Maple Leafs acquire goaltender Frederik Andersen from Ducks, signs five-year extension

By Hunter Crowther (@HunterCrowther)

Less than a week before the 2016 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs wasted no time in getting what they wanted.

The team acquired goaltender Frederik Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks Monday afternoon, in exchange for the 30th overall selection in this year’s Draft (originally acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade), along with a second round pick in the 2017 Draft.

Soon after, the team signed the 26-year-old to a five-year extension worth over $25 million.

The Danish goaltender posted a 22-9-7 record with a .919 save-percentage in 43 games last season in Anaheim, followed by going 3-2 with a .947 save-percentage in this spring’s post-season.

Leaf fans will first get a glimpse of Andersen this September. He’ll likely split ice time with New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak for Team Europe at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. 

Most observers say the Buds paid a big price, but the $5-5.5 million range is well within reason for a number one goaltender in the National Hockey League.

And when it comes to salaries for starting goaltenders in the NHL, look no further…

Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello was firm in his belief that Andersen is exactly that. When asked if Andersen has shown enough to prove he’s a top goalie on TSN 1050’s Overdrive, Lamoriello alluded to his time managing the New Jersey Devils when they traded the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft to the Vancouver Canucks for netminder Cory Schneider.

I’m familiar with that question, but we have confidence in him,” said Lamoriello. “He’s not someone that we just made an acquisition for. We’ve certainly done our homework – our staff, our goaltending coaches, everyone.”

Lamoriello sounded as confident as I’ve heard him when doing the media rounds after a transaction. Giving up the first round pick acquired in the Kessel trade suggests Lamoriello, president Brendan Shanahan, director of player personnel Mark Hunter and company figured  a potential number one goaltender was a higher priority than a player who may never materialize.

“I don’t think any of our expectations will change,” he continued. “We’re in a process and we’ve said all along that, if we had the opportunity to get better — not at the stake of just today, but get better over a period of time – that’s what we are going to do.

“Nothing has changed from that end of it. I don’t want anyone to get excited. We’ve just solidified, in our opinion, a position that we feel is extremely important.”¹

Meanwhile, Jonathan Bernier, who turns 28 Aug. 7, has one year remaining on the two-year/$8.3 million deal he signed last summer. If Bernier remains with the club this season, their crease will cost close to $10 million.

Lamoriello said he believes Bernier will be back next season, but obviously that can change depending on what other teams are willing to part with.

His $4.15 million cap-hit is hardly appealing, but he’s shown at times the capabilities to give quality starts in an NHL season. In his first season with Toronto, Bernier posted a 26-19-7 record with a .923 save-percentage, including a .933 even strength save-percentage — both career highs.

But an abysmal .906 save-percentage last season, combined with a conditioning stint in the American Hockey League with the Toronto Marlies in December has scared some teams from him. Only a year older than Andersen, you’d think Bernier would still have some game in him.

But the goalie position is littered with players who sustained one, two, three or four seasons of good hockey, but were never able to solidify themselves among the best in the game. Some teams may offer him a chance to earn starts, but few believe Bernier has earned top-status in this league.

Maple Leafs brass thinks they have it in Andersen. The same song was sung three summers ago for the man they made have to trade.

 

¹Quotes transcribed courtesy of Maple Leafs Hotstove 

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