What to do about Pogge?

The Leafs sent Justin Pogge back down to the AHL on Sunday. This was probably the result of his record of 1-4-1 over the season so far. Although the stats don’t tell the whole story, and Pogge has probably played as many amazing games as he has terrible games, a save percentage worse than .900 and a GAA of 2.70 falls shy of impressive. His record is also a lowly 23-20-5.

All this raises the question of what to do with him? He has potential and could be a great goalie some day, but the Leafs have a terrible defense that prevents him from gaining any confidence and results in him getting shelled every time he plays with the big club. Also, he’s not developing or growing very much in the AHL. So, do Leafs wait for him, or trade him, or play him? They could always trade him and rely on a draft or possible future trade to acquire the talent in net they desperately need. Might get a pick or a prospect at the draft for him. If they trade him to a team that could use him as a backup or even an alternating starter he could either prove he can plan in the NHL or show that he doesn’t have it.

They could also keep him, wait to see if he improves over the next season or two with the Marlies while giving him a few games a season with the Leafs until he is ready for more. The problem is that he may simply not get any better, he could have peaked. It’s just as likely that he could improve as it is that he flops, like so many rookies in the past. Although is has been with the organization for a few years and he’s still only 22, he could have a breakout season and become a great Leaf.

One last option, that I see, is to let him split the goaltending duties for the rest of the year. Who knows, maybe he just needs more time and more games. He got a rough deal playing against buffalo twice, maybe a few games against teams that don’t have Vanek will help him improve those numbers. Obviously though, if they were to do this he is much more likely to continue to play poorly and cost them alot of games. The problem with this is it would make it look like they wanted to throw the season, and could rattle Pogge so much that he is wasted, in which case he’ll probably not trade or develop well.

Whatever the case I hope he gets the chance to play and prove himself, whether it be in Toronto or not.

Post Script: For the Love of god, if all you want to do is leave an anti leaf comment, or personal hatred for some player, or myself, or anyone else that comments: just don’t. This form is for people who care about what is being discussed. If this doesn’t interest you just read something else.

40 Responses to What to do about Pogge?

  1. Kyleton says:

    i personally don't see Pogge as the heir apparent goaltender in Toronto.  Burke will likely draft a goalie in the top 3 rounds this year and add some better competition at least for the starting job in the AHL.  Their next best option is Reimer and I don't think that will really do.  I heard the named Mikko Koskinen as a kid moving up the draft ladder the last half of the season.  The kid is 6'6 200 lbs and apparently playing very solid hockey.


    Maybe Burke should consider trying to grab him. One slight drawback is he's 21 already.

  2. habswinthecup-again says:

    I do not see Pogge as a no. 1 either, but I think he should be given the chance to be before they cut him loose. Bring him up next year and play him behind Toskala and give him 25-35 games and see what he does. Toskala is probably not the Leafs long term answer either, so they probably will draft a goalie this summer but he would be 3-5 years away from being a quality starter so they may as well give Pogge a chance.

  3. i_know_hockey says:

    Tuukka Rask

  4. reinjosh says:

    i like the idea of drafting this guy
    apparently hes turning alot of heads in the scouting world
    it would be great if burke could get him late in the draft but i fully expect him to go earlier
    say lat 2nd, early 3rd.
    i think that if burke feels he has enough upside, he will draft him in the lat second with the rangers second, or in the 3rd
    otherwise i think that burke will look into the ncaa for a goalie
    their is this one guy who is in his last year that could be looked at
    i dont remember his name, but he has decent upside

  5. blaze says:

    I don't see any rush. Lots of goalies develop slowly and explode onto the scene in their mid to late 20s.

    Look at Miller, Toskala and Lundqvist. All mid to late draft picks like Pogge that were allowed to mature and develop at their own pace.

    Confidence is huge in goalies, I am completely against rushing goalies because of how easily it can ruin their game.

