Photo of the Leafs kicking ass from Getty Images.
This fanpost is a player-by-player set of predictions for how the current Maple Leafs roster will fare next year. It's based partially on player histories, information I've gathered from reading this blog and other blogs, my own personal hunches, and just plain guessing.
Please feel free to post your own predictions and comment on mine below.
Tyler Bozak - 12 G, 26A
I think Bozak's production will decline as he spends more time in on the 3rd line. To be honest, I dont even think he stays with the Leafs. Assuming he does, I see Connolly taking over his role as 1st line center.
Mike Brown - 5G, 6A
Not that interesting of a case. I think Mike Brown will have a normal year for Mike Brown.
Tim Connolly - 17G, 35A
A healthy Connolly finds his playmakers touch on the Kessel-Lupul line and becomes the low end #1 centre on the Leafs that we thought he could be when we signed him.
Mikhail Grabovski - 30G, 31A
Grabbo puts up 30 because he has the skill to do it, and clicks on the line with MacArthur and JVR for one of the best 2nd lines in the NHL. Grabbo is sick.
Nazem Kadri - 20G, 17A
In a full season with the big club, Kadri will prove that he can score frequently at this level on a sheltered scoring line, on the wing. He also becomes more defensively responsible - a Kulemin type with more natural scoring ability.
Phil Kessel - 35G, 28A
The easiest prediction of all is putting Kessel at 30+ goals each season. I think he regresses a bit from last year as Lupul comes back down to earth and his line shares more time with the Grabovski line. Still the best player on the Leafs by far.
Nikolai Kulemin - 16G, 24A
Kulemin has a bounce back year from a tough 2011-2012. Playing on a sheltered scoring line, he will continue to bring hard checking to the corners and good defensive play while his numbers get a little better compared to last year.
Matthew Lombardi - 17G, 30A
I think matthew Lombardi could have a great bounce back year after a tough season where he didn't seem to find his stride. He looked good in the first game against Montreal but just became ineffective as the season wore on. These numbers are projected over 82 games, but I doubt he plays close to that because there is no space on this roster for him. With injuries, he should be able to slot into the 1st line center role and replace Connolly pretty smoothly.
Joffrey Lupul - 19G, 30A
I think Lupul starts off the season matching his pace from last year but begins to slow as the year goes on. I don't see him sustaining the level of play he had this year because of the more responsible system I expect the Leafs to be forced to play under Carlyle.
Clarke MacArthur - 15G, 28A
I think MacArthur has proven to be a streaky goal scorer in the past and I see him being snakebit this upcoming year. However he will be playing on a pretty strong line and will put up the assists to show it.
Jay McClement - 4G, 9A
For all the hoopla surrounding McClement as a 3rd line centre I think it's pretty obvious that he slots in on the 4th line. How was management supposed to justify a 1.5M 4th line centre? But he was the man that Carlye wanted, so the Leafs paid a premium to get him. I think he will spend valuable minutes on the PK but wont put up many points doing it.
David Steckel - 4G, 5A
I think Steckel showed that he can be a decent 4th line centre in his time on the Leafs last season. I expect that he will split time with McClement as per injuries, or will get slotted in on his wing depending on day-to-day stuff. I think its pretty clear that Carlyle wants to give the spot to McClement rather than Steckel as of right now.
James van Riemsdyk - 23G, 30A
JVR shows chemistry with Grabbo, and the Leafs don't dream of putting him at centre again. This line is going to be lethal as long as JVR uses strength along the boards. I think he also contributes to the PP by being that big screen in front of the net.
Matt Frattin - 6G, 8A
Frattin slots in as a 4th line player, and a pretty damn good one. I think he can help the Brown/McClement line keep pressure out of our end with with his strong puck possession and ability to drive to the net. I think it becomes clear this season though that he doesn't have the skill to finish consistently at this level.
Leo Komarov - 4G, 4A
As the second or third option for the fourth line centre, I feel kinda bad for Leo Komarov as he will be spending a lot of time in the press box. I have seen some video of him and think it would be cool to see him on the 4th line with Frattin and Brown, but with the McClement signing, I doubt we will see it often.
Dion Phaneuf - 13G, 29A
I think Dion Phaneuf's offensive numbers on the PP will improve with a stronger powerplay, but that's about it. He will still eat up big minutes and perform wishy-washy on defensive responsibilities.
Carl Gunnarsson - 5G, 8A
We know what we have with Gunnarsson by now - a solid defenceman who will not put up big points. I think his defensive capabilities will be improved by working with Carlyle and he will see top pairing minutes for better or for worse.
Jake Gardiner - 8G, 15A
I think Jake struggles a bit to stay on the 2nd pairing this year - to be honest, I wasn't that impressed by his defensive play last season. I hope he can maintain his offensive production but we may be pinning too much expectation on this young star.
John-Michael Liles - 9G, 28A
I think JML proves that he is worth the money we shelled out for him last year (at least next season). Although he looked pretty bad after he came back from his concussion, he will have had a long while to rest up.
Cody Franson - 6G, 8A
Franson is a solid 3rd pairing defender and I don't think he should have been shuffled in and out of the lineup so much last year. Hopefully this season he will have the opportunity to prove his value as a 3rd pair defender who has some offensive upside with a strong shot.
Korbinian Holzer - 3G, 6A
I think Holzer has earned the opportunity to play on the big club both because of a lack of better defenders on the team and by some solid play for the Marlies. Truthfully, I don't know much about this player, so I'll just say he will make a good PKer.
Mike Komisarek - 2G, 4A
I think Komisarek has pretty consistently shown that he sucks and we can expect that from him again this year. I just don't think he has enough speed to bail himself out of questionable positioning, like a Gardiner might. I am pretty scared when he is on the ice and I hope he doesn't enter the season as our 7th d-man.
James Reimer - .906 SV%
I don't believe that Reimer will have a bounce back season. People often use his concussion/neck injury as an excuse for his poor play, but to be honest, he didn't look very good in the first few games of the season either. And in his first half season (2010-2011), his SV% trended downwards each month. I DO believe that Reimer is a league average goaltender, just not on a below league average team.
Ben Scrivens - .912SV%
I believe that Scrivens will establish himself as a superior goaltender to Reimer this season, eventually leading to a close to 60-40 split on starts, with Reimer getting the edge because he will start the majority of the games at the beginning of the season. However, I don't think Scrivens will play well enough or often enough to make the Leafs competitive.
For reference, these are the lines I think the leafs (should?) go with next year:
extras: lombardi, steckel, komarov
liles - gardiner
franson - holzer
So those are my predictions. What do you think?