Garret Sparks

by Jason Banks on October 12, 2017

Garret Sparks, G

Catches: L

Height: 6-2

Weight: 205

Born: 1993-06-28

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL, USA

Drafted: 2011 by Toronto Maple Leafs, 190th Overall

 

 

 

 

 

Observations:

 

October 2017 – Changes were expected in the off season with the organization needing to tend to its netminder situation. The team took the high road, opting to bringing back the longest serving in the system to a fairly undeserved two-year deal with the final year being guaranteed one-way money. Sparks always seems to perform in the top tier statistically during the regular season, but he has an inability to get the job done in the playoffs. He failed to stand out in training camp in limited action giving current backup Curtis McElhinney no contest for the job and as the dust settled for season opening, the Leafs claimed a much stronger 3rd string/backup off waivers, Calvin Pickard. Now the organization is faced with a new dilemma in net, and it seems to be a case of who goes and how. They need to keep space open for AHL backup Kasmir Kaskisuo to develop, but either McElhinney has to move on or Sparks. Sparks is the odds-on favorite to be dealt, but the question is where the market is. Garrett started both the AHL games over the weekend, doing his part to secure a pair of wins, while not sharp he made big saves at meaningful times. I felt he was struggling to track the puck and spent much of the time scrambling in his crease in basic puck front scenarios, much like you seen from Tim Thomas. The organization might be trying to create a market for him, as in my opinion there are a few teams lacking a quality 3rd string netminder, for which he would be a much needed upgrade on current situations. He continues to be a fringe prospect, one that should only be acquired if he has a job in hand and you’ve exhausted all other options. Jason Banks

 

January 2017 – In the last seven games the 4th string goalie has taken flight and has commanded more playing time as a result. Despite only receiving a 4-3 record since Christmas, he has earned a 1.74 GAA and .935 SV% rate in the last 30 days. He is on the edge of being a ‘Qualified’ goalie in terms of the AHL leaderboard and will rank 2nd or 3rd in terms of stats when he does reach that designation. His stats are deceiving in his quality of goaltending, but notable in the fact that in fantasy hockey we only care about production, ‘what’ you produce not as much as ‘how’ you do it. In terms of NHL quality, that he is not, nor do I feel he will be, but as long as he is in North America playing minor pro, he will seemingly grab attention by posting these quality numbers while on quality teams. Keep in mind in four professional seasons he has played only 132 games which is 33 games per year (by year end closer to 36/year). That is not a large work load for a quality NHL prospect developing. He is more of an organizational 3rd stringer that has less than 50% chance of breaking through. I see a pro career similar to that of former AHL superstar Frederic Cassivi. Jason Banks

 

April 2016 – With the trading of James Reimer, the 22-year-old became the heir to the secondary job in the blue and white net. Early on, GM Lou Lamoriello stated that both young goaltenders would be given looks, but Antoine Bibeau has done nothing to earn a shot, whereas Sparks has done little to keep the job. He has had a couple of good results in games, but I am yet to see him play a solid quiet game that makes me feel he is NHL capable. Since posting notable quality results in three of his first four starts, his GAA has steadily rose while his SV% has been declining, but it is concerning when you consider his workload hasn’t been overly large for a poor quality team at 27.3 shots per game. He has shown and is still on a good career-growth pattern upwards, all the while mounting valuable experience, he is not currently at a level that makes him worth utilizing let alone owning. The Leafs will make big decisions in net over the summer, should they acquire a legit backup goalie or do they go through the growing pains with a marginal young goalie. I’m placing odds at around 20% that he will be the backup in the Leafs net next season and as a RFA with a pair of more naturally talented goaltenders needing the AHL time, Sparks may find himself out of the organizational plans. He is a last resort, shot in the dark prospect at this moment. Jason Banks

 

December 2015 – November has ended historically for the young netminder shutting out the Oilers and becoming the most talked about player in Toronto for a week. As nice as the shutout was, he wasn’t overly solid, but fought hard and did what was needed against the worst team in the NHL. Edmonton only scores at a pace of 2.48 goals per game and was the third time they have been shutout. Mike Babcock has already stated that Sparks will be given the Winnipeg game if James Reimer is not ready to play, he cited that ‘James is a Winnipeg native, so he gets the game unless he can’t’. I think healthy or not, Sparks should receive it based on putting down a shutout, it’s just how you show appreciation. Longer-term, it’s still recommended you avoid owning Sparks and banking on his future, let someone else take the gamble and concentrate on the many much more talented prospects to be had. Jason Banks

 

November 2015 – There has been bunch of ‘white noise’ being made in the local media of the organization’s number four goalie lately. Sparks won the AHL ‘Player of the Week’ award on the back of shutting out the Hartford Wolf Pack a team that has the worst scoring in the Eastern Conference by a wide margin at barely over 2 goals per game, and also beat Binghamton Senators who is fighting for worst in the Conference. Not as impressive when you dive into his results, eh. That said, he has done a good job when called upon, but is subject to bi-polarism in his that drives coaches and more importantly, fantasy owners up a wall. If your looking to play Roulette, pick the Green ‘0’ before you put your hard earned money on Sparks at this point. Jason Banks

 

