Tag: Brent Johnson

James Reimer

Goaltending remains Leafs’ biggest x-factor


Toronto’s core of forwards is pretty sound at this point, and only getting better thanks to the addition of James van Riemsdyk and the growth of youngsters like Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin, and Joe Colborne.

Their defense seems similarly strong, led by Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles, Jake Gardiner, and Carl Gunnarsson.

Still, whether or not the Leafs are a playoff team is open for debate, and the main point of criticism is their goaltending. Toronto might still make a move, but as things currently stand, they are likely to enter the season with James Reimer and Ben Scrivens as their goaltending duo.

Reimer had a remarkable rookie season, but his sophomore campaign was derailed early because of a concussion. Even when he returned, he was never able to get back on track.

One potential alternative would be to acquire Roberto Luongo, but the length of his contract makes that problematic. If the Toronto Maple Leafs are still three-to-five years away from competing for the Stanley Cup, then Luongo would be in his mid-to-late 30s before Toronto is ready to make a serious playoff run.

The alternative would be to get a veteran backup to help take some pressure off Reimer and maybe serve as a calming influence, but the unrestricted free agent market is devoid of any ideal candidates. Ty Conklin, Marty Turco, and Brent Johnson are still unsigned, but at this point the Leafs might not be comfortable having any of those three serve as their starter for extended periods should Reimer struggle.

With that in mind, it’s entirely possible that Toronto will not be able to make a significant move to address their goaltending situation over the summer. With that in mind, Toronto’s odds of making the playoffs in 2012-13 might be firmly tied to Reimer’s ability to bounce back.

Offseason Report: Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin

From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

2011-12 season

51-25-6, 108 points. 4th in Eastern Conference. Second in the Atlantic Division, fourth in the Eastern Conference. Lost to Philadelphia (4-2) in the first round.


Brandon Sutter, Tanner Glass, Benn Ferriero, Warren Peters, Dylan Reese, Tomas Vokoun, Brian Dumoulin, Jeff Zatkoff


Jordan Staal, Zbynek Michalek, Steve Sullivan, Brent Johnson, Cal O’Reilly

2012 Draft

1st Round, 8th overall — Derrick Pouliot (Portland – WHL), 22nd overall — Olli Maatta (London – OHL)

Looking back

What was shaping up to be a monster playoffs for the Penguins turned into a monstrous failure. Pittsburgh looked like world beaters heading into the playoffs and facing off with a Flyers team that struggled with keeping teams off the scoreboard, things were shaping up well for the Pens. Instead, Marc-Andre Fleury turned into a sieve while the Pens couldn’t stop the Flyers from scoring goals at will before losing in six games in the first round. The Pens defense looked rough and Fleury had an all-time terrible first round of the postseason getting lit up by Philly. Yes, they have the league MVP in Evgeni Malkin as well as the league’s best player in Sidney Crosby, but unless they figure out the rest, they’ll have questions.

Looking forward

It’s tough to be down on a team that has, arguably, the two best players in the league in Malkin and Crosby, but the Penguins haven’t done much to improve themselves in the offseason. As it stands, the Pens’ forward units will be the same despite a few subtractions. Gone is Steve Sullivan and in his place is, perhaps, young forward Eric Tangradi.

Pittsburgh is trying to lure Shane Doan to town, but with him hopeful to stay in Phoenix, banking on him coming to town is a badrisky idea. As it is, Pittsburgh will hope to see continued big seasons from Chris Kunitz and James Neal while getting more from Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis. Oh yeah, Pittsburgh’s defense needs to somehow be better while not adding anyone either. While Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik are solid, guys like Paul Martin and Matt Niskanen will have more asked from them as well as a slew of young blue liners. At least things in goal are solid now that Tomas Vokoun is there to make sure Fleury stays focused on the job at hand. At the very least, the Pens have GM Ray Shero handling things and coach Dan Bylsma locking it down on the field.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the Penguins’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

Leafs pursued Brodeur before he went back to Devils

Martin Brodeur

After signing with the New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur took the time to appear on Sportsnet 590 The Fan and the subject of the Maple Leafs came up.

