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The Maple Leafs might be forced into pursuing a tandem goalie for Joseph Woll

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Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
28 days ago
With three weeks to go until free agency the rumours and speculation have begun about what direction the Maple Leafs are going in net.
James Mirtle of The Athletic’s report that the Maple Leafs have an interest in Laurent Brossoit has been a catalyst for a lot of discussion on this site and while I hate to pile on, I think there is an angle that has been under-explored. While not many people have missed the fact that Brossoit is a 31-year-old goaltender who is a decade removed from playing the majority of a professional season in net, he’s a goaltender who has never exceeded 24 games in the NHL in a season. He’d be playing in a tandem with Joseph Woll who owns a very similar track record, I don’t think it has been identified why the Maple Leafs would be okay with going this route. This is where I put on my Brad Treliving hat and explain why the Leafs are looking for a good quarter-season goalie option.
So based on history the Leafs could expect 50 games out of a Brossoit/Woll tandem. That is a little high and both goaltenders combined for 45 starts last season, leaving 37 games with a question mark. The thing is that Brossoit’s numbers are influenced by two key factors when looking at his games played. The first is the 2022-23 season in Vegas which was injury-plagued and should raise a couple of flags, but the majority of his recent six-year history had him playing behind Connor Hellebucyk, a goaltender that he wasn’t going to steal the starter’s job from. It’s a stretch to think that Brossoit given the opportunity will take on a 50-game workload, but there is reason to believe a healthier year could produce a career-high number of starts. That’s a lot of optimism.
There is also some optimism that the Leafs can get more out of Joseph Woll and Toronto is going to push him to set career bests. That also requires wishful thinking, but the Leafs have a goaltender they are excited about and want to see more of. An affordable Brossoit/Woll tandem presents an opportunity for both goaltenders to grab more time in net than they’ve ever seen before cutting out the competition for the starter’s gig.
The next piece that is going to come into play is that the Leafs learned the value of having a capable third-string option last year and whether it is Martin Jones, Matt Murray, or someone else, the Leafs seem like they will be placing a ready and capable option on the Marlies who can run with the Leafs net if required.
The Leafs will also be ready to give Dennis Hildeby a look this season after doing everything they could to keep him out of the Leafs spotlight in 2023-24. Hildeby had a promising season and if the Leafs go three deep with NHL-experienced goaltenders ahead of Hildeby there is a chance to introduce Dennis to the NHL on the best terms and find out whether he too is part of the goaltending picture.
The last part of the puzzle is the NHL trade deadline, and my hot take is that Brad Treliving is only trying to find a solution in goal that will carry him until around the trade deadline. The summer of 2025 looks to have a greater selection of goaltending options available, and the deadline could see options like Marc-Andre Fleury, Joey D’Accord, Daniel Vladar, and Charlie Lindgren, as well as high-end options like Juuse Saros and Linus Ullmark available for the final stretch of the season. The Leafs can spend half a season learning what they have and whether an upgrade is needed.
Taking this risk on goaltending allows the Leafs to improve their goals against in a different way, by spending their available cap space on defence. That is the consensus area of concern for Toronto. It also addresses some of the reasons to be concerned about gambling on Brossoit as his NHL history involves him playing behind stronger defensive teams in Winnipeg and Vegas and signing in Toronto might be a flashback to his Edmonton days.
That’s just one of the ways the Leafs would be gambling on Brossoit. As a true backup for most of his career, Brossoit’s game history largely consists of facing the lesser opponent in back-to-backs and generally the lighter workload games throughout the season. That might be an anecdotal concern, but the reality is when the Jets wanted to win a game they were probably opting for their MVP-calibre starter. Brossoit’s numbers lie a little.
Whether it’s Brossoit or someone else, the cheap tandem option seems to be the direction the Leafs are heading toward as we get closer to the offseason. Goaltenders like Anthony Stolarz and Kevin Lankinen could also be viable options.
Everything about the potential Leafs tandem strategy seems like a stopgap. The best course of action for the Maple Leafs is to find a starter they can trust and it’s hard to dispute that. The barriers like the salary cap, cost to acquire both in trade assets and dollars and wanting to explore if the long-term solution is available internally all make the tandem approach understandable but also leaving something to be desired.

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