Toronto Maple Leafs: Reachable Career Milestones in the 2010-2011 Season
Now that the preseason is over and a brand new regular season is just days away, the Toronto Maple Leaf players will collectively look towards a successful year culminating in a playoff birth in the spring or, depending on how you see it, yet another early end to the season with fans slowly withering away into depression as they do annually.
But let's look on the bright side for a few minutes.
A possible postseason birth isn't the only thing that will be accomplished in 2010-2011, as a few of the Leaf players will hit career milestones and achievements throughout the 82-game schedule. Whether it be goals, points, or games played, it may not be what they're focusing on when they hit the ice, but nonetheless it will be a point in their career they can be proud of.
Players like Tyler Bozak and Carl Gunnarsson will be looking to start off their careers with positive numbers while veterans like Tomas Kaberle-the longest serving Leaf on the roster-will be looking to continue the climb up the franchise lists.
The list isn't overwhelming, as the team is one of the youngest in the NHL, but those who have been around the block a few times have a chance to hit a mark they can tell their grandkids about one day. Or brag about in their tell-all book once they retire. Darcy Tucker, we're waiting.
We'll also take a look ahead at new Leafs who will make their first trip back to their old stomping grounds. Get ready to circle your calenders, Fredrick Sjostrom makes his much-anticipated return to Calgary.
The ridiculous nine-game preseason is over for the Leafs, the time for talking is over (well, the time for talking is never over in Toronto), and the games that count are so close you can taste them. Let's kick it off with a look at the milestones coming up for Leaf players this season.
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One of the newest members of the club, Colby Armstrong comes into this season with a chance to become an instant fan favourite in Toronto. Having spent three years with both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers before landing with the Leafs, Armstrong has had some strong numbers, and no doubt hopes he can have a breakout season with the blue and white.
He's played 360 games (181 in Pittsburgh, 179 in Atlanta) and with just 40 games this season he'll reach 400 in his career.
With 22 goals this year he will also reach 100 in his seventh NHL season. A reachable goal total, as he hit that number in 2008-2009 through 82 games.
He will reach 200 career points as well with a mere 22 points, which should happen before midway through the year.
He faces his old team for the first time on Dec. 20, 2010, in Toronto, and visits Atlanta on Jan. 7, 2011, to make his first appearance at his old home. As far as his old-old home in Pittsburgh, well, he'll visit the Penguins and his apparent BFF, Sidney Crosby, on Dec. 8.
The biggest thing on Mikhail Grabovski's mind this season should have nothing to do with career marks, and only about playing well on the ice; avoiding bar fights, practice fights, and any other fights that aren't the battle for the Leafs' goal scoring race.
But aside from that, he still can reach a minor career achievement for points, in that he is just eight points away from 100 in his not-much-of-a-career-yet.
If he stays out of trouble and out of Wilson's dog house this season, though, it will be a much bigger achievement than any career numbers he could possibly reach. Consider this the first day of the rest of your career, Grabo, don't screw it up.
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Phil Kessel will reach a few important marks in his career early this season, in just his fifth since he came into the league, a season that Leaf fans hope is his best yet.
Less than three weeks into the season Kessel will play in his 300th game (needing only eight games to reach that point), and the 22-year-old hopes to play a full season for the first time since 2008.
With four goals he'll reach 100 in his short career, averaging 24 goals in each of his first four seasons, but over 30 in his last two. With 19 points he'll also hit 200 career points.
If all things go according to plan, he should reach all three of them within the first few weeks of the season, earning him a few extra-loud ovations from the crowd, but Kessel more than anyone knows that in Toronto, the only thing on the fans' minds is "what have you done for me lately?"
Not much to write home about, but for Clarke MacArthur in his first season as a Leaf, he can hit the illustrious 100-point mark this season.
Coming in with 44 goals and 44 assists through 208 career games, MacArthur needs just 12 points to hit the mark. And as they always say, you have to get to 100 points before you can get to 1000.
Okay, no one says that, but it's true. Not that MacArthur will really ever have to worry about that.
Having spilt time with the Sabres and Thrashers last season, MacArthur will make his first appearance in Buffalo on Nov. 26, while arriving for the first time in Atlanta on Jan. 7, 2011.
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Registering just eight goals and 17 points over 327 career games, Colton Orr certainly won't be hitting any significant point plateaus this, or any season in the near future, but he could hit an impressive mark for players who are more inclined to his line of work: penalty minutes.
He amassed 239 PIMs last season in 82 games (the most in his career for any one season) and if he gets anywhere close to that this season, he'll pass the 1000 PIM mark. He needs just 212 this season to hit the mark, but with guys like Matt Carkner and Derek Boogaard making frequent visits, he should have little difficulty achieving this feat.
