Hockey has changed. Gone are the days where a single goaltender can play 60 or more regular season games and then go on a long playoff run. The game is faster now and there is enough evidence in recent cup winners over the past decade to show that teams benefit much more from having a solid goaltending tandem as opposed to a single elite starter and a backup who only plays the second half of back-to-backs.
This tandem split can be most recently seen with the 2019 St. Louis Blues, 2018 Washington Capitals, and 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins. Of those three teams, the most games played by a single goaltender was Braden Holtby’s 54 games with the Capitals.
It’s easy to believe that a more or less even split was the plan going into last season for the Leafs, but between injury troubles and Petr Mrazek having the worst season of his career, that plan was derailed and abandoned fast. Whether Jack Campbell is re-signed or not, the Leafs’ goaltenders need to be better overall, and with the team’s current cap situation (and the risk of bringing in a new face at a high cap number,) going after a brand-name goaltender might not be in the cards for next season.
There are, however, a number of goalies around the league who have put up excellent numbers in a backup or tandem role and have sort of flown under the radar for a while now. Any one of them could be an excellent …
Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation