Ranking every starting goaltender in the history of a 100 year old franchise is a daunting task. Determining what factors each goalie should be evaluated on is complicated by the many statistics which do not compare well across generations. As such, "Goals Against Average" and "Save Percentage" just aren't accurate measurements of how much a starting goalie meant to the Leafs during any given era.
In order to rank each Leafs starting goalie we calculated how successful the Leafs were during said goalie's stint, how much the goalie meant to that success, and the importance of that period in Maple Leafs history.
In order to qualify as the team's "starting goalie", the goalie in question must have been the most active goalie on the team for at least one full season. Under that criteria some goalies, such as Jean Sebastien Giguere, have been deemed ineligible for ranking.
Only a goalie's contributions while a member of the Maple Leafs was evaluated in the making of this list. For instance, Grant Fuhr may have accomplished much for the Edmonton Oilers, but he did very little for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
31 Bert Lindsay (1918-19)
When Hap Holmes left for Seattle following Toronto's first season in the NHL, it left Bert Lindsay in net for the club.
Lindsay had a 14 year professional hockey career going into the 1918-19 season, but his year with Toronto would be his last. Speaking of last, that is where Toronto finished in both the first half and the second half of the season that year. They went from the best team in the league to the worst in just one season. Part of that may of had to do with former Toronto owner, Eddie Livingstone, trying everything he could do to make life difficult for the Toronto Arena Company which now owned the team.
You might know Bert Lindsay more as the father of future NHL Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay.
Ranking summary: one season, failed to make the playoffs.
30 Peter Ing (1990-91)
Peter Ing's first and only year as the Leafs starting goalie was the 1990-91 season. Things had not been going well for the Leafs since 1967 at this point. The 1970s saw the team fail to make it past the second round of the playoffs all but one year, but the roof really caved in during the 1980s. In that decade the Leafs failed to make the playoffs on 4 occasions, and only made it past the 1st round of the playoffs twice.
With Ken Wregget and Alan Bester gone the Leafs went to rookie Peter Ing for the first season of the 90s. It went terribly for everyone. The Leafs finished last and failed to make the playoffs. That off-season Ing was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him and others to the Oilers, while the Leafs got Grant Fuhr in return.
Ranking summary: one season, failed to make the playoffs.
29 Jonas Gustavsson (2009-12)
Jonas Gustavsson was supposed to be good. He was supposed to be the next big goalie in Toronto's history. A lot was made of his signing with the club in the 2009 off-season, but nothing worked out as planned.
During Gustavsson's 3 years with the Leafs he never had a firm grasp on the starting position. Throughout his stint with the Leafs, Gustavsson would share goaltending duties with Vesa Toskala, Jean Sebastien Giguere and James Reimer. The team failed to get to the playoffs in each of Gustavsson's seasons with the team.
He would sign with Detroit in the 2012 off-season, and has never caught on as a starting goalie in the NHL.
Ranking summary: barely achieved "starting goalie" status. Never made the playoffs.
28 Andrew Raycroft (2006-08)
Boston Bruins rookie Andrew Raycroft won the calder trophy for his 2003-04 season, so when the Leafs needed a goalie to replace Ed Belfour for the 2005-06 season, he seemed like a good guy to trade for. They opted to trade Tuukka Rask to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft. It's fair to say it didn't work out as Leaf fans had hoped for.
Raycroft was coming to a Leaf team that had experienced terrific goaltending for the last decade. Felix Potvin invigorated the team in the 90s, CuJo then took things a step further, and Ed Belfour was superb in the early 2000s. Raycroft's stint as Leafs goalie would be coloured by comparisons to Tuukka Rask, and not favourably.
The Leafs failed to make the playoffs in Raycroft's only year as Leafs starter. He played in 18 games the next season, and the Leafs again failed to make the playoffs that year. He signed with Colorado as a free agent the following off-season.
Ranking summary: Traded for Rask, who set a club record in wins; failed to make the playoffs.
