Maple Leafs’ Andersen not ‘100 per cent confident’ about return

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen says he's not quite 100 percent confident in a safe return just yet, but will be much more confident once located in a hub city.

Frederik Andersen hopes to get back to playing meaningful games in the near future, however he admitted he is “not quite 100 per cent confident yet” about the resumption of the 2019-20 NHL season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs starting goalie told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that while he knows the NHL is adamantly working towards finalizing the two hub cities and ensuring proper health and safety protocols are implemented, there is still much to figure out.

“We don’t have enough information yet,” Andersen said. “The league and (NHLPA) are still ironing things out.”

The NHL and NHLPA announced earlier in June that Phase 3 of the league’s return-to-play plan – the formal opening of training camps – would happen on July 10.

It seems now, though, that a return-to-play is linked with players voting to ratify the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Andersen specifically mentioned “future CBA stuff” as one reason he wasn’t fully certain of a return.

“I’m confident we’ll have something to vote on,” he said. “I want to play. I don’t want to just sit and waste the summer and the season. Hopefully we’ll see soon.”

When asked which way he’s leaning towards voting, he responded: “I’ll make that decision when I get more info.”

Andersen certainly isn’t the only player around the league expressing some sense of trepidation regarding the ongoing negotiations.

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Andersen recently returned to Toronto after spending the majority of the lockdown in Arizona with teammate Auston Matthews.

“It was a fun experience,” Andersen said. “We get along great and we tried to make the best of it. He has a great house there. … We were skating a little bit (but) not as much as we’d hoped. We tried to make the best of a tough situation.”

The Danish netminder said he left Arizona before the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in that state. He travelled to California to put in some work with his trainer there before flying back to Toronto where he is currently quarantining.

Andersen added that his quarantine time will be completed and he would be good to go by July 10 if training camps do in fact open then.

Toronto is one of the remaining potential hub city locations but Andersen said he wouldn’t view that as any type of home-ice advantage.

“Personally, I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference,” he said before adding that since there won’t be fans in attendance and players will be holed up in hotels it’ll be “neither an advantage or disadvantage.”

Andersen ranked fourth in the NHL in wins after posting a 29-13-7 record with a .909 save percentage, 2.85 goals-against average and three shutouts in the regular season.

The 30-year-old, who has one year remaining on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2021, has been a notoriously slow starter since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in 2016.

During his Maple Leafs career, Andersen has a 20-13-5 combined record during the first month of regular-season play with a .900 save percentage, 3.14 GAA and just one shutout. Compare that to a 116-53-28 record, .919 save percentage, 2.70 GAA and 12 shutouts in all other months combined.

So, it’ll be interesting to see what he’ll look like after a near five-month layoff. Andersen said he feels his on-ice timing will be his biggest personal challenge in reclaiming his form between the pipes.

The Maple Leafs finished the shortened regular season as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, based on points percentage, and are set to play the No. 9-ranked Columbus Blue Jackets in a best-of-five play-in series.

Andersen described the Blue Jackets as “a deep team, a team we have to be ready for.”

The loser of that series won’t reach the conference quarterfinals but they will have a 12.5 per cent chance at landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft after the unusual results of last week’s draft lottery.

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