    There are plenty of other options in the meantime or even if he is a complete bust it's hardly the end of the world. Tagging the future on the kid is unfair. I'm perfectly content with letting him be the man on the Marlies for the next 3 years, perfecting his game until he's ready for the big time.

  6. blaze says:

    I see your viewpoint but I disagree. I'd much rather Burke bring back Gerber cheap to platoon/backup Toskala.

  7. LiveBlueAndWhite says:

    I agree one hundred percent, i have watched the leafs for a solid 7 years now. I am a die hard fan, but i also understand hockey more than a lot of leafs fans do, because lets be honest, most leafs fans think Sundin should be remembered like Maurice Richard, or that Pogge will be the next Broduer. Though at the same time, i believe that Toronto is the hardest city to play in, more so than montreal because we havent won the cup in ages, and we havent had a cup challenging team in a few years now. The worst thing toronto did was trade off Tuuka Rask, Pogge will be rushed and ruined by Toronto, then the media will eat him up, and he'll play subpar for the rest of his career. its what happens in Toronto

  8. bleeds_blue_n_white says:

    Everyone is so damn hard on Goaltenders. Pogge is 21, which is very young for a goaltender to break into the NHL.

    Goaltenders take the longest to develop and bring up to the big club properly. Doing so too quickly can ruin a goaltender long term. For example let's look at some of the early years of some of the better goaltenders in the past several years:

    Rookie Years –

    Marc-Andre Fleury – 19 yrs old – 4-14-0-1, with a .896 save % and 3.64 GAA. on a really bad Pittsburgh team. Then as a 21 yr old in his second season (broken up by NHL Lockout) 13-27-6-1 with an .898 save % and 3.25 GAA.

    Martin Brodeur – 19 yrs old – 2-1-0-0, with a .882 save % and 3.35 GAA on a pretty decent New Jersey team that lost in the first round of Playoffs. The following year Brodeur spent entirely in the minors posting a 14-13-0-0 record, .884 save % and 4.03 GAA.

    Ed Belfour – Undrafted, 23 yr old rookie – 4-12-0-0 with an .878 save % and 3.87 GAA in 88/89. 2 years later, at 25, he won the Calder and backstopped Chicago to an appearance in the Stanley Cup final.

    JS Giguere – 19 yrs old, 1-4-0-1 with a .881 save % and 3.65 GAA with Hartford. As a 21 yr old with Calgary (2nd team) he gets another shot and goes 6-7-0-0 with an .897 save % and 3.21 GAA. It was not until he was 23, and on his third team that Giguere started posting numbers that made him a starting Goaltender.

    Curtis Joseph – Undrafted, 22 yr old rookie – 9-5-0-0 with an .890 save % and 3.38 GAA on a strong St Louis Team. Following year 16-10-0-0, .898 save % and 3.12 GAA. Year 3 Joseph finally rises (at 24 years of age) to 27-20-0-2, .910 save % and 3.01 GAA losing to Chicago (and Ed Belfour) in 6 games as Chicago went on to Cup Final.

    The list goes on and on. For every Patrick Roy, who stepped in at age 20 and backstopped the Canadians to a Stanley Cup, the are hundreds more who have had very pedestrian beginnings to their careers.

    If we are to look at the examples listed above, most Leaf fans would have ushered Brodeur out of town as a young goaltender due to his very unimpressive stats to start his career.

    Furthermore, rushing a goaltender to the bigs too quickly can be disasterous

    Felix Potvin – Heavy pressure as starter and franchise goaltender at age 21 in Toronto. All Star stats for 2 – 3 years, then within 5 became a journeyman, fighting for jobs with the Islanders, Canucks, Kings and Boston

    Jim Carey – Won the Vezina in his sophmore year as a 21 year old. Had one more year in NHL with Washington then dealt to Boston and then St. Louis. After a few years of bouncing between NHL, AHL and IHL, he stopped playing after the 98/99 season at age 25.

