Can the Toronto Maple Leafs actually win the Stanley Cup if Erik Kallgren is their starting goaltender?
I know the Toronto Maple Leafs want Jack Campbell to be their starter for the playoffs, but what if he’s not healthy enough or falters down the stretch? If that’s the case, then it’ll be Erik Kallgren’s time to shine.
Kallgren may not be a Stanley Cup champion, but he’s won a professional hockey championship before, leading the Vaxjo HC to a Swedish Hockey League title last year. That’s obviously not the same as the NHL, but it’s good experience for him, if he ever had to start a Leafs playoff game.
According to Sheldon Keefe, Campbell is “a little below 100 per cent” right now, which will make any Leafs fan nervous. (via: sportsnet.ca)
There are still nine games remaining in the regular season, so there’s plenty of time for Campbell to get healthy, but what if he’s never 100 percent? Would you rather start a 90 percent Campbell or a 100 percent Kallgren?
Although it’s really not being talked about much, that’s one of the biggest questions leading into the Leafs soon-to-be playoff run.
Can Erik Kallgren Get the Job Done for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
From past experience, we understand that a perfect Campbell is a better option than a perfect Kallgren, but the Toronto Maple Leafs may not have that luxury to work with.
Although seeing Kallgren between the pipes to start Game 1 of the playoffs is a scary thought, he wouldn’t be the first “unknown” goaltender to lead his team in the playoffs. For example, over the past decade or so, there have been four goaltenders who have surprised everyone to help lead their team to victory.
- Chicago Blackhawks:
- Antti Niemi (2010)
- Chicago Blackhawks:
- Corey Crawford (2013 and 2015)
- Pittsburgh Penguins:
- Matt Murray (2016 and 2017)
- St. Louis Blues:
- Jordan Binnington (2019)
Both Matt Murray and Corey Crawford won two Stanley Cup’s so their second cup run wasn’t as much of a surprise, but their first one definitely was. Although both team’s were very good overall, goaltending was always the question and both were up to the task.
As recently as 2019, the St. Louis Blues shocked the world when Jordan Binnington stood on his head for two months and helped his team win a Stanley Cup. After having only played 33 career NHL games, that didn’t stop Binnington and the Blues from going on a long run, eventually winning hockey’s ultimate prize.
As previously mentioned, the Toronto Maple Leafs want to see Campbell in net, but why can’t Kallgren lead this team to victory?
In 10 games, Kallgren has a 2.93 GAA and .899 SV% (stats: hockeydb.com). That’s not ideal, but to be honest, he doesn’t have to get much better for the Leafs to have a chance to win every night. If Kallgren can move his GAA to around 2.65 and SV% to .910%, Toronto can win.
It’s not the most ideal situation, but at the end of the day, goaltending is weird. Kallgren is clearly a capable NHL goaltender, and only has to be average for the Leafs to have a shot at winning a few rounds, because their offense is historically amazing.
So, realistically do I think Kallgren can get the job done for the Leafs?
You’d be crazy to actually think he could be steady enough to lead Toronto to victory. However, as I previously mentioned, hockey is weird and we’ve seen other “unknown” goalies play well enough in the playoffs to win.