Garret Sparks was once considered to be one of the most talented goalies in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization. However, it just didn’t turn out that way. As a result, he’s travelled an interesting journey through the world of hockey.

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Sparks Was Drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2011

Sparks was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He first played in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Guelph Storm during the 2010-2011 season. Following his time with the Storm, Sparks moved to the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Toronto Marlies during the 2012-2013 season.

However, to get more seasoning, Sparks suited up in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) with the Orlando Solar Bears, where he gained valuable experience and further refined his skills. He continued to split time between the AHL and ECHL during the following seasons.

The Turning Point for Sparks was the 2017-18 Season

The turning point for Sparks came in the 2015-2016 season when he made his NHL debut with the Maple Leafs. He played 17 games, actually showing flashes of brilliance and displaying the potential to become a starting goaltender.

Garret Sparks was one of the key Maple Leafs’ prospects

In the 2017-2018 season, Sparks played a key role by leading the Marlies to a Calder Cup championship. This notable success helped solidify his value to the organization. However, he could never quite make it. During the 2018-19 season, with a strong Maple Leafs’ team, Sparks put up a losing record of 8-9-1, with a goals-against-average of 3.15 and a save percentage of .902.

As a result, on July 23, 2019, the Maple Leafs traded him to the Vegas Golden Knights for David Clarkson and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft (which turned out to be William Villeneuve).

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Sparks Kicked Around for a Few Seasons

Sparks continued to face challenges in his career. For the next few seasons, he moved around between different teams and leagues, including the Chicago Wolves, the ECHL Orlando (California) Solar Bears, and the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds during the 2022-2023 season.

Despite all these career twists and turns, Sparks remains determined to succeed. Recently, he signed with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. That’s the AHL farm team for the Pittsburgh Penguins. What’s interesting is that the Penguins are now under the leadership of former Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas.

Dubas Loves Reclamation Projects and Former Team Members

Dubas is now the president of hockey operations for the Penguins. Over the seasons, he’s developed an affinity for signing former players he knows from his relationship with them. He also loves to give players second chances to reclaim their careers. Sparks’ move is just one example of Dubas’ interest in reuniting with players from the past.

Give Sparks credit for not quitting when the going got tough. He continues to show resilience and a desire to play hockey. His path has been full of ups and downs, but he’s shown potential and determination to land somewhere.

For Sparks’ fans, it will be fun to see how he does playing in the Penguins’ organization. One thing we know, he is not a quitter. Let’s hope his hockey journey isn’t over. Wouldn’t it be great to see him one day play well in Pittsburgh?

Like Dubas, I too love successful reclamation projects.

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