    Peter Ing – Brought up at 21 and thrust into Starter Role. Had 2 decent seasons then traded in 7 player deal that brought Grant Fuhr, Craig Berube and Glenn Anderson to the Leafs. Bounced around AHL and IHL in the Edmonton and Detroit organizations with only a handful of NHL games apart from his 2 seasons with the Leafs.

    There are many, many more examples of goaltenders that were not properly developed and became busts long term.

    In the end, Burke and Wilson state that they have a plan for Pogge. Let's allow them time to implement this plan before passing judgement. Age 21 is way to early for the layman to gauge a goaltender properly. Hell, even seasoned, knowledgable GMs like Mike Milbury give up on a young goaltender from time to time (Milbury traded a 21 yr old Roberto Luongo, along with Olli Jokinen to Florida for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. Apparently, this move was to make room for Rick DiPietro, his goaltender of the future)

  9. nordiques100 says:

    lots of people talking about what the rush is and that pogge is only 21 and that goalies are often late bloomers.

    the problem is, the leafs have invested quite a bit in this kid to not much results. they chose him over Rask, they have developed him to little progression for 3 years. they've given him a taste of the NHL with zero success.

    do they wish to continue to invest? i think they will but for not much longer.

    yeah yeah i hear it all the time, look at tim thomas, look at hasek, late 20s, early 30s b4 they became stellar goalies. pogge could be just that.

    well that means the leafs have to give him 7-8 years of opportunity b4 they can see if he is number 1 material. no way will they wait that long. that's not practical. this kid was hyped, perhaps too much, but he is considered a prospect and maybe should be showing something by now. he hasnt.

    this is why thomas played for like 10 plus organizations over 13 or so years b4 cracking the NHL.

    he is a RFA after the year. they will probably sign him 2 way and give him one more shot next season. after that, if he falters again, well then they will cut ties with him.

    definitely in the draft, grabbing a netminder may be a necessity, or even trading for a prospect in goal. i think part of the issue is that pogge doesnt have anyone pushing him. they need another good young goalie to maybe force pogge to be better rather than just be the default goalie prospect for the team.

  10. mojo19 says:

    I stopped reading really early when you said “the leafs have terrible defense which prevents him from gaining confidence”. This isn’t true at all. When you let in 1 in 3 shots you can’t really blame the defense in front of you.

    The fact is, Pogge is awkward and clunky, he gives up bizarre rebounds on routine shots and lets in long, untipped goals. He’s not square so when a shot is tipped he has no chance of even saving it by mistake.

    Please don’t try to make excuses for the guy. The only excuse could be that he was called up when he’s just not good enough.

    Justin Pogge might be a bust (im like 75% sure of it), so we should draft a goalie or two and see if we can’t get some options down in the minors for our future.

    I admit, I’m a Pogge hater, but he can’t make saves so I think its warrented.

  11. mojo19 says:

    In reference to them choosing Pogge over Raks, by "they" you of course mean JFJ.

    That trade is my least favourite move made by that idiot. Rask for the now bought out Raycroft. Even if Rask doesn't turn into a star, this trade was terrible, he had more value than that, and it would be nice to have some options in the minors and not have all our future resting on Pogge.

  12. reinjosh says:

    i dont think he is that bad
    he has so much potential that you have to keep giving him chances
    he may not be playing well but he has so much to offer
    he has a huge frame and once he adjusts to the game in the nhl he will be a huge goalie
    leaf fans give up on him too early
    at least give him some more games this year and next
    the best thing to do this off season (we all know they wont make the playoffs next year or will at least not challenge for the cup) would be to sign him to a one year deal. give the kid a chance and tell him that if he cant start to show signs of promise this season he wont be playing after this

  13. nordiques100 says:

    actually the trade didnt bother me until they decided to trade 1st and 2nd and 3rd round picks to get toskala.

    how many draft picks does it take to get an at best average NHL netminder? who knows, he may have blown that 7th overall pick last draft to get another goalie with toskala not 100 percent even back then.

    after blowing that raycroft deal. JFJ at that point should have not been able to do anything ever again.

    the guy kept doing the same things over. sign tucker, sign the same player in blake. sign mccabe, sign the same player in kubina. trade for raycroft then for toskala blowing 1st rounders in the process.

    losing rask, ok fine he may or may not turn out. but in total that's 2 first round picks for goalies that really werent top 15-20 best guys to begin with.

