Clock’s ticking on Leafs' goaltender choices + Possible Goalie Targets

David Shoalts

An alternative could be Florida Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Even though the Panthers are almost as inept as the Leafs, Vokoun quietly re-established himself as one of the best goalies in the league. Word is that if the Panthers remain out of playoff contention leading up to the deadline, GM Randy Sexton will starting looking to trade his goaltender.

Vokoun has one year left on his contract with an attractive salary cap hit of $5.7-million (U.S.). If he became available, he would present the Leafs with the kind of goaltending they have not had since the days of Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph. It was Joseph, don’t forget, who was the most responsible for turning the Leafs into instant contenders back in 1998.

This type of scenario has been mentioned before, only it involves Burke’s goaltender while he was running the Anaheim Ducks, J.S. Giguere. Ducks GM Bob Murray has been hounding his old boss to take Giguere, who would be reunited with his old mentor Allaire.

The problem here is that Giguere’s inconsistency saw him lose the No. 1 job to Jonas Hiller. Plus, he comes with a cap hit of $6-million for next season, which is a little rich given his performance.

Hiller is a more intriguing idea involving the Ducks. He is only 27 years old and becomes an unrestricted free agent. He, too, is an old pupil of Allaire’s.

Other attractions on the unrestricted free agent side include Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks, who is said to have few friends in that dressing room. But it is hard to imagine him wanting to play for Wilson again.

There is also Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis of the Nashville Predators, since the Predators can only afford to keep one of them at best. But that, too, would involve abandoning the Gustavsson experiment or at least pushing it to the back burner.

That leaves sorting through the free-agent crop for the best veteran to serve as a mentor and, if necessary, a saviour for the team if Gustavsson falters.

The prime candidates here are Martin Biron, 32, of the New York Islanders, Chris Mason, 33, of the St. Louis Blues and Marty Turco, 34, of the Dallas Stars.

Turco is the best choice in that regard. He is a good man in the dressing room. He is also playing well and young enough to handle lots of work next season. Also, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk wants to get younger at that position and does not plan to sign him.

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