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Maple Leafs News and Views => Main Leafs Hockey Talk => Topic started by: slapshot on April 03, 2019, 07:13:11 PM

Title: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: slapshot on April 03, 2019, 07:13:11 PM
Well Garrett Sparks has had his first full season as a back-up audition and I think most would concur, it's time he moved on...

I think the experiment could come back to hurt the team in terms of playoff experience. Though I am predicting a Leafs first-round win, if the past trend holds true again, and the game ends up being decided in seven games, with the Bruins winning again on their home ice, I think the table could have (and I would argue should have) been tilted in another direction way back at waiver time. I would have risked losing Sparks to waivers and stuck with the capable back-up, McElhinney (I believe I said that at the time, but not sure? I sure know I felt that way). I suspect had they done that, the Leafs would be ahead of the Bruins in points now, and their somewhat inconsistent season would have been more consistent - which feeds into the overall team confidence. If the ups and downs (Sparks being a genuine factor) leave the team not as confident as they should be leading into the series with Boston, and they lose as outlined above, I think Dubas will have contributed to the accumulative loss of playoff experience for all these young players. That may be a lot to lay on the doorstep of one decision, but I think the whole team getting to the next round this year are odds that should have been taken over  risking the loss of a back-up goalie that has no likelihood of taking over any starting job for the forseeable future with this team, or possibly ever.

Boston, on the other hand, shored up its goaltending with a quality back up in Halak. If Rask goes down for any reason, the Bruins still have a decent chance. If Freddie goes down now, well, get out the golf clubs...

If things don't pan out, and the Leafs get a quick exit, I think Kyle should own up to his mistake and get a proper, experienced back-up for next year.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Nik the Trik on April 03, 2019, 07:50:43 PM

I appreciate that a lot of people won't be happy with anything other than a constant and steady upward trend for the team but next year is emphatically not the year for the Leafs to be spending money on a backup goalie.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Guilt Trip on April 03, 2019, 08:05:09 PM
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? While I never believed in Sparks to begin with I also don't think Dubas needs to own up to anything should things not go our way in these playoffs. The majority of the hockey experts and many members on this board would have done the same thing at waiver time. This isn't a case of Sparks being some unknown goalie. He was the AHL goalie of the year and is 10 years younger then the guy he replaced. The decision in a hockey sense was a no brainer who to keep. Fact is it hasn't worked out and sometimes they don't. If McBackup made it through waivers, this probably isn't even a discussion but there is also no guarantee, he would have been better.
As Nik says, the Leafs aen't spending anything over a mill on next year's backup. Not with Marner's and Matthew's contracts kicking in. Throw in a side of Kappy and Johnsson and there's no money to go there.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: freer on April 03, 2019, 09:52:27 PM
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? While I never believed in Sparks to begin with I also don't think Dubas needs to own up to anything should things not go our way in these playoffs. The majority of the hockey experts and many members on this board would have done the same thing at waiver time. This isn't a case of Sparks being some unknown goalie. He was the AHL goalie of the year and is 10 years younger then the guy he replaced. The decision in a hockey sense was a no brainer who to keep. Fact is it hasn't worked out and sometimes they don't. If McBackup made it through waivers, this probably isn't even a discussion but there is also no guarantee, he would have been better.
As Nik says, the Leafs aen't spending anything over a mill on next year's backup. Not with Marner's and Matthew's contracts kicking in. Throw in a side of Kappy and Johnsson and there's no money to go there.
Well they could put Sparks in the minors during pre season because McBackup was way better at that time.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Bender on April 03, 2019, 10:21:56 PM
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? While I never believed in Sparks to begin with I also don't think Dubas needs to own up to anything should things not go our way in these playoffs. The majority of the hockey experts and many members on this board would have done the same thing at waiver time. This isn't a case of Sparks being some unknown goalie. He was the AHL goalie of the year and is 10 years younger then the guy he replaced. The decision in a hockey sense was a no brainer who to keep. Fact is it hasn't worked out and sometimes they don't. If McBackup made it through waivers, this probably isn't even a discussion but there is also no guarantee, he would have been better.
As Nik says, the Leafs aen't spending anything over a mill on next year's backup. Not with Marner's and Matthew's contracts kicking in. Throw in a side of Kappy and Johnsson and there's no money to go there.
Well they could put Sparks in the minors during pre season because McBackup was way better at that time.
I don't know many times this need to be reiterated. Mac did not play great from what we saw in pre-season and all three backups we had were waiver eligible. You aren't going to sacrifice a 25 year old Calder Cup winner for a 35 year old backup who had a season that was way above his norm.

