By Stan Smith

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a goaltending crisis and it is as ugly as it gets right now. I understand the team has a $3.5 million investment in Ilya Samsonov; and, with Joseph Woll injured, they do not have many other options. Still, there is no way Samsonov should be playing. At this point, he is simply not an NHL goalie. If Samsonov were playing any position other than goal, he would be in the pressbox or the minors. Having him on the ice hurts not only him but the whole team.  

We don’t need numbers to see how badly Samsonov is playing. Our eyes tell us all we need to know. But, if we want to look at any number we need not go any further than comparing Goals Against with Expected Goals Against. In his last four Samsonov starts he has allowed 21 goals. 

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

According to, the Expected-Goals Against for the Maple Leafs over that time is 12.91. If we break that down per game it works out to an Expected-Goals Against of 3.22. Samsonov has allowed 5.25 goals per game over that span, a full two more goals per game than expected. 

The Maple Leafs need to do with Samsonov what the Edmonton Oilers did with Jack Campbell. Let him work his issues, and his game, out someplace other than in the NHL. If they were to place Samsonov on waivers he would surely clear. That would give them an additional $1.125 in cap space they can use to find a replacement, even if just a temporary one.  

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Toronto’s Two AHL Options

Toronto presently has two options in the AHL. Swede Dennis Hildeby is playing great for the Marlies but is only 22 years old. He’s only played 14 games in North America. Hildeby appears to have a promising future and some think throwing him into the fire might severely hurt his development.  

The Marlies also have 24-year-old Keith Petruzzelli. But, Petruzzelli has just 38 games in the AHL since graduating from university. Neither of these players has been in professional hockey for very long. But they would still be better options than Samsonov. 

Other cheap goalies out there are either third-stringers for NHL teams or are playing in the minors. They would be better options to help get the Maple Leafs through the next month or so while Woll heals.  

Right now the goaltending situation is as ugly as it gets. While I usually do not recommend making a panic move, this is as much of a panic situation as I have ever seen.  

The Bad

As ugly as the goaltending situation is, the loss in Columbus is not all on Samsonov. The skaters in front of him made numerous mistakes that resulted in the puck in the Toronto net.

On the first Columbus goal, Timothy Liljegren has control of the puck behind his net but falls, creating a turnover. On the second goal, all five Maple Leafs players on the ice change at the same time giving the Blue Jackets a 3 on 1. On goal #3, William Nylander takes an offensive zone hooking penalty with the teams playing four-on-four giving the Blue Jackets a four-on-three power play. On the fourth goal, Morgan Rielly is the first player to get his stick on a Columbus dump-in, but he fails to move it fast enough and gets stripped of the puck creating the scoring chance.  

That is four of the five goals where a mistake by the Maple Leafs led directly to a Blue Jackets goal. 

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The Good

Some good offensive efforts by the core players were wasted in this game.  

Auston Matthews

Matthews had a goal and an assist. The goal was Matthews’ 29th in 32 games played. He is five goals up on both Nikita Kucherov and Brock Boeser in the race for the Rocket Richard. Matthews has played three fewer games than Kucherov and four fewer games than Boeser. 

Auston Matthews RC

William Nylander

Nylander also had a goal and an assist. He and JT Miller are tied for third in NHL scoring with 48 points. Nylander has played three fewer games than Miller.  

Mitch Marner

Mitch Marner was the third member of the core players with a goal and assist. While Marner is not having a great season by his standards, he still has 38 points in 32 games. 

Morgan Rielly

Morgan Rielly had three assists in the game. Rielly has eleven points in his last eleven games and is 10th in scoring for NHL defensemen. 

What’s Next?

The Maple Leafs return home and take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. Carolina are coming off of a 5-3 win in Montreal on Thursday night and are 5-2-3 in their last five games. The usually stingy Carolina defence is not as stingy this season. The Hurricanes have given up the same number of goals as the Maple Leafs this season (115).

There is no doubt that Martin Jones will be the starter for the Maple Leafs. It will be interesting to see if the Maple Leafs will make any lineup changes for the game.  

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