Leafs Line Production

Ok so we all know the Leafs have suffered this season offensively.  That being said, most Leaf fans have been pleasantly surprised (or at least impressed) by the offensive output of the Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin (MGK) line.  All three players are on pace for career years and they have been the Leafs most consistent offensive threats during this not so stellar campaign.

But what does that mean? How do they stack up against other teams around the NHL?  Where would they fit in as a unit?  Well, looking at the numbers, it looks like they would easily be one of the top 2nd lines in the NHL.  In fact if they got more chances on the Power Play, they might in fact develop into a half decent 1st line - or a 1A line if you will.  Let's take a look at the numbers in a bit more depth shall we?

At even strength, the MGK line is actually the 9th most productive in the NHL with 31 points.  The best in the league is the Richards, Neal, Eriksson unit in Dallas who have 50 points, with Anaheim's young guns of Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan falling second with 41 points.  Philadelphia's '2nd line' of Ville Leino, Daniel Briere, and Scott Hartnell have continued their dominance that they showed in the NHL playoffs, producing 40 points so far this year at Even Strength.

Rk

SIT

TM

LINE

PTS

1

EV

DAL

Loui Eriksson - James Neal - Brad Richards

50

2

EV

ANA

Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry - Bobby Ryan

41

3

EV

PHI

Daniel Briere - Scott Hartnell - Ville Leino

40

4

EV

LAK

Ryan Smyth - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams

37

5

EV

CGY

Jarome Iginla - Matt Stajan - Alex Tanguay

36

6

EV

BOS

Nathan Horton - David Krejci - Milan Lucic

35

7

EV

DET

Todd Bertizzi - Valtteri Filppula - Johan Franzen

32

7

EV

PIT

Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis - Chris Kunitz

32

9

EV

TOR

Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin - Clarke MacArthur

31

10

EV

DET

Pavel Datsyuk - Tomas Holmstrom - Henrik Zetterberg

29

11

EV

ANA

Jason Blake - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne

26

11

EV

CLB

Derick Brassard - Rick Nash - Jakub Voracek

26

13

EV

EDM

Jordan Eberle - Taylor Hall - Shawn Horcoff

25

13

EV

TBL

Steve Downie - Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos

25

13

EV

WAS

Nicklas Backstrom - Alexander Ovechkin - Alexander Semin

25

16

EV

VAN

Alexandre Burrows - Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin

24

17

EV

SJS

Dany Heatley - Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton

20

18

EV

MTL

Mike Cammalleri - Andrei Kostitsyn - Tomas Plekanec

19

18

EV

EDM

Sam Gagner - Alex Hemsky - Dustin Penner

19

18

EV

EDM

Gilbert Brule - Andrew Cogliano - Dustin Penner

19

18

EV

SJS

Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Joe Pavelski

19

22

EV

BOS

Patrice Bergeron - Nathan Horton - Milan Lucic

18

22

EV

WAS

Nicklas Backstrom - Michael Knuble - Alexander Ovechkin

18

24

EV

MTL

Mathieu Darche - Jeff Halpern -Benoit Pouliot

17

24

EV

CAR

Erik Cole - Tuomo Ruutu - Jeff Skinner

17

24

EV

PHI

Jeff Carter - Claude Giroux - Darroll Powe

17

Of note is the fact that some teams have multiple lines in this top section.  Edmonton has three line combos that have produced 19 or more even strength points each, while Detroit has a 29 point AND a 32 point line. San Jose has a 20 point and a 19 point line, Montreal has a 19 and 17 point line.  This depth is something lacking in the Leafs offense.  At even strength, the Leafs 2nd most productive unit is the Kessel, Bozak, Versteeg unit, which has produced all of 6 points.  That would rank it as the 209th line in the NHL at even strength... yes that's pretty atrocious.

What about on the Power Play? Who is productive as a forward trio there?  Well for the Leafs, the top trio is the Kessel, Bozak, Kadri (along with Versteeg) line that has 8 points.  That's tied for the 24th highest point production amongst NHL power play forward units.  The best in the NHL rival some of the top producing even strength trios.

