Toronto Maple Leafs senior vice president of hockey operations David Nonis would be surprised if James Reimer and Ben Scrivens were the team’s two goalies next season.
It has been confirmed by Leafs’ management that they will look to add a veteran goaltender in the off-season.
Although the Maple Leafs missed the Stanley Cup playoffs for a seventh consecutive season, their American Hockey League affiliate Toronto Marlies are currently enjoying a successful run in the AHL playoffs.
When asked if the solid play of Scrivens — the Marlies starting goaltender — would impact the team’s attempt to acquire a veteran goalie in the coming months, Nonis replied, “No, not really.”
“Ben’s playing excellent and he’s performing at a higher level than we anticipated at this point of his career, but it’s a lot to ask of a guy like that to jump in and possibly be a 40-game guy (next year),” Nonis told Brady & Lang on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Friday.
He added, though, that Scrivens might be thrust into a role like that if circumstances require it.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen with injuries. So if you put a player like that on your team you need to know he’s going to be able to play 40-45 games. And Ben, he’ll have every opportunity to come make our team just like everybody else. But we want to make sure that we have enough depth in goal and (Scrivens’ success) wouldn’t change our position on going after a veteran.”
Nonis — who in addition to his role with the Leafs is also the Marlies general manager — expects Scrivens to develop some more with the Marlies, but added: “You would never say never because players have to have the opportunity (in training camp) to earn a spot on our team.”
According to Nonis, defenceman Jake Gardiner made it impossible to keep him off the NHL roster last season and Scrivens could do the same thing in the 2012-13 campaign.
In the meantime the club plans to seek out any and all options to secure more depth between the pipes.
“From a Leafs standpoint, we need to make sure that we backfill and have some depth there so that we have some quality goaltenders to pick from.”
Goalies like Washington Capitals’ Tomas Vokoun, Tampa Bay Lightning’s Dwayne Roloson, Winnipeg Jets’ Chris Mason, and even the Maple Leafs own Jonas Gustavsson are all upcoming unrestricted free agents. However, Nonis believes going the trade route may be the best option, both for obtaining goalies and skaters.
“The UFA market, there are some pieces there that might be able to help (but) generally you don’t want to build your team with UFAs. Not because it’s not good players there, but you’ve got to spend more, generally, for those players,” Nonis explained.
“For us, yes we’ll look at (unrestricted free agency), we’ll probably jump in for a couple pieces, but overall we’re going to approach the trade market as a primary source of improvement.”
In addition to trades and free agency, several roster spots on next year’s edition of the Maple Leafs could be filled by players currently on the Marlies.
The Marlies are one win away from advancing to the Calder Cup (the AHL’s equivalent of the Stanley Cup finals) and Nonis is pleased with the development in their farm system.
“You always want to have your younger players go on a playoff run to see what they’re made of. It shows what they have. It shows how hard they’re willing to work and the sacrifices they’re willing to make.
“Some players that normally don’t stand out or get talked about come forward. Players like Jerry D’Amigo has had an excellent playoff … there’s been a lot of unsung heroes throughout the course of playoffs.”
Nonis feels that the long playoff run the Marlies are on will serve the Leafs franchise well in the years to come.
“When you get to the third round, and hopefully beyond that, you see what these guys are prepared to do to in order to make it (in the NHL).”
The Marlies host the Oklahoma City Barons Friday at the Ricoh Coliseum.
Nonis has been with the Maple Leafs since 2008. Prior to that, he was the Vancouver Canucks general manager and spent time as a senior advisor with the Anaheim Ducks.