Off The Post: Pogge not living up to the hype

Pogge not living up to the hype

Justin Pogge had his most celebrated success in his goaltending career wearing the red and white maple leaf.

But his tenure in the colours of the blue and white uniform of the Maple Leafs – the team that drafted him in the fourth-round in 1990 – has been anything but triumphant.

When Pogge backstopped the Team Canada World Juniors to a gold medal on home ice in 2006, he earned the praise of an entire nation. Upon claiming the title as the country’s top major junior goaltender later that spring, the expectation was for the Fort McMurray, Alberta native to become the Leafs’ goalie of the future.

Three years later, the experiment has been nothing short of a flop.

Pogge has just a single victory in seven NHL appearances this season. While his teammates have often left him out to dry, Saturday’s defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins provided ample evidence that he is far from the caliber of a big league goaltender.

His movement is inefficient; expending too much energy with his lateral motion.

He is positionally unsound, often too deep in the net. He has a tendency to go down early.

The biggest foreshadowing of Pogge’s misadventures came in last year’s Calder Cup playoffs when AHL Marlies coach Greg Gilbert named veteran Scott Clemmensen as his starting netminder. While Pogge’s and Clemmensen’s statistics were almost identical, Gilbert rightly chose experience over youth, but was vilified by many fans for not giving the youngster the chance to gain some playoff action.

The Marlies’ bench boss proved his critics wrong by advancing his team to the Western Conference Final, ignoring the naysayers who had prematurely anointed Pogge as the Leafs’ future saviour.

This year, not even the most optimistic of Pogge’s supporters can dispute that his NHL numbers are abominable; a 1-4-1 record with an alarming 4.35 goals against average and porous save percentage of .844.

With the Leafs having played this entire season virtually out of the playoff race, general manager Brian Burke and head coach Ron Wilson have used Pogge on as many occasions to date, not because he has earned a promotion from the AHL, but because the opportunity was present for the one-time junior star to showcase his talent.

The results have been unspectacular.

With Pogge set to turn 23 next month, and with three seasons of above average – but not stellar – years of AHL experience under his belt, the expiry date at which the “highly touted prospect” becomes a “minor league journeyman” is rapidly approaching.

It would be to no one’s surprise if Burke finds another destination for Pogge, once he becomes a restricted free-agent this summer.


Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, a regular column at TMLfans.ca

6 comments

  1. Damian

    Unfortunately, I have been saying this for 2 full seasons. I was mortified they traded Rask and not Pogge…. super bad deal by a short sighted management team.

    Pogge will not and should not be resigned…. No soup for you !

  2. Matt Roberts

    drafted in 1990? ….

    hes only 22, if history tells us anything, the leafs will give up on him in about a year than when he is about 25 – 26 turn into a solid NHL netminder for another club.

  3. RobDM

    |Author

    Argh, that obviously should have been 90th overall (in 2004).

    I definitely did not mean to imply that Pogge was four years old when he was selected.

    Thanks, Matt!

  4. Matt Roberts

    no worries, it wasnt my intent to embarass you or anything. Keep up the great work, love the site.

  5. Mattaoe32

    I think we should give him some more time. Try and understand that he has played in front of some very good defensive teams throughout his career and the leafs really havent giving him a lot of help in front of him. I dont think he will develop into hall of famer but i think he could be a solid back up.

  6. Fernando

    Marc Denis
    Jamie Storr
    Trevor Kidd

    ‘nough said. Just because you are a decent goalie on a stacked team, playing against sub-par competition, does not make you a future NHL Hall-of-Famer. The truth of the matter is that he was a FOURTH round pick and is playing like one. In fact, there is a good chance that if he wasn’t playing in the Toronto market and someone in the media hadn’t made him the second coming of Felix Potvin (who was also mediocre with a couple of decent seasons), he wouldn’t even be in the AHL anymore.

    Don’t get me wrong…I wanted him to be as great as the hype too, but lets call it what it is.

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