Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Depth: Goalies


Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect Depth: Goalies

The rebuild for the Toronto Maple Leafs is underway following the trade of Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli on Sunday morning. With the Maple Leafs looking to stockpile picks and prospects it seems to be a good time to examine their depth in goal, on defence and at forward. We’ll break down all the top prospects in the Leafs system, looking at their projected ceiling, their body of work and how close to NHL ready they are. Prospects are ranked by their overall ceiling, with tie breakers going to how close they are from contributing at the NHL level. First up is the goalies.

Sep 23, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Philadelphia Flyers forward Jason Akeson (42) tries to get a rebound as Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Roman Polak (46) and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Antoine Bibeau (30) defend at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Philadelphia 4-0. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Antoine Bibeau
20 years old, 6’2”, 210 pounds
Drafted: Round 6, 172 overall, 2013 by Toronto Maple Leafs
Projected Ceiling: Possible Starter, Likely Backup

Bibeau’s rookie numbers with the Marlies, 8-8-5 with a 2.65 GAA and .915 SV% aren’t spectacular, but the Marlies aren’t a very good team, sitting fourth in the North Division and 12th in the 15th team Western Conference. While he’s battled injury this year, Bibeau has a higher SV% and lower GAA than he ever had in the QMJHL and seems to be progressing at a reliable rate. His numbers sit just below what James Reimer did as a rookie for the Marlies or what Jonathan Bernier posted as a rookie for the Manchester Monarchs when he was in the Los Angeles Kings system.

Bibeau is currently a solid goaltending prospect who looks likely to fit into the NHL one day. He’s still in need of work and should a long-term call-up be needed it’s not likely to be Bibeau, due to his younger age and similar ability to Christopher Gibson. That being said when comparing the ceiling of the two Gibson’s is likely lower, which is why Bibeau is the top goalie prospect for the Maple Leafs, at least for now and by a small margin.

Sep 24, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Christopher Gibson (35) goes to stop an Ottawa Senators shot at the Air Canada Centre. Ottawa defeated Toronto 4-3 in an overtime shoot-out. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Christopher Gibson
22 years old, 6’1”, 190 pounds
Drafted: Round 2, 49 overall, 2011 by the Los Angeles Kings
Projected Ceiling: Possible Starter, Likely Backup

Last year Christopher Gibson was clearly fifth on the Toronto Maple Leafs depth chart, but due to his solid play he’s rose to at least the fourth best goalie for the Leafs, if not third. He’s a solid positional goaltender and the oldest of the Leafs’ three prospects.

He leads the Marlies goaltenders in games played, GAA and wins. In 25 GP he’s established a record of 11-11-3 with a 2.45 GAA and .922 SV%, his best numbers since 2010-11 with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. While only in his second season in the AHL he still has plenty of time to develop and earn a possible roster spot with the Maple Leafs. The rumour mill has long-held that James Reimer was on his way out of town and with Bernier joining him in the mix, the current most likely call-up in a long-term position would be Gibson.

That being said there’s plenty of UFA goalies around and the Leafs may decide to sign a veteran backup rather than go with the untested youngster.

Garret Sparks
21 years old, 6’2”, 204 pounds
Drafted: Round 7, 190 overall, 2011 by Toronto Maple Leafs
Projected Ceiling: Possible NHL Backup, Likely AHL Journeyman

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Coming into the season Sparks looked the most likely to get the bulk of the work for the Toronto Marlies. That simply hasn’t happened, as Sparks has played in only two games for the Marlies and spent the majority of his time back stopping the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears. He’s had injury issues and seen himself leapfrogged on the depth chart not once, but twice. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Sparks has seemed to round into form. He has been lights out in the ECHL, compiling a record of 13-4-1 with a 2.31 GAA and .937 SV%. His limited action in the AHL has also been good, giving up only one goal in two full games.

Having been passed on the depth chart is a difficult proposition though. Sparks has held up his side of the bargain, playing well in the ECHL. But unless Gibson or Bibeau falter or get sidelined by a long-term injury, Sparks looks likely to play out the remainder of the year in the ECHL. That doesn’t mean he’ll be stuck in the ECHL forever, but with three young goalie prospects and only two positions available in the AHL, for now he’s the odd man out.

Next: Kings Continue to Show Interest in Dion Phaneuf