On June 20, 2016, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a bold move in pursuit of finding a number one goaltender. They paid a big price too, sending the 30th overall selection and a future second round pick to the Anaheim Ducks. In exchange, Toronto received the then 26-year old Frederik Andersen, subsequently signing the pending restricted free agent to a five-year, $25 million contract.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Frederik Andersen
It was a big gamble from Lou Lamoriello and co. in pursuit of a number one goaltender to lead this team. Toronto had traded James Reimer at the trade deadline to the San Jose Sharks, leaving the basement dwelling Leafs with a 2.49 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. Andersen, with the Pacific Divison winning Ducks, finished the 2015-16 campaign with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Some worried about the price the Leafs paid to get Andersen, especially after the fan favourite Reimer received a five-year, $17 million contract.
A Rough Start
However, the Leafs had faith in Andersen’s abilities based off of his three seasons in the NHL. A career 2.45 GAA goaltender with a .918 SV% in 191 games, the Leafs proved their belief by handing Andersen a five-year contract before even suiting up in a single game for the blue and white.
Frederik Andersen’s career as a Maple Leaf started off rocky as well. Everyone remembers Auston Matthews‘ four goal performance, but the Leafs lost that game 5-4 in overtime. Questions were asked about Andersen less than a month into his Leafs’ tenure, only made worse by Jhonas Enroth‘s less than stellar job as the backup.
It all came to a head on October 25. Andersen and the Leafs allowed seven goals in an embarrassing loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Multiple bad goals found their way past Frederik Andersen, leading to even more concern about the Danish netminder.
Things began to change shortly after the seven goal debacle against the Lightning. After a 1-4 start, Andersen went 9-5 in the next month, including three 2-1 losses. The lone blip was another seven goals against, to the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.
As the season progressed, worry about Andersen’s play all but disappeared. Rather, injury concerns began to arise. With Andersen playing better and better as the season went on, Mike Babcock leaned on the 27-year old more and more. The Danish netminder passed his previous career high in regular season games played, 54, before the final month of the year.
On March 25, Andersen was injured in a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres after collisions with William Carrier and Evander Kane in the first period. Thankfully, he missed just one game, returning to the crease on March 30 against the Nashville Predators.
Regardless, the rigours of a full NHL season were starting to be felt, and concern about Andersen continued. The injury scare returned on the penultimate night of the NHL season, after a collision with Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Tom Sestito. The injury would keep Andersen out of the lineup for the final game of the regular season. Although there was worry he would miss Game One of the Leafs’ series against the Washington Capitals, Andersen did play in all six games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Overall, it was a successful first campaign in Toronto for Frederik Andersen. In year one of his five-year, $25-million contract, the Danish netminder posted a 2.67 GAA and a .918 SV%. After starting with a .876 SV% in October, Andersen did well to recover as the 2016-17 season progressed.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 229 lbs
NHL Entry Draft: Seventh Round, 187th Overall in 2010 by Carolina
Third Round, 87th Overall in 2012 by Anaheim
Contract (via CapFriendly)
Frederik Andersen has four years remaining on his five-year, $25-million contract signed on June 20, 2016, as a restricted free agent. He does not receive any signing or performance bonuses next season, simply a $5 million base salary for a $5 million cap hit.
However, Andersen does have a modified no trade clause that kicked in on July 1, 2017. It is highly unlikely that this will become an issue next season, but Andersen must submit a list of 10 teams where he cannot be traded to prior to being traded.
As a $5 million goaltender and absolutely no competition in the crease, Frederik Andersen will obviously be the Toronto Maple Leafs starting goaltender in 2017-18. However, with a year under his belt in Toronto, as well as a (hopefully) healthy training camp with no Olympic qualifying duties, Andersen will be expected to perform right out the gate. The Leafs are no longer the underdogs. Andersen will have to show he can be a number one goaltender for a full 60+ start season on a division contending team.
The Leafs cannot afford another slow start from the Danish netminder. Curtis McElhinney is a decent backup, but by no means can push a player like Andersen in the crease for starting duties. Toronto needs a healthy, competitive Frederik Andersen in 2017-18 to contend for the Atlantic Division title.
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