On July 1, 2023, the New Jersey Devils signed a new goaltender. That goalie was former Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Erik Kallgren. Kallgren had what was an odd run with the Maple Leafs. He seemed as if he could become a solid goalie, especially for a youngster; however, it also seemed as if he was always going to be a stop-gap with Toronto.

In my mind, it was time for him to move on.

Related: Maple Leafs’ New Season: Deja Vu All Over Again?

What Is Kallgren’s Status with the Devils?

The Devils signed Kallgren to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2023-24 season. The contract is worth the NHL league minimum of $775,000 at the NHL level. However, it’s a bit more valuable at the American Hockey League (AHL) level. There he will earn $450,000.

This signing puts Kallgren in line as the organization’s third-string goalie with the Devils. However, he’s also expected to be the starting goalie for their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets.

Kallgren’s Time with the Maple Leafs

Kallgren played two seasons in the Maple Leafs organization. His record last season was a modest 3-2-4; however, his 2.67 goals against average (GAA) and .898 save percentage improved during the last season over the season previously.

Kallgren played in 10 NHL games for the Maple Leafs and 24 games for the Toronto Marlies. In the AHL, he put up a 10-9-2 record.

There’s a Chance Kallgren Can Become a Good NHL Goalie

Now, at 26 years old, Kallgren might be at a crossroads in his career. He’s a player who needs more consistent chances to reach his full potential than he had with the Maple Leafs. To my mind, his frequent moves up and down between the NHL and AHL hindered his development. He just wasn’t the guy in either place with Toronto.

If you are a Kallgren fan, as I am, look for him to play much better (and develop much more smoothly if he does) if he can get more structure in his game. That means, to me, that if he stays at the AHL level and plays regularly, he should improve his game.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kallgren, Reaves, Treliving & Brodie

The Life of an NHL Backup Can Be Up and Down

Players like Kallgren play unique roles in the NHL. As a depth goalie in his position, he might be forced to move up to the big club if there are unexpected injuries – as there always seem to be. He needs to be prepared for unexpected opportunities, particularly when injuries affect those goalies ahead of him on the Devils’ depth chart.

Erik Kallgren, Maple Leafs’ Goalie

Kallgren’s status might make him a wildcard for the 2023-24 season, just as it did in his two seasons previously with the Maple Leafs. However, if the Devils goalies can play without significant injuries, fans might only see Kallgren on rare occasions. Specifically, he could be brought in to provide a rest for Vitek Vanecek or Akira Schmid.

I Hope Kallgrean Plays the Season in the AHL

Because I continue to be a Kallgren fan, even though he moved to another team, I hope he gets to play the entire season (or most of it) in the AHL. That would offer him the best chance to develop some consistency in his game. I remain convinced he could become a strong NHL-caliber goalie. He has in fact tended his team to an SHL championship.

The Bottom Line

Kallgren’s play during the 2023-24 season will help determine his NHL potential. I know I will follow his play this season with interest, as I do with other former Maple Leafs players.

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