Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Colton Orr, profiled by Alec Brownscombe:
Acquired via free agency on a 4-year, $4 million contract last July 1, Colton Orr arrived in Toronto to operate as the club’s resident heavyweight, a position left unoccupied since fan favourite Wade Belak was shipped to Florida in February, 2008.
What the Leafs were said to be getting in Orr was not only a player with a winning track record as a pugilist (he was voted as either winning or tying 15 of his 18 fights in 2008-09 according to hockeyfights.com), but also a player capable of skating a regular fourth line shift due to his forechecking energy, passable on-the-puck abilities, and defensive diligence.
We knew going in that at the very least, Orr at $1 million couldn’t have shown any worse than Georges Laraque at $1.5, who often times resembled an oversized novice player that forgot to leave the ice surface after the intermission scrimmage.
Orr essentially achieved career-highs across the board with four goals, six points and, more relevantly, 239 penalty minutes and 23 fights. Those 23 fights left him in the top five league wide and his 239 PIMs (team-leader by 161PIMS) left him second in the league. While a lower winning percentage than last season, he was voted as winning or tying 15 of his 23 fights.
Given that Orr is a top five fighter in the league, how did he supplement his glove-dropping with his performance in the run of play?
Orr’s -0.16 Rating is actually surprisingly pleasant, ranking him around the middle of the pack for Leafs forwards. He did play against the easiest competition of regular Leaf forwards, but also played with the worst quality of teammates. Here’s how his Rating stacks up with fellow top enforcers across the league:
Orr did lead the Leafs in 32 minors this season, but that would include off-setting roughing calls and is also not overly terrible given that Orr played a full 82-game season. Jamal Mayers, for instance, had 19 minors in only 44 GP (which averages out to 36 over 82) Garnet Exelby had 19 in 51, and Ponikarovsky in his 61 games as a Leaf took 22. Still, Orr could stand to improve his discipline.
Given what one can expect from Orr, his first season as a Leaf in which he featured in a full 82 games suggests the Leafs have found their dedicated enforcer for the next three seasons and he will only cost them a reasonable $1M cap hit. Outside of fighting, which he has proven quite capable of in quantity and quality, he can bring energy to the forecheck and is not a major detriment defensively.
The impact the likes of Adam Burish and Ben Eager had in the five or six minutes they played a night for the Blackhawks in the playoffs shows the difference an effective enforce/energy player can make. It’s an important if underappreciated contribution to be able to wear down the opponent, give the skilled players a breather or even change the momentum of a game. Orr appears to be a player who can help create that type of presence for the Leafs as they hopefully head into playoff contention.
You know the drill – rate Orr below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performanceÂ relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.