Why the Leafs are better off with Andersen than drafting two goalies

It’s a few days after the fact, and people are still arguing about the Frederik Andersen trade. It’s not surprising; it’s the offseason. Hell, it’s Toronto; he could win the next five Vezina trophies and we’d still be debating this at the end of his contract.

But mostly, the concern comes from the draft picks. Yes, the Leafs still have 11 out of their assigned 7 going into tomorrow and Saturday and are above the assigned amount next year as well. But many wish the Leafs used one or both of those picks on a younger netminder instead of paying a 26-year-old.

So let’s do an experiment. Let’s use history to draft two goalies.

With Toronto’s first round pick, they will draft the first goaltender taken at 30th overall or below. No exceptions. Using hindsight would be unfair, especially in a position where so much of the job is development. With Toronto’s second round pick in the following year, you take the first goalie available at 45 (as we don’t know which second round pick was given up, and where it would place).

Here are the results, and the number of NHL games played that each player has put up to date.

Goalie 1 Goalie 2 Pick 30 GP Pick 45 GP Total GP
2014 2015 Mason McDonald 0 Felix Sandstrom 0 0
2013 2014 Zachary Fucale 0 Brandon Haverson 0 0
2012 2013 Oscar Dansk 0 Philippe Desrosiers 0 0
2011 2012 Magnus Hellberg 2 Anthony Stolarz 0 2
2010 2011 Calvin Pickard 36 Christopher Gibson 4 40
2009 2010 Mikko Koskinen 4 Kent Simpson 1 5
2008 2009 Tom McCollum 3 Robin Lehner 107 110
2007 2008 Joel Gistedt 0 Tyler Beskorwany 0 0
2006 2007 Michael Neuvirth 200 Antoine Lafleur 0 200
2005 2006 Tyler Plante 0 Jhonas Enroth 147 147
2004 2005 David Shantz 0 Pier-Olivier Pelletier 0 0
2003 2004 Corey Crawford 326 Jeff Glass 0 326
2002 2003 Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers 62 Jimmy Howard 375 437
2001 2002 Andrei Medvedev 0 David LeNeveau 22 22
2000 2001 Ilya Bryzgalov 465 Peter Budaj 297 762
1999 2000 Alex Auld 237 Mathieu Chouinard 1 238

Outside of 2000+2001, a scenario which would have been a decade and a half ago, it’s not looking very good. A case can be made for putting yourself in a situation where you can draft Howard or Crawford, but each hit came with a miss. Many years provided nothing of significant value at all.

Your odds at getting NHL success out of the late first and mid-second round are higher if you draft skaters, of course. But that’s counter-intuitive to the point of building a pipe presence using these picks; not to mention, the already decently stocked Leafs will walk out with at least 9 or 10 skaters this weekend.

Also worth considering – it’s very unlikely that a goaltender drafted now will help the Leafs any time soon. Robin Lehner was the first person in this sample to play more than half a season, and he was drafted seven years ago. At 24 years old, he’s had just one season where he’s played more than 25 games.


That’s a trend that repeats itself in this past year’s crop of NHL goaltenders. Just 14% of minutes played by active netminders came from Under-25 talent, though they represented 36% of the league’s roster presence. Teams are still more trusting of middle-aged talent and given that the peak of both Save Percentage and Quality Start Percentages seems to lie in the 26-31 age gap, it’s understandable that it would be the case.

Of course, that might just have to do with the middle-aged goalies being the ones who survived their youthful trial periods before graduating to the starter ranks. But regardless, as long as that general rule holds, any goalie you’d draft today would be acquired for six or seven years into the future. This also means that Andersen was acquired at the beginning of the presently-accepted “goaltender prime” and will have his contract expire just before his exit; perhaps where he should be peaking, even.

If that holds true, Toronto should have a goaltender that should be able to carry them to contention through the end of his contract. If they’re not in that position or have a worthy competitor behind him, they might also be able to sell high on him before his exit. Given this group’s affinity for maximizing their return on investment, I’d be surprised if Andersen was here beyond this contract.