“I was able to talk to (Leafs GM) Brian Burke and also Dave Nonis,” Brodeur said. “We had great conversations. Love the direction where they’re going.

“For me it could’ve been a fit but ultimately when Lou (Lamiorello) came back with that extra year, that made a big difference. They seemed like they were really interested. But I know that the organization is making the right steps for them.”

Of course, it’s not a surprise that Leafs pursued Brodeur. They certainly weren’t the only team that would have been a good fit for Brodeur’s services, but they could have used him to serve as James Reimer’s mentor and take some pressure off the young goaltender.

As we mentioned earlier, the Leafs goaltending is a question mark as it currently stands. The potential tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens might not be ready to carry the Leafs, but at this point, they’re starting to run out of alternatives.

Al Montoya, Brent Johnson, and Ty Conklin are still free agents and while they might be solid backups, they’re also significant risks in their own right. At one point it looked like the Leafs might resort to trading for Roberto Luongo, but he reportedly doesn’t want to play for Toronto.

With that in mind, there’s a good chance that Reimer will be the Leafs’ opening game starter.

Leafs, Blue Jackets lead teams with goalie concerns

James Reimer

Now that Martin Brodeur (and Johan Hedberg) have re-signed in New Jersey, let’s take a look at the remaining unrestricted free agent goalies.

Based on games started in 2011-12, from most to least, they go like this: Dwayne Roloson, Al Montoya, Brent Johnson, Ty Conklin, Andrew Raycroft, Alex Auld, Dan Ellis, and you get the point – there’s nobody that’s going to significantly improve a team at the position.

Now let’s consider the teams that have question marks in net:

Toronto – Leafs GM Brian Burke has said he’s willing to go into the season with the tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens, but you can bet he’s not happy about it. Miss the playoffs again and Burke could be looking for work, not a goalie. All of which is why we’ll keep monitoring the Roberto Luongo situation in Vancouver. At the moment, Florida is believed to be the most likely to land the Canucks’ goalie.

Columbus –Scott Howson went out and got Sergei Brobovsky from the Flyers, but can the embattled Blue Jackets GM trust a 23-year-old that’s coming off a bad season when his only other options are Steve Mason and Allen York? At least Howson has lowered expectations on his side.

Chicago – The Blackhawks were reportedly interested in Brodeur when he was exploring free agency, and for good reason – Corey Crawford struggled badly in 2011-12 and the backup, Ray Emery, didn’t do any better. GM Stan Bowman can’t let goaltending drag his Stanley Cup contender down again.

Tampa Bay – Anders Lindback may be the Lightning’s goalie of the future, but GM Steve Yzerman would be asking a lot of the 24-year-old with 28 NHL starts under his belt to take over the top spot right away. Mathieu Garon is under contract for another season, but he’s bounced around the league for a reason.

After Brodeur signs, Devils ink Hedberg to two-year, $2.8 million deal

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The NHL’s oldest goaltending tandem is sticking around for a couple more years.

On Monday, the New Jersey Devils announced they’ve re-upped with Johan Hedberg on a two-year, $2.8 million deal, one that includes a full no-trade clause.

With the earlier announcement of Martin Brodeur signing a two-year deal as well, the Devils retain the oldest goaltending tandem in the league — Brodeur is 40, Hedberg is 39 — with contracts that will take their ‘tenders to ages 42 and 41, respectively.

The deal represents a slight pay bump for Hedberg, who made $1.25 million over each of the last two years. The veteran Swedish netminder appeared in 27 games for the Devils last season, posting a 17-7-3 record with a .918 save percentage, 2.23 GAA while leading the Devils with four shutouts (Brodeur had three.)

It’s a key signing for the Devils. Many credit Hedberg’s large body of work last season as an important part of keeping Brodeur fresh for the postseason.

As for the rest of the league — with Hedberg coming off the market, the UFA goalie pool is officially thinned out. Teams looking for veteran backup help are now left to sift Dwayne Roloson, Alex Auld, Brent Johnson and Ty Conklin, to name a few.