In continuing with our projections for the Leafs depth chart, we now take a look at the Leafs top four left wingers. Now, considering Fredrik Sjostrom has left to play in Europe, I will be using the likely addition of Nazem Kadri in his place.
Based on the projected depth chart, the Leafs top 4 left wingers for the upcoming season, without considering the possibility that a prospect could earn a spot over a member of last season's squad, is Clarke MacArthur, Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri and Mike Brown. Calculating last year's stats with an average over their last three NHL seasons, as well as taking some chemistry into account, the following is how I feel the four will produce, point-wise.
2010-11 Stats - 82GP 21G 41A 62PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 20G 35A 55PTS
For the first time in his career, Clarke MacArthur found himself earning top six minutes and immediately gelled with linemates Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. The results had him contending as the most productive player on the Leafs squad. This year, teams will expect it more from the Llyodminster, Alberta native, but with a year's worth of getting used to his linemates, I would expect nothing less than for this line to pick up from where they left off last season.
2010-11 Stats - 28GP 9G 9A 18PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 26G 24A 50PTS
Joffrey Lupul was, for lack of a better term, stuck between a rock and a hard place last season with the Anaheim Ducks. When Brian Burke stole (yes, stole) him in a deal for defenceman Francois Beauchemin, it can definitely be considered as the start of Lupul's resurgence in the league. In his final 21 appearances in a Leafs jersey, Lupul netted 9 goals and 15 points. Having a playmaker in Tim Connolly ready and willing to dish he and Kessel the puck, and you can certainly see Lupul reaching the 60 point plateau this season, but it's more likely he'll hover in the 50s with a shot at striking 30 goals.
2010-11 Stats - 29GP 3G 9A 12PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 19G 25A 44PTS
Kadri has been one of those players fans have crossed their fingers over, but just has yet to find his groove. Last summer, he put on 10 pounds and it seemed to have slowed him down. This year, he's actually lost weight (around 8 to 10lbs) and has worked on his core. Burke has stressed to him a two-way game, and it seems Kadri has been listening. With a packed top six, Kadri would do well to excel at both ends of the ice alongside Colby Armstrong and Matthew Lombardi on the third "checking" line. With Lombardi being a playmaker, Kadri could certainly have a solid first full season and try and break the 20 goal plateau.
2010-11 Stats - 50GP 3G 5A 8PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 6G 7A 13PTS
Let's face it, Mike Brown was not signed to score goals, though at times he tried to put on his best Phil Kessel impressions. Brown, considered my many to be one of the hardest hitters in the league, is a player that gives 110% every shift and never shies away from the rough stuff. He is exactly the type of player Burke wants on his bottom six and he does the role justice. Leafs fans will be happy to see him return to the ice next season to bash more bodies and throw more fists against middleweight enforcers.
On the next edition, we will cover the depth chart for the right wing.
Micheal A. Aldred