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Maple Leafs lock up Andersen

by Adam Proteau / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs added a stellar, veteran goalie entering his playing prime Monday and greatly improved their depth in net with the acquisition of Frederik Andersen from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for the 30th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and Toronto’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft. After the trade was completed, Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello confirmed the organization had signed Andersen to a five-year contract in a demonstration of faith in the 26-year-old.

“When you get a goaltender of this calibre, with the experience he’s had and the success…acquiring him is the most important thing,” Lamoriello said in a media conference call. “The price was secondary.”

For Andersen, who split time with John Gibson in net for the Ducks last season, the trade represents an opportunity to be an impact player on a Leafs squad brimming with thrilling, young talent.

“I’m very excited to be on board,” Andersen said Monday. “It’s a young team right now, and more prospects are coming up. I know how hard they work from the games we played against them last season. Definitely, I think they were better than the standings were showing, and (it’s going to be) better next year.”

A native of Herning, Denmark, Andersen completed his third NHL season in 2015-16, posting a 22-9-7 record with a 2.30 goals-against average and .919 SV% in 43 games (including 37 starts) for the Ducks. In 2014-15, he went 35-12-5 in the regular season, and 11-5 in the playoffs. in short, Andersen solidifies Toronto’s situation between the pipes and will compete with veteran Jonathan Bernier for playing time – and getting his signature on a long-term contract was crucial from the perspective of Leafs management.

“I think it’s extremely important,” Lamoriello said of Andersen’s new contract. “He has to know that we feel he’s our No. 1 goaltender, and that the support is there, the confidence is there, and the commitment is there.”

Originally selected 187th overall by Carolina in 2010, Andersen failed to come to terms with the Hurricanes organization and was taken 87th overall by Anaheim in the 2012 draft. He earned a spot on the NHL’s All-Rookie team in 2014 after amassing a 20-5-0 mark, and shared the William M. Jennings Trophy in 2015-16 with Ducks teammate John Gibson after collectively allowing the fewest regular-season goals-against.

At 6-foot-4, Andersen takes up a lot of net. But in addition to appreciating Andersen’s frame, Lamoriello – who has a notable history of landing talented goaltenders, including Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider, in his time as New Jersey Devils GM – counts himself a fan of Andersen’s desire to win, and ability to win on big stages.

“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. (And) his athleticism is exceptional.”

The first-round pick (originally belonging to the Pittsburgh Penguins) and second-rounder going to Anaheim was no small price to pay for Andersen’s services, but even after the deal, Lamoriello still has 11 draft picks, including the first overall selection, in Friday’s draft. And now, with two experienced pros to rely on in net, he believes the Leafs have the backbone between the pipes to help the rest of the roster take the next competitive steps.

“I believe – and our organization believes this – that this will help the growth of our young players with the tandem of Freddie and Bernie,” Lamoriello said. “Whenever you have a goaltender of this magnitude, of this success, it breeds confidence from the defence through the forwards and from the forwards through the defence. We feel that it’s a necessity with the growth and where we’re at.”

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