Considering the backup and young prospects
It’s unlikely Toronto will be in a position where they can sign Andersen to this sort of extension without sacrificing other parts of their roster, such as Rielly, as cap casualties. If this isn’t something the team wants to do, what other options do they have?
After filtering through Garret Sparks and Michael Hutchinson, the Toronto Maple Leafs finally found an adequate backup goalie in Jack Campbell at this past season’s trade deadline. A former top prospect and World Junior Championship standout, he has performed well in limited work throughout his career.
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Campbell is signed through the 2021-22 season, one year longer than Andersen. Depending on the team’s cap situation and his performance in a backup role next season, giving him a chance at the starting position could be a cheap solution to the problem. On the contrary, giving the career backup a starter’s workload could seriously backfire on the team and their ability to win hockey games.
Sticking with in-house options, the Leafs have a pair of goaltending prospects, Joseph Woll and Ian Scott, that may be ready to make the jump to the starting role. The question is, who represents the better option?
After spending three years at Boston College, Woll got his first professional experience backstopping a weak Toronto Marlies team this season; his numbers were fairly reflective of the team in front of him. He is a big goalie who also has World Junior Championship experience.
Scott has missed this entire year while recovering from injury, but was the starting goalie for the WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders last season. He registered a very impressive 1.83 goals against average, also earning a spot in last year’s World Junior Championship (playing in this tournament seems to be a theme amongst Leafs goaltenders).
It’s never a good ideal to rush young goaltenders; at the start of the 2021-22 season, Woll will be 23-years-old and Scott will be just 22. Neither will have more than two years of professional experience and likely won’t have even seen any NHL playing time (assuming Andersen and Campbell don’t get injured next season).
For reference, Jordan Binnington was 25 when he led the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup as a rookie last season. Handing the starting job to such a young goalie comes with a great deal of risk that a cup contending Leafs team may not want to take on.