27 Ivan Mitchell (1919-20)
The 3rd starting goalie in the history of Toronto's NHL franchise, and the first for the club when they were known as the St. Patricks was Ivan Mitchell.
At the time Toronto had a large Irish population, and the new owners of the team felt marketing the team to appeal to that population was a solid strategy.
Mitchell was only the starting goalie for the club for one season, 1919-1920. That year the team failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, though they approved upon their last place season the previous year. The following year Mitchell would be injured and only appear in two games. He played sparingly for the Leafs afterwards. He would also play a few years with the Portland Rosebuds.
Ranking summary: one season, no playoffs.
26 Ed Chadwick (1956-59)
Ed Chadwick took the role as Leafs backstopper in 1956, in the hopes that he would end the club's 5-year Stanley Cup draught. After achieving dynasty status from 1945-51, the team was struggling to make up for losing goalie Turk Broda to retirement in 1951.
Chadwick would be the Leafs 4th starting goalie in the 5 seasons since Broda retired, and he wouldn't fair much better than the first 3. He played a club record 140 games in a row, but he found himself out of favour as the club's starting goalie in the middle of the 58-59 season. He would spend the rest of his career bouncing around with various teams in the AHL.
Ranking summary: 1.5 seasons, no playoff appearances.
25 Grant Fuhr (1991-93)
The Leafs must have felt confident they had gotten the goalie of their dreams when they traded for Fuhr in 1991. After all this was the guy who was between the pipes for the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s, perhaps he could usher in a Toronto dynasty for the 1990s! Didn't happen, it didn't even come close.
While this can't be pinned on Fuhr, the team again failed to make the playoffs in 1992, though their record improved from the previous year. In February 1993, with youngster Felix Potvin playing well, the Leafs ended their Grant Fuhr experiment, trading him to Buffalo.
Ranking summary: 1.5 seasons, no playoff appearances.
24 Vesa Toskala (2007-2010)
Vesa Toskala ended up outplaying the then Leafs starting goalie Andrew Raycroft in the 2007-08 season. He would eventually take the starting position away from him that season, and Raycroft would sign with Colorado that summer.
Toskala had been up and down in the Sharks system since the 01-02 season, and really hadn't been thought of as anything but a back-up. Already in his 30s, Toskala became a starting goalie in the NHL for the first time in 2007, and would hold the position until the Leafs traded him to Anaheim in 2010. The Leafs struggled during Toskala's entire stint as the team's starting goalie, failing to sniff the playoffs even once.
Ranking summary: 3 seasons and no playoff appearances.
23 Jonathan Bernier (2013-2016)
After the Leafs ended their nearly decade long playoff draught in 2013, but then collapsed in epic fashion to Boston in game 7, the team wasn't convinced that James Reimer was going to be the elite level goalie they needed.
Bernier had impressed a lot of people in LA but was never going to win the starting position away from Jonathan Quick. He would be the Leafs starting goalie for the better part of 3 forgettable seasons. The Leafs failed to make the playoffs from 2014-2016, during Bernier's term as starting goalie.
He would be traded to Anaheim in the 2016 off-season.
Ranking summary: 3 seasons and no playoff appearances.
22 Frederik Andersen (2016-current)
Pretty tough to evaluate Frederik Andersen this early in his stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but so far so good! As of this writing the Leafs are currently battling it out for a playoff spot with 20 games to go.
Andersen had spent 3 seasons with Anaheim before the Leafs traded a 1st and 2nd round draft pick to get him. Andersen's performance thus far can be summed up as "streaky, but generally good". The team is playing with 10 rookies regularly in their lineup but are as competitive as they have been in years.
Should the Leafs make the playoffs this year, it will be only the second time they have done so since 2004, when Ed Belfour was still their starting goalie.
Ranking summary: too early to tell. The Leafs look like they might get back into the playoffs this year, which already puts him ahead of many past Leaf starting goalies.
21 Al Rollins (1951-52)
Al Rollins took over the reigns as the Leaf goalie for the 1951-52 season. He had some big shoes to fill, as the team's previous goalie Turk Broda had been a pivotal piece of the Leafs dynasty of the 1940s.
