Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Still Upgrade In Net?

The Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending situation keeps getting more interesting. With Joesph Woll nearing his return and Ilya Samsonov completely turning his game around the question still remains... Are these two enough to make a playoff run or do the Toronto Maple Leafs need to make a push for a netminder at the trade deadline.

Joseph Woll returning? Ilya Samsonov Continues to Impress! Is this duo enough?
Joseph Woll returning? Ilya Samsonov Continues to Impress! Is this duo enough? / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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On Wednesday it was reported that Joseph Woll had been loaned to the Toronto Marlies for a conditioning stint. When asked about the situation, here is what Toornto Maple LeafsHead Coach Sheldon Keefe had to say.

Before Joesph Woll suffered this high ankle sprain, Woll was shocking the TorotnO Maple Leafs as he stole the starter's crease from a struggling Ilya Samsonov.

From the start of the year up until the date of his injury, Woll ranked inside the top 10 goalies in goals saved above expected and inside the top 15 in high-danger chance save percentage.

But can the Maple Leafs expect Woll to return and be a top-20 goalie? It is certainly not out of the question, we have seen him play 26 games now in a Maple Leafs uniform since the 2021-22 season, in those 26 games, he is averaging 0.47 goals saved above expected per 60 minutes, which is the highest among any Maple Leafs goalie since the 2021-22 season and third highest among all goalies who have made 25 starts since 2021-22.

Realistically though, the Maple Leafs are not going to want to thrust Woll right back into the starter role coming off of this high ankle sprain and now it seems they have the luxury to take their time with Samsonov completely turning his game around.

Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Still Upgrade In Net?

All of the goaltending worries were emphasized once Woll went down and Samsonov was thrust back into the spotlight. Before being sent down to the Marlies, Samsonov had the second least goals saved above expected of any goalie in the NHL. Since returning, he has saved 1.94 goals above expected which ranks 23rd among 75 goalies who have made a start since January 14th.

While Samsonov has completely turned his year around, the numbers still aren't mind-blowing considering the Eastern Conference has two of the best goalies in the NHL in Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers and Jeremy Swayman of the Boston Bruins who rank fifth and sixth in goals saved above expected on the year.

Now, do the Maple Leafs have to match up evenly with these two guys to beat them in a playoff series? Not necessarily, but the Bruins and Panthers are both better defensively than the Maple Leafs and in the playoffs, you can not be outmatched on defence and in the net.

One Clear Trade Canidate That Will Improve the Maple Leafs

With the Maple Leafs having little salary cap to work with, I think they either have to go all in improving the defence or the goaltending. I can't see them doing both. I would say the primary focus needs to be defensemen, but if they want a goalie, there is only one guy on the market who would be a big enough upgrade for the Maple Leafs to entertain.

Jacob Markstrom from the Calgary Flames is listed at No.2 on TSN's Trade Bait list as the Flames have made their intentions to sell at the deadline pretty clear. On the year, Markstrom ranks 15th among goalies in goals saved above expected and has posted a 2.60 goals-against-average. These averages are worse than Woll's numbers on the year, but Markstrom shines in the high-danger save percentage category. Markstrom ranks second among goalies who have made over 10 starts in high-danger save percentage.

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Having a goalie who is taking away high-danger chances is what can steal playoff games and series,
if the Maple Leafs front office is going after a goalie, it has to be Markstrom.