Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Leafs Must Be Patient with Pogge

Justin Pogge debuted his NHL career with a .905 SV% and a 2.00 GAA.

Not too shabby.

Pogge displayed an active glove hand, quick lateral movement, solid positioning and decent rebound control. An aspect of his game I was specifically impressed with was his ability to make himself look big. Possessing a 6'3, 205 pound frame, Pogge's size is best utilized when screened or making the save through a crowd – an aspect Vesa Toskala was not blessed with.

The prospect of appointing Pogge as the starting goaltender is an enticing one. The Leafs are a rebuilding squad that have granted rookies a vast amount of roster spots. The timing seems perfect to insert Pogge to the lineup and have him debut his career as the Leafs' starting goaltender.

But hold on. Let's consider the consequence to this decision.

Toskala's value. If Toskala loses his job to a 22-year old, the Leafs can forget about bringing in a potential 1st round pick for the Finnish goaltender.

Considering the Leafs' situation between the pipes, there is no point in playing Pogge right now. If the Leafs wait until either the NHL Trade Deadline or the 09/10 regular season, Pogge will still be there, and just as ready.

Despite Toskala's struggles this season, he is still a coveted asset in this league. A goaltender of his stature is best suited on a Cup contending team. Not a rebuilding team.

With just under three months until the Trade Deadline, it would be in the Leafs' best interest to utilize that time by letting Toskala regain his form. In the event of Toskala's dominance being rekindled, the Leafs could not only attain a 1st round pick, but prospects as well. If he continues to struggle with consistency, his value will still be higher than awarding his job to a young goaltending prospect.

The Leafs must exercise a quality they have not been familiar with in the past few decades.



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