Marlies announce a roster move that has significant implications for the Maple Leafs

Mike Armenti
December 31, 2023  (12:45)

Dennis Hildeby may be on the cusp of an NHL recall
Photo credit: Christian BoninTSGPhoto

The Leafs are experiencing something right now that I'm sure a lot of teams don't envy. The fall of Ilya Samsonov was so rapid and unexplainable that it has left many in Leafs Nation and the broader hockey community stunned and in disbelief. It's not often where you see a starting goalie with a .919 SV% one year become completely an utterly unplayable mere months later, but here we are and Samsonov has now officially been waived.

The struggling Leafs netminder has allowed 4 or more goals in each of his last 4 starts, allowing 6 goals twice against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets in that stretch. Now, it looks like he's bound for either a run in the press box if he clears or perhaps even an assignment to the American Hockey League, in line with what the Edmonton Oilers have done with Jack Campbell. Let's just hope that, if it happens, Samsonov handles it better than Campbell has.
On Sunday, in a corresponding move, the Toronto Marlies announced that they have called up goaltender Luke Cavallin from the ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers. The Athletic's Joshua Kloke had suggested that it may be because the Marlies are planning to be a goalie short on Wednesday, which happens to be the same day that the Leafs take on the Anaheim Ducks in the second half of a back-to-back. The idea here is that AHL standout Dennis Hildeby would be recalled to start that game for the Leafs.
Hildeby, affectionately referred to as "The Hildebeast" by his teammates, has been a beast for the Marlies this season, pun intended. While his record isn't necessarily all that impressive (7-5-3), his peripheral stats are exceptional for a first year AHL goaltender. Hildeby has a 2.20 GAA and a .919 SV% in 15 games this season.
There's been a great deal of discussion over whether a recall would be the best thing for his development right now. At just 22 years of age, the former 4th round draft pick is still quite young for the NHL by today's standards, however he does have 45 games of professional experience under his belt, dating back to his time in the Swedish Hockey League, Sweden's top men's league. Hildeby was quite good in Sweden as well, posting a .918 SV% and a 2.26 GAA in 21 games for Farjestads BK Karlstad last year.
Honestly, I think the idea that a short NHL recall would hinder his development is overblown. If he gets one or two games at the NHL level and gets blown out, in one or both of those games, the message to him will be the same - that the team believes in him and wants to see what he can do at the top level to give them an idea of what he should be working on as he continues on throughout his developmental years.
Best case scenario: Hildeby wins a few games, builds confidence and looks fantastic before heading back down when Joseph Woll returns.
Worst case scenario: Hildeby gets shelled in his initial look at the NHL level and works harder on the details of his game so that it doesn't happen again the next time he gets the opportunity. This seems like a win/win to me.
While Samsonov has been waived, Hildeby has not yet been recalled, so it's entirely possible that the Leafs instead opt to recall Keith Petruzzelli, who does have more experience playing at the pro level in North America, but if I was a betting man, I'd put my money on a Hildeby recall.
31 DECEMBRE   |   1142 ANSWERS
Marlies announce a roster move that has significant implications for the Maple Leafs

If you were the Leafs, would you give Dennis Hildeby a shot in the NHL until Joseph Woll returns in a few weeks?

Yes, we need to see what we have in him95783.8 %
No, he's not ready1069.3 %
I'm really not sure796.9 %
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