With the likelihood of a condensed 2020-21 season on the horizon, the Toronto Maple Leafs have further shored up their goalie depth this offseason.
Today, they brought back Michael Hutchinson on a two-year, two-way contract to essentially be their #4 — with the potential to be their #3 if he outbattles the competition and/or when Aaron Dell’s contract expires after the season — on the goaltending depth chart. While we will have to see how the roster rules shape out, there is also the possibility of losing one of Dell or Hutchinson to waivers, so this adds more insurance at the position.
Critically, with the extra year of term, Hutchinson could also give the Leafs a signed goalie to expose in the 2021 expansion draft that isn’t named Jack Campbell. The calculation would change if Andersen (a pending UFA) were to be signed during the season, as Andersen would be the goalie protected by the team in such a scenario and Campbell would be exposed.
Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltending Depth Chart
|Goalie||Age||NHL Contract Status|
|Frederik Andersen||31||$5 million, 2021 UFA|
|Jack Campbell||28||$1.65 million, 2022 UFA|
|Aaron Dell||31||$800k, 2021 UFA|
|Michael Hutchinson||30||$725k, 2022 UFA|
|Joseph Woll||22||$800k, 2021 RFA|
|Ian Scott||21||$805k, 2022 RFA|
That’s now four goalies on the depth chart who started 15+ games in the NHL last season.
Hutchinson was one of Kyle Dubas’ attempts at a solution at the backup goaltending position that had plagued the team for so long post-Curtis McElhinney, but a .886 save percentage and just four wins in 14 starts spelled the end of his tenure in Toronto in 2019-20. The Leafs passed him through waivers once without claim before sending him to Colorado a week and a half later at the deadline in exchange for Calle Rosen.
Hutchinson briefly become the most heartwarming story in hockey during the Return to Play playoffs when he stepped in for Colorado in the playoffs midstream in the Conference Semifinals after an injury to starter Phillip Grubauer and a bad showing by backup Pavel Francouz (who, it turns out, was also playing through injury) to win both Game 5 and 6 — his first two NHL playoff starts. However, the the Avalanche’s playoff bid came to an end in Game 7, where Hutchinson gave up five goals on 35 shots.
Hutchinson was well liked in the Leafs dressing room and dealt with his tough performances and exit from Toronto — as well as the acquisition of a backup upgrade, Jack Campbell — like a consummate professional. The relationship between he and the organization must have remained strong to the point where’s he’s happy to return to a franchise he spent parts of the past two seasons with.
The willingness from the Leafs to offer a two-year deal is no doubt the kind of certainty that Hutchinson also would’ve found appetizing in a climate where guaranteed money and term for fringe NHLers is tough to come by. Hutchinson is also a Barrie, Ontario native, and the ability to play close to home for the “33rd” NHL team in the Marlies (in terms of facilities, resources, amenities) in such uncertain times is likely a factor at play as well.
At the goaltending position in the AHL, the Leafs previously had only Joseph Woll — who, while the numbers are an unfair reflection of his overall play, posted a .880 in his rookie year in 2019-20 — and Ian Scott, who missed all of last season due to injury. Hutchinson could bring a needed veteran presence in the Marlies crease and dressing room should the AHL season go ahead as planned in February.
30 y.o. Michael Hutchinson returns to TOR
(2 yrs x $725,000 per @capfriendly).
He allowed a handful more goals than expected last yr (mostly deep shots from the left side) and that's generally how he's performed during his career.https://t.co/bJGC49Qc9Uhttps://t.co/rOfjWx3o0p pic.twitter.com/FqN1tmnJdA
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) October 30, 2020