Toronto Maple Leafs 2011-2012 Report Cards: The Forwards
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
By Lukas Hardonk (@LukasHardonk)
Not one player on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ roster played like the other this season, whether it be for good or bad. That’s bound to happen, though, especially given the way the team performed over the course of the regular season.
Today, we begin a two-part series profiling each Leaf player who appeared in at least 20 games this season and ended it affiliated with the organization. As we take everyone back to elementary school, each player will be given a grade based on how they played.
Part one begins with the forwards. The second part, which you can look for on Friday, will consist of each Leaf defenceman and goalie. Keep in mind that the role of each player and their status (i.e. if the player was in their rookie season) are taken into consideration when deciding on a final grade.
Armstrong struggled mightily to remain healthy this season as he only managed to play in 29 games due to injury. Unlike seasons past, Armstrong wasn’t able to contribute much when healthy, either.
After a very poor 2010-2011 campaign, Bozak managed to rebound nicely this season in a top-six role that he was clearly more comfortable playing. Alongside Phil Kessel, Bozak had a large positive impact at both ends of the ice.
Brown, as he did one year prior, provided the energetic spark that the Leafs needed on many nights. His drive, willingness to compete and nastiness as a hockey player shone through once again as he proved to be a solid fourth line checker.
This season was nothing short of a disappointment for Tim Connolly. After signing a rather lucrative deal in the summer of 2011, he was expected to help Kessel to the 40-goal plateau. Instead, he wound up on the third line and in various trade rumours.
Crabb proved that he is deserving of a regular spot on the Leafs’ roster. He stuck in with the Leafs for 67 games this season in which he had 11 goals and 15 assists to go along with a plus rating. He’s undoubtedly one of the Leafs’ most underrated players.
Dupuis has become a somewhat forgotten player in Toronto, or at least with the Maple Leafs. His lack of both offensive a defensive contributions eventually landed him a spot with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies after recording no points in 30 games with the Leafs.
Similar to Jake Gardiner, Frattin surprised many people this season given the fact that he had played a limited amount of professional hockey in 2010-2011. He managed to record 15 points in 56 games this season and played a solid checking role among the bottom-six.
No one was entirely sure what to expect from Grabovski this season as he headed into a contract year, but he proved that the 2010-2011 season was no fluke by collecting 51 points in 74 games and leading the Leafs’ offence at times throughout the campaign.
Perhaps Kadri is the toughest player to evaluate given the fact that he was thrust into some awkward positions this season and never really had a chance to stick. Either way you look at it, he still has some developing to do and showed this season that he isn’t ready for a full-time NHL job.
It was a career year for Kessel, who, alongside Joffery Lupul, was half of one of the NHL’s most dynamic duos this season. The 24-year-old set career highs in goals (37), assists (45) and points (82). He didn’t reach the 40-goal plateau, but he had a very impressive season regardless.
Similar to Connolly, this season was a disappointing one for Nikolai Kulemin. He was expected to play a large part in the Leafs’ offensive success this season following a 30-goal campaign in 2010-2011, but he fell well short with just seven this season. It was his improved defensive play that keeps him above a D.
This hockey writer doesn’t see as much negative in Matthew Lombardi’s season as many others do. Despite a lack of offensive production, he still showed his speed and ability to play both the wing and centre, and played a role in the improvement of the Leafs’ PK. The only glaring negative: his minus-19 rating.
Not many people expected the type of production that Joffrey Lupul gave the Maple Leafs this season from him. A man whose career was in jeopardy not too long ago, Lupul exploded for 25 goals and 67 points in 66 games this season.
This season, MacArthur seemed to find a nice median between the career year he had last season and his previous career numbers. With 20 goals and 43 points, there is no debating the 27-year-old’s importance to this team offensively, while he wasn’t to shabby in his own end, either.
More of a gritty fourth line winger than anything else, Rosehill effectively did his job this season with 60 penalty minutes in 31 games. Given his role on the team, his lack of points─zero to be exact─is no concern whatsoever.
Steckel had a nice season at the faceoff dot where he finished with a success rate of 58 percent. Perhaps that is the biggest reason why he played so much shorthanded, where he led all Leaf forwards with 174:02 total minutes.
Lukas covers the Toronto Maple Leafs for The Hockey Guys. You can follow Lukas on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage and contact him at lukas.hardonk (at) gmail (dot) com.