The leafs future in net looking bright

With Ed Belfour likely playing his last year with the team and Mikael Tellqvist playing a solid back up role along with the strong number of leafs goaltending prospects in the system leaf fans must be happy with the sudden turn around of fortune this teams goaltending outlook has taken.It was not too long ago when the leafs goaltending future looked shaky at best. Jimmy Waite was the lead man for the baby leafs and Glenn Healy was backing up Curtis Joseph (thank god he didnt get injured for a long period of time during that period). After Healy retired the leafs picked up Corey Schwab after he had a strong camp to back up Joseph and this move paid off as after Joseph went down Schwab was able to fill in and do the job for the leafs. For whatever reason the leafs decided not to reward Schwab and let him and Joseph go in the same year creating a totally new tandem in Ed Belfour (we all know how well that one worked) and Trevor Kidd (well all know how well that one didnt work). The leafs besides the year with Corey Schwab were possibly sporting the worst back ups in the league in Healy and Kidd and on top of that the leafs werent developing anybody on the farm besides Mikael Tellqvist who they were slowly losing faith in. When Kidd went down Tellqvist came in and did a solid job playing back up but then got sent back down. In a move to save room under the cap the leafs decided to hand the back up job over to Tellqvist and this is where we are today. The leafs have been able to draft a few goalies over the last few years who are now finally starting to mature into there own. Jean Francois Racine, Justin Pogge, Tuukka Rask, and Mikael Tellqvist are in in the running to become the next maple leafs starter and I will now rank them as to where I think they fall on the depth chart.

1) Tuukka Rask- Some may be a bit puzzled by my putting him ahead of Pogge due to how well Pogge played in leading team Canada to world junior gold and how he beat Rask in the two games they played against each other but im looking at long term NHL stability. Rask is a quick, agile, and positional sound goalie. He reminds me a lot of Martin Broduer in the way he plays in net, he is great at reading plays and is quick to react and stay in position while playing a hybrid of all kinds of goaltending styles. If not for Rask Finland would have had no chance at winning bronze which is the reason why he took home the best goalie honours at the world junior. Im not saying he is the next Broduer but Rask has the most potential of any of leafs prospects and will most likely play for the big club in some sort of role in two years.

2) Justin Pogge- He was the world junior tournament MVP and seems to have the calm and funny behaviour that would make him a huge hit in Toronto. I only rate him behind Rask for one reason. Pogge plays with massive equipment and I have yet to determine if he can play this well with the new stuff given the fact that he is a strict butterfly goalie much like Ed Belfour in that he plays the angles rather then the puck. Sure Pogge played well in training camp with the new equipment but I still wanna see if he can do that over a long period of time. Pogge will most likely be with the Marlies next year so it should be interesting to see what kind of transition he makes.

3) Mikael Tellqvist- Poor guy. He had one bad game all year against Washington and I rate him third on the leafs future chart for goaltending. He has made great strides this year in the back up role but I still question if he can be anything more but a back up. He tends to let in soft goals at the worst times and tends to go down much too early leaving the top half of the net open before a shot is even away. Tellqvist though wants to prove himself that he is the future now and he is clearly learning a lot from Belfour when it comes to playing angles to become more then just a reflex goalie. If Tellqvist can learn how to be more patient in net and combine that with his great reflexes then he may be able to beat out everybody and be the leafs next starting goalie.

4) Jean Francois Racine- This guy is a typical French Canadian goalie in that he plays the butterfly to perfection and is a big guy who covers a lot of the net. I remember when the leafs drafted this guy in the 3rd round of the 2000 draft and I was excited because of all the great goalies coming out of the Q but just about all those goalies have turned out to be duds with Pascal Leclaire and Maxime Ouellet to name a few. The goaltending power has seemingly shifted to the west. Racine is not at all in the same class as the previous three but I put him here because he has shown flashes of brilliance on occasion but more often then not tends to put some stinky games. In this years pre season he was the leafs best goalie by far and there was actually a chance of him beating out Aubin and Tellqvist as the back up. Since being sent down to the Marlies he hasnt done too much to warrent more attention playing in about 40% of the marlies games and doing a great job in some games and playing poorly in others. At this point he is just goaltending depth for the farm team.

83 Responses to The leafs future in net looking bright

  1. Neely4Life says:

    And those vets know they r in with Quinn too, dont play as hard, and get more ice, and expect to be there, thus there higher point total.

