Clarke MacArthur Is Challenging Phil Kessel as the Toronto Maple Leafs' Sniper

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IOctober 16, 2010

TORONTO - OCTOBER 7: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens during a regular season NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre October 7, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

There is a new sniper in Toronto, at least for now.

Twenty-five-year-old Clarke MacArthur has been scoring at a rapid pace this season, with five goals in four games. That is one more goal than $5.4 million man Phil Kessel, and the two have the same amount of points, with six.

So is Clarke MacArthur the new Phil Kessel? Can he score 30-plus goals this season?

MacArthur is no stranger to quick starts. The former Sabre began last season by scoring four goals in his first six games, but finished with 16 in 81 games. The season before, he began by scoring three goals in his first six games, but finished with 17 in 71 games.

So with Thursday night's home game against the New York Rangers shaping up to be his sixth game, the question must be asked: can he keep it up?

The answer: Yes.

In each of his four games, MacArthur has skated on the second line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, both of whom seem to be finding their way this season as well. MacArthur praised Grabovski and Kulemin for their willingness to get into the corners and do the dirty work, while feeding him the puck.

With linemates like that and boatloads of confidence, MacArthur could easily score 25-30 goals for the first time in his National Hockey League career. If that happens, general manager Brian Burke will be praised for his work in signing MacArthur to a $1.1 million contract after he was awarded $2.4 million by an arbitrator.

Kessel, meanwhile, has been playing on the top line with Kris Versteeg and Tyler Bozak. If Kessel, Versteeg and Bozak can find their way, which they appeared to do in a 4-3 overtime win on Friday night against the Rangers, the spotlight probably won't shine on MacArthur as much as it is now.

That being said, it's improbable that MacArthur will become as good a goal scorer as Phil Kessel.

What do you think? With Clarke MacArthur finish the season with more goals than Phil Kessel?

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