News broke yesterday via Aaron Ward that Miikka Kiprusoff has been approached by the Toronto Maple Leafs about playing for their team. It should be noted, before we start, that Kiprusoff has reportedly given no indication he has changed his stance on not reporting if moved by Calgary. With Iginla, Bouwmeester and Regehr shipped out for futures, the Flames have merely given the Leafs permission to talk to the Finnish goaltender about his options.
With a lull in the schedule, this won’t stop us from analyzing could-be news, of course. The reception so far has been generally negative. Kiprusoff has the worst save percentage for goalies who have played over 10 games. With Reimer’s numbers and overall record, it’s striking many as ridiculous that the Maple Leafs may be expressing interest in the 36-year-old struggling since his return from injury, with a cap hit of 5.83 million.
It’s worthwhile looking at this from some alternative viewpoints, in an effort to arrive at a more wholesome understanding of the situation here.
Toronto’s two goaltenders have a combined 0 NHL playoff starts. This is disconcerting, even if we’re accepting that making the playoffs in the first place was the primary objective of the short season. There’s only one way to get Reimer said experience, and that’s by handing him the reins in the playoffs, but there’s also, possibly, better and worse ways to go about that. While the Leafs seem content to accept that a playoff berth this season is indeed first and foremost a learning experience in their path toward contention, a veteran insurance policy between the pipes has been something Nonis has been looking into since the get go. When faced with the prospect of a playoff appearance and presented with an opportunity before the deadline to acquire a former Vezina winner on the cheap, do 36 games completely change that?
If Kiprusoff shows the desire to come and play a backup/mentor role behind Reimer, it may alleviate any fears management have about Reimer’s ability to handle the pressure of this market associated with backstopping the Leafs’ first playoff appearance in 9 years, or about what would happen if he or Scrivens were to go down to injury. With a lot of uncertainty in the Conference, it is not completely inconceivable for the playoffs in the East to wind up a crapshoot. Having a veteran goaltender of Kiprusoff’s experience and pedigree kicking around could offer value as the Leafs look to put on a respectable showing at the big dance.
Anthony wondered aloud yesterday if this could serve the opposite effect of rattling Reimer after he’s been such an integral part of what’s gotten the Leafs in this position. It’s a debate of pros and cons we could sit here and air out until the cows come home. One thing that’s tough to account for is the value of Ben Scrivens and what this move could mean for him if he becomes a waiver-eligible third string goalie. It is not necessarily true the Leafs would have to offload Scrivens for whatever they can get, as some have leapt to conclude, for the following reason:
While Kiprusoff is currently on the books through 2013-14, he could very well be a pure rental. Certainly, with contracts due up for Nazem Kadri, Carl Gunnarsson and Cody Franson, decisions to be made on pending UFAs Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak, and needs to be filled elsewhere on the roster (1C, top 4D), tying 5.83 million in Kiprusoff next season wouldn’t be the most prudent management of the cap, which is set to drop to $64.5 million. With Kiprusoff’s salary dipping from $5 million to $1.5 million next season, the Leafs must be operating under the assumption that he’ll hang up the skates. This likelihood is one that Mike Keenan gives significant credence to below. Keenan was Calgary’s coach at the time Kiprusoff was signed to his current deal and suggests Kiprusoff never intended to play out the 2013-14 season. It seems unlikely, or at least we hope, that the Leafs would look seriously into this option without knowing this to be the case.
Keenan: Kiprusoff will probably retire
If we are to believe Keenan, a lower-risk, higher-reward picture starts to take shape.
Tuesday Morning Links…
Michael Langlois has 20 thoughts ahead of the deadline in his 1,200th post on Vintage Leaf Memories. Congrats, Michael!
Be SURE to check out Anthony’s Leafs Notebook from yesterday. And don’t dare miss one ever again.
Robyn Regehr is headed to the defending Champs. A few thoughts about it over at Jewels From the Crown.
Jay Bouwmeester is headed to St. Louis, looking to end his personal playoff drought. If the Blues don’t make the playoffs, the first round pick becomes a 1st in 2014 instead, along with a 4th rounder this season.
Could you go 44 days without NHL hockey? Yep, involuntarily during the off-season, sure.
Maple Leafs could add depth in net if the situation is right. Probably nothing happens, still.