Poggemon: Gotta Save’em All
Total Pro Sports – Back when Tuukka Rask was traded to the Boston Bruins during the 2006 draft for Andrew Raycroft it made most people shake their heads and wonder why the Leafs gave up so much for a one year wonder. It then turned the spotlight onto the Leafs 3rd round pick in the 2004 draft Justin Pogge. Justin had a disappointing first season in the AHL and it started to fuel a lot of differing opinions on the net minder. Some still say he’s the future #1 for the Leafs while others say he’ll be nothing more than a backup in the NHL. I say he still is the future #1 for the Leafs and suggest to the people that think otherwise to take a look back at Pogge’s history.
Justin Pogge was just a young backup with the Prince George Cougars when he first joined the WHL. However, over time he became more familiar with the game and started to earn more and more starts. He eventually took over the #1 spot and flew up the draft rankings when the Leafs selected him 90th overall. He continued his excellent play into the next season and was traded to the Calgary Hitmen at the trade deadline which lead to his breakout season. In the 2005-06 season Justin posted an impressive 1.72 GAA, 11 shutouts and 38 wins to go along with his WJHC Gold, Tournament MVP and WHL & CHL Goaltender of the Year awards.
After his impressive last season in the WHL Pogge jumped over to the AHL and struggled to adjust to playing with men as the Marlies backup. However, just like he did in the WHL, he worked hard and improved the next season in a split role with Scott Clemmensen posting a 2.34 GAA, 4 shutouts and 26 wins. He’s now heading into this season as the Marlies #1 and will be watched closely by the Leafs management.
Now I’m not saying Justin Pogge will be the next Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, or Martin Brodeur but as his history shows, now is too early to write him off and the career backup talk is premature at this point.