It's been a horrific year for the Leafs in so many ways. It's been a wonderful year in so few. Let's get the good out of the way first shall we?
1. Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, and Clarke MacArthur look like an actually good to great 2nd line in the NHL... they're almost an ok 1st line, but frankly this says a lot about the lack of production from elsewhere on the team.
2. Luke Schenn took a step back in his sophomore season, but he's returned to decent growth in year 3. He's looking like a solid rock on the blue line for years to come.
3. The Leafs actually have depth in the prospect pool after years of unsustainable craptitude. The Leafs actually have 3 minor league goalies that look like they may develop into NHL goalies. They also have 4 or 5 solid D prospects that may yet become viable NHLers. Unfortunately the forward prospect group look like a crap-basket full of 3rd or 4th liners right now.
4. Phil Kessel was good in year 1, and great to start year 2 in blue... then he hit the skids, but we know he'll come back eventually... right?
5. Francois Beauchemin is doing just enough to earn his salary and at the same time invites trade speculation. Here's hoping if we do move him we get a solid piece in return.
6. The last Leaf to win a Stanley Cup - Kris Versteeg - looks like he has some game, but might want some help with that +/- he's sporting.
Now the Negatives:
1. The PK. Blame Ron Wilson, blame bad goaltending, blame the skaters, blame Keith Acton, blame whoever you want... but finishing dead last in the NHL last year, and sitting near the back of the pack again this season really does warrant a big ole "what the f*ck are you guys doing?" from the barilkosphere.
2. J.S. Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson have grown progressively worse as the 2010-11 season has moved forwards. Giguere is perpetually injured, and Gustavsson is still not ready to carry the mail as the Leafs starter. This team needs help in net, but at this point it isn't looking like there's any on the immediate horizon.
3. The team's 3rd and 4th lines. They don't win face-offs. They don't score goals. They don't fight. They can't seem to keep the puck out of the net. What the hell are they doing exactly? Sucking... that's what.
4. Ron Wilson's wardrobe. If Neil Diamond were in town this week for a Christmas Special, he would totally be raiding Wilson's closet for threads.
5. The Mike Komisarek, Brett Lebda, and Colby Armstrong contracts. They aren't really preventing us from doing anything at this point, but after the Jeff Finger situation, you'd think Brian Burke would have had his fill of horrible deals he can't possibly trade to another team. Armstrong is the only player of the group that's playing reasonably well... wtf can you get on a blue line for $6 mill? Oh... right... Dion Phaneuf... so much for that.
6. Phil Kessel's inability to score against the Boston Bruins. Maybe he's over it now that he's backed Tim Thomas into the net in the shootout, but I'd love to see him score a goal in regulation. Actually now that I think of it, I'd like to see him do that more in general, not just against Boston... beggars can't be choosers can we.
7. The complete inability of the MSM to assess the issues and strengths of this Leaf team. I'm sick of listening to the likes of Bill Watters denigrate the work of Mikhail Grabovski, or his worth to an NHL team. Colour commentary that provides unjustifiable rambling judgements, completely lacking in meaningful insight really needs to fade to black in the NHL.
8. Trading away Viktor Stalberg (6'3", 210 lbs), Jiri Tlusty (6', 209 lbs), and Phillipe Paradis (6'2", 212 lbs). I'm not suggesting any of the aforementioned forwards would find huge success on the Leafs, but considering all we got in exchange for those 3 youngsters is Kris Versteeg (5'10", 179 lbs), I'm wondering why we're dealing away young forwards with size for small forwards with skill. I don't disagree with the need for skill, but obviously size is an issue also. I may be alone on this one, but in hindsight it's looking like a bit of a net loss.
I'm sure I've missed some of my favourite saws, but that's what the comment section is for.