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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Dennis Hildeby: Top Prospect

This contrast shows the volatility of the position and that success in the AHL is not necessarily indicative of future NHL success.

This proves how risky of a gamble it would be assuming he would take an NHL role. For this reason, I feel that the Leafs should not hand him a job in the show just yet and should let him naturally take one if the opportunity presents itself.

The likelihood of Hildeby receiving an opportunity to play significant time with the Leafs next season is also dependent on the goalies ahead of him.

If the Leafs feel Joseph Woll could be ready to take over the starting job and thus don’t feel a need to spend big on another proven NHL caliber option, the pathway for Hildeby becomes much clearer.

However, if the Leafs target a proven netminder, it will be a lot more difficult to break through. Lucky for him, the free agent market is slim pickings with the available options being career backups and “1B” goalies or a few mostly over the hill veteran options.

This makes the trade market the most likely avenue that Leafs management would choose to go down if they want to make a big splash. Likely, Juuse Saros, Ilya Sorokin or Jacob Markstrom to name a few.

Assuming the trade does not trade away Hildeby or Woll, it would make it much more likely that that he is the Marlies starter or number three/four Leafs option. 

It is hard to guess how the next few months unfold and with so many variables at play, it makes it all the more difficult. As of right now, I see the most likely scenario being that the Leafs opt for the free agent route given Woll’s success at the NHL level so far. This will allow them to allocate even less to their cap in goaltending. In saying this, Treliving’s past actions with the Flames indicates that he is unafraid to make a shake-up in goal and allocate plenty of cap to the position for better or worse. 

He acquired; Jonas Hiller, Brian Elliott, Mike Smith, Cam Talbot, and Jacob Markstrom as the most notable names during his tenure in Calgary. It should be pointed out that he never had a homegrown goaltender like Woll in his time there which likely played a significant role. Meaning, he had to go out and trade or sign one consistently. This leads me to believe that he will put faith in Woll to be the number one next season.

As of right now, I would rather not pencil in Hildeby for an NHL job at this point. The goaltending position is already volatile enough and with every season mattering more and more, the margin for error is increasingly more slim. 

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I would expect that the Leafs go after a cheaper option in free agency to take over a 1B or back-up role with the team and potentially sign another cheap veteran for added insurance, similar to Martin Jones this year.