The Toronto Maple Leafs signed goaltender Jett Alexander to an amateur tryout agreement on Saturday and used him as the backup netminder to starter Ilya Samsonov against the Montreal Canadiens.
Alexander was a goalie for the University of Toronto in 2022-23, registering a 2.21 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 22 U Sports contests. He posted a 12-7-2 record with three shutouts this season.
The move to use Alexander as the backup on Saturday was for salary-cap reasons, as it would permit Toronto to sign standout prospect Matthew Knies as early as Sunday, per The Athletic’s James Mirtle.
Purely cap-related reasons for not having a goalie on an NHL contract. This will allow the Leafs to sign Matthew Knies as soon as tomorrow. https://t.co/zCPan8a3Hn
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) April 8, 2023
Saturday won’t be Alexander’s first taste of life in the NHL, as the 23-year-old from Bloomfield, Ont., served as the emergency goaltender for the Colorado Avalanche in a game against the Maple Leafs last season. He did not end up seeing the ice in that contest.
The Leafs are shorthanded between the pipes as Matt Murray is currently sidelined with a head injury after taking an awkward fall during last Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters Murray is improving but has not been on the ice since suffering the injury.
Toronto also reassigned Joseph Woll to the AHL’s Marlies on Friday.
The game against the rival Canadiens isn’t particularly meaningful for the Leafs, as the team has already locked up second place in the Atlantic Division with a first-round playoff rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning on the docket.
Montreal is firmly entrenched in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes and currently owns the sixth-best odds of winning the NHL Draft Lottery.