Anthony Stolarz believes he’s one of the best goalies in the world upon joining Maple Leafs

Photo credit:David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
10 days ago
Questions in the crease have been a recurring theme for the Toronto Maple Leafs every offseason. Although there were reports of the Maple Leafs taking a swing for Jacob Markstrom before he was traded to the New Jersey Devils, they ultimately put their chips in the tandem pile once again for the upcoming 2024-25 season. After announcing a three-year extension for Joseph Woll that will kick in for the 2025-26 season, they finalized a two-year contract with goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who won a Cup with the Florida Panthers two weeks ago.
The 31-year-old netminder is a classic case of a goaltender who has pretty forgiving stats across the board but has always been stuck behind a starting goalie. While he had brief stints with the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers at the start of his career, he’s spent the majority to date backing up John Gibson on the Anaheim Ducks and Sergei Bobrovsky on the Panthers. Still, look at his numbers from the past couple of years and you’ll see that he’s been just about everything those teams could have asked for as a backup goalie. And the opportunity to potentially be more than a backup for the Leafs is what drew him to Toronto in the first place. Not only does he believe he can push Woll for starts, he believes he can be one of the best in the world to do it.
In 27 games for the Panthers last season, Stolarz had a record of 16-7-2 with a 2.03 goals-against average (GAA) and a .925 save percentage (SV%). So, yeah, those numbers definitely reflect someone who has the confidence in themselves being one of the best in the world at their profession. It’s not unfair to suggest that playing for one of the best defensive teams in hockey helped those numbers, but what about playing behind one of the worst defensive teams? Although struggling a little bit through 19 games last season, he put up extremely respectable numbers in 2021-22, with a 12-8-3 record complemented by a 2.67 GAA and a .917 SV%.
He also had a good season from a fancy stat perspective, proving to be one of the best goalies when it comes to making saves you aren’t expected to make.
While he’s never played more than 28 games in a season before, that’s not because he hasn’t been healthy enough to do so. And considering the health of Woll has been the biggest concern in his young career, there’s an opportunity for him to start meaningful games and pick up some of the slack if he does get hurt. If healthy, they’ll be able to push each other for starts.
If there’s one thing a goaltender needs in Toronto, it’s confidence, and Stolarz has no shortage of it.

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