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Dennis Hildeby Has Maple Leafs Goaltending Looking Sky High

The Toronto Maple Leafs have last year’s AHL All-Star goalie in the organization. How far can Dennis Hildeby rise this season?

Joshua Kloke reviewed the Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospects this week in The Athletic, placing Dennis Hildeby at #5. As the old joke goes, when you have a towering 6-foot-7 Swedish goaltender who’s a prospect, you simply must look up to him.

Dennis Hildeby Maple Leafs

That said, Hildeby’s height is not the only thing that helps fans look up to him. He’s also talented. As a result, he’s quickly become an effective prospect for the Maple Leafs, blending impressive athleticism with his size and skill.

Related: Maple Leafs Considering a Parting of Ways with Veteran Forward

Hildeby’s Backstory with the Maple Leafs

Hildeby, the 22-year-old goaltender for last season’s Toronto Marlies, is an imposing figure. He was drafted in the fourth round, 122nd overall, in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Hildeby’s selection was unexpected due to his unconventional path, being a triple overager at the time. Despite this, he had already shown impressive skills in limited professional action with Farjestad in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), where he achieved a remarkable .931 save percentage in seven games.

In his first North American pro season with the Marlies, Hildeby continued to demonstrate his potential. His stats in the 2023-24 AHL season show that he played 41 games, achieving a record of 21-11-7. He maintained a goals-against-average of 2.41 and a save percentage of .913, including three shutouts. These numbers highlight his ability to perform at a high level, suggesting a bright future.

Hildeby Has Emerged as a Dark Horse

Finding a reliable goaltender has been a challenge for the Maple Leafs since Ed Belfour’s departure in 2006. Among various netminders, Hildeby is a dark horse candidate for the team’s future goaltending needs. While the organization has invested in prospect Joseph Woll, Hildeby’s exceptional size, athleticism, and puck-tracking abilities might set him apart.

Hildeby’s rise came at a good time. Last week, Samsonov became an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Vegas Golden Knights. In his place, Anthony Stolarz was picked up to help solidify the organization’s goaltending depth. Hildeby’s AHL performance signals a potential shift in the organization’s plans. The organization remains cautious about rushing his development, but his early success is noteworthy.

Looking Ahead to Hildeby in the Maple Leafs Crease

Hildeby’s rapid rise and promising start in North America make him a convincing candidate for the Maple Leafs’ future in goal. With unique attributes and exciting potential, Hildeby adds anticipation to the team’s goaltending landscape. He gives fans a glimpse into what could be a transformative era in the team’s goalie play.

Scouts and analysts emphasize a need for patience in Hildeby’s development. A plausible timeline for his NHL ascent could be around the 2025-26 season, though the NHL’s unpredictable nature opens room for various other scenarios. As the Maple Leafs navigate their win-now mode, Hildeby’s progress is a focal point in the team’s long-term strategy.

He’s a young goalie worth watching.

Related: No Surprise if Maple Leafs Nikita Grebyonkin Gets NHL Games

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