The Anaheim Ducks announced today that the National Hockey League (NHL) club has acquired goaltender Justin Pogge from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Pogge, 23 (4/22/86), made his NHL debut with Toronto last season, posting a 1-4-1 record with a 4.36 goals-against average (GAA) and .844 save percentage (SV%) in seven appearances. In his NHL debut, Pogge stopped 19-of-21 shots to help lead the Leafs to a 6-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Dec. 22, 2008 at Philips Arena. With the victory, Pogge became the first Toronto goaltender to start and win in his NHL debut since Mar. 22, 1991 (Damian Rhodes at Detroit). The 6-3, 204-pound goaltender spent the rest of the season with the Maple Leafs’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, going 26-21-5 with a 2.70 GAA and .895 SV% in 53 appearances.
Originally selected by Toronto in the third round (90th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Pogge made his professional debut with the Marlies in 2006-07. In three AHL seasons with Toronto from 2006-09, Pogge went 71-56-11 with seven shutouts, a 2.71 GAA and .899 SV% in 142 career appearances.
A native of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Pogge helped lead Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championships in Grand Forks, ND with a record of 6-0-0, three shutouts, a 1.00 GAA and .952 SV% in six games.
Among tournament leaders, he ranked first in wins, GAA and SV%. Pogge split his amateur career with Prince George (2003-05) and Calgary (2005-06) of the Western Hockey League (WHL), posting a 79-44-7 record with 20 shutouts, a 2.29 GAA and .911 SV% in 151 games. Following the 2005-06 WHL season, Pogge was named the league’s Player and Goaltender of the Year and the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) Goaltender of the Year.
Ducks Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations David McNab spoke to reporters via conference call on Monday afternoon. Following is a transcript: Pogge has been a guy that Bob, Rick Paterson and all our staff have liked for the last few years. He’s a good goalie. Bob has talked with Toronto quite a bit over the last year and this year. You can never have enough good, young goaltenders in an organization. These trades always take time to manufacture themselves, but this was somebody that Bob was trying to get for awhile.
On Pogge’s strengths He’s a big guy. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s played well. He’s been a top prospect in the Toronto organization for the past three years. I think everybody knows with the way the game is now, we’ve been preached when Francois (Allaire) was here, about the big goalies and the necessity to have bigger guys. He’s just somebody that we think has a chance to be a real good goalie in the NHL.
It seems like Canadian goalies sometimes, who were the big stars in the World Junior tournament, they become instant celebrities. Maybe there was added pressure in that situation. I think here, we’re targeting him as our No. 3 guy and a guy that we thought just added to the depth of the organization. Because of his contractual situation, he can play in the minors. He gives us a goalie that we’re comfortable with if we get an injury or two injuries.. A lot of times people look at an organization and say ‘Well, you have to have two good goalies in case you can an injury’. But should you get an injury, the organizations that are well prepared are the teams that still would have two good goalies. Should something happen and one of our two guys go down, this would still allow us to bring up someone from the American League, who is capable of playing in the NHL we feel and can win games. Everybody can have a third goalie, but you don’t want a third goalie that is not capable of playing or not capable of the players having confidence in him. We think Pogge is a guy can come up if needed. He can not only be the backup, but he can play games. He’s a guy that the coaches will have confidence in and can help you win games, not just play in the games.
On the team’s third goalie situation We got Timo Pielmeier from San Jose in the one trade, but we didn’t feel he was ready to be the third goalie. We didn’t feel Levasseur was ready to a third goalie. That was the reason we needed to go out and get somebody. If you have a team that you think has a chance to do well, you don’t want it to all the sudden have it be derailed because of an injury in goal. If you need to go get a goalie, it’s pretty tough to get one. Our plan is for him to get more experience, to play more in the American League and be ready if it’s needed.
We’re good now. Both Pielmeier and Levasseur are really good prospects, as far as developing into being a third goalie and obviously higher. They are both very young in their development stage. Pogge is a lot farther along and more ready to battle to play in the National Hockey League. I think right now, we’re comfortable in what we have.
On if the move is a sign of another possible move No, it’s not a precursor. You have to have three goalies. Your third has to be somebody that the organization is comfortable can play and can win. That is what we think we have in Justin. This has nothing to do with leading into something else. This is strictly to get depth at a position that you have to be strong in.
On where Pogge will play in the minors We’re still working on exactly where he’ll be playing. But we’re comfortable that we’ll figure something out and he’ll play plenty.
On Pogge’s contract status He’s on a two-way contract. The way that the Collective Bargaining Agreement works is that the “skaters” – the forwards and defensemen – get three years of pro hockey before they need waivers to go to the minors. But because goaltenders take longer to develop, the CBA is written in such a way that goaltenders can go to the minors for four years before they need waivers. He does not need waivers to go to the American League. He’s in year four. He finished his entry-level contract this summer and signed a one-year contract with Toronto.
Pogge commented on the trade during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon
On the trade and leaving Toronto It was a little bittersweet, but for the most part I’m really excited to have a new situation and a fresh start. I think it’s a great move.
On his season last year It was kind of a battle, but I had some really good times and some mediocre times. But overall I gained a lot of experience last year and I’m moving on with it.
On whether he's spoken to former Calgary Hitmen teammate Ryan Getzlaf about the trade No, I’m going to give him a call in the next couple of days and kind of get the lowdown on what to expect (in Anaheim). Ryan is a great guy and I’m known him for a couple years now. He’s an unbelievable player.
On needing a fresh start I think everyone needs a fresh start every once in awhile when things aren’t going the best. It’s just a new situation. You kind of get into routines when you’re in the same old place and I think just changing everything up is definitely a healthy move.
On whether he was rushed into the NHL I don’t think I was rushed into the NHL. I put in my time in the minors and got a chance. I would have liked to stay up there a little bit longer but that’s how life goes. I’m looking forward to my next chance at the NHL and hoping to prove myself and that I can play.
On preparing for this upcoming season I think it’s just taking everything I’ve learned over the last three years and putting that into this year. I put a lot of work in this summer and I’m looking to come into camp a better goaltender, in shape and with a better style and more efficient style in net.