  2. 92-93 says:

    well thanks for the perspective.

    its hard to keep your feet on the ground when you’ve got two great goaltending prospects who’ve played really well at a high-level international tourney and i am sure you understand that.

    also, its just a huge deal for us leaf fans because we haven’t seen solid goalie prospects for years.

    i agree that Rask seems to be a better goalie in terms of potential.

  3. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    but when belfour retires leafs will struggle in there first year tellqvist isnt ready to carry a team yet. and i believe that pogge only had good d infront of him so thats why he was good at the juniors. rask is pretty good and racine is ok but the leafs situation in net is far from good.

  4. Neely4Life says:

    I think rask is gonan be solid, i really wouldnt gey my hopes up too high with pogge if i was a leafs fan.

  5. Neely4Life says:

    wouldnt say its too bad either.

  6. Tweek says:

    its not spectacular, im just saying that the leafs have done a much better job at picking and developing goalies over the past 3 years then the previous 20

  7. Tweek says:

    Tellqvist will get a good look at the #1 job for next year and if the leafs cant find a stopgap goalie for 2 or 3 years then he will most likely be the #1 next year but I think the leafs would rather see him as a back up for two full years rather then one but they not have too much choice in the matter if guys like turco resign with their team before they become free agents

  8. Habfanforever says:

    Good article. Although Pogge played extremely well all tournement long, you must give credit to the defensive crew that outright did a lot of the work for him. Also like they said on TSN, guys like Corey Hirsh and Teevor Kidd had amazing world junior tournements, that doesn’t make them world class talents. Anyone remember a certain Al Montoya? Team USA, drafted first round by Rangers yet has not and may never live up to expectations.

    Tuuka Rask stood on his head for Finland but although he’s a highly touted prospect, there are some concerns regarding his overall stamina and whether he could or not take on the grueling workload of the NHL.

    I think that the Leaf’s best prospect in net is Racine. This guy has come up tremendous this year for their minor club and he has a lot more skill than people give him credit for. He may very well be part of the roster come next October as Belfour’s hall of fame career is nearing an end.

    As much as I hate the leafs though, I would love to see Potvin back in a blue and white jersey, it’s where he played his best hockey and it could also be a decent alternative if Racine doesn’t make the jump next year and if Belfour is no longer in the picture.

  9. PaulK123 says:

    Okay, your saying that the leafs will stay with

    these young goalies for next year, well guess what….you’re wrong! It’s the Leafs, what John Ferguson is gonna do is just acquire an older more experienced goalie to be the new starter, you need experience to win the cup and with the cap going up

    and players saying they wanna play in T.O next year may be the year!

  10. Gretzkin says:

    Agreed. Finland’s hockey program is developing some really strong goaltenders and players.

    They have also adapted more of a “Canadian” style of play.

    I’m not sure who will be better as time goes on, but I’d have to give the nod to Rask, compared to Pogge in the World Juniors.

    Although, Canada’s D was too solid to get a true scouting report to make it a fair comparison.

    Last I heard, Pogge hadn’t lost a game since mid November?

    I think once Belfour leaves, Telly could take the job, but it would be nice to get another backup type goalie who is almost ready for a #1 role, like Telly, for a Solid 1-2 punch.

    Rask and Pogge will be a few years, till they make the Bigs.

  11. Gretzkin says:

    All Hail Felix Potvin!!!!

    Nice Work!


    I Like.

  12. garyroberts7 says:

    I disagree. I feel Telly is outplaying Belfour.

  13. habs79 says:

    Good article Just wanted to make a couple of points.

    First off, Rask and Pogge should be nowhere near the Toronto for the next 3-5 years unless they are wearing Marlie jerseys. It takes alot of time and patience to develope a goalie. It’s the hardest position to mature and so easy to screw up. The Leafs DO NOT want to rush these two.

    As for “duds” remark:

    Pascal Leclaire (NHL 23 years old)

    2 W, 8 L, 2 OT, 3.67 GAA, .897 SP

    J-F Racine (AHL 23 years old)

    9 W, 8 L, 0 OT, 3.21 GAA .900 SP

    You CAN NOT call a goalie a “dud” at 23 years old. It takes goalies a long time to develope. Now given both goalies at this current stage in their career Leclaire being in the NHL and Racine being a back-up to J-S Aubin in the AHL. Yeah Leclaire doesn’t have great numbers but considering he is playing on probably the most brutal team in the NHL in Columbus. Yet has almost the same GAA and SP as Racine’s AHL numbers, well of the two you call Leclaire the “dud”?

