The Toronto Maple Leafs have released netminder Michal Neuvirth from his professional tryout agreement.
Neuvirth was considered by many to be the preferred choice to win the backup job in support of Frederik Andersen, but the veteran goaltender was unable to stay on a consistent practice schedule throughout training camp due to an apparent injury.
Toronto’s decision to release Neuvirth comes on the heels of a 38-save shutout from Michael Hutchinson, who only received Monday’s start against the Montreal Canadiens because Neuvirth wasn’t “feeling up to it,” according to head coach Mike Babcock.
Neuvirth turned down guaranteed contracts to try out for the Leafs, a franchise he apparently dreamed of playing for before reaching the NHL.
Hutchinson is now firmly in the driver’s seat to win the backup role, but after losing two netminders through waivers before last season it’s possible that the Leafs explore the open market for goaltending help once teams start to make final roster decisions.
If Hutchinson can fill the role, he offers the Leafs maximum contract flexibility on a modest $700,000 deal. He originally came aboard in the latter half of last season after Garret Sparks failed to solidify the backup position.
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