1992 Was The Best Season For ALL LEAFS?

Mats Sundin had a career year in 1992-93 - and so did a lot of other Leafs - Bruce Bennett

No seriously... not just for the guys on the Leafs in 1992-93... it was the best season for 22 Former and Future Leafs too.

Ok - so in doing research for another posting on goaltending (which will come down the pipeline later this weekend) I noticed something rather alarmingly odd. See - I noticed that Felix Potvin had the best Leaf's season in goal since 1984 (when Save Percentage first became a recorded stat by the NHL) in the 1992-93 Conference Finals - Kerry Fraser hands things to Gretzky - season.

While noticing that Potvin was the best Leafs goalie in the past 28 years, I then noticed that the only goalie better than him in 1992-93 was... Curtis Joseph... with the best statistical season of his career - for the St. Louis Blues - who Potvin and the Leafs would top in the Norris Division Finals. Then I scrolled down a bit to see what other goalies had top seasons in 1992-93 statistically. Who should top the list? Ed Belfour? Of Chicago? Who had HIS best statistical season in a 43 win Vezina Trophy winning season. That would be the team that St. Louis beat out in the opening round of the playoffs before losing to the Leafs.

So I stopped and thought for 10 seconds about the fact that Doug Gilmour had his highest point total in 1992-93 with 127 points, and then remembered that Dave Andreychuk had his highest goal and point total in 1992-93 with 54 and 99 points respectively (I made sure to check all these numbers and years with hockey-reference.com). So I started to think - what about other former Leafs of the past 28 years? How did they do in 1992-93.

So I started to check, and it got weirder and weirder the more names I looked up. Seriously, the 1992-93 All-Star team of past Leafs is an insane collection of names and results. Here's a listing of the frankly amazing seasons posted in 1992-93 by Former Leafs. As I went further down the NHL point ranking list I stopped adding names after we were out of the top 100 unless they posted a career high.

NHL Scoring Rk Player Age Tm GP G A PTS Career high
7 Doug Gilmour* 29 TOR 83 32 95 127 Pts
8 Alexander Mogilny 23 BUF 77 76 51 127 Goals/Pts
11 Mats Sundin* 21 QUE 80 47 67 114 Goals/Pts
21 Ron Francis* 29 PIT 84 24 76 100
22 Dave Andreychuk 29 TOT 83 54 45 99 Goals/Pts
24 Vincent Damphousse 25 MTL 84 39 58 97 Pts
25 Phil Housley 28 WIN 80 18 79 97 Pts
28 Kirk Muller 26 MTL 80 37 57 94 Goals/Pts
34 Robert Reichel 21 CGY 80 40 48 88 Goals
38 Steve Thomas 29 NYI 79 37 50 87 Pts
39 Brian Bradley 28 TBL 80 42 44 86 Goals/Pts
43 Larry Murphy* 31 PIT 83 22 63 85 Pts
53 Russ Courtnall 27 MNS 84 36 43 79 Goals
56 Gary Roberts 26 CGY 58 38 41 79
63 Owen Nolan 20 QUE 73 36 41 77
66 Derek King 25 NYI 77 38 38 76 Goals/Pts
67 Benoit Hogue 26 NYI 70 33 42 75 Goals/Pts
68 Eric Lindros 19 PHI 61 41 34 75
69 Joe Nieuwendyk* 26 CGY 79 38 37 75
70 Nikolai Borschevsky 28 TOR 78 34 40 74 Goals/Pts
85 Mike Gartner* 33 NYR 84 45 23 68
88 Al Iafrate 26 WSH 81 25 41 66 Goals/Pts
89 Dmitri Khristich 23 WSH 64 31 35 66
91 Glenn Anderson* 32 TOR 76 22 43 65
132 Sylvain Cote 27 WSH 77 21 29 50 Goals/Pts
163 Todd Gill 27 TOR 69 11 32 43 Pts
190 Mike Craig 21 MNS 70 15 23 38 Pts
229 Dmitry Yushkevich 21 PHI 82 5 27 32 Pts
262 Nick Kypreos 26 HAR 75 17 10 27 Goals/Pts
282 Bill Berg 25 TOT 80 13 11 24 Goals/Pts
326 Bryan Marchment 23 CHI 78 5 15 20 313 PIMS
592 Dallas Eakins 25 WIN 14 0 2 2 Pts

Look for yourselves and please note that the lineup constructed below is ONLY made up of players that had career highs in the 1992-93 season (with or without the Leafs). In order to entertain I have decided to organize this team into lines and defense pairings - largely based on their 1992-93 numbers:

S1 - Mogilny - Sundin - Thomas (160 goals, 328 pts)

S2 - Andreychuk - Gilmour - Borchevsky (120 goals, 300 pts)

S3 - Bradley - Damphousse - Courtnall (117 goals, 262 pts)

CH - Muller - Reichel - King (115 goals, 258 pts)

D1 - Murphy - Housley (40 goals, 182 pts)

D2 - Iafrate - Cote (46 goals, 116 pts)

D3 - Yushkevich - Gill (16 goals, 75 pts)

G - Joseph-Potvin-Belfour (95-61-27 record, .909 combined SV%)

Extra F - Hogue, Kypreos, Berg

Extra D - Marchment, Eakins

Sitting on the farm? Mike Craig

Just a further note on the goaltending analysis which led me to this initial search. In 1992-93 the average save percentage for a goalie that started 30+ gp was 0.885. That means the Leafs as a TEAM would have had goaltending that is 1.83 Standard Deviations above average. Just to illustrate how ridiculous that is for all 3 goalies, playing a total of 183 games, the equivalent last year would be having 3 goalies post a combined .935 SV%. - that being the number that was 1.83 Standard Deviations above the NHL average of .913 for goalies with 30+ gp. Only 2 NHL goalies posted a SV% over .935 last year, Cory Schneider and Brian Elliott and they played 33 and 38 games respectively. INSANE.

Seriously.... how the hell did the Leafs keep going back to the 1992-93 well on this for the next 20 years? It worked for a while but as we entered the post 2000 era it started to get a bit rocky as a method of picking players.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane - and ask yourselves - was there more to the Universe and Toronto that spring in 1992-93. It seems like some sort of bizarre sporting nexus where the Jays were winning world series, the Argos were doing well, the Raptors and TFC still weren't disappointing us with their failures, and yes... the Leafs of Past, Present, and Future were doing their damnedest to give us some semblance of hope. All of the players on this list have now retired, some are in the hockey hall of fame, and all of them need to get out of our heads. I know this strange search has basically spun me for a loop, so I hope I'm going to find some sort of closure through this weird look back at that season of hope... and hell.

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