Toronto Maple Leafs: Clarke MacArthur Undoubtedly Deserves a Contract Extension

Jon NeelyAnalyst IFebruary 4, 2011

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

He was signed to a one-year contract by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the offseason, and given the season to show what he was capable of. Some questioned what his role would be on the team and if he really could be effective for the club. 

It was essentially a one-year tryout.

After just 51 games there is no longer any doubt. Clarke MacArthur deserves to get a contract extension. 

It's no secret that he's already far exceeded his previous career high in points, and well on his way to doing so with goals. As a member of the Buffalo Sabres in 2008-09 he recorded 17 goals and 31 points in 71 games. 

This season with the Leafs, in just 51 games he has 16 goals and 42 points. 

He leads the team in points, after coming into the season with second-line expectations at best. He has been, quite simply, the most pleasant surprise over the duration of the season for the team—though a certain 22-year-old goalie is currently taking a run at his spot. 

MacArthur deserves a new contract. There are no questions remaining about his game, no questions about whether he can play at a high level over the duration of a season. He's showing that given the right opportunity he can play some seriously good hockey. 

Toronto was his opportunity, and he took it and ran with it. 

But it's not just his point production that makes him worthy of some cash heading his way, it's his chemistry with his linemates. He stepped into the lineup and since Day 1, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin have been better players. 

Whether it's him influencing them or them influencing him, it doesn't matter. They make each other better players, which, in case you've been dark-tinted glasses for the past, um, while in Toronto, that hasn't happened a whole lot. 

The most common expression used to describe the Leafs is that they will not be successful until they find someone to play with Phil Kessel. Just like they needed someone to play with Mats Sundin. 

Same old, same old.

But for once, it seems, the Leafs have found someone that stepped onto the ice and clicked instantly with his fellow linemates. The trio may not have been considered top-six forwards at the start of the campaign, but by how efficient they've been as a line thus far, there is no doubt at this point. 

They've shown they can hang with the big boys. And they're putting up big boy numbers, sitting one, two, and three in points on the team. 

It's not only MacArthur having a career year. Grabovski's 21 goals and 39 points and Kulemin's 17 goals and 36 points have them at, or higher then they've had before. 

That chemistry the three have shown together is not something to be messed with. The Leafs can't afford to break it up. I mean, come on, the trio bought matching energy bracelets. 

Now that's chemistry. 

Using him as trade bait might garner something nice in return, but it may also ruin the camaraderie that he has with his cohorts. And why try and trade away your most productive offensive player when you're looking for offensive help?

Rumour has it that his two new pals are trying to convince MacArthur to join them out in California in the offseason to train. The fact that they've become friends off the ice, as well as the best line for the Leafs on it, means something.

This line could be a huge success for years to come in Toronto. 

When it comes to Brian Burke's to-do list this season, atop it should sit re-signing MacArthur. He walked in as a giant question mark, with Burke taking a chance on the player that Atlanta walked away from. 

He stands now as one of the most important players on the team, and the Leafs can't afford to lose him.

The tryout is over. Clarke MacArthur deserves a contract extension. 


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