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Leafs’ UFA options in goal limited

If they let McElhinney walk, who backs up Andersen next season?

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In 2016-17 Frederik Andersen provided the Toronto Maple Leafs with the type of stability in goal that they’ve lacked for nearly ten seasons. Behind him, however, it was a different story. 

Jhonas Enroth started the season as the Leafs’ backup goaltender, but it was apparent early on that he didn’t have the confidence of head coach Mike Babcock. When the Columbus Blue Jackets placed Curtis McElhinney on waivers, the Leafs were quick to snap him up so that that could move on from Enroth. In 14 games with the Leafs since he was acquired, McElhinney played admirably and sported a 2.85 GAA and .914 Sv%. With McElhinney’s contract expiring however and his return still up in the air, the team will undoubtedly review this offseason’s collection of free agents before making any commitments.

So, who’s available? The biggest names like Ryan Miller, Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson are still negotiating with their current teams, so there’s little chance the Leafs entertain these options. Interestingly, former Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier will be on the market, but there’s probably a better chance of Curtis Joseph returning to Toronto than Bernier. That leaves Peter Budaj, Steve Mason, Mike Condon and Anders Nilsson as the next best options. Do any of those names stir confidence? Not likely…

When all is said and done, the Leafs would be smart to bring McElhinney back into the fold. The 34 year-old has proven that he has the fortitude to accept a backup role and the ability to step in when required. With Andersen holding down the fort for the foreseeable future, that’s all that’s needed in Toronto.