Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Frederik Andersen Really a Top 5 Goaltender?

Frederik Andersen is beloved by Toronto Maple Leafs fans, but how does he measure up against the top goalies in the NHL?

Frederik Andersen is a stabilizing anchor for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His composed demeanor and style of goaltending have been major contributors to his impressive consistency.

Since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, Andersen has posted a save percentage between .917% and .920% every season. He also currently leads the NHL in wins, earning 18 of the Leafs 19 wins to date.

Truthfully though, goaltending performance is notoriously difficult to evaluate. Sv% and GAA statistics are inseparable from a team’s defensive effectiveness.

A strong goalie on a poor defensive team can have identical numbers to a weak goalie on a strong defensive team. So how can Frederik Andersen be accurately evaluated?

Rising Above Expectations

Expected save percentage (xSv%) measures the quality of shots that a goalie faces.

Strong defensive teams may have a xSv% as high as .920% (i.e. forcing low quality shots) while weaker defensive teams can have a xSv% as low as .905% (i.e. allowing high quality shots).

Frederik Andersen’s actual Sv% is often well above his xSv%, showing that he is in fact a strong goaltender. Since joining the Leafs, the difference between Andersen’s Sv% (.918) and xSv% (.911) ranks 5th among NHL goaltenders who average 35+ games/year.

Translating that into goals saved, Andersen’s total Goals Saved Above Average is 46, 3rd in the NHL over that time, behind only Sergei Bobrovsky and John Gibson.

From those numbers over the past four seasons, Andersen has a strong argument as a top-5 goaltender in the NHL. However, Andersen currently has even greater value to the Toronto Maple Leafs than his numbers suggest.

That is because the Leafs backup goaltender, Michael Hutchinson, has the 2nd worst differential between his Sv% (.894) and xSv% (.912) among all goalies that have played 40+ games over the past four seasons.

Hutchinson’s -38 Goals Saved Above Average/82 games is far below average goaltending, especially in comparison to Andersen’s +17.1 Goals Saved Above Average/82 games.

These statistics support the notion that the Leafs are highly dependent on Frederik Andersen.

That trend will likely continue until the team finds a solution to their backup goaltending issues, as the Leafs have only received a single win from backup goaltenders this season.

The Leafs are likely exploring backup goaltending options around the NHL, as the price for solid goaltending is surprisingly low in today’s NHL. Louis Domingue and James Reimer have both been traded this season, yielding returns of only 7th and 6th round picks, respectively.

Next: 3 Prospects Knocking at the Door

Given his consistency and importance to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Frederik Andersen has a strong argument as a top-5 goaltender in the NHL and a perennial Vezina trophy candidate.

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