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Andersen deal creates a comfy feeling for Leaf supporters heading into a busy summer season…

Before the upcoming draft, I wanted to pose the most predictable question possible for those who check in on VLM every once in a while: with the first overall pick in the entry draft, would you suggest the Leafs take Matthews or Laine?  Or, alternatively, would you actually look to move the pick if the Leafs could acquire an attractive combination of players—proven veterans with playoff pedigree and young players with immense potential?

That question still stands for the purposes of friendly discussion here, but the news that the Leafs have made a move to try and shore up their netminding prospects has caused me to do a bit of a positive double-take.

One thing we know: the Leafs have accumulated plenty of draft picks over the past couple of years.  That has been a key element of Shanahan’s plan, clearly. Acquiring so many “futures” provides a lot of flexibility and valuable options for an organization in the midst of a major reconstruction.

So by dealing away a very late first-round pick and one of the many second-round selections they have garnered over the last year and a bit, they have been able to bring in a pretty accomplished goaltender in Frederik Andersen from Anaheim.  Andersen certainly has a nice track record with a very good team—one that plays in the demanding Western Conference. His surface numbers this past season were strong, including in five playoff games for the Ducks.  Obviously the Ducks are moving forward with young John Gibson, and that evidently made Andersen expendable. 

Unlike when the Leafs brought in Jonathan Bernier to basically hand him the number-one job over Reimer (when I did not think the Leaf goaltending needed a supposed upgrade in the first place), this move just makes sense to me.  Back then, the Bernier deal created unnecessary issues that were never really resolved, in my view, until Reimer was finally traded himself this past season.

But this feels like a different situation. Bernier had some good moments toward the end of this past season, and certainly was a calming presence early on in his Leaf tenure. But unlike Reimer a few years ago, Bernier is not coming off a stellar season and a nice little playoff run. There is no undisputed top guy in goal in Toronto right now.

Too, it’s difficult to know for sure where Bernier was going to fit in the Maple Leaf puzzle moving forward anyway. And Andersen, unlike Bernier in very limited time with the Kings, has a proven track record—albeit a relatively brief one, as a number-one guy. And maybe most importantly, he has held that role in the playoffs, including playing 16 such games for Anaheim just a year ago.

There will be a lot of other things to discuss in the days ahead (where will Stamkos land in July, etc.) from a Leaf perspective, but I like the fact that management has made a decisive move to steady the most critical position on a roster that has been in flux for some time.


  1. HI,

    I couldn't agree more. It was decisive. When LL signed him on the spot and announced him as their no1 it laid to bed that issue for the team. They will play calmer and clearer in front of him.
    I do feel for Bernier, but those are the brakes.
    As for your question as to whom to choose first overall, its clear cut to me that Mathews is without a doubt the way to go. Firstly he fills a position we desperately need. As well from all I have read, he sounds like a very decent person.
    The bigger question is that of Stamkos, while I would love to see him as a Leaf, I think the timing is not right for this. What id his 10mil contract down the road cost us one of mathews or Marner? I would rather not do that as by then they would only be 23 or so.
    Anyway, been reading your posts for awhile now, just took me a bit to chime in.
    BTW, have you read Domi's book?

    1. Hi Gavin- I think you raise an important point about Stamkos in terms of the timing of any such move. Most any team would love to have him on the roster and he is still young (and presumably will bounce back healthy). But as you note, he will be looking for a big, long-term contract. The Leafs will have a lot of young guys to pay down the road when he would still be on the books.

      You never know for sure with goalies, unless they have an absolutely proven track record. But this certainly feels like a good move for the Leafs to have Andersen under contract.

      I haven't read Tie's book yet. Good to hear from you, Gavin.

    2. HI Michael,
      You should give it a quick read. Its no pulitzer, but its a great insight into what makes a great locker room. Which is exactly what I think the Leafs brass is trying to put into place. Yes skill is a premium, but you get win with leaders who just don't get "it".
      It also is a lovely tale of a kid overcoming some fairly serous adversities in life.
      I had this great idea last night that LL would trade Bernier and we could JR back as out back up. But he's most likely headed somewhere else.
      The other thing that i notice that i think needs to be discussed, is how LL and co have not signed anybody who they want to stick around for the long haul for essentially more than 5mil a year. Which i think is excellent future management.
      I believe their is a long term plan that we are only just grasping.
      Anyway, have a great night.