  14. nordiques100 says:

    the goaltending has been weak, not just pogge either, but lets not kid ourselves, the team's defensive play is pathetic at times.

    they arent one of the worst defensive teams in the league because of only their pathetic goaltending this season. the defence at times can be pourous.

    krejci just waltzed through 2 guys when really he had no business being on his feet. guys were left alone in the slot. the 5 skaters for some reason tend to play ad lib defence which crumbles any system put in place.

    yes he should ahve had a few of those, but when the leafs lose, its definitely been a team effort most nights.

    i mean even toskala, as talented as he is, he has been terrible but its not just him and his injuries. the team quit on him several nights so they, the skaters dont deserve any free passes.

  15. nordiques100 says:

    as much as they got on him too early, they've also salivated as his potential, practically giving him the vezina already.

    its worked both ways, against the kid. the good press probably did have an impact on his regression. 3 years and no progress. probably thought he was too good to work considering leaf nation, as large as it is, thinks he is good.

    also, no push. where is that other player to push him? he is the future in goal. it begins and ends with him since rask was moved out and he i think has just gone through the motions living off his junior reputation.

    the kid needs to work way harder. needs more of a push and better teaching. if he gets that, he may be ok, but may be yet another player who excels when he leaves the leafs.

  16. leafy says:

    It's deja vu all over again.  It was exactly the same debate we Leaf fans had 2 years ago with Raycroft.

    Yes, the Leafs defence is erratic…obviously the team is rebuilding.

    However, there is absolutely no doubt Pogge is nowhere close to ready.

    To say that Pogge is performing poorly because of Toronto's defence is way off base in my view, so Mojo's right.

    Having said all that, I agree with some of the others too.  It's a bit too early to write off the 21 year old kid.  There's another kid in Montreal named Carey Price. He's not exactly dominating the league either.

  17. leafy says:

    I agree, it's way too early to write off the young Pogge.  The Leaf simply have no other choice but to be patient with the kid.

    Also don't forget Carey Price, another example.  He was selected 5th overall, yet he's having his own share of problems.

    Not too many in history like Patrick Roy who managed to win a Conn Smyth trophy at age 20!!!

  18. leafy says:

    I would also like to bring everyone's attention to Bernie Parent, the Hall of Famer.

    When he was Pogge's age with Boston, his numbers were not too good (GAA of 3.65 after 60 games in his first 2 seasons).

    He later spent time in Philly and then even with the Leafs.  Too bad the Leafs weren't patient.  The sent Parent back to the Flyers and here's what happened next:

    Parent spends the entire 1972-73 season in the minors, with a 3.61 GAA and 0.886 save pct.  His career looks to be floundering.

    But then in the following season with the Flyers, he wins the Vezina, the Stanley Cup, and the Conn Smyth.

    The season after that, he repeats the feat of winning the Cup and Conn Smyth.

    He went on to win a few more Vezina's too.  One of the most decorated goalies in NHL history.  And he was in Toronto's hand!!!!!

    I'm not saying that Pogge is the next Bernie Parent.  But with goalies, you just never know.  Especially when they're 21 year old kids.

  19. UWSensFan says:

    Gerber thinks he's a starter, so I doubt he'll go back to a team that'll platoon him/use him as a backup.  Look at how well that worked for us these last 3 seasons…trust me, Gerber's not the answer.

  20. UWSensFan says:

    As has been mentioned by a couple other posters, Pogge's got nobody challenging him.  When the Leafs had both him and Rask in the organization, the smart thing to do would have been to have both duke it out (not literally, but on the ice) for the Marlies, pushing each other to be better.  Sure, one of them would have eventually been traded, but it would have been the right one (not to say that Pogge won't be better than Rask).

