After many seasons of struggle, it would seem that the Toronto Maple Leafs finally are developing a group of their own goalies. For seasons, it seems to me, the Maple Leafs filled the net with goalies who have come to them in trades or signings.

I might be unique in this respect, but I look forward to the team developing its own players. So, for me, the fact that there are a number of good young goalies around is a positive change.


The Toronto Marlies Crease is Crowded

The Toronto Marlies crease is crowded. The AHL team has a number of goalies on its roster. Chief among these are Joseph Woll, Erik Kallgren, Keith Petruzzelli, and now Dennis Hildeby. [Dryden McKay and Luke Cavallin are currently with the Newfoundland Growlers.]

Hildeby is the team’s fourth-round pick from last year’s NHL Entry Draft. He was recently assigned to the Marlies to finish the season and get him up to speed in North America (particularly in Toronto). It would seem that, potentially, he might be in line for a full-time gig with the Marlies next season.

Hildeby is a promising prospect. Playing for Farjestads BK Karlstad, he had an impressive 2021-22 campaign, with a 3-2-0 record, a shutout, and a .931 save percentage against quality competition in Sweden. In his first full-time pro season in 2022-23, his record was 11-9-0, with three shutouts and a .918 save percentage. Although he played fewer games than his teammate, Matt Tomkins, his numbers were generally better. That’s a good sign for his future.

Will Hildeby Be the Maple Leafs’ Goalie of the Future?

Whether Hildeby is Toronto’s goalie of the future is difficult to determine with any certainty at this point. That said, based on his performance so far, he shows the potential to become a starting NHL goalie. That depends on how he continues to develop and perform at higher levels of competition. The Marlies would be a start.

Hildeby’s size is an advantage. He’s 6-foot-6 and over weighs over 230 pounds. He’s able to cover the net well and has improved his ability to cover angles up high. He’s also good at preventing low shots low if he keeps the paddle of his stick down. However, he might struggle to track pucks through traffic. Obviously, the Maple Leafs hope these skills will be improved with help from a goalie coach.

From what I’ve read, Hildeby is mentally tough. He stays calm and composed under pressure and doesn’t overcommit. For someone who’s so big, he knows how to use size to his advantage and he avoids wasted movements. He’s also strong side-to-side and reads cross-crease plays effectively.

Overall, Hildeby’s size, positioning, and mental toughness are promising qualities. These could help him become a successful NHL goalie. Obviously, with a goalie so raw, further development and coaching can make a big difference.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kampf, Aston-Reese & Lafferty

The Organization Should Take Their Time with Hildeby

Given the goalie prospects in the system that I mentioned when I started this post, it doesn’t seem as if there’s a need to push Hildeby toward the NHL any time soon. The Maple Leafs already have several goaltending prospects in their system.

And, don’t forget current starter Ilya Samsonov. I have no doubt the organization will re-sign him for a few seasons when his contract expires in this offseason.

My guess is that the team has landed upon Samsonov as the goalie of the present, and will try to sign him to a new contract. I also, without any reason to know better, believe that the organization sees Woll as next season’s potential backup.

Sadly for Matt Murray, who I feel sorry for personally, his injury history makes him a buyout or trade candidate. The hole will be filled by Woll, I just rhymed. With Hildeby signed until 2025, there’s no rush for pushing.

The Bottom Line with Hildeby

Maple Leafs’ fans should look for Hildeby to continue to develop and improve his game in the AHL next season. He seems to have a lot of potential. Now the rest is hard work and good coaching. The Marlies or the Growlers should give him the opportunity he needs to gain valuable experience and develop his skills.

Hildeby’s size and athleticism are a huge tease for the organization. He seems to have the potential to make an impact on this side of the pond. It should be interesting to see how he personally develops in the coming years.

However, perhaps more interesting is where that puts the Maple Leafs as an organization moving forward. It would be so nice to develop one’s own goalies. Perhaps, Hildeby will be one of them.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Zach Aston-Reese Was Once a Big Scorer: Believe It!

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