The long awaited goaltending solution has finally arrived. The Maple Leafs have finally landed a starting goaltender that everyone in the organization is comfortable with.
After trading a late 1st and early 2nd round pick for Frederik Andersen, Toronto is finally at ease when it comes to their goaltending situation. Or at least, they could be if there weren’t so many old wounds from previous goaltending “saviours”. Now, though, Freddy has the performance to back it up.
You can see in the chart below (provided by our own Ian Tulloch) where Andersen stands relative to the league in 5v5 Sv% Above Expected. What that means is we’re looking at 5-on-5 play, and examining the shots that Andersen had to face. How difficult those shots are can give us an “Expected” save percentage based on how historical shooting percentages on those shots. Then, we compare the goalie’s actual 5v5 Sv%, take the difference, and you have a representation of how the goalie did compared to the difficulty of the shots faced.
Immediately we can look at a goaltender like Kari Lehtonen, who has had pretty mediocre numbers, but stands very high in this chart. Clearly the Stars’ defense wasn’t helping him out very much.
Similarly, we can see Pekka Rinne at the bottom, where his numbers this season were below what you’d expect, once you factor in how dominant the Predators’ defense core is.
For Andersen, we can obviously see he’s 7th in the league, which is very good! There’s really nothing to be concerned about here.
Andersen billed as the epitome of consistency, has been questionable in that regard this season. He basically performed as an elite goaltender for 50 games in the middle of the year but had stretches of very bad performances. Especially at the start of the season, which had a lot of people questioning the decision to bring him in. This graph shows his save percentage game by game, subjectively split up into good and bad stretches:
There is a certain element of streakiness throughout this chart, which we certainly felt throughout the season. However, even when doing a hack job analysis like this, we still can’t really see anything wrong with Andersen. This looks far more like the natural ups and downs of an NHL season. We don’t expect a point-per-game player to get one point in every game, and we shouldn’t expect a 915 goaltender to give you 915 goaltending every game.
As the lede suggests, there is no question that Andersen is the Leafs’ guy going forward. Much bemoaning was made of the contract given to Andersen (some of which by myself), but at $5M for 4 more years, it certainly seems the Leafs are in good financial shape when it comes to goaltending. The key now will be avoiding overpaying for whoever plays the ~20 games that Andersen won’t.
In summation: with Andersen carrying the bulk of the starts, the Leafs are in a very good place.