Toronto Maple Leafs: Scoring By Committee Can Get Them Into The Playoffs

Drew WestCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2010

With the Kaberle fiasco finally over and done with, we now have a much clearer picture of what the Leafs top six forward group will look like for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. While most hockey fans will say the Leafs will be one of the worst offensive teams in the league, I'm not so pessimistic.

Not all successful teams in the NHL have a top forward line consisting of Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Ovechkin, or Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Marleau. Some teams are built without superstars, and rely on many "decent" players to contribute 15-25 goals a season.

Although this type of roster isn't built to win game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, it can at least be a formula to stay competitive night in and night out. As Montreal showed last season, the playoffs are unpredictable and there is always a chance that the underdog can upset a top team.

After doing a little research, there seemed to be a large amount of "offensively challenged" teams who made it in the playoffs or missed out by only a few points last season. These teams either suffered key injuries, had underachieving star players, or simply didn't have the budget to sign top level talent.

Below is a list of teams who had to rely on scoring by committee to be competitive last season. Listed for each team are their top six forwards from last season and their respective statistics.

I have also included a comparison to the Toronto Maple Leafs projected top six forward group, along with what I think these Leafs players can contribute in 2010-2011.

It should be mentioned that some of these players did not score all of their goal/point totals with their current team, so the numbers are not 100 percent accurate. Although, we are only talking one or two players here so the numbers are still quite representative of the actual totals from these respective top six groups.


Toronto Maple Leafs - Projected Totals For 2010-2011 Season

Kesssel - 40 G, 68 P

Versteeg - 24 G, 53 P

Bozak - 15 G, 50P

Kulemin - 21 G, 41 P

Grabovski - 18 G, 40 P

Armstrong - 17 G, 35 P

Total = 135 Goals, 287 Points


Pheonix Coyotes - Fourth in the Western Conference

Wolski - 23 G, 65 P

Doan - 18 G, 55 P

Lombardi - 19 G, 53 P

Stempniak - 28 G, 48 P

Vrbata - 24 G, 43 P

Upshall - 18 G, 32 P

Total = 130 Goals, 296 Points


Boston Bruins - Sixth in the Eastern Conference

Bergeron - 19 G, 52 P

Krejci - 17 G, 52 P

Recchi - 18 G, 43 P

Wheeler - 18 G, 38 P

Sturm - 22 G, 37 P

Ryder - 18 G, 33 P

Total = 119 Goals, 299 Points


Nashville Predators - Seventh in the Western Conference

Sullivan - 17 G, 51 P

Hornqvist - 30 G, 51 P

Erat - 21 G, 49 P

Arnott - 19 G, 46 P

Dumont - 17 G, 45 P

Legwand - 11 G, 27 P

Total = 115 Goals, 269 Points


Colorado Avalanche - Eighth in the Western Conference

Stastny - 20 G, 79 P

Stewart - 28 G, 64 P

Duchene - 24 G, 55 P

Hejduk - 23 G, 44 P

Galiardi - 15 G, 39 P

Mueller - 13 G, 37 P

Total = 123 Goals, 316 Points


New York Rangers - Ninth in the Eastern Conference

Gaborik - 42 G, 86 P

Prospal - 20 G, 58 P

Jokinen - 15 G, 50 P

Dubinsky - 20 G, 44 P

Callahan - 19 G, 37 P

Drury - 14 G, 32 P

Total = 130 Goals, 307 Points


St. Louis Blues - Ninth in the Western Conference

McDonald - 24 G, 57 P

Backes - 17 G, 48 P

Oshie - 18 G, 48 P

Steen - 24 G, 47 P

Perron - 20 G, 47 P

Boyes - 14 G, 42 P

Total = 117 Goals, 289 Points


Surprising isn't it? The Leafs could be above or right on par with these team next season in the scoring department.

Judging by these totals, there is no reason to think the Leafs can't make a serious run at the playoffs this coming season. Some may not agree with my projected goal/point totals for the Leafs' top six group, but I think these numbers are on the conservative side if they can stay healthy.

If Phil Kessel or Kris Versteeg suffer season ending injuries, the Leafs will be in some trouble and this theory flies right out the door. But judging by the history of our top six forward group, not one player is extremely injury prone.

If Burke can sign Raffi Torres (which it sounds like he is about to do) to play on the Leafs' third line, this is a player who can step into a second line role if needed and put up numbers similar to Colby Armstrong.

We also can't forget our favourite Leafs prospect, Nazem Kadri. Kadri is a bit of a wild card at this point and may need some time in the AHL before being able to produce consistently in the National Hockey League. He may also be able to step into a top six role if Bozak or Grabovski suffer from injury, and produce at a similar rate as these players.

So hopefully this sheds some positivity for Leafs fans that all hope is not lost with our current forward group. Who knows, Burke could still pull off a move this summer that will make our team better, getting us progressively closer to a playoff spot in 2011.


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