Justin Pogge Is Not Ready for NHL

Tommy GCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2009

You can’t blame the players, because everyone learns and adapts at different rates. 
In June 2004, Justin Pogge was just another junior goalie with potential in the CHL.
Otherwise, the Leafs would not have nabbed him at the 90th overall at that year’s draft. 

Whether the Leafs noticed his potential and actually knew what they were doing or they just rolled the dice is not relevant. 


What is important is that one year and four months later, he would begin the 2005-2006 WHL season, which has metaphorically raised his name and number to the Air Canada Centre rafters.


After winning a flurry of awards for the 2005-2006 season, including the CHL Goaltender of the Year Award, he began the 2006-2007 season as the frontrunner for Canada’s No. 1 goaltending spot at the 2006 World Junior Championships. 


This is when Leafs Nation and the Toronto media really started to notice him and began to glorify him as the saviour of the Toronto Maple Leafs.


Unlike Carey Price, who managed to do something very similar a year later, Pogge was not a fifth-overall draft pick and he’s not ready for the NHL.  Pogge was a pleasant surprise for the Maple Leafs, and they don’t happen very often. 


He is the kind of player that blooms at a later rate or maybe his better days are over, but putting this kind of pressure on a guy who was drafted 90th overall is idiotic.


As I mentioned, Price was a fifth overall pick, and he started his junior career earlier and something tells me he’s better prepared because of that reason.  He probably focused on hockey more than Pogge in his childhood too. 


This is only a speculation, because I don’t know that for a fact.  However, the pressure that Price receives should not be bestowed on Pogge, and there shouldn’t even be any comparisons.


Instead, the Leafs should stop focusing on him as the goalie of the future and just let him have some fun.  Let him develop with the Marlies and let him play in more international tournaments.  Give him the chance to flourish at his own pace. 


Don’t just give him a job that he’s not ready to handle.  Toskala, when healthy, is more than capable to lead the Leafs in goals for the next three to four years.


Developing hockey players is like raising children.  All the Leafs have to do is give their players the tools to succeed and then the players will decide what to do with them.  Whether they develop or not is irrelevant, because any hockey team who wants to win should not be putting all their eggs in one basket. 

Okay, maybe only the first part is like raising children.