Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Granted, it was only the Atlanta Thrashers but Justin Pogge looked very solid in his official NHL debut last night making 19 saves on 21 shots. I am a big supporter of teams leaving strong prospects in the minors to continue growing and to play a regular schedule while they are being groomed for the NHL but I think this season would have been a great opportunity for the Leafs to get Pogge some NHL Experience.

With the Leafs in rebuilding mode, and Vesa Toskala going to get a fairly significant number of games off, Pogge could have gained a significant number of minutes and pressure free NHL experience as expectations for the Leafs are considerably lower than in recent years. For whatever reason, Cliff Fletcher and the Maple Leafs brass decided it would be a better move to bring in an ageing Curtis Joseph. Nostalgia purposes aside I really don’t see much of an advantage in bringing Joseph in. His numbers have not been good this season, nor have they been for some time, and I think it’s just delaying the development of Pogge.

Granted, it is a balancing act when it comes to grooming young goaltenders in the NHL but you really can’t have a much more conducive situation for goaltending development than the situation the Leafs are in this season. If Pogge were to have been playing and had a few bad games in a row it would be no big loss. Expectations for wins this season are low and the bad games would be chalked up to growing pains. If the Leafs plan on bring Pogge up in the next couple of years to backup Toskala and he plays poorly his stock in the NHL will drop from a budding prospect to a goalie that just can’t make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

Last night Pogge showed that he has what it takes to play in this league and should be given the opportunity. As much as I like Toskala Pogge very well could be the future of the Leafs. Along with some of the other young players currently on the roster Pogge could help make up the essential core of this team for years to come and in my opinion the sooner they get the ball rolling on this NHL process the better.
While Joseph continues to falter give more minutes to Pogge, it’s that simple.

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