Does Dennis Hildeby Deserve a Shot at the Toronto Maple Leafs Crease?

Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks
Toronto Maple Leafs v San Jose Sharks / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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Coming into this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs looked as though their crease was set. They had two goaltenders that had a decent track record of playing solidly behind this team and would be a formidable 1A/1B tandem.

That said, looking back, it does seem like it should have been more obvious that you shouldn't enter one of the prime seasons of the best player in the history of your franchise with an injury prone rookie and a guy you took to arbitration to avoid paying.

Ilya Samsonov, who had taken the reigns as number one and ran with it in 2022-23 had re-signed for one more year. His 2023-24 perfectly encapsulated the volatility of the goaltending position seeing his save percentage drop from .919% the season before to a .890% by the end of this year.

Now, it’s almost certain he's played his last game as a member of the Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Situation

Joseph Woll, the first real homegrown goalie who was vying for a starting job since James Reimer. He looked poised to take a solid step in his first full NHL season and hopefully take the torch as the number one netminder for years to come. Although he did not play bad by any stretch, he was sidelined for three months during the season due to a high ankle sprain. 

After struggling in his return, understandably, he lost the net heading into the postseason. Due to the struggles of Samsonov he regained the net and he was instrumental in the comeback attempt by the Leafs and helped them tie the series up 3-3. However, he injured himself once again and was unavailable to play in the seventh game and the Leafs ended up losing the series.

Now here we are at end of this season and the Leafs crease is as questionable as it has been for years. Do you attempt to re-sign Samsonov, hoping last year was the anomaly and he’ll regain the form he has shown capable of in the past? Do you hand the reigns to Woll and hope that his spotty injury history is behind him? These are all major questions that must be addressed as the Leafs enter year nine of the Matthews era.

All of these questions beg one important one, does Toronto Marlies standout Dennis Hildeby deserve a shot at the maple leafs crease?

There is no doubt that this would be a risky move. He has only played one full season on North American ice but it’s what he’s shown in that time that forces the question to be asked. 
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