In continuing with our projections for the Leafs depth chart, we now take a look at the Leafs top four right wingers. Now, considering Colton Orr very well could have played his last NHL game, despite the fact that no one is really discussing this possibility, I have decided to use Joey Crabb as the fourth right winger for the projections. Toronto's top four right wingers are Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, Colby Armstrong and Joey Crabb. Again, this is without consideration of the possibility of Matt Frattin, Kenny Ryan or any other prospect earning a spot over a veteran.
2010-11 Stats - 82GP 32G 32A 64PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 35G 32A 67PTS
If ever there was a season in which Phil Kessel could potentially net 40 plus goals, it's this one. With the arrival of playmaking centerman Tim Connolly, Phil Kessel finally has the tools necessary to produce at an even higher level; that is, as long as the chemistry is there. With Lupul and Connolly on board for a full season, Kessel finally has a solidified line of talent around him which should only elevate his game. If Connolly can stay healthy, this line could be very deadly. Kessel will certainly top last year's 32 goal effort, but how high he can climb will depend entirely on his ability to stay consistent.
2010-11 Stats - 82GP 30G 27A 57PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 27G 25A 52PTS
The final member of the MKG line we discuss will also have a bit of a dip in his performance. As I've stated before, teams know this trio requires their checking line's attention, and with more eyes on them this season the difficulty factor has certainly increased, along with less powerplay minutes thanks to the arrival of Tim Connolly. That said, Connolly's addition could also spark Kessel's line and take the attention right back off of Kulemin's line. Kulemin is, arguably, one of the best rising stars in the game, though he is gaining momentum on the ice at a slower pace. This could be is coming out party, and if he can get the chances he needs to excel, fans could be treated to the Kool-Aid show this season.
2010-11 Stats - 50GP 8G 15A 23PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 17G 18A 35PTS
If there was one thing that Armstrong proved last season it was that the Leafs have not had a true agitator on the club since Tucker left, and while Armstrong may not have the same offensive talent that Tucker had, he certainly has the size to play the role and he keeps his head on straight while doing it. Armstrong is one of Burke's best additions to this club, regardless of the price tag that goes along with Armstrong's position on the club. He's not asked to score goals, but he will fight for the chance in the slot, and he most definitely takes attention off of those around him. Should the Leafs opt to slot him in alongside Lombardi and Kadri this season, his linemates should thank him for the extra space on the ice after every shift.
2010-11 Stats - 48GP 3G 12A 15PTS
Projected 2011-12 Stats - 82GP 7G 16A 23PTS
Joey Crabb was a bit of a surprise last season. A graduate from the AHL's Toronto Marlies, Crabb was rotated between the fourth and second line. Essentially wherever the coach felt he should play that night, he did, and his level of effort was through the roof game in and game out. Crabb will likely find himself in a similar position this season, and will jump high at every opportunity to play, but his level of compete is what should earn him a spot over other competitors for a bottom six role. His two-way game is excellent (he finished -1 last season rotating in a bottom six role) and his size gives him a crash and bang attitude. Crabb will likely find his role replacing Fredrik Sjostrom as a penalty killer.
On the next edition, we will cover the depth chart for the defencemen.
Micheal A. Aldred