Analysis: Maple Leafs pick up old starter to be new backup

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

It didn't take long for the Toronto Maple Leafs to find their backup goalie.

Curtis Joseph will make his return to Hogtown next year as the veteran netminder signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the team Tuesday.

In terms of master plans, Cujo gives the Leafs that bridge year, where star prospect Justin Pogge can be the man with the American League's Marlies while Vesa Toskala continues to do the heavy lifting down the road at the Air Canada Centre. Assuming Pogge has a good campaign, he could back up Toskala for the 2009-10 season.

Ironically, the Leafs still need another goaltender to play alongside Pogge with the Marlies next season. Scott Clemmensen won't be coming back, but someone of his ilk is desirable. Frederic Cassivi and Drew MacIntyre could fit the bill and wouldn't cost much.

In Joseph, the Leafs have a solid backup who can still start 15-20 games (though he won't need to unless Toskala gets injured) and won't get booed at home like Andrew Raycroft was this season.

Toronto had some of its finest recent playoff moments with Joseph between the pipes in the late 1990s and early in the 21st century and though that was a long time ago, he proved he could still be effective in Calgary this year when he posted a respectable 2.55 goals-against average in nine regular season appearances to go with a 3-2-0 record.

Of concern of course, is Joseph's age. The erstwhile tender is already 41 and only played half of this season – he went unsigned until the Flames picked him up in January.

After a rough 5-0 loss to Edmonton in his debut with Calgary, Cujo really settled down. Other than a five-goal hiccup against Atlanta, he never gave up more than two goals in nine other games (seven regular season, two playoff appearances).

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