  2. Hi Michael:

    As an old timer, I am happy to see the extreme "tank" seemingly being removed. I suspect that many feel the same way as watching this team has been excruciating as evidenced by Rogers Ratings. At the least, moving "Carlyle hockey" to Anaheim is nice to see.

    Actually, the youngsters were almost too good as the Leafs maneuvered for the no. 1 draft choice. In terms of actually ready, I was impressed with Hyman - He went into the corners and actually came out with the puck.

    While it might be nice to have Stamkos, one option that does not get mentioned is getting McDavid. I visualize a three way trade of Mathews to Phoenix, McDavid to Toronto and Larson to Edmonton. All three teams have enough good talent to even up for other pieces, so it could be win-win for all.

    Regardless, the future looks much better for Leaf Fans. The next few months should be interesting.

    1. I hadn't even thought of the possibility of a move for McDavid, Ralph (RLMcC) but you have now piqued my curiosity!

      The Leafs will need a bit of everything- corner men like Hyman (you likely remember Bert Olmstead, speaking of the old days...), skill guys like perhaps Matthews. To compete with the best, the club will require talent, grit, goaltending, proven experience- it's a long list.

      As you say, things are at least looking up- thanks for chiming in, Ralph.

    2. That's funny, RLMcC, because I was thinking the same thing--a three way trade. But I think Matthews is happy either way.

  3. Dear Michael,

    I think we’re in for a very interesting summer. I was pretty sure Lou was going to get us a goalie as that is what Lou does. I was leaning Vasilevky/Bishop way myself but I am happy with the decision to get Anderson and pleasantly surprised that Anaheim would even answer the call from us given how unceremoniously Carlyle and Nonis were run out of town. I guess the deal makes sense for them too. Good.

    I trust this management to make the right decisions, not just because who they are, but even more so just because I feel like they are in position to make hockey decisions without the upper echelons of the ownership interfering. As Burke once famously said – ‘stable ownership structure’ is key to success in the NHL. I am on record for defending the previous ownership and the coach and I still maintain that they did a good job and would have done a lot better had they not been prevented from doing so by the MLSE. Now we have a crew in place that is just as good in terms of talent and experience if not better but is allowed to do their thing. And that is a really good thing.

    The goalie situation in Toronto has been a disaster and the last time I remember being mildly optimistic about our goaltending was when Reimer and Scrivens were in the net. Bringing in Bernier poisoned the atmosphere and I cannot help but remember that you Michael called it from day one. I didn’t want to believe that 1a/1b system cannot work but it turned out that it couldn’t. Unlike you, however, I never liked Reimer and I’ve grown to not like Bernier either – their eye-rolls and subtle digs at each other and management may have well been created by the poisonous 1a/1b situation they were put in but that’s no excuse. The bottom line is neither of them has stepped up and earned the right to be unhappy -one had ‘the pedigree’ and the other had ‘the battle’ in him but neither has played well enough to be the no.1 in Toronto or elsewhere. Andersen has one thing that our previous tandem did not have and that is consistency – he has maintained an above decent save% and GAA for three years in the NHL as a young goalie and we really have no reason to believe he will not be worth the reasonable contract he was signed to. The reports I’ve read suggest that he is dedicated and hard-working goalie who works hard on his game and his good size (6’4/220) appears to be a prerequisite for success in today’s NHL.

    I agree with Ralph in welcoming what appears to be a new stage in the ‘rebuilding process’ from acquiring picks and prospects to acquiring players with some of the now ‘surplus’ picks and prospects. I think that ‘winning’ may well be the agenda for next year and I really hope that Lou will aggressively go after Stamkos and a no.1 right defenseman and field a team that we will expect to have a chance to win each night and that can make the playoffs and compete for the Cup as soon as next year. For this to happen we need, in addition to the big two events mentioned above, quite a few things to go right – Zaitsev needs to exceed expectations, Reilly needs to improve defensively, Matthews, Nylander and Marner need to have a huge summer and all compete for the Calder, and the team has to remain a lot healthier than they’ve been this past season. Does that sound impossible?

