The Leafs have spent a long time searching for a true #1 goalie. Raycroft, Toskala, Giguere, Scrivens, The Monster, Reimer, and Bernier among others. The list isn’t exactly full of great goalies but at the time they were acquired most had potential. The only guy that came in on the downside of his career was Giguere and I have to say, he was a delight to have here. He was what he was and you couldn’t knock him for that. The rest failed for various reasons. Whether it was The Monsters wonky groin, Reimers wonky head, Berniers inconsistency or Toskalas…… everything, they all found a way out of town.
The search has continued unabated however. Much like the search for a true #1C, it has proven to be a tough task. Through good lottery fortune and a future team in Vegas it seems that both searches could soon come to a close.
No team is built in one way. No team that has won the cup has trotted out a group full of guys they drafted. Nor has a team that won it all been nothing but trade acquisitions. It takes all the tools in your toolbox to fix a complicated problem. Shanny and co. are currently using all of those tools.
Our #1C looks like it will come through the draft. Our wealth of draft picks are coming from free agency. Our search for a #1 goalie has come from a trade.
The Leafs could have looked at many different options. Fleury could be on the move but he’s on the wrong side of 30 these days. Bishop or Vasilevskiy could still move but Vasilevskiy isn’t proven enough for a team like Tampa to run with if they want to win now, so they need to keep Bishop. Expect them to take more time to finalize their decision. Other teams with a number of quality goaltenders were talked about as trade partners. St. Louis with Elliott and Allen, Minnesota with Dubnyk and Kuemper, even Colorado with Varlamov and Pickard.
No matter what though, people kept circling back around to the Ducks. The team with arguably two legit starters but one that is so young, with so much upside, that everybody knew who would eventually move.
Our boy Frederik Andersen
So lets take a closer look at how these two spent their year so those that think we didn’t get a guy thats good enough can rest a little easier.
Gibson stole the crease this year and didn’t give it back, thats what it looks like at first glance. However, before Gibsons first game of the year on November 24th this is what happened…
Andersen was pegged as the starter while Gibson was sent to the AHL for more seasoning to start the year. Before being injured, Andersen started 15 games and went 4-7-4. Terrible, terrible record. He did that while posting great numbers though. He allowed a paltry 2 goals or less in 8 of his first 10 starts while only 3 and 4 pucks went behind him in the other two games. During the first 10 games the Ducks were shutout 5 times and scored just a single goal 2 more times. By the time Gibson took the net the entire team had turned a corner. He didn’t put the team on his back and show them the way. He simply continued right where Andersen left off at the right time.
Fast forward to the playoffs and you find out who the guy was that the team felt they could turn to. After Gibson blew 2 games to start the playoffs Andersen was given the green light, and he didn’t let his team down. They certainly let him down again though. He played five games and didn’t allow more than 2 goals while posting 1 shutout. He won his first three games but in the end the Ducks just couldn’t score enough goals. They lost games 6 and 7 by scores of 3-1 and 2-1. Thats just not good enough. Frederik finished his playoff year with a 3-2 record, a 0.947 SV% and a 1.47 GAA. Just read those stats again and ask yourself if it was goaltending that failed to win the Ducks their series.
So now that we know the real story, lets push past the “he lost the net” narrative and discuss the fit. We are talking about a guy that sat on the sidelines for chunks of this year and didn’t complain. He was a good teammate, a good professional, a good person for the Ducks. He was a steadying presence in the playoffs, as evidenced by their decision to turn to him when their young star showed to be a little too inconsistent. This is what Toronto needs if you ask me.
Meanwhile, the Leafs are acquiring a lot of two ways players. Both on the bluline and in the forward positions. They want guys that can defend as well as score goals. To me, this means Freddy will eventually get the same top notch defense he was getting in Boudreaus system, while getting more goal support. This means you can expect a low GAA, high SV% and a chance to win every night. Thats going to help our kids with their confidence, as well as make any free agents take a second glance at Toronto this summer. *waves at Stammer* “Hiya buddy!!”
So all in all, the cost was a little steep but the checklist looks like this:
Great Size? Check. Acceptable cost? Check. High Skill level? Check. Great attitude? Check. Great fit? Check.
What more could we want?