One of the biggest question marks regarding the 2021 season is what the future holds for Frederik Andersen in Toronto. With just one year left on his current deal and a large track record of evidence suggesting that he has been reliable in the regular season and a complete wild card in the playoffs, it appears that Andersen’s days as a Leaf might be numbered.
But are we 100% sure that this is going to be the case? Who’s to say that he will want to stay and agree to an extension? That’s where NHL 21 comes in, where we will do a simulation of the rest of his career to determine what lies ahead for the Danish netminder. If this is your first time checking out this ongoing series of posts where I simulate a Leafs’ career using an NHL video game, check out the previous three entries down below:
Here are some ground rules that I will be following before we get started:
- I’m not allowed to control the Leafs at all during the sim, so I randomly selected a team prior to starting
- Auto-Sign is on so I don’t affect Free-Agency
- Injuries are left on
- The sim ends once Andersen retires from the NHL
- Every five years, I’ll post his stats along with any awards he might have won
- I’ll update you guys on anything noteworthy regarding the Leafs and who won the Stanley Cup
With Year 1 set to begin, here’s what the Leafs’ goaltending tandem currently looks like.
And here are Andersen’s stats, with him sitting at 88 overall.
Year 1 (2020-21)
The Leafs had a solid regular season and just barely won the Atlantic Division title, with only a single point separating them from the second-place Boston Bruins. Andersen was heavily relied upon all year as he started 72 games (the fourth-most in the league) and won 44 of them, the latter of which led the entire NHL. Toronto added Jay Bouwmeester around the trade deadline for some additional depth.
In the playoffs though, Toronto fell behind the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 but won three straight to force a Game 7 in which they ultimately lost (groan). That same Sabres team went on to win the Stanley Cup in a rematch against the Dallas Stars. Andersen struggled from a statistical perspective and entered the offseason without an extension.
Year 2 (2021-22)
While the Leafs had plenty of cap space available, they ultimately decide to let him walk into free agency where he signed with the Bruins (?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!) for four-years. Before you ask, Tuukka Rask signed with the St. Louis Blues.
Like last season, Andersen’s team won the division by a single point with the roles being reversed. He himself saw his numbers take a slight dip but he did his part to help the Bruins to a solid campaign. Boston failed to advance past the first round due to the New York Islanders eliminating them in six games. The Sabres won their second consecutive Cup and are now a dynasty (cries).
Former Leafs Brian Boyle, Matt Hunwick, and Curtis McElhinney called it quits at the end of the season.
Year 3 (2022-23)
In an attempt to solidify the team, the Bruins snagged up Nick Leddy and Keith Kinkaid in the offseason.
To say that Boston had a mediocre season would be an understatement, as they finished well out of the playoffs with just 80 points on the year. While Andersen posted a winning record, his save percentage and goals-against average were porous at best. The Carolina Hurricanes ended the Sabres reign of terror and won the Cup.
Tyle Bozak and Patrick Marleau retired upon the conclusion of the postseason.
Year 4 (2023-24)
Some of Boston’s major acquisitions during the free-agent frenzy include reacquiring Craig Smith, Tyler Madden, and Michael Ferland. I also noticed that the Leafs traded for an ageing Anze Kopitar, so there’s that.
Due to a rough campaign from his team the year before, Andersen has dropped to an 84 overall. That trend continued as the Bruins were not only well short of qualifying for the playoffs, they were also one of the worst teams in the entire league. It was so bad that during the offseason, they fired their coach (no, not Don Sweaney). Andersen had a putrid 21-34-5 record alongside a similar save percentage and goals-against average compared to 2022-23. The Hurricanes have become the second dynasty of this simulation as they swept the Winnipeg Jets to capture the Stanley Cup.
A bunch of Leafs retired at the end of the season, including Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, and Phil Kessel.
Year 5 (2024-25)
In spite of coming off a disastrous season, the Bruins’ only major move was signing Kopitar to a one-year deal. They also swung a deal with the Nashville Predators where they got Brandon Pirri and Jake Evans for some addtional forward depth.
Although the Bruins improved on their record, they still failed to reach the playoffs for the third straight season despite five teams in their division making it in. Andersen missed a lot of time due to injuries and was limited to just 26 games. The Columbus Blue Jackets would go on to win the Cup this year. While checking the award winners, of course I would see Auston Matthews win a Rocket Richard Trophy (check out my previous entry to find out why I’m pissed about this).
After five years of simming, let’s take a look at Andersen’s stats:
Year 6 (2025-26)
In a shocking turn of events, Andersen decided to return to Toronto on a one-year deal alongside John Tavares. The Leafs have made quite a bit of changes to the roster since he was last there.
Your eyes are not deceiving you, Andersen and Rask are really sharing the Leafs crease for the coming season. If you’re wondering what happened to Matthews and Zach Hyman, the former joined the Washington Capitals while the latter is now on the Blue Jackets.
The Leafs had a decent regular season but just barely missed out on the playoffs by two points with the Florida Panthers overtaking them. Andersen was heavily relied upon once again as he played 71 games and saw his stats improve compared to his time in Boston. The New Jersey Devils went on to win the Cup this year, while Jake Muzzin called it a day on his playing career.
Year 7 (2026-27)
Andersen sat in free agency for the entire offseason before finally signing with the Arizona Coyotes during the preseason. Despite this, he played the entire season with their AHL affiliate, the Tuscon Roadrunners, due to being listed at 77 overall and at age 37. In 47 games, he went 18-24-3 and had an underwhelming goals-against average and save percentage.
As the Hurricanes won their third Stanley Cup of the simulation, Andersen hung up his skates after one season in the AHL. With his retirement life ahead of him, let’s look back at the stats:
This was quite a short simulation compared to the last one I did and I am left feeling a bit disappointed. If you may recall from the one I did on Matthews, Andersen played 11 additional seasons before calling it a day and he had far better luck that time. I’m guessing a big part of why this was the case was due to spending a long time in free agency during his last year and that usually hurts a players’ overall greatly. It goes to show just how inconsistent EA’s sim engine can be and how there are little parallels from one sim to the next.
From the Leafs’ side of things, they ran into the Sabres five straight times to start the simulation where they overcame a 3-0 deficit one year and blew a 3-0 lead the next. They made a few runs to the third round but lost twice to the Hurricanes. Much like the previous sim, the Leafs did not find much luck this time around. Matthews did win a few individual awards this time around (the Rocket and the Selke Trophy), so you already know how irate I am about that.
In regards to Andersen himself, he really struggled once he left the Leafs and signed with the Bruins. Apart from his first season where they made the playoffs, he never again reached the postseason for the rest of his career, which I thought was the most surprising revelation. His numbers also remained pretty consistent throughout the entire sim, reinforcing his “Steady Freddy” nickname.
As I’ve said many times, this is not a foolproof prediction of what will actually lie ahead for Andersen’s career in reality but a guesstimation of it. What I hope is that he doesn’t actually decide to join the Bruins in real-life at the end of his current deal with the Leafs because I know for a fact the fanbase would not react well to that. Or at the very least, I hope he signs with a team in the Western Conference should he decide to leave Toronto.