Kyle Dubas was leaving no stone unturned at the NHL Trade Deadline and wanted to make sure the Toronto Maple Leafs were covered for any scenario heading into the playoffs.
You can never be too careful when you consider how vulnerable the goaltending position can be for a contending team. Ask the Colorado Avalanche and they would agree.
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Jack Campbell’s story has been a remarkable one but the team has been careful with his workload after he had a tough start with injuries this season. With no timeline on Frederik Andersen’s injury, there was no chance the Leafs could just stick with their current situation.
The benefit of adding David Rittich gives Toronto a dependable option behind Campbell and in Dubas’ words, it avoids having to rush back Andersen. On top of that, the Leafs GM wasn’t entertaining any thought of this being the last time we saw Andersen between the pipes.
“I’m convinced that Freddie is going to play for the Leafs for sure (before the end of the season),” Dubas said to reporters after the deadline.
The real question Leafs fans should be wondering is if the team is committed to Andersen being the starter for Game 1 of the playoffs? With no telling on whether Andersen can even return in the regular season, that’s a risky situation to trust him with the most important position in the post-season.
It’s easy to get caught up in what this trade means going into the playoffs but right now, Rittich will be asked to bring that “Big Save Dave” form when Campbell needs a night off. This is essentially what most teams with a 1A, 1B situation are doing now.
Look at the Vegas Golden Knights who opted against trading Marc-Andre Fleury despite making a long-term commitment to Robin Lehner. That proved to be wise when Lehner was sidelined early this season.
Maple Leafs: Does Frederik Andersen get another chance to reclaim his starting job?
At some point, the Leafs need to figure out what their goaltending situation looks like post-Andersen. With the 31-year-old an unrestricted free agent after this season, Toronto has to be ready for that time to come sooner rather than later.
Of course, the team’s focus is on ensuring a run to the Stanley Cup Final and if Andersen is their best option then that’s the direction they need to go. At the same time, this season has shown that they have to be willing to make the tough move.
So if Andersen does get the start in the playoff opener, how much of a leash will he get? Considering how much is riding on the success of this season, it should be short.
What are your thoughts on the Rittich acquisition? Do you think Andersen will get back in net this season? Let us know in the comments below.