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Grading the Leafs: Midseason report cards Add to ...

Last night's game against the Kings marked the halfway point of the Maple Leafs season, and it has for the most part been a bit of a struggle. (Current win streak notwithstanding.)

Toronto is on pace to finish in 26th, fifth last, with 76 points - two more than they had a year ago. Goals have been hard to come by and the goaltending hasn't been nearly as good as expected.

Forty-one games into the 2010-11 season, here are your midseason report cards:


Jonas Gustavsson: C

More was expected from the Monster in his second season in the NHL, but it's been an up-and-down year - with more downs lately than ups. Gustavsson's job has been made more difficult by the fact he has had hardly any goal support much of the year and the team in front of him has been pushing to come from behind.

J-S Giguere: C

Recurring injuries have been the biggest issue for Jiggy, whose .894 save percentage is well off his career average of .913 and has generated plenty of talk he won't be back next season. The last three months of the season are key in terms of his future in the league.


Francois Beauchemin: C+

Beauchemin is the $3.8-million scapegoat on this team many nights, with many Leafs fans likely giving him a fail after 41 games. But what he does well is subtle, leading the team in ice time with 24 minutes a night with much of it against the opposition's top line. He's doing some of the real heavy lifting on this team and is only a minus-3 despite playing on a poor team. Where he needs to be better is offensively, as he's generated little on the power play and is on pace for career low point totals.

Dion Phaneuf: C-

An ugly skate cut injury didn't help, but when healthy, Phaneuf has struggled - especially when it comes to offence. Toronto's biggest salary cap hit at $6.5-million, Phaneuf's seven points in 25 games translates to only 23 points over a full season and the power play continues to labour with him out there. His minus-3 rating, meanwhile, is a little deceiving given his struggles on the penalty kill.

Tomas Kaberle: B

Quiet and dependable, as per usual, Kaberle still frustrates with soft play in his own end, but has formed a solid pairing with Schenn and been a big help on the Leafs power play. The oldest player on the team and the longest serving Leaf, he's settled into a role out of the spotlight and as a No. 3 or 4 defenceman with solid quarterbacking skills.

Luke Schenn: B+

Far and away the team's youngest defenceman, Schenn has settled in as its most dependable, putting up strong numbers on the penalty kill while playing more than five more minutes a night that he did last season. Still not much offence here, despite some opportunities on the power play.

Mike Komisarek: D

At $4.5-million, Komisarek simply is too costly to fill a role on the bottom defence pairing, but that's where he's found himself all season this year. Coming off shoulder surgery, Komisarek struggled in training camp and for much of the early part of the year. He's had the hardest time on the penalty kill, losing many of his minutes there to Gunnarsson, and has played more than 17 minutes in a game only eight times this season.

Carl Gunnarsson: C+

He hasn't excelled like he did as a rookie last season, but Gunnarsson's been what most teams look for in a depth defenceman. He isn't a liability, plays well on the penalty kill and can shift up the lineup once in a while. Nothing flashy here.

Brett Lebda: F

Talk about a nightmare start to his tenure in Toronto. At 5-on-5, Lebda has been on the ice for zero goals for and 17 against. On the power play, he's been a relative non-factor. It's no wonder, in other words, he's been a healthy scratch so many times.


Phil Kessel: C

With his recent hot streak, Kessel's now on pace to match his career best season with the Bruins with 36 goals and 60 points. That season, however, he only played 70 games and finished plus-23; this season, he's minus-15 despite rarely facing difficult opposition. Kessel has also done much of his scoring at even strength, struggling with the man advantage (as has been the trend in his career), and his ice time is way up from his Boston days.

Kris Versteeg: B-

After a terrible start, Versteeg has come around and is on pace for career highs in goals and points. In his last 27 games, he has 10 goals and 26 points with a minus-4 rating. Wilson still leans too heavily on him - with 20 minutes ice time a game and in some tough situations - but those are solid numbers on a team desperately in need of offensive production.

Tyler Bozak: D

The Leafs brass had hoped for 50 to 60 points from Bozak in his first full NHL season after he had 27 in 37 last season, but a brutal start with only six points in his first 22 games means he'll finish well off those projections. Playing 19 minutes a night, Bozak has some good tools (faceoffs being one), but he has been put in over his head this year. For now, a work in progress.

Mikhail Grabovski: A

Without a doubt, the Leafs best player this season - something that started essentially from the first day of training camp. Grabovski has looked like a new player this season and is on pace for roughly 35 goals and 65 points - both career highs - while taking on more and more responsibilities at both ends of the ice. Hard to imagine where Toronto's offence would be without him.

Nikolai Kulemin: B+

Grabovski's right-hand man, Kulemin has almost already surpassed his career highs and is on pace to crack the 30-goal mark in his third NHL season. He's the Leafs lone top-six forward with any size to speak of and at only 24 has more room to grow.

Clarke MacArthur: A-

The third member of the Leafs' best line this season, MacArthur signed for a little more than $1-million in late August and came with a reputation for inconsistent play. Like Grabovski, however, he has surprised, bringing a strong work ethic and even some leadership along with better offensive instincts than many gave him credit for. A lot is going right for him and odds are he slows from his 68-point pace over the second half, but so far, so good.

Colby Armstrong: C+

Perhaps the Leafs best forward on the penalty kill this season, Armstrong has finally begun to chip in some offence of late with four goals and eight points in his last eight games after only two points in his first 17 in Toronto. Overpriced for his role at $3-million, Armstrong is nonetheless very popular in the dressing room and a solid defensive player.

Fredrik Sjostrom: C

It's been a little bit of a tough go for Sjostrom this season, who is a minus-7 at even strength and hasn't excelled in his role as a penalty killer. His ice time has dropped considerably since early December as he's fallen into more of a fourth-line role.

Tim Brent: C

Only average on the draw and as a penalty killer, Brent has been adequate in a mostly defensive role. Wilson uses him on defensive zone draws more than any other forward, which hurts his plus minus, and after scoring in his first two games, his offensive contributions have been nearly non-existent.

Mike Brown: C+

A fan favourite given his wheels and work ethic, Brown has been serviceable in playing only 10 minutes a night, much of it on the penalty kill. The Leafs have been out shot badly when Brown is on the ice at even strength, something that could be due to playing much of his ice time alongside Colton Orr.

John Mitchell: F

With only three points in 23 games and a frequent healthy scratch, Mitchell hasn't exactly been the coach's favourite this season. Out played by recent Marlies call ups Joey Crabb and Darryl Boyce, he could be due for some time in the minors.

Colton Orr: C

He punches well.

Incomplete: Nazem Kadri, Keith Aulie, Joey Crabb, Darryl Boyce, James Reimer

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