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Three years ago today, the Leafs made a significant pivot in net

Published July 23, 2023 at 12:22
BY MIKE ARMENTI

Back in the summer of 2018, Kyle Dubas, in his first season as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, made a decision to move on from veteran backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney after a sensational 2017-18 campaign that saw him post a .934 SV% as 2nd fiddle to the team's starting goaltender, Frederik Andersen.

The decision was made to open up a path for then Marlies starter Garret Sparks to the NHL. Sparks was coming off of a sensational season in the AHL where he posted a 31-9-1 record with a 1.79 GAA and a .936 SV%, capturing the Calder Cup. Unfortunately, the following season was a disaster for Sparks, who posted an 8-9-1 record for the Leafs, with a 3.15 GAA and a .902 SV%.

Following that season, the Leafs lost faith in the young netminder, and on this day 3 years ago, July 23rd, 2020, Kyle Dubas finally admitted that the Sparks project wasn't working and traded him to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for the LTIR contract of ex-Leafs forward David Clarkson and a 2020 4th round pick.

The move was a significant one for the Leafs, who then turned to a group of netminders that included the aforementioned Andersen, as well as Jack Campbell, Michael Hutchinson and, eventually, deadline acquisition David Rittich. Sparks has since played in just 3 NHL games - 1 for the Golden Knights in 2020 and 2 for the Los Angeles Kings in 2021-22.


Sparks, now 30 years old, signed a 1-year deal this summer with the Pittsburgh Penguins' AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

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Three years ago today, the Leafs made a significant pivot in net

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