If you missed part one of this two-part mini-series, you can read it here.
Going into the 2010-2011 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ offense wasn’t expected to produce very many goals. However, while the Leafs didn’t exactly fill the net, they did do much better than many people expected they would.
With two 30-goal scorers and another two 20-goal scorers, the Leafs weren’t short on offensive production from their top-six. While another asset or two still needs to be added to the Leafs’ top two lines, there is a lot of promise for next season.
Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur all had career years.
Kulemin, 24, scored 30 goals and 27 assists for a total of 57 points. Unlike years past, we saw Kulemin use his impressive shot and 6’1″, 229-pound frame to his advantage, as many of his goals came from going right to net.
Grabovski, meanwhile, improved at the faceoff dot; something that he really struggled with in 2009-2010. His 29 goals blew his previous career-high of 20 out of the water, while his 58 points were second on the team to only Kessel and MacArthur.
Playing on a one-year contract that was barely worth more than $1 million, MacArthur may have been the biggest surprise of the Leafs’ season aside from James Reimer. The 26-year-old scored 21 goals, 41 assists and 62 points, which is four goals, 27 assists and 31 points more than his previous career-highs.
Phil Kessel managed to score more goals this season (32) than he did last season (30). However, he did play in 12 more games. So all in all, Kessel didn’t really improve on his first season as a Leaf; one might even say that his production declined.
But those four weren’t the only Leafs forwards who produced a good amount of offense.
Kris Versteeg supplied 14 goals and 21 assists in 53 games with the Leafs before he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. That trade turned out to be a good one for the Leafs, as Versteeg’s streaky offense was replaced by Joffrey Lupul.
In 54 games, Lupul scored a total of 14 goals and 17 assists. In 28 games with Toronto, Lupul scored nine goals and nine assists.
Lastly is Tyler Bozak, who, no matter what he did or tried, was never able to dig himself out of a huge hole. The 25-year-old finished with 15 goals, 17 assists and a minus-29 rating.
Although Kessel and Bozak still struggled, the Leafs’ top-six group was relatively solid. If Kulemin and Grabovski continue to improve, MacArthur duplicates his 2010-2011 campaign and the Leafs add another impact player in there, and the Leafs should be a good offensive team.
The power play─a very important part to being successful in the NHL─also improved. The Maple Leafs finished with a 16 percent success rate, which is two percent better than last year’s success rate.
Despite having so many 30- and 20-goal scorers, as well as an improved power play, the Leafs managed to score an average of just 2.60 goals per game, which was 21st in the NHL. Perhaps that average would be a little higher if they drove to the net a little more than they did.
The Leafs were 5th in the league in average shots per game with 32.6. Generally, a team that leads the league in shots would be near the top of the league in goals.
With some adjustments and improved play, that might just be where the Leafs are next season when it comes to goals.
But not in the standings… yet.
Follow me on Twitter @LukasHardonk for more Maple Leafs coverage.