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Leafs bring back Sparks, McElhinney on multi-year deals

Leafs bring back Sparks, McElhinney on multi-year deals

In a surprising move on Saturday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs decided to keep veteran backup Curtis McElhinney on board for the upcoming season, inking him to a multi-year deal that will keep him behind Frederik Andersen until the end of the 2018-19 campaign.

In another somewhat surprising move, though, he wasn’t the only multi-year deal signed, as the club also managed to keep Garret Sparks on for another two years in what will presumably be a third goaltender role behind both Andersen and McElhinney.

Sparks will come back after having another solid campaign at the AHL level, posting a .922 save percentage and five shutouts through 31 regular season games for the Toronto Marlies.

His year was still a bit of a step back, though. He was suspended during the middle of the year for a social media altercation, and he failed to record a single game at the NHL level after getting a stint up with the Maple Leafs during the 2015-16 season.

It was expected that he would be extended when the Leafs qualified him and not fellow AHLer Antoine Bibeau, as the younger goaltender struggled at the minor league level for yet another season. Still, seeing a multi-year deal for a player who will eventually need waivers to remain with the Marlies (and has a very good AHL track record so far) is a bit surprising for Toronto.

McElhinney comes as a shock for a similar reason.

The veteran put up decent numbers after his arrival in Toronto during the 2016-17 campaign, posting a .914 save percentage through 14 regular season games. At age 34, though, seeing him stick around for the next two years – particularly when that could mean blocking a move up for Sparks for the following year – is a bit questionable.

About The Author

Cat Silverman

Catherine is the first American in a long line of Canadians, making her the black sheep before she even decided she wasn't going to be a Leafs fan. Writer for Today's Slapshot, InGoal Magazine, and Coyotes.NHL.com, coach in the Arizona Coyotes Department of Hockey Development. Goalies are not voodoo.

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