Rk

SIT

TM

LINE

PTS

1

PP

SJS

Dany Heatley - Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton

43

2

PP

WAS

Nicklas Backstrom - Brooks Laich - Alexander Ovechkin - Alexander Semin

35

3

PP

VAN

Ryan Kesler - Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin

33

4

PP

ATL

Nik Antropov - Dustin Byfuglien - Andrew Ladd - Rich Peverley

23

5

PP

ANA

Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry - Teemu Selanne

22

6

PP

MIN

Andrew Brunette - Matt Cullen - Mikko Koivu - Antti Miettinen

21

7

PP

TBL

Ryan Malone - Teddy Purcell - Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos

20

8

PP

COL

Milan Hejduk - Paul Stastny - Chris Stewart

19

9

PP

CHI

Patrick Kane - Tomas Kopecky - Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews

18

9

PP

PIT

Sidney Crosby - Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin

18

11

PP

DAL

Loui Eriksson - Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Brad Richards

14

12

PP

COL

Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk - Paul Stastny - Chris Stewart

13

12

PP

NYR

Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan - Brandon Dubinsky

13

12

PP

PHI

Claude Giroux - Ville Leino - Mike Richards

13

15

PP

EDM

Jordan Eberle - Taylor Hall - Shawn Horcoff

12

16

PP

DET

 Pavel Datsyuk - Johan Franzen - Tomas Holmstrom

11

17

PP

CHI

Marian Hossa - Patrick Kane - Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews

10

18

PP

BUF

Tim Connolly - Jason Pominville - Derek Roy - Thomas Vanek

9

18

PP

CGY

Rene Bourque - Niklas - Olli Jokinen - Brendan Morrison

9

18

PP

MTL

Mike Cammalleri - Brian Gionta - Andrei Kostitsyn - Tomas Plekanec

9

18

PP

CAR

Jussi Jokinen - Sergei Samsonov - Eric Staal

9

18

PP

EDM

Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky - Dustin Penner

9

18

PP

NJD

Patrik Elias - Ilya Kovalchuk - Jamie Langenbrunner - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus

9

24

PP

CGY

Niklas Hagman - Jarome Iginla - David Moss - Alex Tanguay

8

24

PP

MTL

Mike Cammalleri - Mathieu Darche - Scott Gomez

8

24

PP

PHX

Martin Janzal - Radim Vrbata - Ray Whitney

8

24

PP

TBL

Vincent Lecavalier - Ryan Malone - Martin St. Louis - Steven Stamkos

8

24

PP

TOR

Tyler Bozak - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel - Kris Versteeg

8

29

PP

MTL

Mike Cammalleri - Brian Gionta - Tomas Plekanec

7

29

PP

MIN

Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Martin Havlat - Guillaume Latendresse

7

The balance of the two is quite interesting, and here are the top combinations of both the PP and ES.

1. Washington - Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin - 65 pts.

2. San Jose - Heatley, Thornton, Marleau - 63 pts.

3. Dallas - Eriksson, Richards, Neal - 56 pts.

4. Anaheim - Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan - 46 pts.

5. Toronto - MacArthur, Grabovski, Kulemin - 42 pts.

That's right people, the MacArthur, Grabovski, Kulemin combination is the 5th most productive set trio in the NHL.  Maybe THAT is part of the reason Ron Wilson doesn't want to break the trio up - if he screws with that sort of chemistry, then what's left on the Leafs offensively?

The main problem with the Leafs is a complete lack of production from the rest of the forwards.  Kessel's production has nose-dived, Kris Versteeg isn't scoring unless he's on the point on the power play, and Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri are struggling with their first few forays into the NHL still.  This is a very young team, but there are PARTS of it that are working quite well.  The MGK line is one of them.

I'm not sure how long the combination lasts, but for now, they're one of the best in the league.  Don't forget that the next time you watch them skate around the ice.  They may be getting 2nd line matchups, but that won't last if they keep producing.  I'm still wondering if more 1st line PP time would up their production further, but we'll have to see what happens on that front.

Another thing I think people may not realize looking at these stats is that very few teams use fixed lines in the NHL.  When fans complain about Ron Wilson blending and mixing his lines, he actually does it far LESS than many coaches around the league.  The combination of lines Sidney Crosby plays on have over 50 points at even strength, but no set line he plays on has over 35 points when you combine both their PP and ES numbers.  Set lines are nice if you can get them going, but that appears to be a rarity.  The San Jose and Washington top lines seem quite set, and they produce at an extremely high rate.  That being said, many other effective teams that produce well offensively, don't get a huge amount of offense from one single line.  Philadelphia has a line that's great at ES in the Briere, Hartnell, and Leino line, but that trio almost never plays together on the PP.  For that reason, I'm not sure keeping a fixed group together on the PP makes a lot of sense.

Perhaps the Leafs need to put Kessel out with Grabovski, Kulemin, Kaberle and Versteeg on the PP, and then let Bozak, MacArthur, and Kadri play with Phaneuf and Beauchemin on the 2nd PP unit.  That to me would probably increase the PP production from the first group.  It's just an idea, and I'm not sure it'll make a huge difference, but I'd like to see them try and mix it up a bit.

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