Also, if I may, Orr will have his greatest offensive season this campaign, as he has increased his point total by one the past two years. He will continue the trend, finishing the year with seven points.
I know, I'm a prediction guru. What can I say?
And for your viewing pleasure, the first time the Leafs play the Senators is on Saturday (Oct. 9) and they're in New York next Friday (Oct. 15) so we'll get our first look at the budding rivalry between Orr and Carkner, and the first chance to witness Orr vs. Boogaard (who have never fought in the NHL, only junior).
As a man who talks too much once said, "get your popcorn ready."
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Though he only appeared in 19 games with the Leafs last season, Fredrick Sjostrom is looked at as possibly the most important man on the PK (except for the goalies, of course). The first point he registers this season will be the 100th of his career.
Also, his 77th game of the season will be the 500th in the seventh season of his NHL career.
He will make his first trip back to Calgary on Dec. 16 while the team has their annual Western Canadian swing, though most fans probably won't have many memories of the Swedish winger, he only played 46 games with the Flames. He scored a grand total of one goal while there.
And something tells me there will be another former Flame in that game who might garner a bit more attention. Just a guess.
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He won't hit any major statistical numbers this season, as the last point he scored in the regular season a year ago was point 101 in his career, but it's worth mentioning him on this list anyway.
Though the Leafs don't make a trip down to the Windy City this season, the Chicago Blackhawks do make a trip up to Toronto on Mar. 5, 2011 for the two team's only matchup of the season. It will be the first time Versteeg plays against his old team, and no doubt will be looking to outplay his former teammates with whom he won the Stanley Cup.
He'll also be out to prove that the Hawks made a mistake in considering him as an expendable player in their salary cap troubles. Of course, the Hawks had no choice but to part ways with Versteeg during the off-season, and he knows that, but for the sake of Leaf fans, we'll pretend he has a chip on his shoulder.
That always makes for a better story.
He's the longest serving Maple Leaf on the current roster by a thousand miles, and Tomas Kaberle will hit a few substantial marks in his career this season if he stays healthy (and remains a member of the club, of course).
If he can avoid injury issues all together Kaberle will play his 900th game very late in the season. He comes into the year having played in 820 NHL games, all as a member of the blue and white-and having been yelled at to shoot in every single one of them by the paying faithful.
With 18 points he'll also hit the 500-point mark, which whether Leaf fans admit it or not, will make him one of the best defensemen to ever play in Toronto.
And if it's his last season as a Leaf, he has a chance to go out with a bang. But there's enough time to milk the Kaberle story to death this season, especially since Nazem Kadri is no longer in the picture, so that's enough about that.
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For six seasons he called Montreal home before coming to Toronto last season, but Mike Komisarek hopes his second year in Toronto goes a lot better than the first. He was only able to play in 34 games before injuries ended his season with just four assists in that time.
If he can stay healthy this year he could be a force with the Leafs, and just his fifth game of the young campaign will be number 400. That's all well and good, but the game Komisarek should be worried about is the next one, and no further than that.
He'll face his old team on opening night for the second season in a row, and hopefully this time around he doesn't kick things off with five minor penalties and 15 PIMs overall in the game. Generally he does more for the team on the ice rather than in the box.
The newest Leaf captain will begin his first full season as a member of the Leafs this season, and is looking to make a statement with a bounce-back campaign.
It would be ambitious to imagine Phaneuf scoring more than 20 goals this season (his career high being 20) but if he were to manage to do so and score 23, he would reach 100 for his career.
On Dec. 16 he will make his much anticipated return to Calgary for the first and only time this season, and there will no doubt be a media frenzy around that game. He left the Flames when the team essentially gave up on him. You can bet Phaneuf will be out to prove they made the wrong decision, and giving them a first-hand look will be that much sweeter for the gritty defender.
Or he'll pull a Phil Kessel and get booed off the ice in a pitiful return, having made no impact at all in his return. That's why we play the games, folks.
Jean Sebastien Giguere
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He'll start the season as the number one goalie for the Leafs, and J.S. Giguere hopes it will be a comeback year of sorts, as he looks to prove he can still be a starting goaltender in the NHL. With Jonas Gustavsson breathing down his neck, it's tough to predict how many games he'll start, but the eighth game he starts will be the 500th of his illustrious career.
He's a former Conn Smyth Trophy winner, and has a Stanley Cup ring to boot, but the only thing Giguere will be trying to do this season is leading the Leafs to the postseason for the first time since 2004.
And if you're one who cares deeply about completely meaningless milestones, sometime during the season Giguere will make save number 14,000. How nice.