Rollins didn't fair as well as Broda did. The team finished 3rd in their division his only year as the team's starting goalie. They were then swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round.
He would leave the club the following year and spent the next four seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ranking summary: one year and one playoff appearance (eliminated in the first round).
20 James Reimer (2010-15)
James Reimer played a pivotal role in ending the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff draught from 2004-2013. It had been a rough nine year stretch for the Leafs, who struggled to find a goaltender to replace Ed Belfour.
In the lockout shortened 2012-2013 seasons however the Leafs did manage to crack the playoffs. Then in the first round it looked like they were going to upset the Boston Bruins. Only things took quite a turn near the end of that series' game 7. The Leafs had a 4-1 lead with 14:31 left to play in the 3rd period, yet ended up losing the game, and the series, in overtime.
The Leafs opted to trade for Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier that off-season.
Reimer signed with Florida in the 2016 off-season.
Rankings Summary: just the one season where he was the starter. One playoff appearance, no playoff series wins, epic game 7 collapse.
19 Bruce Gamble (1967-70)
The first year Bruce Gamble became the team's starting goalie was the 1967-68 season. The team had won the cup the previous year but longtime goalie Johnny Bower was getting older and had to miss key games in the playoffs. The Leafs missed the playoffs Gamble's first season.
In the 68-69 season Bower only got into 20 games, with Gamble taking the bulk of the rest. The Leafs snuck into the last playoff spot but were swept by Boston in the first round.
Gamble's last season as the Leafs starting goalie was 1969-70. He was traded to Philadelphia the following year.
Ranking summary: Made the playoffs twice in 3 years. Eliminated first round each time.
18 Jacques Plante (1971-73)
The first ever goalie to wear a mask, Jacques Plante spent 3 years with the Leafs. He was already in his 40s when the Leafs acquired him in 1970 as the team struggled to find a suitable replacement for Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk.
You can't blame the Leafs for thinking Plante could bring back the glory days of the 40s and 60s. Throughout his NHL career he was a 7 time Vezina winner and a 6 time Stanley Cup champion.
The Leafs got back into the playoffs in Plante's first year with the club, but were eliminated in the first round by the Rangers. In the 1971-72 season the next year the Leafs again secured the final playoff spot but were eliminated in the first round, this time by the Bruins. Plante was traded to the Bruins late in the 72-73 season, a year in which the Leafs failed to make the playoffs.
Ranking summary: 2 seasons and 2 playoff appearances. No playoff series wins however.
17 Alan Bester (1986-1990)
Alan Bester spent most of his NHL career bouncing between the AHL and NHL. Somehow he found himself the Leafs starting goalie in the 1980s, possibly because nobody else wanted the job.
The 1988-89 season was the most active of Bester's NHL career. He played in 43 games that year for the Leafs, and 42 the year after that. By the time the 90s hit the Leafs had enough of Bester, and they traded him to the Red Wings, who never had much use for him either. He managed to make the playoffs on 3 occasions with the Leafs, though during this period a team had to be particularly bad to miss out on post-season play.
Bester would manage to scrape and claw his way back to the NHL in the 95-96 season, appearing in 10 games for the Dallas Stars. After two season with the Orlando Solar Bears from 96-98 however, Bester called it a career.
Ranking summary: 3 playoff appearances, eliminated in the 1st round each time.
16 Wayne Thomas (1975-76)
Wayne Thomas just met the criteria for "starting goalie" classification when he played 64 games in net for the Leafs during the 1975-76 season.
The Leafs hadn't had much success throughout the late 60s or 70s by the time Thomas took over goaltending responsibilities. The team didn't fair too badly with Thomas in net however. They got back into the playoffs and beat Pittsburgh in a 3 game series. The next round they went 7 games with a strong Flyers team.
In 1977 Thomas was selected by the Rangers in the league waiver draft, ending his stint with the Leafs. He would spend his final four seasons with the Rangers.
Ranking summary: one season, one playoff appearance, one playoff series win.