People have got to stop retconning history.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Guilt Trip on April 03, 2019, 10:27:26 PM
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? While I never believed in Sparks to begin with I also don't think Dubas needs to own up to anything should things not go our way in these playoffs. The majority of the hockey experts and many members on this board would have done the same thing at waiver time. This isn't a case of Sparks being some unknown goalie. He was the AHL goalie of the year and is 10 years younger then the guy he replaced. The decision in a hockey sense was a no brainer who to keep. Fact is it hasn't worked out and sometimes they don't. If McBackup made it through waivers, this probably isn't even a discussion but there is also no guarantee, he would have been better.
As Nik says, the Leafs aen't spending anything over a mill on next year's backup. Not with Marner's and Matthew's contracts kicking in. Throw in a side of Kappy and Johnsson and there's no money to go there.
Well they could put Sparks in the minors during pre season because McBackup was way better at that time.
As was said, McBackup had a slight edge in the pre season and crapped the bed in his last start virtually making them even and signing his own death warrant. Sparks wouldn't have passed through waivers. Not a chance.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Zee on April 04, 2019, 08:54:56 AM
I don't think you "move on" or give up on a goalie after 20 games (yes I know Sparks played 17 games in the tank year).  He's signed for 750k next year, why dump him?  Give him the chance over the summer to work things out, get him into camp where he'll have to play well to earn a spot.  This was his first kick at the can of playing only sparingly, it's a different mental adjustment for goalies when they know they'll only play once or twice every few weeks and usually when the team is on a back to back and tired.

Not sure who's available, but Leafs should be able to pick up some other guy at under $1M to challenge for a spot at camp.  You want to have backup goalies under $1M so that you can bury that salary in the minors and not have it affect the NHL cap.

All that said, I've mentioned before that goalies are unpredictable.  Maybe Sparks plays far better next season and all problems are solved, it could happen.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: CarltonTheBear on April 04, 2019, 09:02:17 AM
Not sure who's available, but Leafs should be able to pick up some other guy at under $1M to challenge for a spot at camp.  You want to have backup goalies under $1M so that you can bury that salary in the minors and not have it affect the NHL cap.

I think the Leafs will have to get a veteran-ish goalie anyway, otherwise they'll be one injury away from having to use Woll/Scott or *shudders* Kaskisuo. Free agent options aren't great though. You've got guys like Budaj or Niemi or Montoya, all of whom are past their primes and probably won't/can't compete with Sparks. I've wondered about maybe a guy like Keith Kinkaid who was posting decent NHL numbers but was brutal this season. He'd had to take a cut from the $1.25mil he made this season though. The other option would be re-signing Hutchinson to a cheap deal, but I think he's more of a clear #3 goalei than someone who can push Sparks.

Or, as I've said elsewhere, a European goalie signed to an ELC would be a great option but it doesn't seem like there's any really good candidates out there.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Zee on April 04, 2019, 09:12:06 AM
Not sure who's available, but Leafs should be able to pick up some other guy at under $1M to challenge for a spot at camp.  You want to have backup goalies under $1M so that you can bury that salary in the minors and not have it affect the NHL cap.

