The Toronto Maple Leafs made a clear statement of intent on Monday, trading the 30th pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and a second round draft pick for 2017 to the Anaheim Ducks for goalie Frederik Andersen.
Toronto signed the 26-year-old to a five-year contract.
“He had one more year left and he was a restricted free agent,” Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “One of two things could have transpired; he could go to arbitration or we could have played out his qualifying offer, but when you’re at his age, in five years, we are very comfortable with the extension.”
Toronto has effectively slated Andersen as their number one guy, which gives them a pretty significant upgrade between the pipes.
Andersen and Ducks goalie John Gibson split the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL, while the Maple Leafs’ carousel of netminders combined to allow the seventh-most goals against this season.
Andersen went 22-9-7, with a 2.30 goals against average and a .919 save percentage. He posted three shutouts, doubling his career totals in the process.
“I love his competitiveness,” Lamoriello said. “If you look at his playoff history, he’s always played well in the playoffs and he gives us size which today is a necessity the way the game is played, but his athleticism is exceptional.”
Toronto is positioned exceptionally well going into the draft, with 11 picks to work with. They have the first overall selection, of course, and are likely to go with Auston Matthews.
The Andersen trade only bolsters the team’s future, as it should solidify a position that’s been a big problem for the past while. Jonathan Bernier was once thought of as a solution and the Maple Leafs signed him to a two-year deal last summer, but he hasn’t panned out. James Reimer was sent to San Jose, while Garret Sparks is still proving himself as a 22-year-old netminder.
“Everyone knows this is a young team right now and more prospects are coming up that are doing well,” Andersen said of his new digs. “I know how hard they work for the games we played against them [this] season. I think they were better than the standings were showing.”