At the end of the day, there’s still a case to be made that the Leafs may not have needed to acquire a goalie, though Andersen seems as safe a bet as any they could’ve made. But I don’t think that a drafted goaltender was the alternative in this scenario; the team is probably best off saving those selections for the later rounds and focusing intensely on developing some late bloomers.

  • Gary Empey

    The Leafs needed a #1 goaltender and hopefully Andersen succeeds in that role. However, it doesn’t really effect the need for goaltending depth throughout the organization. The Leafs should and most likely will draft a goaltender this weekend. Hopefully, by the time Andersen’s contract expires there will be another option in goal for the Leafs that will give them some options going forward (i.e. either re-signing Andersen or going with a young home-grown goaltender on a cheaper contract).

  • Gary Empey

    CM Puck seems to have taken a beating here for pessimistically suggesting that this looks similar to some past moves Leaf management has made. While I think in this case his assessment is completely wrong, you don’t have to look very far back to find previous gambles that we lost. (Bernier) As Kevin states we were heading into next season without a number one goalie. Not only that we didn’t have a solid back up either.

    As someone else correctly stated it is not fair to place the blame on past regimes, on our new management team. On the other hand can we ignore them?

    So looking at our new management team. Do they have any track record on goalies. I have never read anyone say anything about Hunter’s record on goalies. Skaters certainly. I think most people would agree, Lamorriello truly understands the value of having an above average tender. The best thing for our rocketing rebuild would be a young goalie. So what was out there. At least three teams with proven though older and injury prone #1’s who also have a younger good backup ready ready to take over. Those older guys do not really fit into our long term plans, but we may very likely end up with one. Only one team has two steady younger guys. The Ducks. How many teams are out there looking for a goaltender. Plenty. Some are desperate even, others would just like to improve that position. Goalies don’t come with a warranty like on a car. Look at Montreal. One year best goalie in the league. MVP winner. One year later in the lottery for Matthews all because of a goalie.
    Calgary was working the phones looking for the best deal they could get. Now they are sucking hind tit.

    As Lou said ” I never thought about the contract. This is the guy I wanted.”

    • TGT23

      Yes. You can ignore past regimes when talking about decisions the current one is making.

      Blaming Shanahan and Co. for Raycroft or Toskala is like saying “I don’t trust Ujiri because the Raps traded Vince Carter for nothing”. It doesn’t track. There is no direct link.

      And, for all the complaining their is about the Bernier deal, he was league average or above in 2 of the 3 years he’s been here. By the numbers, anyway. Reimer’s numbers were below in 2 of the last 3 and people want to pay him 4.5M to return.

      So, maybe people can relax on the whole “look at the last two California team goalies we traded for!” thing a little.

  • Capt.Jay

    Fergusson trades Rask for Rycroft.

    Fergusson trades draft picks for Toskala.

    Nonis trades draft pick for Bernier.

    Lou drafts best goalie ever.

    Lou trades for Schneider.

    Looking at the track record of these two, and then looking at the track record of Lou, I’m ok with this a bit more than the other.

    • Capt.Jay

      Reimer proved inconsistent and injury prone the few last years. Concussion issues to boot. Love him as a person, wished him well, but it wasn’t what we needed.

    • Gary Empey

      I gave you a thumbs up as your question is valid. I think you have to look at the management teams confidence in Reimer. Justified or not our management team didn’t feel he could get the job done. Let’s not forget there are some pretty astute members on our management team. His unorthodox style is likely the biggest reason. Much like Dominik Hašek who had a long hard time convincing GM’s his unusual style should be ignored. Last year Lou (who rarely tells us his real plans) actually stated Bernier is available. So it looked like the Leafs definitely preferred to keep Reimer around. Unfortunately for Reimer the Leafs were unable to move Bernier. After Reimer left Lou looked for the best young goalie out there. Andersen was his guy. Unlike Bernier, he has nerves of steel. The bigger the pressure cooker the better he gets. It looks like Lamoriello sees lots of pressure for the Leafs in the near future.

      It is not like Andersen just dropped out of the attic. There is tons of video of his development. Going back to his day with the under 18’s. Right through his time with Team Denmark. Swedish League, AHL, and his 125 NHL games. Ours guys have quickly gotten a reputation of doing there homework. After watching Seer’s video, it removed any lingering doubts I may of had.