    He also has been hyped as the next coming of Brodeur, Bower, and Roy.  Why?  Because of Toronto's media.  Nothing more.  The Toronto media, and Leafs fans that think they'll win the cup every year, are the ones that may have overinflated his ego.

    What would be best for him?  Find yourself a good AHL goalie and pit him against Pogge for most (if not all) of next season.  Also, get yourself a good goalie coach for the guy.  Up in Ottawa, we have a project goalie that looks like he could very well pan out (Elliot) because we gave him what he needed, didn't over-hype him (until recently), and have realistic expectations for him: that he's got the potential to be a good starter in the league.  Not necessarily a top 10 goalie, but not a career backup either.

  21. nordiques100 says:

    the defence has been erratic arguably since yushkievich couldnt play and markov was dealt. around the same time, corson decided to get depressed leaving a void in terms of a good checking forward. 

    its just the last 4 years the team hasnt had a goalie to bail them out time and time again. the soft goals, or mistakes by the goalie are magnified much more now.

    it goes to show how spoiled we truly were with cujo and belfour to some degree.

    the system wilson is putting in place is the best we've had since burns probably. its a major work in progress, but the signs are there. i think an influx of size will help big time.

    but i refuse to lay all the blame on raycroft, toskala, cujo or pogge. they are at fault, but its not going to help when the team quits on D. their failures were a failure of the team as a whole. not just the men between the pipes. everyone shares the blame equally. for some reason, leaf nation tends to lay focus on just one player (i.e mccabe for example) when clearly its the whole team unraveling.

    pogge was left to dry against the wild. he let in a ton, but honestly he didnt have anyone protecting him then.

    certainly he takes quite a bit of blame vs boston saturday, but again, a work in progress. does that mean he deserves another chance? who knows.

    gotta see big picture here folks. sorry, if goalie lets in a softie to lose a game and 3 months later it just so happens the team misses out on one or two points, well we just cant blame the goalie. collectively the team isnt good enough, plain and simple.

    now with a finally real good manager in place, maybe for once we can stop with stopgap lineups and throwing everything for fringe players and build a team that can be put in a position to succeed in all facets.

    and if these goalies are to be blamed, well the fault is mostly the management group that is gone. the organization is reeling b/c of the lost picks and prospects just to find a not even top 20 nhl goalie. i think that is why leaf nation is so hard on the netminders.

    we lost rask, but also opportunities at gillies, esposito, backlund pacioretty, moller, simmonds among others with the toskala traded picks.

  22. nordiques100 says:

    i think this is exactly how it's been for pogge.

    but i dont know about a good ahl goalie. the leafs did have clemmensen. the kid does need to play more.

    the ideal thing is to have someone in junior or europe, coming up through the ranks quickly and showing big promise putting some heat on the players ahead of them on the depth chart. i think in this draft, if they can find, say, another jacob maarkstrom or someone like that, it could finally be the push pogge needs within the organization.

  23. nordiques100 says:

    parent isnt the best example. the guy was acquired by toronto when he was 25 and then shipped out 2 years later. he was 29 or so when he won that 1st cup for philly. and the flyers gave up on him 2nd after boston did.

    a maybe better example, is luongo whom the isles dumped when he was 21, to go with dipietro. they coudl have kept him and jokinen, another they gave up on young, plus picked either heatley or gaborik with the 1st overall pick in that draft. then again, its mad mike so nothing he did made sense.

    bottom line, the leafs have invested 3 years into pogge with no progress. i think he has 1 more year b4 they cut ties. a big ahl playoff though could really help pogge. i think judgement needs to be reserved til after we see what he can do there. afterall, it was just that one measly AHL playoff which put price into the hall of fame lol.

