Goaltenders are an anomaly in the NHL. Their career projection is a question mark, and their respective arrivals to hockey’s top flight usually take much longer than any other position in hockey.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs put both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard on waivers prior to the start of the 2018-19 campaign, they were taking a significant risk.
The former was arguably the best backup in hockey during his time with the Leafs, while the latter helped formed an AHL-best goalie tandem that carried the Toronto Marlies to a Calder Cup.
The gamble didn’t pay off for Kyle Dubas and co., as both keepers were claimed off waivers – McElhinney by the Carolina Hurricanes and Pickard by the Philadelphia Flyers.
With longtime AHL stalwart Garret Sparks assuming the backup duties behind Frederik Andersen, the Marlies starting gig decidedly went to Kasimir Kaskisuo.
The Leafs took a big blow to their depth in net this offseason. Luckily, they’ve been preparing for a scenario like this for years. Here’s who could be coming in to make an impact over the next few years.Embed from Getty Images
Joseph Woll, Boston College (NCAA), 2016 3rd Round (62nd)
Prior to the 2016 NHL Draft, the Leafs had only selected three goaltenders in the last decade – James Reimer in 2006, Grant Rollheiser in 2008, and Antoine Bibeau in 2013.
In the 2016 draft – a class dominated by Auston Matthews – the Leafs drafted another American in Joseph Woll.
Following the draft, Woll headed to Boston College. The 20-year-old has made 66 career appearances for the Eagles. He posted a 2.48 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage across 30 games last season in his sophomore year.
Woll looks to be the starter once again for Boston College this season. He’s started both of the team’s opening weekend games against Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t come out of the pair of games with a win.
Woll will almost certainly see out the final year of his NCAA career in 2019-20. The American keeper will then have his chance to sign his entry-level contract and impress within the Leafs organization.Embed from Getty Images
Ian Scott, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL), 2017 4th Round (110th)
The following year, Toronto selected Scott, who got his fair share of chances to impress teams during his draft year. He made 50 appearances for Prince Albert during the 2016-17 season.
The Raiders finished that campaign with a 21-44-5-2 record. As a result, Scott finished the year with a 3.69 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage.
In 2017-18, the Raiders managed to lock down a playoff spot. In another 50-game season, Scott slightly improved on his numbers. He had a 3.10 GAA and a .897 sv%.
Scott was rewarded with an amateur-tryout contract with the Marlies last season. He featured in just one regular season AHL game, but was able to be on the roster for the AHL playoffs and subsequently got his name on the Calder Cup. Not a bad way to end a year.
He’s started this campaign off red-hot, going 9-1 with a 1.60 GAA and a .943 sv%. Prince Albert looks to be one of the best teams in the WHL this season, which should allow Scott to play in even bigger games during the playoffs.
Depending on his performance over the next year, Scott could be in consideration for a spot on the Marlies. With recent AHL signee Jeff Glass as the backup – and now the starter in place of the injured Kaskisuo – The Marlies will keep all their options open.
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Zachary Bouthillier, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL), 2018 7th Round (209th)
Bouthiller is a seventh rounder from the Leafs’ most recent draft class. He is clearly the goalie out of the trio that is the furthest from playing pro hockey.
In his draft year, he played in 38 games, posting a 3.42 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage.
It looks as though the 18-year-old will serve as the backup for Chicoutimi this season. He needs to show constant progress in the opportunities he’s given. As a seventh-round pick, he’s obviously behind other prospects. But as other late-round selections within the organization have shown, anything can happen.
Bouthillier has appeared in five games, posting a GAA over four and a .867 save percentage. Time will tell what he can become at the next level.