PHILADELPHIA -- Don't expect goaltending prospect Justin Pogge to get his first taste of NHL action in the final few weeks of the season.
Despite calls for Maple Leafs management to call Pogge up when and if the team officially is eliminated from post-season eligibility, interim general manager Cliff Fletcher said yesterday the young goaltending prospect will remain with the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies for the duration.
"Our plan is to leave him there," Fletcher said. "The only exception would be an injury to one of our two goalies, Vesa Toskala or Andrew Raycroft.
"Pogge will get his chance to play at this level in due course. Right now the Marlies are a team trying to win a championship and he is getting lots of playing time."
There is a school of thought that Pogge would be well served to get some NHL experience should the Leafs participate in some meaningless games down the stretch. Obviously it is an argument Fletcher does not agree with.
Coach Paul Maurice insists Toskala will carry the load as long as the team has a playoff breath remaining. In the event the Leafs do mathematically fall out of contention, Fletcher said Raycroft likely will get some starts.
"If anything, Raycroft needs some action," he said.
Raycroft has not started a game facing the New Jersey Devils in Newark on Jan. 20.
Pogge is 21-8-4 with the Marlies, with three shutouts, a 2.34 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. He has yet to play an NHL game.
Pogge, 21, was summoned to San Jose to serve as a potential backup for a game against the Sharks on Jan. 12 amidst concerns starter Vesa Toskala would not start. But Toskala managed to answer the bell, leaving Raycroft as backup.
Fletcher hopes the experience of competing in the AHL playoffs will have the same positive effect on Pogge that it did on highly touted Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price a year ago.