Welcome back! I'm sure you missed us. After a brief hiatus we're back and better than ever (which is a good thing because we really weren't that good to begin with). Since we last spoke, I've seen a pair of Leaf games at the ACC including what feels like Reimer's only loss (Boston) and Reimer's solid play got me thinking about the goaltending of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed that the Leaf crease is a crowded place these days. Gustavsson was sent down on a conditioning stint which leaves Giguere and Reimer to split starts until Giguere gets hurt or Reimer falters.
If you've seen many games over the past couple of months then you've probably noticed that Reimer has been playing some really great hockey. Giguere has been inconsistent, playing a solid brand of goaltending one night and channelling the spirit of Vesa Toskala the next. Gustavsson has had some serious difficulties lately and hopefully this time in the AHL will clear some things up for him.
I was trying to think back to what I thought things would look like for the Leafs in net at the beginning of the year. Giguere was supposed to be the starter with Gustavsson probably starting about 25-30 games. I expected Reimer and Rynnas to split starts in the AHL with Rynnas eventually overtaking Reimer. With all of this going on, let's not forget that Ben Scrivens is developing in the ECHL. In the shortterm, I had the goalies ordered as;
Suffice to say, I feel a bit differently today.
Reimer has been great. Last night's shutout gives him a save percentage of .940. Think about that for a second. That means that if Reimer faces 20 shots, he'll typically allow one goal. Wow. Giguere is old and has a save percentage of .900. Gustavsson is young (but not that young) and has a .890 save percentage with a GAA of over 3.
In the AHL, Scrivens is 5-2-3 with a .927 save percentage while Rynnas has been more or less average.
That's what we've got right now. Only Giguere is in the twilight of his career so any of the other four goalies could improve from what we've seen so far. I'd still call them 'prospects'.
With this in our cupboard, what should our plan be in net? The only choice we have to make with any immediacy is on Giguere. He says he'd waive his NTC if Burke asked him to and his family was ok with it. If we don't deal him, then he's a UFA and can sign with anyone. Could we still use Giguere as the veteran 'rock' heading into next year?
I'm torn right down the middle on this one. On the one hand, I'd like to see each of our four goalies get enough starts that they can continue to develop. I also feel like the odds of getting a save percentage of .900 or better out of two of our prospects seems likely. If all Giguere can give us is that, then why keep him around?
On the other hand, Giguere is a proven talent. He's good in the dressing room (and all of that mushy stuff) and he's proof positive that Allaire's coaching works. Add to this that he's a veteran that is probably a little more mentally tough than any of the kids at this stage and it might be worth keeping him.
Obviously the decision will probably be contingent on what he could fetch in the trade market and what he's hoping to make in the offseason. If the math makes sense (low trade yield and low contract demands) then we'll keep him and if not, he'll be dealt.
Of all the decisions that will be made this offseason, this might be both the most important and the most complex.