Now for Part 2 of my common misconceptions revisited, I now look at the stats and compare them to some of the current Maple Leafs and see how they fared last year and what to expect from them this year. We’ll start with our current first line.
TYLER BOZAK and if he were to have played a full 82 game season last year he would have averaged 21 goals and 50 points as our first line center. Over the past 3 years he would have been considered, and I’m pretty sure it is a clear consensus in the hockey world that Bozak is a poor first line center. However, with his production he is a good 3rd line center and most of you would agree with me, you would much rather see him centering our third line than our first.
PHIL KESSEL and if he were to have played a full 82 game season he would have finished with a career year in 34 goals and 88 points. I would have expected him to finish the season closer to the 80 point range and a ppg average is what we come to expect from Phil the thrill. This puts him at elite status for a first line right winger in points and goals.
JAMES van RIEMSDYK played most of the season on the first line due in part to LUPULS injury. He would have finished the season with 31 goals and 55 points in his first season as a first line player. I expect some improvement in those stats this year as he is entering his prime, and I would be happy with him at least duplicating the year he had. He would have been an elite goal scorer and below average point getter for a first liner.
JOFFREY LUPUL In a short sample of a season due in part to injuries Lupul lit it up this year. If he would have kept the pace on an 82 game season he would have been a 50 goal scorer and led our team with 92 points. Would he have kept that up? Probably not. Is he injury prone? I seem to think so. If he comes in healthy and can play 50-60 games this season he will be very productive and help Kadri in his sophomore year on our second line. He would be considered an elite winger with the way he plays healthy, but with injuries and other factors he’s definitely one of the best second line wingers if he plays there this year as he could be back on the opposite wing as Kessel.
NAZEM KADRI came out of the gate flying; he died down towards the end of the season and seamed to show glimpses of greatness when playing with Kessel in the playoffs. He played sheltered minutes, and logged a lot of minutes with Lupul and JVR. He was on pace for 30 goals and 75 points which would make him a Good second line center and an average first line center (better than BOZAK that’s for sure.) Will he improve this season, I hope so as he’s playing his sophomore year in the NHL and hopefully isn’t hit with the same slump as some others in their 2nd full season in the NHL.
DAVID CLARKSONHe is pegged to play on the second line and give some energy and play in the dirty areas for Kadri and Lupul, or could be a great addition to our third line. He can score and was on pace for 26 goals in a full 82 games last season, however he was only going to score 41 points, for an average of a point every two games. This only puts him as a great third liner or an average second liner. As long as we do not expect the world of Clarkson, and take him for what and who he is, we will be happy with the results.
NIKOLAI KULEMIN had a decent and I would consider it a comeback season last year. He was on pace for 12 goals (a far cry from his 30 a few seasons ago) and 39 points. He logged a lot of time on the 3rd line and played some hard minutes for the buds this year. With comparing him to others of the same TOI/G and his production I would say he played as good as any third line player. He should have similar stats this year playing in the same role.
DAVE BOLLAND was one of the odd men out and was pushed down the depth chart in Chicago. I always liked Bolland and I’m glad he’s coming home to Toronto. He will probably get along better with Carlyle than Grabovski did, however, I consider him a down grade to the former. Last year he was on pace for 16 goals and 33 points which puts him between an average and poor 3rd line center. Hopefully he can stay healthy and improve on finding the net and not letting others find ours.
Now for the defenseman, I will do them in Pairs (or who I think should be consider, considering TOI/G and everything else.)
DION PHANUEF & CARL GUNNERSON is who I see as our top pairing. Dion logs big minutes and was on pace for 48 points and 15 goals, which seems to be where I will put him again this year. That is just under a top 10 defenseman, and I would consider him a good first pairing defenseman. Gunnerson, on the other hand is more defensive minder than offensive and this would be why his production is not as high. He was on pace for 33 points last year over an 82 game schedule and would put him between an average and poor first pairing defenseman. I don’t expect much better production out of Gunnersun, but I’ll be just happy watching him to the little things right and prevent goals.
CODY FRANSON & JAKE GARDINER is what I consider our second pairing. Franson logs minutes on our PP and gets a lot of his points 5 on 5. He had a career year in only 45 games played and was on pace for over 50 points which puts him in the top tier of production as a top pairing and he’s on our second. Gardiner on the other hand, suffered a concussion and was sin the proverbial dog house most of the year. He played like the Gardiner we saw in his rookie campaign in the play offs and was on pace for 27 points, however, I think he will eclipse his rookie mark and have a breakout season this year.
MARK FRASER & JM LILES are my guess as the two other guys playing with our top four. However, anything can change heading into training camp as FRANSON and KADRI are awaiting contracts and this could see any different combination on our third pairing. Fraser was on pace for 15 points and I would expect similar to less results this year, and would put him as an average 3rd pairing with some upside with his fighting skills and +/-. Lile’s however, seems to be the odd man out and hasn’t been the same since his concussion. He was on pace for 28 points and seems to be regressing each year. I expect the same or less of Liles is he stays healthy this year.
that’s how I see it and rank our current leafs. Comments and thoughts are welcome.