I think the Leafs will have to get a veteran-ish goalie anyway, otherwise they'll be one injury away from having to use Woll/Scott or *shudders* Kaskisuo. Free agent options aren't great though. You've got guys like Budaj or Niemi or Montoya, all of whom are past their primes and probably won't/can't compete with Sparks. I've wondered about maybe a guy like Keith Kinkaid who was posting decent NHL numbers but was brutal this season. He'd had to take a cut from the $1.25mil he made this season though. The other option would be re-signing Hutchinson to a cheap deal, but I think he's more of a clear #3 goalei than someone who can push Sparks.

Or, as I've said elsewhere, a European goalie signed to an ELC would be a great option but it doesn't seem like there's any really good candidates out there.

Ideally you want to find the "next McElhinney"...some career backup that has had "meh" numbers of his career but then suddenly becomes good.  Who that guy is, who knows?
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: hockeyfan1 on April 04, 2019, 09:21:16 AM
I don't think you "move on" or give up on a goalie after 20 games (yes I know Sparks played 17 games in the tank year).  He's signed for 750k next year, why dump him?  Give him the chance over the summer to work things out, get him into camp where he'll have to play well to earn a spot.  This was his first kick at the can of playing only sparingly, it's a different mental adjustment for goalies when they know they'll only play once or twice every few weeks and usually when the team is on a back to back and tired.

Not sure who's available, but Leafs should be able to pick up some other guy at under $1M to challenge for a spot at camp.  You want to have backup goalies under $1M so that you can bury that salary in the minors and not have it affect the NHL cap.

All that said, I've mentioned before that goalies are unpredictable.  Maybe Sparks plays far better next season and all problems are solved, it could happen.


Sparks should be given more opportunity to play next season.  Even though he has demonstrated inconsistencies in his work, there is always room for improvement and that’s what he should work on in the off-season (when the playoffs are over in earnest).

An upgrade in skills can still be attained but it’s up to Sparks to showcase himself as a viable and dependable backup.  Easy to say and difficult to do considering  all that we’ve seen of him so far.

Babcock much preferred McElhinney over Sparks due to McBackup’s experience, etc.  Obviously, Dubas isn’t worried about choosing a younger, a little more inexperienced netminder who’s foray in a pro league has been limited at best.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Highlander on April 04, 2019, 01:45:31 PM
I don't think you "move on" or give up on a goalie after 20 games (yes I know Sparks played 17 games in the tank year).  He's signed for 750k next year, why dump him?  Give him the chance over the summer to work things out, get him into camp where he'll have to play well to earn a spot.  This was his first kick at the can of playing only sparingly, it's a different mental adjustment for goalies when they know they'll only play once or twice every few weeks and usually when the team is on a back to back and tired.

Not sure who's available, but Leafs should be able to pick up some other guy at under $1M to challenge for a spot at camp.  You want to have backup goalies under $1M so that you can bury that salary in the minors and not have it affect the NHL cap.

