On August 10th, the Ducks officially announced the acquisition of Toronto goaltending prospect Justin Pogge in exchange for a conditional 6th Round pick in 2011, the condition being that if Pogge starts 30 or more regular season NHL games for Anaheim or a team he is traded to by Anaheim between 2009 and 2011, then Toronto will receive a 3rd Round pick in 2011. Pogge came up to the Leafs for the proverbial 'cup of coffee' this season and posted a 1-4-1 record with a 4.38 GAA and a .844 save percentage. Not impressive numbers, but then again, the Leafs weren't an impressive team last year.
Arthur, in our previous discussions of cost cutting moves, you've mentioned that moving Giguere is something the Ducks should consider. Is a deal like this going to pave the way for Jiggy's movement, or is Pogge not ready to spend a full year at the NHL level in the role of Hiller's backup?
Well, first, I think it's worth noting that Pogge hasn't performed well at the AHL level either, but when you compare him to the other goalies in the first two rounds of the 2004 Draft class (Al Montoya, for example), he's still running with the pack. None of them have broken through yet, and there is still hope for a handful of them.
The problem with forecasting the impact of this deal is that it seems to be more about Brian Burke than Bob Murray. This looks like what happened with Bryzgalov. Burke probably promised Pogge that the Leafs would move him into an organization where Pogge would see some ice time if and when Toronto signed the Monster. Right now, Anaheim ISN'T that organization. We have two starters and no AHL affiliate (and the AHL team/s that take our goaltenders will rarely-- if ever --play them). Brian Burke knows that, and I don't see how he could think that this move fulfills his promise to Pogge, that is, unless Murray has intimated that he will have room on the roster soon.
But that's an unnecessary leap in logic. As it stands, Pogge is going to have to stay sharp, work with Pete Peeters and wait for his time to come. If the right offer for Giguere comes along early in the season, then Pogge may have to battle to give us 25 games. But if Giguere doesn't get moved until the trade deadline, we'd only be asking Pogge for 6 games. The latter Pogge can do; the former I can't say.
What I can say is that I agree with David McNab on this one; we couldn't spend a season (especially this season) without a clear third goaltender in the prospect pool. This protects us against injury, and it makes it easier to move Giguere. But signing a seasoned backup may have been the better move here. As Ken Dryden once said, you need two goalies to win the Cup; the Ducks have three, which means they may not even have one.
First, nice move quoting Ken Dryden. Second, I was pretty confused when I read about this trade. Every team has pretty much addressed their respective goaltending issues. I can't see a situation where a team would be willing to take on Giguere's salary. And Pogge, while not impressive in his AHL career, may still be only one good minor league season away from being a permanent resident of the NHL. There was a consensus that this kid would be a starting netminder eventually, and that might happen sooner rather than later. If it does, then Murray will have a situation like we had with Ryan last year, where everyone is wondering why Pogge is still in the AHL when he clearly has NHL level talent.
My other concern is Pogge's age. Even if it does take him a little longer to mature, we'll still have Jonas Hiller in his prime protecting the net. That means Pogge will have to wait even longer for his shot at the Number 1 job. At best, he'd be another Hiller and wouldn't be a starter until the age of 27 or 28, meaning he would lose a lot of good years riding the pine. He's already voiced, albeit very mildly, dissatisfaction with his playing situation in Toronto, and his prospects really haven't improved much here in Anaheim.
For me, this leaves only one conclusion, one that I very much approve of: Pogge is a stop-gap to give us an opportunity to raise our own goaltending prospects. This is the only way this trade makes sense to me. Pogge is here to be a backup for another year or two while we raise our own legitimate backup in whatever new AHL team we can find. Then when he's matured and proven he can be a Number 1, he'll be used as trade bait. Either way, I think this signals the end of Jiggy's time here in Anaheim. If it doesn't happen this year, it will definitely happen over the summer when his expiring contract is less intimidating.