Over the next couple days, I’m going to give a player by player analysis, with a brief summation of each Leaf’s stats, where he was effective (or in most cases, where he needs work), and whether or not I think he’ll be back in the lineup next season. Let’s jump right in.
Phil Kessel: 70 GP, 30-25-55, -8, 21 PIM
After becoming the first 30-goal scorer in a Leaf uniform since Mats Sundin, Kessel is clearly the most lethal offensive weapon on the team. Had he not missed the first twelve games of the season, and gone on a dismal scoring drought in the middle of the year, he could easily have finished with 40 or more goals. He led the team with 297 shots, tied for 7th in the league with Steven Stamkos. Leaf fans need to get over the draft picks given up for him. Kessel is a legitimate talent, and will be a crucial part of the rebuilding effort going forward.
Season Grade: B
Tyler Bozak: 37 GP, 8-19-27, -5, 6 PIM
One of the few bright spots on the team this year, Bozak was very impressive down the stretch. Not only did he play well when paired with Kessel and Kulemin, but he showed he could produce offense on the second line as well. His skill in the faceoff circle is also impressive, as he won 55.2% of the faceoffs he took, ranking him just behind Sidney Crosby. At just 165 lbs, Bozak’s’ biggest priority this offseason should be to add some size.
Season Grade: A
Nikolai Kulemin: 76 GP, 16-20-36, Even, 16 PIM
A restricted free agent, I’ll be very disappointed if Kulemin isn’t re-signed by the Leafs. There’s been talk that he might be looking to head to Russia, but I don’t see Burke letting him walk unless his price tag is way too high. After a solid rookie year last year, Koolie got off to a bit of a slow start, but finished the year very strong, scoring 15 of his 36 points in the last 6 weeks of the season. Had he gotten top line minutes all year long, his totals would probably have been even better.
Season Grade: B-
Mikhail Grabovski: 59 GP, 10-25-35, +3, 10 PIM
The 3rd highest paid forward on the team, Grabbo missed 25 games in the middle of the season with a broken wrist, and probably would have missed more if not for the Olympic break. His speed and puck handling are both very good, but they need to be channeled better – finding the proper linemates would probably help that dramatically. If you project his numbers onto a full NHL season, he’d probably have around 15 goals and be sniffing 50 points, not terrible numbers for a 2nd or 3rd line center, but at $2.9 mil a year, he’s gotta be doing more than sniffing.
Season Grade: C+
Christian Hanson: 31 GP, 2-5-7, -2, 16 PIM
Despite an impressive first half in the AHL, (31 points in 38 games), Hanson struggled to score at the professional level, and 3 of his 7 points came in the season finale against Montreal. Unless something dramatically changes over the offseason, Hanson’s best role next year will be that of a checking forward, assuming of course that Burke re-signs him.
Season Grade: Probably should be a D, but we’ll give him a C just cuz of his awesome name -”I’m listening to the fuckin’ song!”
Viktor Stalberg: 40 GP, 9-5-14, -13, 30 PIM
After lighting it up in the preseason, Stalberg had a pretty disappointing rookie year. He bounced back and forth between the Marlies and the Leafs for most of the year, but came on strong at the end, scoring 7 of his goals and 11 of his points after the Olympic break. If he can continue that success next year, he’ll be a valuable asset, but if it takes him 4 months to get going every year, he won’t have a very long career.
Season Grade: D
Jamie Lundmark: 15 GP, 1-2-3, -1, 16 PIM
Picked up off waivers in February, not much was expected of Lundmark, as he was more of a fill-in than anything else. An unrestricted free agent, I doubt Burke will re-sign him. He’s never played more than 70 games in a season, and his highest point totals came in 2005-06, when he scored 10 goals in 29 points in 53 games with three different teams.
Season Grade: C-
John Mitchell:60 GP, 6-17-23, -7, 31 PIM
A restricted free agent this summer, Mitchell might end up back in Toronto simply because I doubt anyone else will be banging down his door to sign him. I’ve never been a big fan of his, and this year did little to help his case. he got chances to play with just about every line combination, and was unable to produce effectively at any point in the season. He’s not bad in the faceoff circle, but he’s not good enough to earn a roster spot on that merit alone. I could see him ending up back with the Marlies next year if enough of the youngsters play well at camp.
Season Grade: D-
Luca Caputi: 19 GP, 1-5-6, Even, 10 PIM
Picked up from Pittsburgh in exchange for Alexei Ponikarovsky, Caputi showed a lot of the grit and tough play that Brian Burke wants to see out of this young team. He showed a knack for getting to the front of the net, and despite weighing just 184 lbs, showed no fear when battling in the corners and tough areas on the ice. An offseason of NHL workouts should do him a world of good, and Caputi is definitely a player the Leafs are hoping turns out to be a legitimate talent.
Season Grade: C+
Colton Orr: 82 GP, 4-2-6, -4, 239 PIM
The only Leaf forward to play every game, Colton Orr did everything he was supposed to do this year. For the first time since the days of Tie Domi, he gave the Leafs an enforcer that actually made guys think twice about dropping the gloves. His battles with Matt Carkner were great, and brought a whole different level to the Battle of Ontario this year. I hated the guy when he was on the Rangers, but he was one of my favorite Leafs this year. He has a bit of trouble controlling himself and can take some bad penalties, but his 26 fighting majors this year ranked him among the league’s most active fighters. Truculence, indeed.
Season Grade: A
Wayne Primeau: 59 GP, 3-5-8, -1,35 PIM
A veteran grinder brought in last season, I’d be surprised if Primeau is back next year. He was solid in the faceoff circle and did a decent job, relatively speaking, killing penalties, but his age and lack of speed don’t fit in too well with the way the franchise is headed.
Season Grade: D+
Rickard Wallin: 60 GP, 2-7-9, -7, 20
OK, for starters, I never really liked Wallin, so he was on a short leash to begin with. But was there a more useless player in the league this year? He didn’t play physical enough to be a solid defensive forward, he wasn’t good enough to be a playmaker, and he certainly didn’t score goals, so what was it that he did exactly? I know for some reason, he got alot of minutes killing penalties, leading the team, actually, but I’m not really sure why. He was on the ice for 25% of the powerplay goals scored against the Leafs, which I suppose isn’t terrible, considering the amount of PK time he logged, but with the struggles the Leafs had in killing penalties this year, it would have been nice to see someone besides arguably the worst player on the team out there.
Season Grade: F
Fredrik Sjostrom: 19 GP, 2-3-5, -4, 4 PIM
Kind of the anti-Wallin here, Sjostrom is a defensive specialist that Burke apparently had to have as part of the Phaneuf trade. A quick skater that doesn’t shy away from physical play and is very capable on the penalty kill, Sjostrom should be a major part of what I hope will be a fully re-vamped PK next season. At $750,000 a year, Sjostrom may be one of the best bang-for-his-buck players on the squad.
Season Grade: B+
Guys like Brayden Irwin, Jay Rosehill and Nazem Kadri all made appearances but didn’t really play enough to get a feel for how they contributed. Obviously a lot of work to do up front, so there will be no shortage of speculation and suggestions from Leaf Nation about the direction Burke takes with his forwards this offseason.
Topics: Christian Hanson, Colton Orr, Fredrik Sjostrom, Jamie Lundmark, John Mitchell, Luca Caputi, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel, Rickard Wallin, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg, Wayne Primeau