*record with Ottawa
Brian “1 thru 5 holes” Elliott was traded before the trade deadline in a goalie swap for Craig Anderson. Bryan Murphy is a thief. Elliott was never intended to play more than 15 to 20 games a season so it was a rough situation to be put in. We wish him well. Evaluation No longer a factor going forward.(fuck yeah, Bryan!)
Pascal “Hasek Pt II” Leclaire was supposed to be the starting goaltender this year and things started out that way. He was perhaps the only player in the early goings who was effective in his role. He played stellar hockey while the team in front of him failed to yield any support. What was once thought to be a groin injury occurred on a seemingly innocuous stoppage of the puck. It has since been re-evaluated as an extremely difficult to diagnose hip injury. He was playing lights-out until that unfortunate development. Leclaire was waived and has not been offered a new contract. Evaluation: No longer a factor going forward.
Curtis “Even the Irish can’t pronounce it” McElhinney had an interesting route to Ottawa. Traded by the Anaheim Ducks for Dan Ellis in a backups trade then - 5 hours later - waived by TB and subsequently collected by Ottawa as their backup going forward (who paid for him this year??). McElheinney, you may recall, has a little relationship to the Leafs goaltending history in that he was traded from Anaheim to the Ducks in exchange for Vesa “Doctor, I smell” Toastkala. McElhinney played reasonably well in the games he started. He appears to be a capable backup, but has never played more than 14 games. McElhinney is presently unsigned by the Senators and thus this Evaluation Unclear how he will be a factor going forward.
Jonas “The Non-ster” Gustavsson was once proclaimed by Brian Burke as ‘The best goaltender not playing in the NHL’. That’s some awesome vision on Burkie’s part. A Francois “I’m still relevant!” Allaire type goalie, The Non-ster is a questionable backup to a first year rookie. Huge misstep by Burke in signing this guy. Expect him to play portions of back-to-back games when the opponent is not one of Boston, Montreal or Ottawa. Evaluation: Could become the starter if (when) Reimer’s bubble bursts.
J.S. “I <3 Burkie” Giguere was acquired from Anaheim for Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala. Who was the dumber GM in that situation? Draw. Will Burke’s penchant for signing and keeping his friends on payroll despite abysmal performances (more on Wilson later) keep Giguere as an option in net? Brodeur never needed pads his size. Will Giggy retire? Will he stick around as a completely unnecessary ‘assistant goalie coach’ or will he get a modest 1-2 year contract as insurance. Evaluation: Unknown factor going forward.
And now we arrive at the main event - the starters.
First up is “future Hall of Famer”, “best rookie goalie in, well, forever”, “the Great Mormon Hope”, “It’s up to Him” James “Optimus” Reimer. Ok, he’s got a cool nickname and a pending trademark infringement suit. I admit, I was originally confused by the nickname as I would pronounce it “Ree-mer” and then giggle at the possible connotations. It wasn’t until I heard Kypreos proclaim him the real deal (he’s fuckin’ cursed now) or something to that effect, that I figured out the pronunciation. The same things are being said of Reimer that were being said of Gustavsson in April of last year, and the same things that were said of Toskala leading in to his first season. He does have a respectable SV% & GAA at .921 and 2.60 respectively. Was this just the result of the now-traditional April surge by the Leafs or he a genuine solid goalie from which we can expect similar numbers going forward? Reimer will play backup-backup for Canada at the World Championships. No other Canadian goalies were available. One interesting thing to note: Reimer isn’t a Burke guy - he was JFJ’s work. Evaluation: If he sucks next year then Jesus clearly hates the Leafs.
This brings us to the Ottawa Senators starting goalie Craig “hey Brian, I stop pucks!” Anderson. He was on Murray’s radar for sometime (Murray’s daughter lives in Colorado so Murray would watch him with some frequency) and was an intended July 1 target of the Senators. A 4 year contract at a modest valuation and no NMC/NTC makes him trade-able if things don’t work out but his numbers with the Senators bested Toronto’s All World Rookie Phenom by quite a bit and on a team with practically no quality defensive defensemen (sorry Phillips - here’s hoping for a rebound). As soon as he stepped on the ice, he was controlling the movement of his defensemen by instruction, approaching the bench to encourage/direct players during stoppages in play and making sound positional decisions. Evaluation: solid foundation in net for a multi-year rebuild.
Coming soon...... Ron Wilson stays, Better coaches fired and a really sweet look at special teams!