Vesa Toskala: Hero to Zero in Five Seconds Flat
First off, let me say that I was a huge fan of Vesa's. Earlier this month when everybody was getting down on him I still had faith in his skill level.
After last night's performance in Boston, I'm about ready to pull my hair out. Last night was not his worst performance this year, but it was the last straw for me.
The Bruins put three past Toskala and two of them were weak shots that any NHL goalie should be able to handle. Granted, the Leafs up front didn't put the puck in the net, but not due to a lack of effort. The Leafs rang five shots off the posts.
Last season Vesa was stealing games for the terrible Leafs squad; this year he's blowing them for the hard working Maple Leafs. From cutting down angles to rebound control, Toskala is just not helping a Leafs squad which, despite the critics, I believe could have a legitimate chance at making a playoff run.
The drop off in Toskala's play can be clearly seen by his numbers. Last season he had a 2.74 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. This year he is on pace for a 3.23 GAA and a .878 save percentage.
So what other options do the Leafs have?
There is always the option of giving the reins to veteran goalie Curtis Joseph. Problem is, many people, including myself, know the Cujo is well out of his prime—well out. Cujo was a great goalie and will probably end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he is no longer capable of carrying a team or even being a starting goalie at that.
Another option is to bring up Justin Pogge, but again it's not a smart move. The Leafs just can't risk shaking Justin's confidence. Pogge is supposed to be the goalie of the future for the Leafs and they won't ruin that opportunity just because they need a goalie for a rebuilding year.
Although I believe the Leafs have a legitimate shot at playoff hockey, we the fans need to come to terms with the fact that the front office of the Leafs expects this season to be a rebuilding year.
So what is the best choice?
If I were the Leafs management and had a hunch that if Brian Burke became GM he might just do this, I would try to trade away Toskala.
I think a team on the verge of making the playoffs would take the gamble on Toskala. I also think that any team willing to take Toskala would be more than willing to put their first-round draft pick as part of the return deal.
Now you may be wondering, where does that leave the Leafs' goalie situation? Well, as part of the deal the Leafs should pick up that team's current starting goalie. Even if the goalie is terrible, who cares? It's a rebuilding year.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying trade Toskala because I don't like him. I'm saying trade Toskala because the future is Pogge. We need to trade Vesa while his stock is still high and we can still get assets that will improve the future of this team.
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