It’s not for a lack of effort on his part, but Clarkson very much looks like he’ll end the season in the 20 to 25 point range, and with what he’s being paid, that’s not acceptable. The player will take most of the heat here, but this big-time UFA miss is going to be on management for not seeing how favourable his minutes were in New Jersey when he produced offensively. A brutal start to what’s going to be a brutal contract.
Dave Bolland: A
Leafs fans and staffers alike will be asking themselves “what if” all season when it comes to Bolland. What if he had only stayed healthy? It was a very impressive first 14 games as a Leaf for the long-time Blackhawk; now the question is can he return to that level after a devastating ankle injury that may take the whole season to fully recover from. His first act may be hard to duplicate down the road.
Nikolai Kulemin: C+
Big, talented and smart defensively, Kulemin has to be a huge headache for this coaching staff. While he has been an effective checker and helped the penalty kill, Kulemin’s offence continues to been MIA, even though there are glimpses of a big shot and good positioning from time to time. There’s more here, but it might take a change of scenery for it to come out. A mystery.
Peter Holland: B+
Acquired with the Leafs desperate for a fill-in option, he more than exceeded expectations. Only 22 years old and with impressive production in the minors, Holland had one stretch with eight points in 10 games but has been relegated to a fourth line role ever since. His defensive game remains a project, but there are some enticing elements here.
Trevor Smith: B-
Veteran minor leaguer came in and delivered timely offence and some minutes down the middle when they were badly needed.
Colton Orr: ?
They fight, and fight, they fight and fight and fight. Fight, fight, fight.
Frazer McLaren: ?
Fight, fight, fight. The Orrsy and FML show.
*- Tim Gleason on the scene