It looks like after two weeks since the Leafs sent goaltending prospect, Justin Pogge, down to the minor leagues, they're gearing up to bring him back up to give him a prolonged stint in with the Buds.
Things have not been right for Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala. After coming of a strong season he wasn't able to put it together at all - at times he cost the Maple Leafs games. In the last 12 games played Toskala is 3-7-1, a 4.16 GAA, and a 0.866 save percentage. Horrible numbers, that give him the 42nd best Save Percentage in the League, and the 43rd best GAA.
What makes it even harder for this team is that every single game that the Leafs win they are going to win because they work hard. That's it - because of relentless work. Now, when a goalie like Toskala is "off his game" for a prolonged period of time, and is helping the Leafs lose games that they deserved to win, there is a problem, beyond the Leafs fans tired of seeing the struggling goalie playing in net, it can't be good for team morale.
But, it's not like Brian Burke is put in a position where he has to "resort" to the blue-chipper either, down with the Toronto Marlies, Pogge has CERTAINLY
been making a strong case to be brought back up. Since being sent down, in eight games Justin Pogge has posted a 1.159 GAA and a 0.933 save percentage and a 4-2-1 record. He's improved his stats, which were once mediocre to a 0.899 save percentage and a 2.57 goals against average. A week or so ago Brian Burke said this about giving Pogge time in the NHL,
"It's not because he's earned it," Burke said. "It's because we have to see what we have in him."
Fair enough, but Pogge has picked up his game and he's earned his shot, especially considering the goaltending mess up here. Reports from the National Post suggest that Pogge is going to be getting the call soon - and a call that's somewhat earned.
Pogge was once a highly touted goaltender, he played with team Canada at the World Juniors, and coming out of the WHL he was thought to the future face of the franchise. That talk was short lived, he came in and put up mediocre numbers. This had partly to do with the obvious step up from the WHL, and partly to do with the fact that he's known to have a bit of an ego. Sometimes his cockiness gets in the way of his play, and it's something he's worked on since joining the Leafs organization.
Almost exactly a year ago Pogge had this to say,
"I want to make the Leafs just as bad as anybody else wants me to make the Leafs. That's what lights the fire under my ass."
All athlete's have some sort of a proud attitude, but it can't get in the way of the way he performs. But now he's is finally going to get his legitimate chance.
Let's hope he will take it and run, as this is probably the biggest moment in Pogge's entire NHL life, the Leafs are giving him the chance for him to take the number one job. If he fails to 'wow' Brian Burke, Wilson, Nonis, Fletcher and Co., I think they might be tempted to use a relatively high draft pick, in the 2nd round, to select a goalie. Either way I think it's a move that must be made, I've said before that goaltending insurance is a department that should be addressed at this year's draft. I don't see, in any situation, the Leafs going after one of the free agents that are coming up this June(Backstrom, Thomas), for one they're older goalies and by the time we're ready to compete they would be exiting their prime. Two, I think goaltenders should be homegrown, that's why I'm such a fan of drafting or AT LEAST trading for a young NHL ready prospect.
Drafting would work because even if we give that goalie three years to develop, they would very likely be ready to challenge for the starter job by the time we're really ready to compete(if Pogge is not our definite number one by then).
But again, it's all up to Pogge, on how our goaltending situation looks this June.
"I don't want to sound cocky, but (the NHL) is where I want to be," Pogge said about a year ago. "That's my goal, and I like to accomplish my goals."
Hopefully that aggressive attitude is what helps secure his spot as future of the franchise once he gets the call.