When todays trade news broke that toronto had sent Matt Martin to the Islanders for goaltender Eamon McAdam, a former 3rd round pick in 2013, I thought now would be a good time to access the leafs logjam of minor league goaltenders.
I think it is quite clear that this trade was nothing more than than a salary dump, as McAdam doesn't project as more than an ECHL goalie. But this addition does provide insurance should toronto lose one or both of their AHL award winning goalies to waivers later this year.
The two headed monster that made up the marlies calder winning team Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard are both waiver prone next year. The were both the recipients of the Hap Holmes award by posting the lowest combined goals against average in the league. Sparks also won the AHL's award for most outstanding goaltender this past season.
After looking at the stats for both of these young goalies you can understand why many in the hockey community think that at least one team might take a flyer on one of these goalies, where they could turn out to be a future number 1. Pickard comes with 97 games of NHL experience mostly playing on a bad Avalanche team.
I'm of the belief that toronto should promote either Pickard or Sparks to be the backup to andersen next year. I imagine most people would disagree with me, especially with McElhinney putting on a strong showing last year and what happened with the Jhonas Enroth debacle the year prior. But McElhinney is 35 and I think now is the time to start thinking towards the future, next year one or both of our top NHL ready goalie prospects may be gone and we won't have any internal replacements for McElhinney.
There have been rumors that Dubas has been shopping around his two AHL champion goalies, but the goalie market is usually soft and I would think the best you could hope for in return is a 3rd or 4th round pick, at the most. And those assets are way less valuable than the players these goalies could turn out to be. Dubas could also choose to roll the dice and see if they will make it through waivers after training camp, teams usually only carry two goalies on their roster so there is a chance they make it through. But I would think any rebuilding team would take a chance on a young goalie that has a good upside, there wouldn't be anything to lose from their vantage point.
If I had to choose which goalie I would have on the leafs roster next year I would choose sparks as I see him having the higher upside. Also the countless years of battling to get to the point he is at now shows a lot of resilience. He was a late draft pick and after finishing his career with the Guelph storm he didn't make the marlies and was sent to the ECHL. He worked his way from the ECHL to being the backup on the marlies and now has been the primary goalie for a few seasons and capped it off with a championship title. I think the time is right for him to move to the next level, and I shutter at the thought of losing him to waivers for nothing, or selling him for virtually nothing.