Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Erik Kallgren has looked solid in goal ever since entering an NHL game for the first time last week. Coming in relief after Petr Mrazek was pulled against the Arizona Coyotes, Kallgren stopped all of the shots he faced in regulation. This kickstarted a Maple Leafs comeback, which forced the game to overtime. Unfortunately, the Coyotes ended the game in overtime after a controversial goal. That being said, Kallgren has continued to play well for the Maple Leafs and has provided some steady goaltending.
Erik Kallgren’s Amazing Run
After the game against the Coyotes, Kallgren played next against the Dallas Stars. In that game, he recorded his first-ever NHL shutout, leading the Leafs to victory. Next, he played against the tough Carolina Hurricanes, recording a win in that game as well. The Swedish goalie had a rougher time on Saturday against the Nashville Predators, allowing five goals on 33 shots. Even though his most recent performance was not spectacular, Kallgren has been great for the Leafs.
Kallgren’s Path to the NHL
Drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2015, Erik Kallgren’s path to the NHL has not been easy. Much of his early career was spent playing in Sweden before he joined the Toronto Marlies. Kallgren had a mediocre run with the Marlies, sporting a .904 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA.
There is a large amount of unpredictability surrounding goalies, however, it is not surprising that Kallgren is thriving at the NHL level. A recent comparison can be Jordan Binnington, who fueled the St. Louis Blues‘ cup run in 2019. Binnington was an AHL goalie in the franchise and was called up for the Blues mid-season. He went on a historic run, and the Blues rode Binnington all the way to winning the Stanley Cup. While this is a scenario that likely won’t happen with Kallgren, it’s worth mentioning due to the similarity between the two goalies’ situations.
Erik Kallgren’s Future With the Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs will need to decide whether or not Kallgren can help them right now at the NHL level. Jack Campbell is expected to be back soon. If they decide that Kallgren can help them, expect them to move on from Mrazek. Otherwise, they will likely opt to move Kallgren back down to the Marlies this season to continue his development.
Obviously, this is a turning point for the Maple Leafs. They currently sit third place in the crowded Atlantic Division, and the contenders around them have continued to add pieces through trades. The Leafs will need to be confident in their goaltending going forward. It would be a significant risk in relying heavily on Kallgren but is something that may be necessary for the Leafs going forward. These playoffs could determine Erik Kallgren’s future as a Maple Leaf.