The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired goaltender Frederik Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for the 30th overall pick in this year’s draft and a 2nd-round pick in the 2017 draft.
The Maple Leafs have stockpiled draft picks and prospects in an effort to completely remodel and rebuild the team. Given the team’s possession of the most picks of any team in this year’s draft (including the first overall pick) and rumors of a potential Steven Stamkos signing, the entire hockey world has waited in eager anticipation for the Maple Leafs’ offseason. Toronto management did not disappoint and got the ball rolling Monday with a bold move, targeting 26-year-old goalie Frederik Andersen.
This move makes sense for both teams.
Andersen posted a 22-9-7 record with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .919 save-percentage in 43 games with Anaheim this season. He has a 77-26-12 record with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 125 career regular-season games, all with the Ducks. He was named to the 2013-2014 NHL All-Rookie Team after going 20-5.
“I love [Andersen’s] competitiveness,” Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “If you look at his playoff history, he’s always played well in the playoffs and he gives us size, which today is a necessity the way the game is played, but his athleticism is exceptional.
“When you get a goaltender of this caliber with the experience he’s had and the success … I feel I’ve had the good fortune to have had similar goaltenders in the past that…acquiring him was the most important thing; the price was secondary.”
It’s no secret that Toronto has been in desperate need of a legitimate starting goalie. Truthfully, the Maple Leafs have not had a true number-one goaltender since Ed Belfour. Jonathan Bernier, the former Los Angeles Kings backup who was a highly-touted prospect taken 11th overall in the 2006 draft, has played 151 games for the Leafs over the past three seasons. Bernier was supposed to be “the guy” but has not panned out. He has had some strong stretches, but he has never seemed comfortable in the Toronto crease; it’s clear he is not the same goalie without the Los Angeles defense in front of him. He went 12-21-3 in 38 starts this season, posting a 2.88 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
Though Toronto management has already publicly acknowledged and confirmed that Andersen will be the starting goalie this season, Andersen has decided to remain focused.
“I’m just proud to be a Maple Leaf,” he said. “I have to keep working hard to be in the net. That’s my approach. Nothing is given to you.”
However, Toronto seems confident in Andersen’s ability to fill that role. In fact, the organization solidified that belief Monday by signing Andersen to a five-year, $25 million extension shortly after the trade. Andersen was due to become a restricted free agent July 1.
But this was a smart hockey trade for Anaheim, too.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray has been candid about his need to make a decision between Andersen and John Gibson, who shared the crease with Andersen this season.
This trade is Anaheim’s way of saying that Gibson, 22, is ready to take over as the permanent starter and that he will be the goalie of the future for the Ducks.
Andersen and Gibson were co-recipients of the 2016 William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goalie(s) having played at least 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it. Andersen and Gibson shared the crease all season and, fittingly, share the award. It says a lot about the talent Anaheim has had in net, but it also explains how Murray was able to let Andersen go.
Anaheim definitely made out well in this deal by acquiring valuable assets in exchange for a piece that inevitably had to go. It was also a smart logistical move for the Ducks since it didn’t require taking any cap back in the deal.
“The picks add in value as you accrue them,” Murray said. “I have no idea yet what’s out there. I haven’t even thought about what to do in the market. There are some situations that we have to address on this team. We’ll try to address them. This was a situation that just had to happen at this point in time. There was no avoiding it.”
Will Andersen be able to deal with the pressure of playing in the Toronto market? Will Gibson be strong enough to take over the starter’s gig in Anaheim? Will Andersen be as effective behind a young Toronto team, and will his five-year, $25 million contract be another blown deal for the Leafs?
Only time will tell.
Featured Image via nhl.com