September 2015 – With the recent trading out of AHL starter Christopher Gibson, Garret Sparks is almost assured a regular Toronto Marlies gig. Sparks had an excellent season in the ECHL last year and preformed strong in a pair of AHL appearances. He has spent much of the offseason working on his game and working with others in creating his own goaltending clinic. Antoine Bibeau holds the title of being the Leafs’ top goalie prospect, but Sparks is the most experienced and will compete head to head and likely receive NHL recalls if needed, but he will need to play at least comparative to Bibeau for that perk. Sparks looked solid in his half of the pre-season game vs Montreal. Jason Banks

 

October 2014 – After a lack-luster training camp, Sparks will start his activity in the ECHL for the Orlando Solar Bears. Outside of the nicer temperatures in Florida for the winter, the positives for him only run as deep as the fact he has the opportunity to be a workhorse goalie and improve on several areas of his game. His confidence will have been shaken as he has lost out to his friendly rival last season, Chris Gibson and the team has seemed to jump on Antoine Bibeau as the main guy to develop. To be successful, Sparks will need to take this step back in stride and utilize it effectively for his development chart to move in a more positive manner. You should not be holding or considering him at this point. Jason Banks

 

December 2013 – Sparks started the season in the AHL with three games, two of which were poor results. He looks much better in the crease, size wise, than in my viewing last year, an issue that may have been fixed in camp by the new goaltending staff. In the ECHL his results are much stronger, where he has a .924 save percentage in nine games. During an open practice, Steve Spott discussed the fact Drew MacIntyre would be the main starter for the Toronto Marlies, while both Sparks and Christopher Gibson will be rotated up and down from the American league to the East Coast giving them a chance to both learn from the veteran pro on how he prepares and works for games, but also to allow them strings of starts to worth on their game. According to this plan, Sparks is due to be recalled sometime after the holidays, but Gibson has played strongly in his three games, so that might be delayed. During the open practice it was interesting to compare goalies during skills, MacIntyre the more acrobatic and erratic vet, showed strength in rebound control and directing pucks, where as you could see the amount of work Sparks needed in this area. I also felt Sparks relied heavily on his trapper hand, sometimes with great efficiency, but also had major blunders. I wouldn’t advise holding him at the moment as his path looks long, but keep an eye on him as the Leafs will need a solid third option that could handle promotion within a couple years. Jason Banks

 

May 2013 – Sparks has shown very good growth this season in junior and has gained much experience in many situations all over the map this season. He played as the number one guy in Guelph, was a reserve goalie for the USA in the world junior championships, and is now circulating in the AHL as the backup goalie for the Marlies. I viewed him in early 2012 during his first season as an OHL starter, his play made me cringe a bit as he was very erratic, inconsistent and overplayed shooters which created more work for him, put him in difficult recovery positions for rebounds and emergency situations than needed. I was rather surprised when he stepped in the AHL this spring and did not look out of place in his trio of games. His movement was much more controlled, he was taking away angles but also allowing his extremities do the work and he looked confidant in what he was doing. His glove was strong both coming up on shots, out and above the shoulder where many struggle, he also showed control and good puck placement with his blocking hand. For the size he is listed at, he looks rather small in the net, personally the past several seasons I’ve become accustom to seeing very large 6’4 or bigger goalies in blue, white and silver, I’m yet to figure out if his set stance is taking away from his net coverage, pad selection or if it is just me and what I’ve become used too. He will not likely see crease time in the playoffs, but should consistently be found on the bench. Next season he will turn pro, but I question where he will be. The Leafs are currently working on an agreement to have an ECHL affiliate for next season so I’ve been told by the Marlies management, and it might be best for Sparks to turn in a full year as a starter at that level before jumping in to the AHL as a backup. But with only he and the questionable Mark Owuya signed for next season, the possibilities are endless. Jason Banks

 

March 2013 - The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed goaltender Garret Sparks to a three-year entry level contract. Sparks finished among the top 10 in all OHL goaltending categories including GAA (2.65, 7th), save percentage (0.917, 5th), wins (36, T-1st), shutouts (7, T-1st), minutes played (3440, 1st), and saves (1672, 2nd). Brendan Ross

 

January 2013 – Garret Sparks is a large goaltender with strong technical skills and he has very good rebound control. His play has been inconsistent in his first few OHL season but the third year goaltender has been steady for the Guelph Storm improving in all statistical categories and he currently sits among the top-10 in every one. After serving as the third string goaltender for the gold medal winning Team USA squad at the 2013 WJHC, Sparks has returned to Guelph to lead his team to a long playoff run. Sparks is among the league leaders in shutouts (5) and his development is heading in the right direction.  Brendan Ross

 

Fantasy Outlook: C

 

Has had good showings and numbers in his pro experiances and has been maintainance free where ever the team has assigned him. Shows an ability to be unbeatable in some games, but is still inconsistant in high pressure situations due to trying to do too much. Trending sideways. 

 

Footage:

 

Post-game events after first NHL game.

 

 

Sparks highlights in 2015 Rookie Showcase vs Penguins.

 

 

Spark filling in for Slash at ECHL All-star game.

 

 

Sparks discusses training camp and his overall game after a prospect contest vs Chicago

 

 

Sparks throws a fun bodycheck during his welcoming to the AHL in 2012-13

 

 

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