What a Frederik Andersen Return Means for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Frederik Andersen

Frederik Andersen has not played in a game for the Toronto Maple Leafs since March 19th. In the game against the Calgary Flames, Andersen allowed four goals in the loss. After that, Andersen was out with injury. With Andersen being loaned to the Marlies, he seems to be close to recovery, and we could see a return shortly.

Frederik Andersen Return Could Benefit Toronto Maple Leafs

Frederik Andersen recently returned to playing, but not with the Leafs. On his conditioning stint, he got his first start with the Marlies and allowed two goals on 14 shots in a loss to the Manitoba Moose. He allowed goals on two of the first five shots he faced before settling in. While it was a bit of a shaky start for Frederik Andersen, his individual performances should not be judged in these games. These games aren’t to see if he can perform. It’s to get his legs under him and back in game shape.

Andersen’s Role With the Leafs

If/when Frederik Andersen returns to the NHL lineup, it will be in a backup role. Jack Campbell has stolen the starting job and is hands down the Leafs number one goalie for the rest of this season. However, that doesn’t mean Andersen returning is a non-factor. With Campbell’s injury history, it is a thought that Campbell could go down. Even without a history of injuries, it’s been shown that a bad move by a goalie could ruin them for the playoffs. Having a backup is key to be comfortable making a run in the playoffs.

Andersen, while he’s been poor over the last two seasons, could provide value as a backup to Jack Campbell. If he is healthy now, and the nagging injury has healed, a healthy Andersen is a goalie to be feared. He provides more confidence in the net than David Rittich and Michael Hutchinson.

Competition With Rittich

While I feel like it’s given that Andersen will be the backup come playoffs should he be healthy, there is a bit of competition. Rittich likely isn’t as bad as he was in the 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. He is able to at least give Andersen some healthy competition. With that said, there is a near-zero chance that Rittich draws in as backup over Andersen in a healthy lineup, but it is something to consider.

Andersen has consistently been unable to make saves on high danger chances (36th in the league), but rarely ever allows medium and low-danger chances (13th and 28th in the league). Andersen makes the saves you’re expected to make but struggles to cover for the high-quality chances. Comparatively, Rittich is 24th in low danger sv%, 55th in medium danger sv%, and 22nd in high danger sv%. The low medium danger save percentage strikes as an odd outlier, with him performing relatively well at high and low danger chances. There is value in both Rittich and Andersen. At the end of the day, though, Andersen has shown historically he can steal games for the Leafs when healthy. That’s why he’s almost guaranteed to be the number 2 goalie when he returns.

Andersen’s Potential Redemption

While everyone knows Andersen has played poorly for the Leafs since about December 2019 outside the play-in series against Columbus, he does have the potential to turn it around. Goalies don’t all of a sudden lose their skill completely overnight. Goalies are random in trying to predict future success. So a bad history isn’t necessarily indicative of poor future performance. Andersen has the skills to turn things around if he has the chance to draw in for the Leafs. He has shown he’s been a good goalie for the majority of his tenure with the Leafs. It would be fantastic if Andersen drew in for a playoff game or two in the playoffs and completely stole it to end his stint with the Leafs on a high note.

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