Record: 23-46-11 and dead last in the Norris Division. 11 points out of the playoffs. Worst record in the Clarence Campbell Conference and 20th out of 21 teams overall.
Special Teams: 18.1 PP% (16th); 77.5 PK% (20th)
GF: 241 (18th)
GA: 318 (20th)
1990 First Draft Choice: (D) Drake Berehowsky 10th overall
Best Prospect at the time: (D) Matt Martin - currently playing for the dominant Maine Black Bears in the NCAA
Coach: Doug Carpenter was fired after a 1-9-1 start and Tom Watt was hired.
GM: Floyd Smith
Toronto began the year on a 7 game winless streak (losing 6 and tying 1). Sadly that wasn’t even their worst slump of the season, because in January, the Leafs went on a 10 game winless skid (0-6-4). They never won more than 2 games in a row and their best period was a 7 game stretch where they went 4-1-2.
Vincent Damphousse lead the team in scoring with 26g and 73pts in 79gp. He was 34 points ahead of the team’s 2nd highest scorer (Mike Krushelnyski). Once a highly popular prospect, 22 year old (RW) Daniel Marois disappointed following a 39 goal sophomore season to just 21 goals in 90-91. He and Damphousse were the only Leafs to crack 20 goals. Fan favourite Wendel Clark missed 17 games and only chipped in with 18 goals and 34 points. Toronto did get some offence from the blueline. Dave Ellett, captain Rob Ramage and Michel Petit combined for 17 goals and 101 points.
Defensively, the team allowed 7+ goals in a game 11 times. Toronto started the 90-91 season in Winnipeg as part of a 3 game, western Canadian road trip and lost 7-1. In fact, the Leafs were outscored 14-4 on the trip. The worst loss over the course of the year was an 11-4 beating in Pittsburgh.
The Leafs played 4 goalies during the season with 21 year old Peter Ing leading the way (56gp). Not surprisingly, the youngster was crushed and suffered a 3.84GAA and a deplorable .883SV. The formerly reliable Allen Bester only played 6 games and clearly had trouble, as his 4.36GAA and .860SV prove. He was traded to Detroit at midseason.
Floyd Smith tried everything he could to find a winning lineup. Perhaps too hard. Smith made 13 trades during the 90-91 season! The most significant trades were:
Getting forward Krushelnyski for (C) John McIntyre. Krusher was a former 40 goal scorer and 3-time Stanley Cup champion, but he was also 30 years old. He basically finished his career in Toronto. McIntyre was a 21 year old prospect that didn’t really pan out.
Trading 24 year old goal scorer (C) Ed Olczyk and veteran (LW) Mark Osborne to Winnipeg for (D) Dave Ellett and (LW) Paul Fenton. Olczyk had scored 112 goals and 253 points during his 3 years in Toronto and was traded a month into the 90-91 campaign. Osborne had scored 20+ goals in 2 of his 3 seasons in Toronto. Eddy ‘O’ played 5 seasons in Winterpeg and was nearly a point a game player for the Jets. Fenton only played one year in Toronto while Ellett would play the next 7 seasons. Swing a miss for the Leafs GM here.
Dealing former 1st round pick, (LW) Scott Pearson, plus a 2nd round pick in both the ‘91 and ‘92 drafts to Quebec for 27 games of 31 year old winger Aaron Broten, a season of 33 year old (C) Lucien DeBlois and a season of former 11th overall pick and 26 year old defenceman, Michel Petit. Neither pick the Leafs gave up turned into NHL players. Pearson had a 10 year career as a journeyman.
Giving Buffalo (D) Brian Curran and (LW) Lou Franceschetti for former 40 goal scorer and veteran (RW) Mike Foligno. But at 32 years of age, Foligno was already far removed from his best playing days. At least Foligno would still have a little magic in him and play the next 2.5 years for the Buds.
Trading (D) Tom Kurvers for (C) Brian Bradley. Smith had already paid a huge price for Kurvers and then let him go to Vancouver after only 89 games in a Leafs sweater. Bradley did little in his brief time in Toronto before being picked up by the Lightning in the expansion draft and scoring a career best 42 goals in 92-93. Another misjudgement by Smith.
Probably the biggest trade of the season for the Leafs was sending 24 year old (D) Al Iafrate to Washington for (C) Peter Zezel and (D) Bob Rouse. Zezel was a local kid coming home. He was a great faceoff man and a good checker but with little offence. Rouse was another veteran and played as a defensive defenseman. Iafrate was the Leafs 1st pick, 4th overall in 1984 and he was coming off a 21 goal season when Smith dealt him away in January of 1991. Iafrate was only 24 years old, he was a big, powerful man with speed and a huge shot. This makes at least 3 bad trades for Smith in one season.
The theme throughout Floyd Smith’s dealings in 90-91 was trading youth for experience. A VERY common theme for many Toronto GMs over the years. He paid the price and was fired in June 1991.
Getting some goaltending was the big off-season need.