The news that Campbell is out for weeks is the opposite of ideal. Some might say it’s pretty bad. The fact that the Leafs recently lost Aaron Dell on waivers to gain some flexibility in taxi squad recalls for Thornton and Robertson’s injury makes things feel a little worse, and the Leafs are once again looking at Michael Hutchinson as the Leafs backup goaltender.
This time Hutchinson is the backup, not out of poor planning, but out of the necessity. He was slated as the fourth string goaltender, but the shortage of goaltenders around the league made Aaron Dell a commodity, and Campbell’s injury, is well, why the had Dell in the first place. The fact that they are now onto Hutchinson, who is a perfectly reasonable option as a third string goaltender wouldn’t be an issue except for the decreasing confidence from Leafs fans in Freddie Andersen, but he’s actively trying to prove people wrong. Over the past three starts Andersen is sitting at a .938 save percentage which is decidedly better than he started the year at. Fingers crossed that he can perform at this level or at least somewhere in-between this level and the level he was at for his first two starts.
As for Hutchinson, his career says he’s better than he was in Toronto last season. Even the year before supports that, and his time in Colorado supports that too. If he can be a .905 save percentage goaltender, that would be ideal, but the reality is the Leafs will probably need to pick up the slack for their goaltenders, both defensively and offensively.
The Good News!
The time that Campbell is out overlaps a rare four days off stretch next week. The Leafs also aren’t slated for back to back games again until February 17th/18th against Ottawa and after that there isn’t another back to back game until March 3rd/4th where there are games against Edmonton then Vancouver. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Campbell again by that time. Between now and the end of February the Leafs play 15 times, assuming that’s how long Campbell is out, that may only mean one or two starts for Hutchinson in total, and then they can lean into Campbell more upon his return to give Andersen his necessary rest.
While there was some hope that a healthy Campbell would make his case early and often for grabbing the net away from Andersen, who is slated for unrestricted free agency, that will need to be put on hold, but as for the goaltending situation, as long as Andersen isn’t at his worst, the Leafs should be able to weather this storm.