It’s no secret the Leafs have established a nice stable of prospects over the last couple years, and those key pieces like Matthews, Nylander, and Marner are at the front of all the hype around this rebuild, as they should be. But Toronto is also wading through the process of turning over the old names from the Burke & Nonis Show, and as such have now started to put together a new supporting cast to go along with these blue chippers.
There are still a few more names yet to be booted from roster, but in just the last four months Lou and company have turned over their NHL goaltender scene completely. Out are Reimer and Bernier, with Freddie Andersen now taking the reigns as the team’s number one, along with strong speculation of Jhonas Enroth coming aboard. If this is the way things shake out – with Andersen and Enroth being the actual tandem – are the Leafs truly going to be better off in the crease? Or is this simply about getting some fresh names in there, an example of a front office bringing in “their guys” for the sake of it?
When we take a glance at the numbers, it appears the latter is true. Well, sort of.
As far as the tag-team battle between Reimer/Bernier and Andersen/Enroth goes, it would probably be difficult to pick a clear winner right now. The latter combo is a tad younger, with Andersen and Enroth being 28 and 26 years old, respectively (versus 28 and 27 for Reimer and Bernier). But in terms of career numbers to date, both pairs seem to have performed about the same with what they’ve been given in opportunities.
First off, simply looking at save-percentage in all situations for these guys, here’s how the two tandems stack up in all their NHL experience. [Again, this is assuming reports are correct and Toronto will land Enroth.]
So historically each pair has performed at a league-average level, which is absolutely fine. If Enroth and Andersen can continue that sort of clip for Toronto, the team should be in decent shape. But it’s clear there’s no real evidence of an upgrade here yet.
As for their performance at even-strength, again this looks to be a wash when we look at career totals.
So we can see that, save-percentage-wise, these combos aren’t really separable. But there are other metrics out there that could broaden the picture here a bit.
Going by Quality Starts, developed by Rob Vollman (author of the Hockey Abstract) as “Starts with sv% greater than the average sv% for the year, or at least .880 on nights with fewer than 20 shots“, we can stack up these guys again. We’ll obviously want to look at percentage of Quality Starts (QS%), given the range of experience for these guys.
The guidelines for Quality Start Percentage, as pointed out by Hockey-Reference, are as follows: Greater than 60% is considered very good, below 50% is bad, and the league average is about 53%. With that framework in mind, Reimer and Bernier collectively float around average while the potential new pair are much closer to that magical “good” territory.
If Quality Starts is something you see value in (which Cam Charron dipped into a few times here at this site), then the Andersen/Enroth duo looks like a bit of a safer choice for the Leafs than what they’ve had before. Considering their combined cap hits could ring in lower than the $7.55-million Reimer and Bernier will cost this upcoming season, and they’re just a shade younger, fans should have peace of mind that the team is likely upgrading (albeit only slightly) and not taking a step back from what was an already decent goaltending situation.