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One of the most polarizing discussions you can have as a hockey fan, let alone a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, is about goaltending. Often times with goalies, the emotions are through the roof whether it be in a positive way or a negative way. A goaltender can be the sole reason your favourite team succeeds, or the sole reason your team fails.
This topic is no different in the land of the Maple Leafs. While we’ve seen goalies that have quickly become fan favourites, such as James Reimer, we’ve also seen goalies whose tenures went south in terms of fan appreciation relatively quick, such as Jonathan Bernier, and some goalies who fall in the middle of these two, like Frederik Andersen.
With the aforementioned Andersen moving on after five seasons with the team, the Maple Leafs’ depth chart between the pipes has seen a bit of a shift. Without further ado, I’m going to take a look at each goalie in the Maple Leafs’ system along with what to expect from them in 2021-22, and what kind of role we will likely see them in this season.
Tier 1 – Guaranteed NHL Goalies
2020-21 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s obviously far too early to say, but the trade to acquire Campbell from the Los Angeles Kings in February of 2020 may end up being one of general manager Kyle Dubas’ best trades in his tenure so far. Originally acquired along with gritty forward Kyle Clifford to solve the Maple Leafs’ need for a backup goalie in 2019-20, Campbell has become so much more than that.
After Andersen had noticeable struggles early in the 2020-21 season, Campbell came in and played like the goalie the Dallas Stars thought they had when they drafted him 11th overall in 2010. He won a record-breaking 11 straight games to start his season, and finished the campaign with a record of 17-3-2 to compliment a save percentage (SV%) of .921 and a goals-against-average (GAA) of 2.17.
Projected Role in 2021-22: Starting Goaltender (1A)
The only reason I’m giving Campbell the 1A tag to start the season is because he’s had injury issues that have kept him from playing many games per season in the past, and with the signing of Petr Mrazek this offseason, it’s to be expected that those two will split starts. Regardless, after the season the Michigan native had, it would be simply unfair to not start him as the 1A goalie for the Leafs this season.
2020-21 Team: Carolina Hurricanes
Mrazek is going to make the Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation interesting this season. With Andersen signing with the Hurricanes, the two teams essentially pulled off a goalie swap with the two. Mrazek missed most of the 2020-21 season after having thumb surgery in early February. Granted, in his limited sample size, he posted Vezina-like numbers. Through 12 games, he had a record of 6-2-3 with a SV% of .923 and a GAA of 2.06.
Because of the emergence of rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic in Mrazek’s absence, the Czech netminder somewhat lost his job as a result much like Andersen did. Only difference is that Mrazek was performing extrordinarily well before he got hurt. Luckily for him, a thumb injury is about as freak an injury as you can get, so it won’t likely be a recurring problem for him in 2021-22 like a knee injury or something of the sort would present concern for.
Projected Role in 2021-22: Backup Goaltender (1B)
I only call Mrazek a backup goaltender in this instance because I think he’ll play less games than Campbell, but not by much. I think they’re going to end up splitting games either way, with the edge going to whoever’s hotter at the time. Because of Campbell’s performance in 2020-21, I think he deserves the nod at the beginning of the year, but if he falters early on, this could easily change.
Tier 2 – High-End AHL Starters/NHL Call-Ups
2020-21 Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s kind of funny how drastically Hutchinson’s game turned around between 2019-20 and 2020-21. In the former season, he was essentially the entire reason the Maple Leafs traded for Campbell in the first place. He started the 2019-20 season as the Maple Leafs’ backup goaltender and struggled mightily, managing a record of 4-9-1 with a SV% of .886 and a GAA of 3.66 through 15 games.
In 2020-21, however, he wound up seeing more time as the backup goalie between separate injuries to Campbell and Andersen and looked like a completely different netminder. Through eight games, he had a record of 4-2-1 with a SV% of .919 and a GAA of 2.42. I don’t think any Leafs fan was ecstatic about the idea of him starting games after his performance the previous year, but he was everything you could ask for and then some as a third goalie.
Projected Role in 2021-22: Marlies Tandem/Maple Leafs third goalie
It’s hard for me to predict what Hutchinson’s role will be this season, as it all hinges on whether or not he gets claimed on waivers by another team. He impressed enough through a small sample size in 2020-21 that he could be looked at by other teams that may have more question marks in the crease. If he sticks with the team, he’s far and away the best option the Maple Leafs have for a third goalie.
Kallgren is arguably the most intriguing goaltender the Maple Leafs have in the system this season. I wrote an article on him a few days ago about how, depending on how he does in training camp, he could challenge for a spot as the Maple Leafs’ third goalie. Again, a lot of this will hinge on whether or not Hutchinson gets claimed on waivers.
Originally a seventh-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2015, the Maple Leafs signed the Swedish netminder to a two year, two-way contract back in May after he helped lead the Vaxjo Lakers to a Swedish Hockey League (SHL) championship. Alongside MVP and fellow Leafs prospect Pontus Holmberg, the 24-year-old finished the season with a 12-9-0 record, a SV% of .911, and a GAA of 2.37. In the playoffs, however, he exploded for a SV% of .930 and a GAA of only 1.74.
