BUFFALO, N.Y. – Justin Pogge has earned another NHL start.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled the 22-year-old goaltender and plan to start him against the Buffalo Sabres later in the evening. It’s a continuation of the team’s plan to call him up periodically for a game before sending him right back to the American Hockey League.
Pogge isn’t privy to the number of games he’s likely to play before the end of the season.
“I kind of find out the day before and I kind of like it that way,” he said Wednesday morning at HSBC Arena. “You’re not looking too far ahead and you’ve just got to focus on the present.
“I’ve never really looked at the schedule my whole career so I like how it is.”
With the Leafs in rebuilding mode, it’s a good time for the organization to evaluate exactly what it has in Pogge. The third-round draft pick was once hailed as the team’s goalie of the future, especially after winning a gold medal with Canada at the 2006 world junior championship.
His transition to the professional ranks has been slow.
Pogge won his first NHL start against Atlanta in December before having a tough outing against Minnesota on Jan. 27. He allowed six goals on 21 shots against the Wild – a tough experience that coach Ron Wilson said he hoped Pogge would learn from.
The goalie showed a sense of humour when asked about what lessons he took from that game.
“I’ve learned that you’ve got to be a little more patient than I was – flopping around like a fish,” he said.
Jeremy Williams spent the past two seasons playing with Pogge in the AHL and believes he’ll eventually develop into an NHL starter.
Williams thinks Pogge will benefit from getting a few NHL starts this season.
“He understands what the team wants from him,” said Williams. “Every time he comes up, he’s really excited and he’s focused and he’s working hard.
“He knows he’s going to get an opportunity here.”
In other moves Wednesday, the Leafs assigned defenceman Jonas Frogren and forward Andre Deveaux to the AHL Marlies.