Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pogge Mo Thóin

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.


Joe said...

Pogge was downright TERRIBLE for Toronto (granted, he was behind a terrible team, but those were some pretty gnarly numbers), and he hasn't been that great in the AHL. I really don't see why anyone should want or even consider him actually wearing a Ducks jersey. You'd be better off getting one of the guys still sitting out there without a job, hoping to avoid going to Russia.

I don't know that it seems like a situation similar to Burke's deal with Bryz. Pogge was a hyped up prospect who simply couldn't cut it when they gave him a chance. To me, it looks more like trying to cut bait and get rid of that whole mess and move on, than any sort of help to Pogge.

Anaheim Calling said...

As I said, the better move was to sign a veteran. Dryden was not kidding.

And this is like the Bryzgalov situation in that Burke seems to have made a promise to a kid that invested his time developing in the system, but couldn't earn the job. In Anaheim that was because Giguere won the job back. In Toronto, it's because nothing there seems to be a good fit for him, and bringing in Gustavvson locks him out just as effectively as renewing Giguere's contract locked out Bryzgalov.

At the end of the day, he is, sadly, better than any netminder we have in the pipeline. And some goalies take time, Joe. If your boy Montoya was a superstar (or even with the same organization that drafted him) and if Devan Dubnyk hadn't JUST played his first full season in the AHL, I might be ready to scream bust on Pogge. But that draft class is all tortoise no hare.

Though, again, like I said, the prudent move was to sign a seasoned backup.

Joe said...

On the Burke/Bryz connection: I have no idea if such an agreement was made by Burke to Pogge, but even if it was, I don't think the situation there necessitates a trade. If the Maple Leafs organization still believes the kid can grow to be a starter, well, Toskala is only on the books for one more year, especially if all Pogge needs is time to improve. Let him try and get his feet under him in the AHL (not like anyone else, perhaps not even Anaheim was going to offer more of a chance than that), and then let him be Gustavsson's backup next year.

Even if Burke had an agreement with Pogge, which I think would be kind of silly given that Pogge has yet to prove anything to anyone (whereas Bryz had shown that he clearly belonged in this league), to me the best situation for Pogge was likely still in Toronto. In Toronto, the management has a much more vested interest in his success, they just got one of the best goaltending coaches in the game, there is a league average (at best) goalie and an unknown goalie fighting to start, and there is an AHL affiliate that would allow him to get regular AHL starts. Very very few teams could offer anything better than that, and Anaheim isn't one of them.

The Ducks have a pretty empty pipeline in goal? I don't pay much attention to the minors or prospects at all, even amongst the Wings, but that is sort of shocking to see, given how goalie-rich the Ducks have been for a few years now.

Goalies are definitely a strange lot in terms of development. Late bloomers (as in closer to 30 years old) are not uncommon, and even amongst those who enter the league young, there is definitely a learned curve there that takes a few years. I don't think Pogge is a bust quite yet, but he is definitely moving towards that direction. Given that, I can't see why TOR would let him go, with no one else behind him, and nothing to lose by continuing to keep him around, or why ANA would bother to pick him up, with other guys available with larger and better bodies of work.

Anaheim Calling said...

As to whether or not he promised to find him a new home, look here:

And as Pogge was signing a qualifying offer around the time of this promise, I have no doubt that both sides took it seriously. He may have signed on the strength of that promise.

As to applying logic to Brian Burke's dealings as a GM, you're kidding, right?

And yes, sadly, Anaheim does not have a top level goaltender in the pool. That's why we grabbed a goalie from San Jose's cupboard (though we should have demanded Stalock). Allaire was good at finding goaltenders, but the organization has not committed to drafting an excess of keepers, which is really the only way to stay deep there.