According to credible reports from Sweden, the Toronto Maple Leafs and unrestricted free agent goaltender Jhonas Enroth are closing in on signing a contract. The signing remains unofficial and contract details are not yet known but Enroth is surely being brought in to backup newly acquired Frederick Andersen.
When the Maple Leafs traded Jonathan Bernier to the Anaheim Ducks, general manager Lou Lamoriello made it known the next step was to acquire a backup. On the open market, Enroth was the best option. Toronto is expected to run Andersen and Enroth in the big leagues with Garret Sparks, Antoine Bibeau, and Kasimir Kaskisuo in the professional pipeline to play with Toronto (AHL) or Orlando (ECHL). The Leafs also added Joseph Woll in the draft and he will be debuting with Boston University this season.
It was not too long ago Enroth was believed to possess starting goalie potential in the NHL. Playing with the Buffalo Sabres, he showed bursts of talent primarily playing a backup role but when he got the chance to step up and assume the majority of games in the 2014-2015 season, Enroth took a step back and struggled.
That Buffalo team was historically among the very worst teams to ever play in the NHL, but the way goaltending works in the NHL is sometimes it’s a matter of opportunity as opposed to talent. Toronto fans saw that first hand with Jonathan Bernier, and how a single bad season changed everything going from the undisputed number one goalie to having nearly zero value on the trade market.
Enroth posted a .903 save percentage in 37 games that season and was dealt to the Stars at the deadline. He missed his chance in 2014-2015 and fell back to a secondary role behind Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles last season appearing in 16 games and posting a .922 save percentage.
The fact that he is 28 years old and experienced a variety of teams/situations in the NHL makes him a valuable candidate for the Leafs to slot in behind the relatively inexperienced Andersen. This move solidifies the crease so the team can continue to focus on locking up their remaining restricted free agents and filling out the roster.
Enroth would be the first European goalie to suit up for the Leafs since Jussi Rynnas in 2012-2013 and the first of Swedish decent since Jonas Gustavsson in 2011-2012. This season would also mark the first time the Leafs ice a goaltending tandem that doesn’t include one of James Reimer or Jonathan Bernier since the start of the 2010-2011 season.
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