All that said, I've mentioned before that goalies are unpredictable.  Maybe Sparks plays far better next season and all problems are solved, it could happen.
I totally agree with Zee on this, Sparks has always raised his game to the next level through his entire sojourn.  I think we all can see a much better D on its way, Sandin, Lilypad and some of the other prospects or even a trade for Hamilton as well.  With a tighter faster D, Sparks will have a better season, no doubt.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: slapshot on April 08, 2019, 10:08:56 PM
Curiously not a peep on here about Sparks demotion. Babcock said they tried to make it work with him (and probably still are) but it had to come down to what was best for them team, which was my point at the start of the season. I knew I'd get all that hindsight stuff, which is fine, people can stay what they want. But I think finishing ahead of Boston in the standings overall would have been better for the team's confidence, and just felt McElhinney would have been a better option, just knowing how to handle that role better.  Hopefully Sparks can find his game at some point, I just don't think it will be the Leafs. Wish him well...
Yeah, I am not saying spend a fortune on back-up next year (despite my reference to Halak), just think an experienced guy who is used to playing back up could be found cheaply and be more comfortable (and do a better job) than a young guy who has been used to playing a lot, but not at NHL level. It didn't pan out for Sparks, and I never expected it to. I hoped it would, but had serious doubts about it. I just don't find him very controlled in the net, even when he was with the Marlies. They'll eat you alive at the NHL level if your not.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Bender on April 09, 2019, 10:10:09 PM
Curiously not a peep on here about Sparks demotion. Babcock said they tried to make it work with him (and probably still are) but it had to come down to what was best for them team, which was my point at the start of the season. I knew I'd get all that hindsight stuff, which is fine, people can stay what they want. But I think finishing ahead of Boston in the standings overall would have been better for the team's confidence, and just felt McElhinney would have been a better option, just knowing how to handle that role better.  Hopefully Sparks can find his game at some point, I just don't think it will be the Leafs. Wish him well...
Yeah, I am not saying spend a fortune on back-up next year (despite my reference to Halak), just think an experienced guy who is used to playing back up could be found cheaply and be more comfortable (and do a better job) than a young guy who has been used to playing a lot, but not at NHL level. It didn't pan out for Sparks, and I never expected it to. I hoped it would, but had serious doubts about it. I just don't find him very controlled in the net, even when he was with the Marlies. They'll eat you alive at the NHL level if your not.
I know he had good numbers for the last two years but Mac was also flippy floppy like a fish out of water.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate on April 10, 2019, 12:24:59 PM
https://www.tsn.ca/ice-chips-sparks-returns-to-leafs-practice-1.1288298 (https://www.tsn.ca/ice-chips-sparks-returns-to-leafs-practice-1.1288298)

So maybe Sparks isn't on the shelf after all.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: CarltonTheBear on April 10, 2019, 12:43:09 PM

"Sparks, the team has lost all confidence in you, get outta here!"

"Oh, hey, buddy, listen, about what I said before..."
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: herman on April 10, 2019, 12:44:18 PM
So maybe Sparks isn't on the shelf after all.


"Sparks, the team has lost all confidence in you, get outta here!"

"Oh, hey, buddy, listen, about what I said before..."

Sparks is still on the roster technically (as is Joseph Woll). Woll's signing and subsequent addition to the Leafs roster is actually why we wouldn't be allowed to just recall Hutchinson mid-playoffs on an emergency recall.

Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: TML fan on April 10, 2019, 01:19:10 PM
I think Andersen is hurt and has been for a while. They recalled Hutchinson for the very real possibility that he will actually have to play.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: LuncheonMeat on April 10, 2019, 02:34:48 PM
I think Andersen is hurt and has been for a while. They recalled Hutchinson for the very real possibility that he will actually have to play.

I thought they recalled him b/c Sparks sucks.

If Andersen was hurt there's no way in hell the Leafs play him against Montreal in a totally meaningless game. And certainly not after he got run part way through the game.
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: disco on April 10, 2019, 03:16:37 PM
I think Andersen is hurt and has been for a while. They recalled Hutchinson for the very real possibility that he will actually have to play.

I thought they recalled him b/c Sparks sucks.

If Andersen was hurt there's no way in hell the Leafs play him against Montreal in a totally meaningless game. And certainly not after he got run part way through the game.

Your signature is legendary now LuncheonMeat. #SafeToronto
Title: Re: Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
Post by: Guilt Trip on April 10, 2019, 03:22:02 PM
I think Andersen is hurt and has been for a while. They recalled Hutchinson for the very real possibility that he will actually have to play.

I thought they recalled him b/c Sparks sucks.

If Andersen was hurt there's no way in hell the Leafs play him against Montreal in a totally meaningless game. And certainly not after he got run part way through the game.
They did. Sparks is only here until Hutch is back. Simple as that according to Babs.