With the acquisition of Vesa Toskala, The Leafs are poised to enter next season with a battle for the number one spot in goal, just like last year, only this time its serious. I mean, how many people actually thought that Aubin had a shot at being the number one goaltender? Sure he played good at the end of the 05/06 season, but there was no pressure on him. He was backing up Telqvist who was backing up the injured Belfour. He had virtually no pressure at all. Many people believed that he could carry that flare into the next season and challenge for the number one position, including Leafs’ management. That put a lot of pressure on Aubin and he collapsed in no time flat.
Raycroft did not really have a problem competing with Aubin for that number one position because he knew that he could easily outplay him. Well exit Aubin and enter……Vesa Toskala…now Razor is panicking and he should be. Toskala played this game last year with none other than Evgeni Nabokov and it sure was an exciting competition. Both goaltenders put up great numbers with Toskala going 26-10-1 with 4 shutouts and Nabokov going 25-16-4 with 7 shutouts. Toskala eventually got injured and by the time he had returned, San Jose had decided that they would just ride Nabokov the rest of the way.
The goaltending battle between Toskala and Nabokov was a healthy competition as both goaltenders knew that they would be competing with each other before the season had begun and they were very similar in terms of skill. John Ferguson Jr. mentioned in an interview that the Raycroft/Toskala duo will create a healthy goaltending competition for the Leafs, but I seem to the think otherwise. Andrew Raycroft walked out of the dressing room expecting to come back next season as the Leafs’ number one goaltender. Well, in comes Vesa Toskala, who is far more superior than Raycroft in terms of skill and reflexes to challenge Raycroft, who is now faced with the fight of his life. This situation may provide Raycroft with the extra motivation to step up and be the number one goaltender, but I honestly believe the added pressure will completely collapse his game. This could be a problem for the Leafs organization. Yes they have Toskala, but the competition could affect the entire dressing room, especially if the competition gets heated. The last thing you want is to ruin the chemistry in the dressing room. The best thing for the Leafs to do is try and trade Raycroft and continue on with signing Curtis Joseph as a back-up goaltender, instead of having two number one’s. I know that many of you do not consider Raycroft a number one, but the Leafs’ organization does, which means that at the beginning of the season he will likely see just as much ice time as Toskala. Whether Razor is ready for the competition or not, Vesa Toskala thrives on this situation and I know it wont take him long to solidify himself as the Leafs number one goaltender.