What was once thought to be a Toronto Maple Leafs’ wasteland – their goalie depth – has suddenly been shown to be a strength of the organization.
It started this offseason with the pickup of two goalies that many Maple Leafs’ fans thought were on the NHL goalie scrap heap. Those goalies were Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. To say that Maple Leafs’ fans were annoyed with general manager Kyle Dubas’ decision to put up and then bet the bank on two goalies who were seen to be washed up is an understatement.
But what seemed like a way to flush salary-cap space down the toilet has, instead, turned into a benefit for the Maple Leafs. As the season has unfolded, the team has discovered that it now has two goalies who give them a chance to win every game.
Both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov Are Near the Top of NHL Goalie Statistics
Currently, both Murray and Samsonov are so successful in the net that the Maple Leafs are flying high. Both goalies are near the top of NHL goalie statistics. After nine games, Samsonov is now in second place in the NHL’s goals-against-average with 2.09. Also after nine games, Murray’s sixth with a goals-against-average of 2.34. In the category of save percentage, Murray is tied for second at .932 and Samsonov is fifth at .924.
Both are ahead of goalies most fans think are the best in the NHL – the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.
However, these two goalies are not the only goalies in the Maple Leafs’ system. In this post, I’ll take a look at goalies number three and four in the organization. They are Erik Kallgren and Joseph Woll.
Goalie #3: Erik Kallgren
When both Maple Leafs’ Murray and Samsonov were injured, Erik Kallgren became the team’s de facto starter. In the NHL this season, the young Swedish goalie played 10 games and put together a record of 3-2-4. He did a really good job covering for the both goalies, either when both were injured as the starter; or, when one was injured, as the backup. He played the same role this season as he did in 2021-22.
Kallgren has now returned to the AHL. In his first start with the Toronto Marlies, he stopped all but two of the 28 shots he faced during the game. Kallgren’s game was outstanding. The Marlies’ coach Greg Moore had some compliments to send Kallgren’s way. Moore shared that Kallgren “was great and gave us a great chance to win.”
Moore went on to suggest that Kallgren made “big saves and looked really composed and calm. There were a couple of tough ones on the backdoor where his athleticism and his skating allowed him to get there. You can’t say enough about the work he has put in and where he’s at in his career.”
Funny thing about hockey. In his 2021-22 Marlies’ season, Kallgren played 26 games and put together a 15-8-1 record, a goals-against-average of 3.02 and a save percentage of .904. This season, in his return to the Marlies, he’s lost both games he’s played with an 0-2-0 record. Yet, his save percentage is exactly the same at .904 and his goals-against-average is better than it was last season at 2.93. Odd.
Related: Dubas “Sow’s-Ear” Goalies Have Become Maple Leafs’ Silk Purse
Goalie #4: Joseph Woll
Joseph Woll has now played three games since returning to the Marlies from his injury. In his last game just a couple of days ago, he stopped all but one of 33 shots to record his third straight win since returning from injury. He wasn’t able to pull off the shutout; still, he put together a great game in the net. He stopped almost everything and he controlled the rebounds well.
As his head coach Greg Moore noted, although Woll was bumped a few times, “He has done a really good job of not getting rattled.”
Moore added that, “since my time here, there has been tremendous growth. He is a very athletic goalie, and he sometimes relied on that athleticism to make saves. Sometimes, it could feel a little all over the place. Now, he is so controlled. He is working on a great system. His skating is strong, and now he only uses his athleticism to bail him out of a situation. He gives us a very calm presence back there, which a team always plays well in front of.”
The Skinny: What’s the Situation with the Marlies?
Interestingly, given the quality of the goalies with the AHL’s Marlies, is there a goalie problem? As in, are there too many good young goalies to give them all adequate playing time?
Both Kallgren and Woll are playing well. However, Keith Petruzzelli and Dylan Ferguson also suit up for the Marlies. Now what?
There might be a few goalie moves coming down the Marlies’ pike. That said, can any organization have too many good young goalies? That’s a problem every team would love to have.