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Leafs need upgrade in goal or on defense

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Toronto Maple Leafs blowing two-goals leads in consecutive games to the New York Islanders and New York Rangers has some observers questioning their goaltending.

Following the Leafs’ 7-4 loss to the Islanders, Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons suggested Ben Scrivens’ poor performance and James Reimer allowing a pair of “dubious goals” in an earlier victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins were indications an upgrade was needed between the pipes.

Noting the boos showered upon the Leafs by their fans during the loss to the Islanders, Simmons believes calls for the Leafs to acquire the Vancouver Canucks’ Roberto Luongo will increase if the goaltending doesn’t improve.

Simmons' colleague, Terry Koshan, echoed that opinion, but believed the cost of obtaining a 33-year-old goalie with a lengthy contract wasn't worth it.

Koshan reported Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis would like to acquire more experience, but until then Scrivens and Reimer will remain the Leafs tandem.

Reimer, who turned aside 37 of the 42 shots he faced, wasn't at fault for Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Rangers, as his defense failed him after the Leafs took a 2-0 lead into the second period.

Veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf and rookie blueliner Mike Kostka both played more than 30 minutes and each was a minus-4. The over-worked Phaneuf needs help and, while Kostka has played admirably, he's not ready yet to handle those big minutes.

If upgrading the Leafs goaltending isn't possible, pursuing more experienced defensemen would be an option – and possibly a more affordable one.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I LUON-GO NOW?

Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis last week told Team 1040 radio Vancouver he was “absolutely comfortable” retaining Luongo and dismissed suggestions the current situation was unfair to Luongo and Cory Schneider.

Gillis has good reason to be unconcerned over this situation. Luongo gets along well with Schneider, doesn't put himself above the team and his professionalism has earned the praise of management and teammates alike.

It's assumed when Gillis finally trades Luongo, it'll be to an Eastern Conference team, like the Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers or Florida Panthers, but he indicated having no qualms with shipping Luongo to a Western Conference team for the right price.

Luongo has been linked to the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks in the rumor mill, but it would require a substantial offer for Gillis to ship him to either club, provided Luongo was willing to waive his no-trade clause.

Regardless, Gillis appears content to remain patient in the hopes Luongo's market value increases before he pulls the trigger.

YANNICK AT THE DISCO-NTENTED

The trade status of unsigned restricted free agent P.K. Subban dominates headlines in Montreal, but there's another Habs defenseman who might become bait.

Renaud Lavoie of RDS.ca reported little-used 24-year-old Yannick Weber, who tallied 21 points in 32 games in Switzerland's National League A during the lockout, isn't demanding a trade, but is frustrated over his inability to find a spot in the Canadiens lineup.

Should Subban re-sign and Rafael Diaz continue his improvement, Weber (a restricted free agent at season's end) could become the odd man out, especially with the salary cap dropping to $64.3 million next season.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.

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