first in regular season GAA with a 2.04 average and took his Marlies all the way to the Calder Cup Final this past season.
His 12-game NHL tryout left many things to be desired (3.13 GAA and .903 save percentage), but those numbers aren’t as mediocre as they could have been. If he were to get a real shot in the NHL this year and play 20-30 games, we could possibly see him show us why he won’t go away despite all of the Reimer and Luongo talk.
Scrivens is still only 25 years old and the future is looking bright for this young netminder.
Jussi Rynnas (Undrafted free agent signed by the Maple Leafs in 2010):
After putting up great numbers over the course of a season in the Finnish Elite League (2.50 GAA), Rynnas looked like a steal of a prospect when the Leafs signed him. His six-foot-fix frame makes him especially interesting, although at 205 pounds it is evident there is room for muscle growth.
Entering the AHL in the 2010-2011 season, he finished the season with a 2.71 GAA and also posted an impressive 2.55 GAA this season. With Scrivens, however, his number of starts were obviously very limited.
Having played just two games in the NHL so far, it isn’t fair to judge him based on those stats. If Rynnas can continue to work hard and excel in the AHL, it’s not hard to imagine him possibly coming up and getting some action this season with the Leafs. This will most likely only occur in the event of injuries, but it’s possible. At the same time, he still looks like he could use two or three more years to fully develop.
Roberto Luongo (Drafted by the NY Islanders in 1997 (1/4):
The speculation around Luongo has been extremely heavy since he gave Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis that short list of teams in which he would accept ta trade to. This has especially increased recently as he has spoken to the media and said it is time to move on.
The Leafs were on Luongo’s shortlist at first, but it looks like they may be out of the picture now.
Luongo has expressed interest in playing for Florida despite the plethora of goalies the team already has. It would make sense for him because he played well in Florida; however, it looks unlikely with the crowded crease. They would also most likely not be willing to take on that lucrative contract with Jacob Markstrom looking almost NHL ready and Theodore still performing for now.
It’s also no secret that Vancouver’s asking price has been extremely high as Gillis has praised Luongo as one of the game’s elite.
Gillis would be looking to make a hockey deal, but the problem he faces is that teams are only nibbling on the thought of a hockey deal for Luongo and it seems as if Luongo is getting a little bit impatient. With his contract and age, some might consider a trade for him to be good for the next two to four years. After that, salary dump seems to be what teams would be expecting.
Luongo is undoubtedly a great goaltender with a gold medal and Stanley Cup finalist credentials. It will be interesting to see what comes of his scenario.
Jose Theodore (Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1994 (2/44):
Even though he is currently 35 years old, Theodore has posted great numbers since returning to form in 2007.
Some would say that Theodore would only be a mentor to Reimer if the Leafs were to acquire him. He could, however, overtake Reimer and become the Leafs’ top goalie if he remains as consistent as he’s been.
The only catch is that the Canucks would probably have to deal Luongo to the Panthers in order for Theodore to become available. At the same time, Theodore could be available anyway since Jacob Markstrom has shown that he is about a year or so away from being a starting goaltender.
Jacob Markstrom (Drafted by Florida Panthers in 2008 (2/31):
Although he is not a veteran goaltender, Markstrom is a goaltender who looks better and better each year. After posting back-to-back successful seasons for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League in 2008 and 2009, he came over to North America to get used to its brand of hockey.
Markstrom excelled in the AHL and even saw success in his NHL mini-tryout this past season. If the Panthers acquire Luongo, Markstrom could become available and can be considered a blue-chip prospect.
It would probably take quite a few assets to acquire such a rising star, but it looks like it would be worth it. Markstrom continues to get better and better each year and at age 22, he has many more years to come.