How The Maple Leafs Should Manage Their Goalies Into the Playoffs

Toronto Maple Leafs v Carolina Hurricanes
Toronto Maple Leafs v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

It’s been a strange year for the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending corps.  Both Joseph Woll and Ilya Samsonov incurred injuries which kept them off the ice for long periods.  Samsonov also suffered through a baffling stretch of poor play which resulted in him clearing waivers.

These absences have resulted in third stringer Martin Jones appearing in 21 games so far (per  In fact, this is the first season ever in which three separate Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders have recorded at least 10 wins apiece.

Given that the Leafs are carrying all three goalies on their roster, how should head coach Sheldon Keefe dole out the playing time over the final 11 games of the regular season?

The first priority is to have both of Woll and Samsonov healthy.  Samsonov appears to be nursing a minor injury sustained when sliding across the crease in the game against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.  He must be allowed to return to 100% health before stepping on the ice again.

Toronto Maple Leafs Must Juggle Multiple Goaltending Priorities

The second priority is to give both Woll and Samsonov enough games for one of them (hopefully) to establish themselves as a clear number one starter before the playoffs start.  I’m not a big fan of planning to use a tandem during the playoffs.  Goalies need to play to stay sharp, and a hot goalie can take a team a long way.

Recently, both of the Toronto Maple Leafs top two goalies have been hot and cold.  Too many times we’ve seen stellar performances followed up by very mediocre, or worse, outings.

A third priority may be to get Martin Jones a couple of starts.  Neither Woll nor Samsonov have shown the type of durability one would prefer in their starting goaltender.  It’s not beyond believability that Jones could get pressed into action for a game or two during the playoffs, and he’s played a total of three minutes in the last month.

In an ideal situation, giving Jones a bit of playing time gives Samsonov more time to get/stay healthy, and keeps Woll fresh, assuming that he’s the one that grabs the starter’s role heading into the first round.

I have to admit I’m hoping that Woll is Sheldon Keefe’s choice to face either Florida or Boston, the Leafs most likely opponents in Round 1.  Either team will be a tough opponent (literally and figuratively) and Woll’s composure would serve him and the team well.


Samsonov’s return from the depths of despair earlier this season makes for a great story and all Toronto Maple Leafs fans are rooting for him, but his ability to shake off adversity is still very much in question.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement for a team that needs to have absolute belief that their goaltender will save their bacon when required.