Joseph Woll’s emergence is making him an important piece to the Maple Leafs’ future
Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Barden8 months ago
Joseph Woll was once a Maple Leafs prospect who many thought might not pan out as an NHL goaltender.
Two seasons, 47 games, and an .886 save percentage — it was a downward start to the 24-year-old’s professional career between the pipes for the Toronto Marlies.
Everything was there, though. From the athleticism all the way to his calmness in the net.
We saw a glimpse of a more confident goaltender in the 2021-22 season, when everything and everyone was returning to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not only a step in the right direction at the AHL level, but also in the NHL too.
Woll made his National Hockey League debut on November 13th, 2021 against the Buffalo Sabres. He allowed four goals on 27 shots though still got the win as the Maple Leafs put five goals into the opposition’s net.
It was the start of a different-looking wave for the Maple Leafs. Imagine a Tsunami, but instead of coming inwards, it’s slamming into the ocean instead.
Bad analogy, I know.
The 24-year-old appeared in three more games with the Maple Leafs that year, accumulating two more wins, one even being a shutout (in his next start after allowing four goals against Buffalo).
Three-and-a-half months later, his world was flipped upside down. A shoulder injury suffered in March led to him not seeing game action for eight months.
But that time off was incredibly well spent. It allowed Woll to get one-on-one time with Maple Leafs development staff, giving him the opportunity to improve aspects of his game at a more relaxed pace.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of time to work on a lot details,” Woll said, as sweat poured down his face after his first practice back with the Marlies in November.”But, at the end of the day, goalie is a lot of just trusting yourself and playing.”
The 24-year-old did just that when he got the chance to return to the Marlies’ crease. And ever since then, Woll has been playing the best hockey of his life.
“He looks like he’s mid-season form, been playing every day for the last four years.” Marlies head coach Greg Moore said with a smile, just five games into the 24-year-old’s season.
Woll, meanwhile, has worked his way into a new conversation: The Maple Leafs’ third goalie, who’s likely gained the trust of head coach Sheldon Keefe, and plenty of others.
In just four NHL appearances this season, the 24-year-old has three wins, only one loss, and an impressive .934 save percentage. One year after his world was flipped upside down, Woll is staring at his future as a goaltender. In the National Hockey League.
“If I’m called on, I’ll be ready.” The goaltender said six days ago after his last game with the Marlies before being called up to the Maple Leafs.
In every instance this year, Woll has been ready for the opportunity in front of him. He’s done so by putting in the right work, whether it be his speed, skating, positioning, or just having an easy mind before stepping onto the ice.
With Matt Murray looking healthy and Ilya Samsonov getting some rest, it’s clear that they’ll be the two netminders for the Maple Leafs entering the playoffs.
However, if an injury occurs, that could open the door to Woll possibly seeing some NHL playoff hockey up close and personal.
Possibly even some in-game action if an opportunity arises.
Either way, the 24-year-old will be getting some much needed playoff experience — in the AHL or NHL. And that’ll set him up for what could be a potential full-time spot on the Maple Leafs next season, if he keeps up this incredible resume.
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