For current Toronto Maple Leafs backup goaltender Erik Kallgren, it’s been a season for the ages. He has out-performed any real expectations in that time.
Erik Kallgren arrived with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season fresh from a back-stopping his team to the SHL (Swedish Hockey League) championship, but was very much an AHL signing.
Nobody was really expecting him to see meaningful NHL action this season at the very least; after all, that’s why Petr Mrazek was signed in the summer.
However, with the way things have ended up panning out, there’s all likelihood that Erik Kallgren will enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the team’s backup.
Erik Kallgren In Good Standing With the Toronto Maple Leafs
Bearing in mind that he arrived from one of the stronger European leagues, but with very limited smaller ice experience, Kallgren has adapted well.
His NHL save percentage of 0.888% and goals-against-average of 3.31 don’t tell a full story. You’ve got to factor that he has still managed to be the winning goalie in more than half of the games he’s played (8 wins from 14 games).
And of course, he was lit up by the Tampa Bay Lightning just recently, seeing the puck hit his net eight times without so much thought as to putting Jack Campbell in as his replacement.
His attitude in that result speaks volumes to how he has played above anyone but the wildest Toronto Maple Leafs fan’s expectations. He handled the defeat with poise and in fact was arguably one of the team’s better players despite conceding 8.
The more telling fact was that in his next game for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he secured the win over the Washington Capitals with his shootout performance. Not only that, he bounced right back with a 0.919 save percentage that game.
Expectations for Erik Kallgren were to provide goaltending depth in the organisation, likely sharing the Toronto Marlies net. Realistically, he was the Toronto Maple Leafs fourth (maybe even fifth) goalie on the depth chart.
After all, Jack Campbell started the year (and continues it) as the team’s number one, Petr Mrazek is number two when healthy and Joseph Woll or Michael Hutchinson were the most obvious first call-ups.
Heading into a playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning, that depth has been hit by injuries and Campbell is now backed up by Erik Kallgren; the other two are on the treatment table and Hutchinson has an AHL job to do.
Playing above expectations really isn’t hard when there were no real expectations of playing a single NHL game. Instead, Erik Kallgren has performed admirably in a tough spot, even grabbing a first NHL shutout along the way.
It’s not the perfect scenario to have essentially a rookie NHL goalie for the playoffs, but it’s the cards that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been dealt.
You have to imagine that Erik Kallgren learned some lessons in his recent shelling by the Lightning and that if he’s called upon in the first round, it’s not going to be 8 goals getting past him again.
All in all, he’s been a welcome little bonus given how injury-prone the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending duo have been this season.