15 Jake Forbes (1920-21)
Forbes took over the reigns from starting goalie from Ivan Mitchell for the 1920-21 season and managed to help the St. Patricks get back into the playoffs for the first time since 1918, when they won the Stanley Cup.
The Ottawa Senators won the first half of that year's NHL season, but the Leafs won the second half. Under the rules at the time the two winners of each half played each other in a 2-game total goals series. The Senators would defeat the St. Pats that year and move on to play for the Stanley Cup agains the winner of the Pacific Coast Hockey League.
Forbes would move on to play with Hamilton the following season.
Ranking Summary: One season and one trip to the Stanley Cup finals, though that was also the first round of the playoffs at the time.
14 Ken Wregget (1983-88)
The Leafs played around with the idea of making Ken Wregget their starting goalie during the 1980s. It didn't really work out, much like most things the team did during this period.
The 1980s were a bleak time for the Maple Leafs. In a time when only the worst team in a division didn't make the playoffs, the Leafs failed to qualify 4 times. They only won two playoff series the entire decade. Wregget was the goalie for each of those two playoff series wins however, making him the best at his position for the Leafs in the decade. The second round playoff appearances in 1986 and 1987 being the lone bright spot for the Leafs during the decade.
In 1989 the Leafs traded Wregget to Philadelphia. He would eventually be traded to Pittsburgh where he won a cup with the Penguins in 1992.
Ranking summary: Was the goalie for the only playoff series victories the team earned in the 80s.
13 13. George Hainsworth (1933-36)
Hall of Famer George Hainsworth is far better known as a Montreal Canadien, but he also spent 3 years as the starting goalie for the Leafs.
He is a 3 time winner of the Vezina trophy, winning the title each year from 1927-1929. Hainsworth won the Stanley Cup twice in his career in 1930 and 1931. He did all of that as a member of the Canadiens, not joining the Leafs until 1933.
Things started great for Hainsworth as a member of the Leafs. They finished first in their division his first two years, but were unable to get the job done in the playoffs. His 3rd year the team was bumped out of the first place spot in their division and were eliminated by Detroit in the playoffs. Hainsworth rejoined the Canadiens in the 1936-37 season, his final year in the NHL.
Ranking Summary: 3 seasons, 3 playoff appearances, 3 playoff series wins.
12 Harry Lumley (1952-56)
Harry Lumley had already won a Stanley Cup before he became the Leafs starting goalie for the 1952-53 season. It had been hoped that Lumley would be able to bring the cup back to Toronto, where it had spent much of the 1940s.
Lumley did his part, put the Leafs were never able to win the cup with him between the pipes. He won the Vezina trophy in 1954, and was a first team NHL all-star in 54 and 55.
The Leafs failed to make the playoffs his first season with the team, and then were eliminated in the first round the next two. Despite his solid play in the mid-50s, he wasn't able to bring a cup back to Toronto.
Ranking Summary: Won the Vezina trophy while a Leaf.
11 Mike Palmateer (1976-80, 82-84)
Palmateer would have an on-again off-again role as the Leafs goaltender in the late 70s and early 80s.
His first year with the team was the 1976-77 year, when they would be eliminated by the Flyers for the second straight year. In the 78 playoffs, the Leafs eliminated Los Angeles and the Islanders before being swept by Montreal. It was the best the Leafs had done in the playoffs since winning the cup in 1967.
They would again be swept by Montreal in the 1979 playoffs, only this time in the second round. Palmateer would only play 38 games with the Leafs in the 79-80 season (Leafs were swept by Minnesota in the 1st round). He was traded to the Capitals the next season. He would be traded back to the Leafs in 1982 for his final year.
Rankings summary: 3 seasons as the Leafs starter, and 3 playoff series victories.
10 Ed Belfour (2002-06)
Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated goalies in Toronto's history, Ed Belfour inherited a tough job as Curtis Joseph's replacement. He didn't let anyone down however.
A solid positional goalie, Belfour had already won 2 Vezinas and a Stanley Cup with Dallas before he arrived in Toronto. He signed with the Leafs in 2002 as a free agent.
