The Toronto Maple Leafs currently have a starting goalie who’s only had two regulation losses in 19 starts, but for whatever reason, there remains a goalie controversy.
What more can Jack Campbell do to show that he deserves the number-one goalie crown? Currently sporting a 15-2-2 record, .925 SV% and 2.11 GAA, Soup is a top-six goalie statistically in the NHL.
Despite playing great this year, it feels like he’s going to lose the net once Freddie Andersen returns.
Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Situation
Sports culture is so weird that nobody trusts anyone until they do something. You have to prove yourself before you’re given an opportunity, despite being the best player available. It’s almost like some organizations don’t want to make their star-player get “Walley Pipped,” despite it being the best thing that could happen to them.
Since Campbell has yet to prove his worth in the playoffs, the pessimistic view seems to suggest that it would be a bad decision to play him over Andersen..
But, Campbell isn’t your everyday back-up goalie.
He’s a former 11th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and has all of the skills to be a starting netminder. It’s not a huge sample size, but in 82 career games, he has a 2.47 GAA and .919 SV% (stats: hockeydb.com).
Campbell’s play is stellar this season, but it shouldn’t be unexpected. When he’s been given the opportunity at the NHL level, he’s performed admirably. Not only is he playing great, but his teammates believe in him, which is something they probably wouldn’t say about Andersen right now.
After the Leafs win against Vancouver on Saturday night, here’s what Matthews said about Campbell:
“Soup’s (jack Campbell) been playing awesome. When we need a save he’s coming up huge.” (via: Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press)
Could We Have Seen Andersen’s Last Game as a Leaf?
Andersen is a pending free agent and based on the salary cap and his current injury, we may have seen his last game with the Leafs.
When the playoffs start, there’s no reason to give Andersen the net, unless Campbell falters. Similar to what the Washington Capitals did during their 2017-18 Stanley Cup run, the net belonged to youngster Phillip Grubauer before he lost two games in a row. From there, the team then turned to Braden Holtby, who eventually helped them win the Stanley Cup.
When he’s 100 percent healthy, Andersen is clearly a starting NHL goalie, but there is a lot of baggage with him. His last four seasons have all ended with terrible playoff losses and this season alone has been ugly.
Although it’s partially due to injury, Andersen is having his worst statistical season as a professional. His .897 SV% and 2.91 GAA stats rank him as roughly the 45th best goalie in the NHL this year.
It’s a pretty simple question. Would you rather start the sixth or 45th best goalie statically when the playoffs start? Andersen may make more money and is a proven NHL starter, but Campbell has the hot-hand and you need to ride that until it runs out of gas.
If Campbell continues to play at his current pace, there’s no reason to put Andersen in net, so before we know, we could have already seen his last game as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.