Over the past few games, before the all-star break, it has become apparent to me as a fan, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to pay whatever price necessary to get a quality backup goaltender.
In his last seven games, Leafs’ starter Frederik Andersen hasn’t looked like his usual dominant self, allowing six goals in against Chicago, four goals against both Florida and New Jersey, and three goals against in both two games against Winnipeg and versus Edmonton. The lone game he played on top of his game in that stretch was against Calgary, allowing only one goal against. This season, he is posting the worst save percentage of his career, at .909, and a higher than usual goals against average of 2.89.
Now, to be clear, I’m not blaming the team’s starter alone for this recent stretch. The goalie who fans affectionately call ‘Freddie’ has taken on the largest workload for this team, starting in 39 of the team’s 49 games played. If the Leafs are to have any success in the post season, the Leafs need to find a goalie that can take at least some of the work off the starter to allow him some rest. Andersen’s recent play is also the product of a young, and defensively irresponsible team. For a team that struggles this much in their own zone it would be beneficial to make the team’s second biggest strength, behind offense, be its goal tending.
In the last several years, the teams that have made it to the Stanley Cup final have had a strong goalie tandem. In 2018, the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup with a tandem of Braden Holtby and Phillip Grubauer. The 2019 Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup finals with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. The 2017 Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins had two starting goalies on their playoff roster in Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray. If the Leafs truly believe they are a contender for Lord Stanley’s cup, they need to find a goaltender who can either challenge Andersen for games, or at least take some of the workload off of him.
In recent days there have been rumours, the Leafs are interested in Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Tristan Jarry from the Pittsburgh Penguins, to bolster the position. Either of these would be excellent pickups, and if other options are out there, Leafs management needs to at least explore them, as the current goalie tandem in Toronto just isn’t cutting it.