Belfour's first two seasons with the Leafs were great. The team won 44 games in 2002-03, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Flyers. The team again looked good in 03-04, winning 45 games. That year they would defeat the Senators in the first round (again) before being eliminated by the Flyers for the second year in a row. The following year a lockout prevented the 2005 playoffs. After the lockout things fell apart for the Leafs and the team failed to make the playoffs. Belfour signed with Florida as a free agent in the off-season.
Ranking summary: Although only one playoff series win, it was during a pivotal time for the Leafs.
9 Frank McCool (1944-46)
Frank McCool only played 2 years in the NHL, but in that short amount of time with the team he managed to accomplish more than many goalies are able to do their entire careers.
McCool became the team's starting goalie for the 1944-45 season after Turk Broda left the team to serve in the war. In his first year McCool won the Calder trophy and a Stanley Cup!
Just 22 games into the next season however, he was forced to retire due to severe ulcers. The 1944-45 season was the only full year he played in the NHL. He died in 1973, and it is believed that ulcers were a contributing factor.
Ranking summary: 1 Stanley Cup in 1 attempt.
8 Terry Sawchuk (1964-67)
Terry Sawchuk is far better known as the goalie of the Detroit Red Wings throughout the 1950s and early 60s, but he also had a short and successful stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He was brought in by the Leafs in the 1964-65 season to share duties with the aging Johnny Bower. That first season Bower and Sawchuk were jointly awarded the Vezina. It was the 4th time Sawchuk was given the award, and the second for Bower.
In the 1967 Stanley Cup finals Sawchuk and Bower would share duties as the Leafs defeated Montreal in 6 games. He would leave the team the following year to play with the Kings. He signed with the Rangers for his final NHL season the following year.
Ranking summary: 1 Stanley Cup.
7 John Ross Roach (1926-28)
John "Little Napoleon" Ross Roach, was only 5ft 5inches and weighed only 130lbs. Still he was the first starting goalie to stay on with the club for an extended period.
Roach took the reigns as the club's starting goalie in 1921-22. He was the starting goalie for the only Stanley Cup that Toronto won while known as the St. Patricks that same year. The St. Pats would finish second in the 4 team league that year, but ended up defeating the 1st place Senators in the playoffs.
In the 2-game total goals series against the Senators in 1922, Toronto won 9 to 0 on aggregate. They would then go on to defeat the Vancouver Millionaires to win the Stanley Cup.
Roach would go on to be Toronto's goalie until 1928 when he left to play with the Rangers.
Ranking summary: 1 Stanley Cup.
6 Lorne Chabot (1928-1933)
Chabot would take over the reigns as the Leafs goalie in 1928 after spending a couple of years with the Rangers.
Chabot was the Leafs goalie for their first ever Stanley Cup under the team name "Maple Leafs". They accomplished that feat to conclude the 1931-32 season. That year the Leafs finished second to the Canadiens in the Canadian division, but really turned it up in the playoffs. The Leafs beat the Blackhawks and the Montreal Maroons before sweeping the Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final.
Chabot would only play one more year with the Leafs, and left for the Habs in 1933. In total he spent 5 years as the Leafs starting goalie.
Rankings summary: 1 Stanley Cup
5 Curtis Joseph (1998-2002)
After missing the playoffs two seasons in a row, the Leafs signed free agent goaltender Curtis Joseph. They would eventually trade Felix Potvin mid-way through the next year. Joseph played the previous three seasons for Edmonton, and 5 more for St. Louis before that.
Joseph only played in Toronto for four seasons, but they were quite memorable. In his first playoff run with the Leafs, the team made it all the way to the conference finals, beating the Flyers and Penguins before losing to Buffalo. The next year they knocked off the Senators before New Jersey eliminated them in the second round. In 2001 the Leafs swept the Senators in the opening round before again being eliminated by the Devils in the second round. In Joseph's final year with the Leafs he helped take them once again to the conference finals, beating the Islanders and Senators (again) before losing to Carolina.
