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Grading this year’s Leafs

Before we all get swept away by an end-of-season Leaf turnaround –which will skew any assessment of how they’ve actually performed over the course of an entire season—I thought it timely to provide “grades” for the current roster.

My concern is that if we wait until the regular season is over, and the Leafs perform well down the stretch with absolutely no pressure on them in terms of the final standings (there is always the pressure to perform, of course, as professionals), I will be unduly influenced by that. This is a better time to provide a realistic assessment of how the season has really gone.

I’ve done this un-scientifically, to be sure.

What I’ve tried to do is offer a traditional A, B, C, etc. ranking—but under two categories. The first category is how they have actually performed as an NHL-caliber player within their role on the team (specifically as a Leaf, for those who joined the team part-way through this season); the second against my expectations heading into the season.

It goes without saying that readers will have differing views and opinions, so feel free to forward your thoughts.

                            Overall grade               Versus expectations


Giguerre                          B-                                        B- (what I expected)
Gustavsson                    B-                                        B+   (better than I expected)


Kaberle                          C+                                       C-   (I expected more)
Gunnarsson                  B                                          A-   (much better than I expected)
Schenn                           C+                                       C     (not quite what I hoped for)
Finger                             C                                         C-   (no major expectations)
Beauchemin                C+                                       C    (left wanting a bit more)
Phaneuf                        B                                          B-   (banking on his future upside)
Exelby                           C-                                         C-   (as expected)


Kessel                             B+                                         B+  (in line with expectations)
Bozak                              B                                           A- (a real surprise for me so far)
Kulemin                         A-                                         A   (pleased with his development)
Mitchell                         C                                           C   (still not sure what to think)
Grabovski                     C+                                         C    (can’t see him here for long)
Orr                                   C-                                         C     (role guy)
Stalberg                         C                                           C+   (next year will mean more)
Primeau                         C-                                          C-   (Leafs may look elsewhere)
Wallin                             C                                            C+   (no surprise)
Caputi                            B-                                         B+   (too early to say)

I haven’t seen enough of Hanson, Rosehill or Lundmark to provide a reasonable assessment.

The question that won’t go away is: as enthusiastically as the “young Leafs” have played in recent games, over the course of a full-grind regular NHL season, how many of the above are elite-level NHL’ers? How many of the forwards are true “top six” forwards?


  1. Nice piece Michael. Do you really believe Grabbo isn't long for these Leafs? I think despite his modest production this year his defensive awareness has grown in leaps and bounds and his sheer speed down the middle is still quite valuable. Its no secret that the team took a serious nosedive in the games where he was out with his wrist injury.

    (As a minor point, I noticed Sjostrom was left off the list)

  2. Agreed that Grabovski shows an improved overall work ethic when he's healthy. I just don't see him fitting as a true "top six" in Burke's regime. But who knows? I like what Sjostrom offers; I hadn't seen him enough (because of injuries) since he's arrived to offer a fair grade.