  24. reinjosh says:

    completely agree
    fans often time pick one player or position on the team to blame and this person becomes the result of all the leafs trouble for that year.
    and i really like the way burke and wilson are running things
    wilson will no longer take any crap from any player and no player can just not show up in the game and he is emphasizing winning
    burke also wants to win and will not go for the quick fix and is instituting a better approach than a fire sale and tank approach
    yes it may take a bit and we might never get the top pick, but we can build and still win and be exciting
    this isnt a bad thing and as long as burke stays on with a specific goal and trend in mind the team will get better
    yes we may not get the tavares' of the world but we cant a very good player from the number 5 through top 15 pick as well as keeping the good players that do emerge on the team
    this shows potential free agents that the leafs want to win and will give them a reason to come here rather than steer clear

  25. mojo19 says:

    But Raycrofts year as our starter, it was his fault mostly. I hear you guys about not blaming one guy, but a bad goalie is the exception.

  26. mojo19 says:

    I don't want to write him off, but I don't want to see him in the big leagues any time soon. He needs work.

  27. mojo19 says:

    Totally. He was the worst GM ever

  28. leafy says:

    Exactly right. The point is a bad goalie is a bad goalie, regardless of the team behind him.

    Look at Raycroft this year in Colorado.  Not too good.  That now makes THREE teams he's sucked on.  He was run out of town in Boston, then Toronto, and now Colorado is not looking too good.

    I'm sick and tired of hearing excuses for that guy's failing career.

  29. leafy says:

    It's not so much that we're "spoiled" after watching Cujo and Belfour.  The point is that great goaltending is an absolute must for any successful hockey team.

    As you said, after Yusky's book clot and Markov's departure, the D has been erratic.  Yet we still had 100+ point seasons with an erratic D in 2002 and 2004.  And we reached the Final Four in 2002.

    Which again demonstrates the power of outstanding goaltending.

  30. leafy says:

    But Toskala was pretty good last year, despite playing on a poor team.

    Toskala's play last year refutes the claim that a goalie cannot play well on a bad team.

  31. arigold says:

    Unless the Leafs decide to give him the opportunity to play regularly, i can't see how anyone can judge him.  Playing just a few games here and there with a very bad team in front of him, that frankly has never shown up on the nights he's been given to play, isn't enought to make a judgement.  Even if he played the entire year, i think this team would still be in the same position.  Goalies need time to develop.  Hey, remember when everyone thought Carey Price was good???

    Give the kid some time.

  32. Kramer says:


    Last year I said the Leafs gotta sign one of the Hansons (remember "Slap Shot"?)

    Well finally the Leafs are listening to Kramer.


  33. Kramer says:

    This is how the Leafs gotta play to make the playoffs next year.  The Hansons show how its done.  The new Hanson the Leafs signed is gonna play like this too.


  34. blaze says:

    Gerber also thought he would never play in the NHL again, who else will give Gerber a starting role?

    I don't want Gerber so the Leafs can make a cup push, I just an experienced, capable goalie who would probably play with/behind Toskala complaint free.

  35. JoelJoel says:

    I can't agree more. And furthermore, he shows flashes of greatness most games when he does play with the big club. Maybe he just isn't thriving in an AHL environment and is having the bad luck of what teams to play on what nights.

  36. Kyleton says:

    This kid is a burke type player. 6'4" and 225 pounds

  37. blaze says:

    Why just one more year though? Unless you can get something good in return for him (which you can't) what's the point of cutting him loose?

    Totally agree he the Leafs should draft another goalie because yes Pogge should have someone pushing him and Pogge shouldn't be tagged the future.

    I just don't see the point in completely giving up on him and throwing him away. The Leafs should be retaining as much young talent as possible throughout the entire organization.

  38. SensFan1977 says:

    The leafs have 45 goalies for their roster next year and you're wondering about one goalie.  They are a mess.
    Sens are missing the playoffs this year but are atleast showing some signs of progression.

    Check out an easy way to make a lot of money without doing any work!
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  39. Radio says:

    The Leafs simply need to bring back Alan Bester, that will solve all their goaltending woes.

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