Projected Role in 2021-22: Marlies Tandem/Maple Leafs’ Third Goalie
If you couldn’t tell, there’s a lot of fog surrounding what happens to Leafs’ netminders not named Campbell or Mrazek this season. Much like Hutchinson’s role will only take effect if he’s not claimed on waivers, Kallgren’s role will depend on what happens to Hutchinson. If Hutchinson is claimed, Kallgren could see a much more prominent starting gig for the Marlies. If Hutchinson stays, it’s more likely we’ll see him as a tandem goalie for the Marlies and around fourth on the Maple Leafs’ depth chart.
Tier 3 – In the System
2020-21 Team: Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Woll’s role in 2021-22 is looking rather dicey. A third round pick of the Maple Leafs in 2016, the Missouri native spent three years with Boston College of the NCAA where he found mostly success, keeping his GAA below 2.70 and his SV% above .910 in all three of his seasons with the team. But since the Maple Leafs signed him to an entry-level contract and started giving him some reps with the Marlies, he’s started to struggle a little bit.
In a combined 47 AHL games between 2019-20 and 2020-21, Woll has managed a SV% of only .884 and a GAA of 3.68. Granted, it would be unfair to pin all of the blame on Woll considering the Marlies were one of the worst teams in their division in both seasons. But either way, there’s all of a sudden two potential options to challenge Woll for a job in the AHL.
Projected Role in 2021-22: Marlies Backup
I’m getting pretty tired of saying this, but much like Kallgren, Woll’s role in 2021-22 will depend on the fate of Hutchinson. If Hutchinson returns, it’s hard to imagine Woll will be with the Marlies, or at least not in a prominent role, unless he plays out of his shoes and forces the Marlies to give him a spot on the roster. For the purpose of this article, however, I’m going to assume Hutchinson either gets claimed, or they split the starts three ways between Hutchinson, Kallgren, and Woll, and say that Woll will be the Marlies’ backup in 2021-22.
2020-21 Team: Wichita Thunder (ECHL)
It’s pretty hard not to feel bad for Scott when you consider how his past two seasons have gone. After being named the Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the year following an incredible 2018-19 campaign for the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders, he had hip surgery that held him out of the entire 2019-20 season, where he was supposed to make his pro debut. Then, he suffered a setback in his recovery that limited him to only six games in 2020-21, five of which came with the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder.
I still think there’s hope for Scott to develop into an effective goalie someday, he just needs to get some proper development in to make up for what he missed between 2019 and 2021. He’s only 22, after all, and his hardware season with the Raiders in 2018-19 shouldn’t be overlooked, even if it was three years ago.
Projected 2021-22 Role: Newfoundland Growlers Starter (ECHL)
I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Maple Leafs will start Scott in the ECHL to get him back to game speed again. Not only will there be far less pressure on him than if he were to play for the Marlies, but he’ll also be able to guaranteee himself more regular starts than if he were to compete with the rest of the players I named for a spot on the Marlies.
Tier 4 – Unsigned Goaltenders
2020-21 Team: Bars Kazan, Supreme Hockey League (VHL)
This is a super generous take for somebody that’s played mostly in Russia’s junior leagues, but Akhtyamov arguably has the highest ceiling of any Maple Leafs goalie prospect.
He split time between Russia’s three major leagues last season, but spent the majority of it with Bars Kazan of the VHL, essentially Russia’s version of the AHL. He finished with a record of 5-4-4 with a SV% of .927 and a GAA of 1.90. He also got three games with the Kontinental Hockey League’s (KHL) Ak Bars Kazan.
Projected 2021-22 Role: N/A – Will Not Play in North America
2020-21 Team: Irbis Kazan, Junior Hockey League (MHL)
I don’t have much on the book of Peksa other than the fact that he was teammates with Akhtyamov during his stints in the MHL. He finished with a record of 8-5-2 with a SV% of .909 and a GAA of 2.57 through 17 games with the team. It’s tough to predict where in Russia he’ll be playing next year, but he won’t be in North America at any point.
Projected 2021-22 Role: N/A – Will Not Play in North America
When I actually sit down and look at the Maple Leafs’ goaltending depth chart, I’d truthfully say it’s improved from last season. Based on numbers over the past two seasons alone, Mrazek has been a better goalie than Andersen, and they’ve also added Kallgren as another potential option to challenge for a call-up should Mrazek or Campbell get injured.
Granted, while the tandem is set in stone, there are lots of questions without answers that will depend on what happens to Hutchinson in training camp. Either way, while the depth chart isn’t exactly amazing, there’s lots of potential, and the Leafs should be comfortable with the options they do have should there be any injuries.
Alex Hobson is a third year broadcasting student at Niagara College. He has been writing about sports since 2005 and has been with The Hockey Writers since October of 2020. He covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, World Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft, and is also part of the Maple Leafs Lounge Podcast, presented by THW. For interview requests or any other inquiries, you can follow Alex’s social media pages listed at the bottom of his articles like this one.