What follows is the list of goalies that have played at least a game for the Toronto Maple Leafs since the 2004-05 lockout:
Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Mikael Tellqvist, Ed Belfour, Andrew Raycroft, Vesa Toskala, Scott Clemmensen, Martin Gerber, Curtis Joseph, Justin Pogge, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Jonas Gustavsson, Joey MacDonald, James Reimer, Ben Scrivens, and Jussi Rynnas.
Not one was able to help the Leafs to the playoffs.
Last season, general manager Brian Burke rolled the dice on a pair of youngsters, Reimer and Gustavsson, who had started a combined 95 NHL games.
Prior to the season, Reimer was deemed the No. 1 based on an impressive 2010-11 rookie campaign in which he went 20-10-5 with a .921 save percentage in 37 appearances.
Yada, yada, yada, the Leafs missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season, this time after collapsing down the stretch in spectacular fashion. And while the goaltending wasn’t entirely to blame, it didn’t help any either.
“We’ve got two young kids in the net,” Leafs goalie coach Francois Allaire said mid-collapse. “Not a lot of experience. Nobody has more than 90 games in the NHL. So that’s normal and we’re right in the middle of [the playoff race].
“We’ll see if we’re strong enough to get through.”
Ultimately, they weren’t strong enough. Toronto finished 13th in the Eastern Conference, 12 points back of a playoff spot.
Yet here we are on July 11 and Burke still hasn’t done anything to address his team’s goaltending (unless trading Gustavsson is considered something.) As it stands, Reimer, 24, and Ben Scrivens – an undrafted 25-year-old that was in the ECHL for part of the 2010-11 season – are the Leafs’ top two goalies. Combined, the pair has 80 NHL starts under their belts.
Burke says he’s “prepared to go forward” with those two – an enormous risk given the fact many expect he’ll be fired should the Leafs fail to make the playoffs again — but at this point, his options are severely limited.
He couldn’t, or didn’t try to, sign free agents Tomas Vokoun, Josh Harding, or Clemmensen.
He inquired about Martin Brodeur before the latter re-upped with the Devils.
Roberto Luongo is still technically on the Canucks, but so far Burke’s balked at Vancouver’s asking price.
“From my perspective, the prices that are being asked have to be reasonable,” Burke said. “If you can get a goaltender who makes you better, and it costs you 15 first-round picks, would you do it? No.
“So somewhere between 15 first-round picks and something that makes sense, we’re not there yet. I’m not going to overpay to upgrade at that position. I’m not happy with what’s being asked. From my perspective, rather than strip your organization to fill one positional need, we’ll go with what we have.”
Of course, even if he were willing to pay the price, it’s not clear whether Luongo would accept a trade to Toronto.
So, what’s left? The UFA cupboard is bare. Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher has said he’s not interested in trading Niklas Backstrom. Tim Thomas is taking the year off.
There’s no reason to believe Reimer can’t be a good NHL starter. However, is it smart to put everything on his shoulders again?
Perhaps more importantly, is it fair?