  14. garyroberts7 says:

    Are you sayin you’d rather have someone else.

    Didn’t think so.

  15. garyroberts7 says:

    Why? Cause he’s good?

  16. garyroberts7 says:

    And Pogge will be the 2nd best behind Rask. Big Deal.

  17. Tweek says:

    well I called them both duds, and I still think leclaire wont amount to much, good defense or no defense, I just dont see much in his game whenever ive seen him play but thats just my opinion

  18. Neely4Life says:

    No, because he hasnt been tested really, and Rask is a first rounder, and plays in the Finish ELite League, he will be the starter, and Pogge is good trade bate righ tnow, could be a deal breaker for a Solid 3rd D.

  19. 92-93 says:

    totally unrelated topic:

    boy i am loving Coliacovo’s play. anyone see his hit on Bertuzzi tonight!? solid play that results in a scoring chance for the leafs. this kid will be in their top-4 soon enough (especially considering the pathetic depth of the Leafs’ D).

  20. Trickst says:


  21. Trickst says:


  22. FLAMESOWNU says:

    heh..where r they going

  23. Gretzkin says:

    The hit he layed on Bill Guerin will likely be the hit of his career.

    And there’s no way he could’ve avoided it.

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.

  24. PayUpSucka says:

    Rask proved what?

  25. Darcy16 says:

    Did you see the Bertuzzi hit?

    The hits just keep on coming for this kid. I think there will be many many more in his career. A big hitting presence is something that definately was missing from the Leafs blueline so it’s good to see Carlo step up.

  26. 92-93 says:

    I don’t know if he will become a big hitting defenseman but its good to see that he is willing (the same goes for Kronvall when he hit Lindros during training camp practice, although Kronvall did have a nasty game last night).

    give carlo the playing time – that’s what i say. come playoff time the opposition won’t simply be worrying about just McCabe and Kaberle but they’ll have to worry about the two-way threat that Coliacovo poses.

  27. matrix2003 says:

    If Belfour retires after this year (and that is not for certain at this point), next year’s starter would not be Tellqvist, he has played great but he hasn’t played that much too, they would look to a free agent goalie to eat up 50 – 60 games, maybe Osgood, Hasek, Cujo, etc. There’s plenty of goalies that will be available. And In maybe a year or two Pogge will start and Rask will back up, then a year or so later Rask will take over as the starter.

  28. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    telly is outplaying belfour its just if u had to pick a goalie to play 65 games who would it be. a promising but unproven rookie or an old seasoned veteran who seems to get better each year.

  29. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    you missed the point of my post. with the way the article is written it was saying that leafs are set for the future no matter what happens. and that there goalies are top notch. all i am doing is pointing out what i have been able to see. i have watched marlies and leaf games cause i live in toronto. and the goalies havent really played up to those standards.

  30. 92-93 says:

    i disagree slightly. they shouldn’t just exchange a free agent goalie for Belfour and give Telly the usual 10-20 games.

    i think they should go out and get a veteran goalie who will play back-up to Telly but could also be capable of playing in a #1 role as well (just in case Telly doesn’t work out). someone like Burke or (gulps) Thibault.

  31. 92-93 says:

    anyone wants to read THE WORST mid-season assessment of the Leafs should read the first-half and last sentence of Al Strachan’s article:

    i agree that the leafs have no defensive depth – but his analysis of the western road trip and his failure to analyze the ample depth on the leafs’ forward lines tells you a lot about how little he has watched the leafs this year.

  32. 92-93 says:

    i can’t believe that Cujo will be playing his first game in the ACC since he was with Toronto in the Game 6 loss to the Hurricanes in the East Conference finals. That’s insane!

    you know, i understand the fact that the leafs have an option with Belfour and could go with him (and see him rack up his 500th win perhaps), but if Eddie doesn’t play that well down the stretch – why not bring Cujo back and try and sign Eddie to becoming a goaltending coach for the Leafs and Marlies (and pay him loads of money too). that way, Cujo is the perfect transition goalie, you can give him about 50 games next year, Telly 30 games and see where that goes.

    good article in the star on cujo:

  33. 92-93 says:

    “Joseph still has strong emotional ties to the Maple Leafs and would welcome the opportunity to finish his career in blue and white. He plans to retire in Toronto and is having a massive renovation done to his King City residence. The project manager for the job is none other than former Leaf great Wendel Clark.”

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