Tag: Ty Conklin

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.

Could the Devils become the second team since the lockout to win it all after falling just short?

Ilya Kovalchuk

It’s extremely hard for any defending Stanley Cup champions to repeat, but it’s just as difficult for the the club that fell just short to bounce back in the following campaign. They suffer from the same short summer that the winners have, minus the euphoria that comes with victory.

Since the lockout, the Edmonton Oilers are the only team to outright miss the playoffs after losing in the finals during their previous campaign, but only one team managed to redeem themselves after falling just short one year prior.

That would of course be the 2008-09 Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins. They got off to a rough start in their comeback campaign, but they got hot after head coach Michel Therrien was replaced with Dan Bylsma and never cooled down.

The Penguins’ story might offer hope for the Devils in more ways than one. After all, Pittsburgh in 2008 had a particularly rough summer too.

Pittsburgh, in its early stages of what has been an ongoing saga to find elite wingers to work with superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, acquired Marian Hossa during the 2007-08 campaign. However, their attempt to re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent that summer failed. Instead Hossa, along with their backup goaltender Ty Conklin, decided to leave Pittsburgh in favor of the team that had just beat them in the Stanley Cup finals: the Detroit Red Wings.

The New Jersey Devils will also be looking to win just a couple more postseason games in 2012-13 despite the loss of an elite player in Zach Parise.

Naturally, the circumstances are different. For one thing, Hossa’s stint with the Penguins was brief while the Devils are losing their team captain and a man they drafted nearly a decade ago. However, like the Cup-winning Penguins, the Devils have a wealth of talent beyond the player they lost.

The New Jersey Devils are clearly worse off without Parise, but they still have Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique, David Clarkson, and Travis Zajac to give them a pretty solid offensive core. Their power-play might also get a boost from Adam Larsson, who might take a step forward in his sophomore season, and a full campaign with Marek Zidlicky. Their goaltending is a significant wild card, but even at his age, it’s hard to ever dismiss Martin Brodeur.

I wouldn’t call the Devils’ Stanley Cup favorites going into the playoffs, but they certainly look like a team that can get through the massive blow of Parise signing with the Minnesota Wild.

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.