Joseph would choose to sign with the Detroit Red Wings the following off-season.
Ranking summary: Cujo backstopped the Leafs during arguably the best period in the team's history that didn't result in a Stanley Cup.
4 Felix Potvin (1991-96)
Felix "The Cat" Potvin took over the helm as the Leafs goalie in 1993, as the team traded Grant Fuhr to Buffalo. Potvin was playing so well in the action he saw playing behind Fuhr that the team decided to go with him full-time.
There was an excitement in the air about hockey in Toronto again. Potvin helped the Leafs win 44 games in the 92-93 season, a franchise record. After failing to make the playoffs the previous two seasons, the Leafs finished 3rd in the division and stormed into the playoffs. That year they played in three consecutive 7 game series. First they beat the Red Wings, then Blues, but in the next round lost a heart breaking 7th game to the Los Angeles Kings. The year was the most exciting the Leafs had experienced since the 1967 Stanley Cup.
The Leafs would again make it to the Conference finals the next year with Potvin in net. The following two seasons they would be bumped from the playoffs in the first round however. The following two years after that they failed to make the playoffs. It only lasted a few magical seasons, but Felix Potvin and the Leafs of the early to mid-90s made fans in Toronto believe again.
The Leafs traded Potvin to the Islanders in 1999.
Ranking summary: Felix Potvin was the Leafs goalie during a key time for the franchise. After the 70s and 80s proved to be a debacle, Potvin and the Leafs of the early 90s reinvigorated the fan base. While he never won a cup, he helped turn the Leafs from a two decade long joke into a contender.
3 Hap Holmes (1917-19)
Hap Holmes was the Leafs first starting goalie in the NHL. The team had previously played in the NHA, but after the other teams no longer wanted to deal with Toronto's owner Eddie Livingstone, they left and started their own league without him. The result was the NHL, and Toronto won the Stanley Cup in the first year of its existence.
Hap Holmes was the goalie on the inaugural NHL championship winning team. He had previously played for the Toronto Blueshirts in the NHA. Toronto won the second half of the season which earned them a shot against the Habs in a 2-game total goal series. Toronto won the series 10-7 on aggregate, and then would go on to beat the Vancouver Millionaires in a 5-game series for the Stanley Cup.
Holmes would leave the team to play in Seattle the next year. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.
Ranking Holmes this high might be controversial, however considering he was the goalie for the first ever NHL Stanley Cup winner it's hard to rank him behind too many others.
Rankings summary: 1 Stanley Cup.
2 Johnny Bower (1958-70)
The Leafs drafted Johnny Bower in the 1958 Inter-league draft, and it turned out pretty well for both sides.
That first half-season with the Leafs ended up being quite eventual. The Leafs snuck into the playoffs with just 1 more point than the New York Rangers. They then defeated the Boston Bruins in a seven game series to go to the Stanley Cup Finals where they would lose to Montreal.
With Bower the Leafs continued to improve and in 1962 won the cup for the first time since 1951. Then the cups just kept coming as the Leafs of the 1960s looked to rival the dynasty Leafs of the 1940s. They would win the cup again the next two years, and add another one in 1967.
Bower won the Vezina twice, in 1961 and 1965. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 and was part of the 1st group of players announced for the "100 Greatest NHL Players in History".
Ranking summary: 4 Stanley Cups.
1 Turk Broda (1936-52)
Turk Broda was the Leafs goalie as they entered their first glory period. While the club had won the Stanley Cup 3x before Broda joined in 1936, Broda would help usher in the Leafs dynasty of the 1940s. He also won the Vezina trophy twice as a Maple Leaf, in 1941 and 1948.
The Leafs made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in each of Broda's first 3 years with the team, Unfortunately they were defeated each time. They were eliminated in the semi-finals his 4th year with the team before finally winning the cup in 1942.
Broda would miss out on the Leafs' 1945 Stanley Cup winning, having elected to fight in WWII for 2.5 years. He rejoined the Leafs in the 1945-46 season and helped the club win the cup again in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951.
Ranking summary: 5 Stanley Cups.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!