Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Leaf prospect pipeline

Most Leaf fans will undoubtedly be aware of the Leafs' ill-fated strategy in years past of trading high-end prospects and draft picks in exchange for veterans of dubious quality. While attempting to "buy a championship" is, under the new CBA, next to impossible, the management of the team thought it a reasonable solution for immediate problems, one of which was placating rabid fans.
Recently, however, new winds have swept through the NHL and brought about a welcome change in philosophy regarding drafting and development of young players. While the Leafs are ranked rather low on the prospect potential scale, there are still a decent number of budding young players who will most likely be making a name for themselves in a few years time.

First on the list is goaltender Justin Pogge, Canada's golden boy during last year's undefeated march to the WJC title. The rangy Albertan won every award in sight last year: WJC Gold Medal, WJC Most Valuable Player, WHL Player of the Year, WHL Top Goaltender of the Year and CHL Goaltender of the Year.
Currently sharing duties with Jean-Francois Racine and Mikael Tellqvist on the Toronto Marlies, Pogge has put up impressive numbers (.931SV%, 2.35GAA, 1SO) despite having lost two of three games. Pogge has a shot at becoming the No. 1 goalie for the Marlies over the course of the season, and possibly cracking the Leafs roster in a year or two. Looking at his stats and achievements has me convinced that the trading of Tuukka Rask (who I'll be going to watch next week) was not a bad deal at all.
It's obvious that Aubin and Tellqvist would have been in dire straits if placed in the spotlight of the No. 1 position on the Leafs.

(This post was written by Patrick - 'a Torontonian and a Leafs fan from birth, now living in Finland'. The second entry in the search for a new BoO Leaf member.)

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