Toronto Maple Leafs: The Ups and Downs of Erik Kallgren

Mar 10, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs players greet goalie Erik Kallgren (50) react after losing in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs players greet goalie Erik Kallgren (50) react after losing in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Last game, Erik Kallgren became just the fourth goaltender in Leafs’ history to post a shutout in his NHL debut, and Leafs Nation is just dying to know more about him.

Unfortunately for me, watching Kalllgren’s first career start and 35-shot shutout win over the Stars  brought back despairing memories of the last Toronto Maple Leafs goalie to post a shutout in his debut.

Way back in November of 2015, Garret Sparks became the third Leafs netminder to post a shutout in his NHL debut  but (teary-eyed) that would not be his lasting impression:

Gotta See It: Sparks gets teary after making Leafs history – YouTube

Thirty-six (36) more games for the Toronto Maple Leafs over two-seasons-in-a-4-year-span (2015-16 and 2018-19) while posting a 14-18-2 record with a .898 SV% and a 3.09 GAA, Garret eventually got traded to the Golden Knights for a 4th round pick (William Villeneuve) and the contract of David Clarkson (

Sad end to a hot start. And don’t forget he was the Toronto Marlies go-to guy between the pipes for their 2017-18 Calder Cup championship. So much promise.

Since then, you could say he slipped into oblivion, with one GP with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019-20 and two GP including one GS with the Los Angeles Kings in 2021-22.

Surely not the footsteps Erik Kallgren wants to follow – certainly not for fans of the Blue and White.

Mercifully, if Kallgren’s postgame interview was any indication, Kallgren is not Sparks 2.0.  Calm, composed, and confident in front of the cameras, just like you’d want between the pipes.

And for Leafs Nation, that’s enough to stir some excitement, especially with what’s transpired lately in the twine of the net.

Who Is the Toronto Maple Leafs New Goalie?

Junior Draft Year

Coming off the highest level of junior hockey in Sweden, J20 Nationell, the Arizona Coyotes selected Erik Kallgren in the final 7th round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (183rd overall).

Playing for Linkoping HC J20, Kallgren posted gaudy numbers in the regular season:

  • 27-7-0/1.75 GAA/.936 SV%/6 SO

In the playoffs, he went 5-2-0 with a 2.52 GAA and a .920 SV%.

To boot, he played with Sweden’s U19 national team (alongside Pierre Engvall):

  • 2-0-0/1.44 GAA/.947 SV%/1 SO

The Years After His Draft Before Coming to North America

Erik Kallgren played with Sweden’s U20 national team at the 2015-16 WJHC in Helsinki, Finland (alongside William Nylander):

  • 2-1-0/1.53 GAA/.948 SV%/2 SO

But, for the most part, Kallgren suited up primarily in Sweden’s second-tier professional league, HockeyAllsvenskan:

  • 20-20-0/2.64 GAA/.904 SV%/2 SO (2015-16 to 2016-17, IK Oskarshamn)
  • 34-23-0/2.22 GAA/.913 SV%/7 SO (2017-18 to 2018-19, AIK)

His teams qualified for the playoffs on three occasions, where it seems he may have played more of a backup role (1-2-0/2.65 GAA/.888 SV%)?

First Taste of North American Hockey

Erik Kallgren officially made the jump to North America after signing his first NHL contract with the Arizona Coyotes in April of 2019 – $1.85 M over two years with an AAV of 925 K and a cap hit of 817.5 K (

And, seemingly, he played well with the Coyote’s AHL and ECHL affiliates, respectively:

  • 0-1-0/0.89 GAA/.967 SV% (Tucson Roadrunners)
  • 0-2-0/2.70 GAA/.924 SV% (Rapid City Rush)

But, I guess not well enough?

Or, perhaps he was a victim of poor asset management?

At the time, the Coyotes had Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. Adin Hill was next in line – drafted in the 3rd round (76th overall) of the same draft as Kallgren. In the pipeline, both drafted in 2018, was Ivan Prosvetov (4th round, 114th overall) and David Tendeck (6th round, 158th overall) (

Whatever the case, short-lived, seven months in, Kallgren returned to Europe – unclaimed on unconditional waivers.

The Fallout

Erik Kallgren signed with the SHL’s Växjö Lakers HC only to play two games:

  • 0-2-0/5.51 GAA/.837 SV%

Seemingly, after his poor showing, he was loaned to TPS of the Liiga for the remainder of the 2019-20 season, where he picked up the slack:

  • 6-8-3/2.33 GAA/.911 SV%/1 SO

From there – and just last season in 2020-21 – he returned to Växjö Lakers HC of the SHL, where he would continue shining:

  • 12-9-0/2.37 GAA/.911 SV%/1 SO

In the playoffs, he went 7-3-0 with a sparkling 1.74 GAA, .930 SV%, and 1 SO en route to SHL glory.

The Leafs Acquisition

Signed in May of 2021 to a two-year, two-way $1.5 M contract with an AAV and a cap hit of 750 K, the Leafs seem to have gotten lucky in all the Covid (in)action (

Erik Kallgren has performed OK with the AHL Marlies:

  • 15-8-1/3.02 GAA/.904 SV%./1 SO

Although very short in the tooth, in 2 games with the Leafs, Kallgren has shown to be capable to man their pipes:

  • 1-0-1/0.66 GAA/.978 SV%/1 SO

And if that continues, it would be welcome with arms wide open because the Toronto Maple Leafs are in desperate need of a goalie to steady their sinking ship.

At a minimum, he has proved to be mentally strong. He has fallen a few times, but he has always picked himself up, and he has shown the capacity to pick up his game when it matters most. Qualities you want in a goalie. (stats from

Next. Are the Leafs and NJ Good Trade Partners?. dark

Erik Kallgren is already penciled in for the Toronto Maple Leafs next game, coincidently against former #1 goalie Frederik Andersen.

But make no mistake, all eyes will be on the 25-year-old Swede.