The Leafs are taking the right approach with Dennis Hildeby

Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Nick Alberga
6 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs should be commended for their handling so far of Dennis Hildeby.
At the very least, in short order since summoning the 6’7’’ monster from the American Hockey League on Monday, they’ve already made it abundantly clear that they will not be affected by the outside noise to trot the 22-year-old Swedish netminder out there for his NHL debut just because.
If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen on their clock.
Undoubtedly, everyone’s excited to see the up-and-coming prospect in game action, but at the end of the day, the Leafs have the long-term focus in mind.
And indisputably, that’s the correct way to approach this unique situation.
On the surface, there’s no question that Toronto’s playing with fire. If Martin Jones gets hurt, they’re screwed. That said, this notion that a goalie can’t play both ends of a back-to-back is a joke. Jones will be fine.
Furthermore, with Ilya Samsonov not even skating in the AHL and Joseph Woll nowhere close to a potential return, it still feels highly likely – even though they didn’t start him against Anaheim – that Hildeby’s debut is just around the corner.
As luck would have it, Toronto’s next two games will both be against the San Jose Sharks starting with Saturday night’s tilt at the SAP Center. While you don’t want to overlook any opponent – regardless of their record – deploying Hildeby in that type of spot would make an abundance of sense. Hell, it could even help to inspire a Leafs team that has the propensity for routinely playing down to their opponent.
Seriously, considering how bad they’ve looked against the bottom feeders this season, it can’t get much worse, can it?
Long story short, help isn’t on the way. Over the next little while, the Leafs will have no choice – unless something unforeseen happens – but to throw the 2022 fourth rounder out there. With that in mind, to get his feet wet, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to start him in one of the next two games.
The situation is far from ideal, but if you’re going to have this guy occupying a roster spot, you might as well see what he’s got.
Just some food for thought.

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