Is Justin Pogge Ready For The NHL?

Scott MillerAnalyst IJuly 8, 2008

When you look at Justin Pogge's performances in the 2006 World Junior Championship and the 2007-08 season with the Toronto Marlies, some Toronto Maple Leafs fans think Pogge should be called up as soon as possible.

But now is not the time.

Although Pogge was stellar in the World Juniors, not losing a single game, finishing with 3 shutouts, and a goals-against-average of 1.00, this doesn't mean he'd be posting great numbers in the NHL.

Toronto is doing the right thing by letting him develop with the Marlies for a couple of seasons. Some people even dared to say Pogge would be NHL ready after they saw that performance in the World Juniors. If Toronto would have done such a thing, it would have been disastrous, and potentially could have ruined Pogge's career.

Why do I say this? Well, Toronto put Pogge in the minors in the 2006-07 season, and he posted less than fantastic numbers. He played 43 games, had a record of 19-25-0, a goals-against-average of 3.03, and a save-percentage of .896. He still managed to get 3 shutouts though, but imagine if he had played on a weak team like Toronto that year?

However, Pogge clearly improved this season, which shows the development process is working. He finsihed with a record of 26-10-0, a goals-against average of 2.34, a save-percentage of .908, and 4 shutouts.

Despite this solid season, I think the Leafs should give Pogge one more season with the Marlies before calling him up. Luckily, with the signing of 41-year old goaltender Curtis Joesph, the Leafs don't seem to be planning such a thing any time soon.

Some might try to argue that Montreal Canadiens rookie goaltender Carey Price did just fine when he jumped into the NHL this season after a fantastic World Junior performance. Although I'm a big fan of the Leafs and Pogge, I have to say that Pogge is no Price, and that the Canadiens have a stronger team than the Leafs, that can support a rookie goalie much better than the Leafs could.

If anything, Pogge might see a couple games with the Leafs this season, but nothing long-term. For now, leave him in the minors, and hope that when he's ready, he'll be able to perform just as great as he is with the Marlies right now.