With questions surrounding their backup goaltending position, the Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly adding Michal Neuvirth to a pro-tryout.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are prepared to explore various options for the backup job behind starting goalie Frederik Andersen and it appears they are giving Michal Neuvirth a chance to get back into the NHL.
Neuvirth spoke with outlet ISport, a Czech Republic website, about joining the Leafs on a pro tryout contract which hasn’t formally been announced but Neuvirth wouldn’t be broadcasting it if it wasn’t true.
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The 31-year-old dealt with injury issues last season and eventually lost his spot on the roster to Carter Hart after posting a 1-4-1 record with a .859 save percentage and a 4.27 goals-against average. While the numbers don’t jump out at you, the Czech native has experience which could prove to be useful.
Through his 11 seasons in the NHL with the Flyers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and a brief stint with the New York Islanders, Neuvirth has a 105-93-26 record with a .910 sv% and a 2.71 GAA. Again those aren’t elite numbers but still decent enough to sign the veteran to a tryout.
When you consider the Leafs backup options with Michael Hutchinson and Garret Sparks as the only goalies with NHL experience, there was no doubt the team was going to look at bringing another netminder to training camp. This would also protect the Leafs from a repeat of last season where both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard were picked off waivers leaving the Leafs scrambling to find a backup.
The obvious question is which version of Neuvirth will show up at training camp and whether he can be healthy throughout the season. It also helps that former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol is on Toronto’s coaching staff.
Considering the rumours of the Leafs trying to move Sparks and signing Hutchinson to a cheap deal, the Leafs don’t appear set to hand the job to either one and frankly, they shouldn’t.
It is important that the Leafs give Andersen more rest this season considering he has played 60 or more games the past three seasons. While Toronto will give Andersen a minimum 50 starts next season, they can’t really push it past 55 games unless they find a way to ease the number of shots they allow.
What do you think about Neuvirth being a potential backup option? Should the Leafs look at bringing other goalies? Who do you think wins the job? Let us know in the comments below.