    Last few months of the past season showed us that the youngsters will not allow for another tank to happen – had the tank not been the official agenda, had the kids been brought up together and given a chance to gel, and had the not-even-close-to-ready Sparks not been handed the net on most nights, we almost certainly wouldn’t be here looking forward to picking 1st overall. Matthews, Zaitsev and Andersen will make it even harder for that to happen. Throw in Stamkos and I really don’t see how we can turn back this train. It is going a lot faster than any of us expected and there ain’t no stopping it. I am very excited about the upcoming centennial season.

    1. You've touched on a lot of key points, leafdreamer- thanks for posting. I, too, see this as a team that should only get better- even if they do not go after Stamkos or he decides to ply his trade somewhere else. It just seems as though there will be a number of young players here who will compete hard. That goes a long way. If management does manage to acquire one or two talented veterans (and I sense they will be wise in determining who they will sign or trade for), the turnaround could happen sooner than most of us thought.

  4. Hi Michael,

    An exciting evening for Leaf fans. I don't know about the rest of you but I was holding my breath until they called Matthew's name, though I was reasonably sure it would be Austin at #1.

    Detroit has moved Datsyuk's contract and may steal Stamkos out from under us. It's odd to think it's not the big deal it might have been, with so much young Leaf talent coming along. I liked the Broulliard signing for the Marlies this year too. He impressed me so much at Leafs camp last year.

    I was hoping Reimer might end up with the Flames. I know the Sharks are really impressed with him, or so I've read on their Fear the Fin site, but I don't think they can afford to pay him.

    Lots more picks today. It should be interesting.

    1. Yes, for Leaf fans this is a bit like Christmas morning, I think, Colleen.

      The Stamkos situation seems unclear. Tampa no doubt would love for him to stay, and he may prefer to stay, but money talks, I guess.

      Reiner played well when given the chance with San Jose; like you, I'm interested to see where he lands.

  5. I agree that the acquisition of Andersen feels much different than that of Bernier. I truly doubt the latter will be with the team much longer (end of contract UFA at the latest, but find it hard to imagine something won't happen sooner). I have a feeling that the Leafs took Reimer out of the mix early precisely because his character and compete were at odds with 'the bigger picture'. Indeed, I don't think they worried about the impact upon Bernier as much as they may have been concerned with treating Reimer 'right' for once.

    It may seem odd to say this but I think he was being given the opportunity to be seen in another context and to find out if there was a place for him as a starter. I truly believe that the door is open to his return IF he is willing to be a trusted backup goaltender. If there is no market for his services as a #1 (or 1a/1b - like Calgary?), then I could see him coming back with his expectations 'realigned'. I remember his comments upon departure when he talked about "We are rebuilding" then corrected to "Toronto is rebuilding" (not an exact quote but the issue was 'we' then 'Toronto'. Could just be a slip of the tongue or maybe a 'Freudian slip' intimating his participation in the process to facilitate what has transpired. In any case, we will see!

    Though I'm posting this after the draft, I must acknowledge it took me a while to 'warm up' to Auston Matthews (since we found out about the lottery), primarily because I really didn't know much about him (and I am very impressed with his poise and story). However, not 'knowing' led to all kinds of personal speculation about how we could somehow bring Connor McDavid to Ontario, but since then, I came to think Auston may actually be perfect for this market.

    The League needs a strong revenue producing Maple Leaf franchise, and what could increase interest in the American market more than an American phenom as the poster child for matchups with US based teams.

    Toronto has also done some work in China (trying to create a market interest no doubt) and now the diversity of nationalities represented on the team makes me think that finding a niche in every community may be another motivation for the collage of players being brought in (besides tapping into under-valued markets wherever they may be to broaden the market share across the potential viewership).

    We already have (Ontario's) Marner (and Kadri) and (at a reasonable price, if he's willing) we can still hope for Stamkos... with the friendship between Yzerman and Shanahan, I wonder how much discussion has already happened on the subject... we should know pretty soon.

    1. My sense is that, even if Stamkos decides to stay in Tampa or signs elsewhere, Leaf fans are pretty good with where things are right now, InTimeFor62. That's not to suggest he wouldn't look awfully good in a Leaf jersey, if the cost was right!