TORONTO – It was only two weeks ago when it looked like the Toronto Maple Leafs had too many goalies. Now GM Brian Burke is desperately searching for some healthy bodies.
“(We’re) working on it,” Burke said Thursday via email. “Need at least one, and maybe two.”
A rash of injuries has hit the organization and left it with only two healthy goalies—current No. 1 man James Reimer and AHLer Ben Scrivens.
The latest goaltender to go down was J.S. Giguere, who suffered a lower-body injury during Toronto’s 2-1 victory in Buffalo on Wednesday. The veteran battled groin injuries earlier in the season and wasn’t sure if the ailment was related to his past.
“Right now it is minor,” Giguere said after the game in Buffalo. “(But) if it’s related to what I’ve had before this year it might be something a little bit more major. We’ll see what’s going to come out of it.”
Neither the Leafs or AHL’s Marlies practised on Thursday. Giguere was expected to see a doctor, but the results of that visit weren’t immediately available.
If he’s unable to serve as Reimer’s backup for Saturday’s game against Ottawa, Burke will need to fill two openings.
Scrivens started both games for the Marlies in Winnipeg this week and was backed up by Steve Christie, a University of Manitoba goaltender who signed an amateur tryout to fill in on an emergency basis.
The Marlies are entering a stretch of four games in six days starting with a visit from Hamilton on Friday night.
The 24-year-old Scrivens is in his first year of professional hockey and has split time between the ECHL and AHL. There’s a possibility he could find himself serving as a NHL backup over the weekend.
“Great to be back in Toronto, the rumor mill is firing on all cylinders,” Scrivens wrote Thursday on Twitter.
At the start of February, there was barely enough playing time for all of the team’s goalies. Reimer, Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson were with the Leafs while Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas were alternating starts for the Marlies.
Shortly after Gustavsson was assigned to the AHL for a two-week conditioning stint, he had to pull himself from a Feb. 9 game with an elevated heart rate. The 26-year-old needed a third heart ablation procedure and was placed on injured reserve.
Soon after, Rynnas was sidelined for a month with a broken finger, leaving Scrivens as the team’s only minor-league goalie.
The injuries have changed Burke’s focus ahead of the Feb. 28 deadline. It was once thought Giguere might be a candidate for a trade, but that is no longer the case.
The 33-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and had been anxious to finish the season on a high note. Those plans now appear to be on hold.
“Yeah, (it’s) frustrating,” Giguere said in Buffalo. “I thought I was kind of getting beyond the injury.”