Toronto Maple Leafs: Frederik Andersen Has Strong Vezina Trophy Case


Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen has emerged as a Vezina Trophy dark-horse. 

It’s been over a decade since the Toronto Maple Leafs had Stanley Cup-worthy goaltending. But with Frederik Andersen, the team has it once again.

Andersen has arguably transformed into the Maple Leafs’ most important player, even more so than Auston Matthews. Some would even say he’s making a strong case to be this season’s Vezina Trophy winner.

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The Leafs goaltender has faced nearly 100 more shots than any other goalie in the league, as the young Maple Leafs consistently allow over 30 shots a game. Despite the heavy shot totals, Andersen ranks second among goaltenders for shutouts with three. Also, he ranks second in wins with 17. He also has a top 10 save percentage at .922%.

Given how often Toronto allows shots to pile up against their goaltender, it’s amazing Andersen has been able to put up the numbers he has this season. The shots against alone suggest the Maple Leafs should be one of the worst teams in the league. Yet because of Andersen, they are one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.

Despite a slow start in October which saw Andersen allow five or more goals, four times in his first nine games. The Maple Leaf goaltender has only allowed five or more goals once since Oct. 26. This is the second year in a row Andersen hasn’t been his best to begin a new season. Last year it was believed a summer injury was the cause of his slow start while this year it could be argued the players in front of him were awful defensively.

It hasn’t been uncommon for talented goaltenders to get off to slow starts. For years Henrik Lundqvist always seemed to disappoint at the start of a new season before stepping up his game as the calendar flipped to the New Year. Chris Osgood and J.S. Giguere were often average in the regular season only to reach another level as the playoffs began.

If Andersen’s trend of having his worst month always be October than the Maple Leafs are likely willing to live with that. He’s not only put the awful stretch of early season games behind him but he’s become directly responsible for his team’s success. The greatest example of this came in a six-game stretch through the middle of November where Andersen posted two shutouts along with 4-1-1 record while allowing only seven goals.  During that stretch, he faced an average of 35.3 shots per game.

At the turn of the century Maple, Leaf fans were spoiled with great goaltending from Curtis Joseph and then Ed Belfour. However, since Belfour’s departure after the 2005-06 season, Toronto had spent over a decade trying to find dependable goaltending. Awful experiences would follow with disappointment after disappointment with players such as Andrew Raycroft, Vesa Toskala, Jonas Gustasvsson, and Jonathan Bernier.

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With Andersen , it now seems like Toronto has finally found their next great goaltender. Someone they can not only depend on but someone capable of stealing games for a franchise with a defense that always seems to be a work in progress.