Has Justin Pogge Proven Himself NHL-Worthy?

Shane House@sghcantcopyAnalyst IDecember 25, 2008

Before two nights ago, Justin Pogge was a goaltending prospect for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sure, people were touting him as the next great Leafs goaltender, but until two nights ago, all the proof we had was his World Junior Championship performance three years ago.

Although it was a great performance, it was three years ago—and since then, Pogge has been toiling in the minors with everybody wondering if he would pan out like everybody expected.

Well, two nights ago all that changed when Justin Pogge made his first professional start in the NHL against the Atlanta Thrashers—and did not disappoint. While receiving some of the best defense that the Toronto Maple Leafs have played all season, Justin Pogge also played stellar.

He played his angles really well, he moved across the net with general ease—and for it being his first NHL game, he showed a lot of poise and kept his nerves in check when the pressure was on.

So what does this mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

It shows that the organization was right in believing that Justin Pogge does have the capabilities to be a good goaltender in the NHL. In the one game Pogge played, he showed the potential to be a N.1 goaltender, while showing more room for growth as an NHL hockey player.

What it also shows is that the Maple Leafs might have a goaltending controversy in their near future. Although Vesa Toskala has played better lately, his overall inconsistency throughout the season leaves room for improvement or in this case, makes room for a little bit of competition in between the pipes.

I honestly do believe that for now, Toskala’s job is safe. He has two years left in his contract and as of late has been good enough to keep his job for this season.

When he is on his game he can play as good as any goaltender in the NHL, and I feel that Pogge needs a little more seasoning before he can handle full time duty playing an NHL schedule.

But as of now, it is too early just yet to tell whether Pogge can play this well for the rest of the season—but with Curtis Joseph showing his age and Vesa Toskala playing inconsistently all season, Pogge is making a case to stick with the big club.