Would the Toronto Maple Leafs be in a completely different position than they are today if they hadn’t traded Tuukka Rask?
Maybe Leafs fans ask this question all the time. My apologies if that’s the case. I just feel like it gets overlooked by the rest of us, especially compared to the Phil Kessel trade.
For those that need a refresher, Toronto drafted Rask 21st overall in 2005. However, the Leafs already had a young goalie by the name of Justin Pogge in the system. At the 2006 World Junior Championships, Pogge was brilliant in leading Canada to a gold medal. Later he was named the CHL Goaltender of the Year.
When Pogge was deemed the goalie of the future in Toronto, Rask became expendable. In the summer of 2006, Rask was traded to Boston for Andrew Raycroft, the 2004 Calder Trophy winner. This despite the fact Raycroft was coming off a horrendous 2005-06 season.
Long story short, Raycroft was a bust in Toronto, John Ferguson Jr. was fired as GM, Brian Burke was hired, Pogge’s currently playing for the AHL’s Portland Pirates, and Rask would be Boston’s starter if not for Tim Thomas.
Since trading Rask, the following goalies have tried their luck with the Leafs: Raycroft, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Mikael Tellqvist, Vesa Toskala, Scott Clemmensen, Martin Gerber, Curtis Joseph, Pogge, Jonas Gustavsson, Joey MacDonald and James Reimer.
Since trading Rask, the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs.
True, they’ve had other problems besides goaltending. But a team can get by with deficiencies in certain areas; it doesn’t have a chance without goaltending.
Maybe Reimer’s the goalie they’ve been waiting for in Toronto, although it’s impossible to say for sure after just 43 games.
It’s also impossible to say if Rask would’ve succeeded with the Leafs, but you can’t help but wonder.