Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Welcome Back, Toskala + The Future of Justin Pogge

Vesa Toskala has reclaimed his role as the Leafs' top player.

Similar to last season, Toskala got off to a slow start, struggling to provide his team with solid goaltending. Looking at how the defense has performed this season, consistent goaltending is a necessity.

But have no fear, Toskala is here... finally.

The re-emergence of the Finnish goaltender is not only good news for his teammates, but to Brian Burke and the expanding brass of ''Tank Nation''.

While the goaltending of Toskala will ensure more W's, it will also raise his value. After all, the NHL Trade Deadline is on the horizon, and even without Mats Sundin it's going to be an interesting time for the Buds. Will Burke opt to trade long-time Maple Leaf Tomas Kaberle? How about defenseman Pavel Kubina? Is Nikolai Antropov's time as a Leaf coming to an end? But, pertaining to the context of the blog, the real question is whether or not Toskala will be serving as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs come March 4th.

If Toskala is traded, it would be unwise of the Leafs to appoint Curtis Joseph as the starting goaltender. A much more viable option would be to call-up goaltending prospect Justin Pogge.

While many have argued that such a move could rattle the confidence of the 22-year old, playing for the Leafs for a couple months would be beneficial to his development in contrast to serving on the Toronto Marlies, who are currently ranked 11th place in the AHL's Western Conference.

Playing for the Marlies will progress his development no further. The time is now (well, March 4th) for the Leafs to deploy another one of their top prospects to the big league.

Unlike previous seasons, the Leafs are now in the midst of rebuilding. Inserting Pogge in the later stages of the rebuilding phase seems counter-productive to their future. At the very least, he must be a member of the team by next season. If not, his confidence could be affected, and as proven by Toskala earlier this year, confidence is a crucial aspect between the pipes.

This all hinges on the play of Toskala, however, so I speak for all of Leaf Nation (and Tank Nation) when I say:

Keep it up, Vesa!

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