Wednesday Morning Mashup: Breakouts

Wednesday Morning Mashup: Breakouts

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Hey, they happen to all of us.  But as it pertains to the Toronto Maple Leafs, there are a few players in particular that both fans and management are hoping to have some major breakouts in the 2011-2012 season.  In the 2010 – 2011 season, Leafs fans were treated to the coming out parties of Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, and Clarke MacArthur.  The trio brought both life and excitement to an otherwise unsuccessful squad by playing above and beyond the expectations of cynical Leafs fans and expert NHL analysts alike.  So who amongst the Leafs are poised for a breakout year in the 2011 – 2012 season?  Join me after the jump for my answers, as well as your daily stipend of links.

For the sake of clarity, I’d like to set some general ground rules for a ‘breakout’ season.  Really, the player needs to improve upon any single season point total held, usually by about 30 to 50%.  So that would rule out someone like Dion Phaneuf -whose point totals this season I expect to improve at a similar level – due to previous accomplishments (he would be a bounce back player though).  So who among the leafs fits the bill?

The easy choice is to pick Nazem Kadri.  The soon to be 21 year old put up a deceptive 12 points (3g, 9a) in 29 games with the Leafs last season, but for all purposes has been pegged as a future point leader for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  While last season’s production might has cooled fans’ opinions of his potential ceiling, the general consensus is that the Leafs are in possession of a young player who has the skill to be a name in the bigs.  All that’s left is attitude and work ethic in all zones, right? Well, its not as easy as all that.  For Kadri, he’s in as much of a battle for a spot on the opening night roster as anyone.  To make matters worse, for all his touted offensive acumen, the former London Knight Superstar only managed a meager 2 assists on the powerplay despite an average of 2:35 in PPTOI/G.

The other breakout candidate, for me anyways, is Luke Schenn.  The Human Eraser has proven to be a doughty (now that’s playing with words) defender and checker, yet hasn’t at any point been considered an offensive dynamo.  So why him?  Well, for one thing, his point totals have steadily climbed in his three seasons played.  Secondly, this is an emerging talent, who put up admirable totals in the ‘dub but was forced into a shutdown role on a beleaguered Leafs D-corps.  With increased ice time on the PP (he was 18th overall in PPTOI/G last season), he could start getting result.  Finally, it’s a matter of who he’s sharing the ice with.  For all his accolades with the man advantage, John Michael Liles has performed equally admirably 5 on 5.  Should the two be partnered together at even strength, they could provide superior offensive output.  While I would never suggest that Schenn is Ray Bourque reborn, its not unreasonable to expect him to challenge for 30+ points this coming season and thereby fulfill my seemingly arbitrary point barrier rules.

What say you, MLHS faithful? Who do you like?

I look forward to your answers…. and as always, here are your links:

Leafs Links:

http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2011/08/30/12-burning-questions-can-grabovski-and-kulemin-continue-their-upward-climb/

Hey, DHarms, stop being such a tough act to follow.

http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2011/8/30/2392777/luke-schenn-vs-tyler-kennedy

My avatar? From this fight.

http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/mapleleafs/article/1046972–leafs-lombardi-symptom-free

Cautiously optimistic news about Matthew Lombardi.  Man, Brett Lebda went from goat to the giving tree.

http://leafshq.com/2011/08/30/rebuddle-give-mike-a-chance-for-now/

Hey, did you guys know that Komisarek was rumoured to have dated Elisha Cuthbert for a short period of time?  No seriously, look it up.  Isn’t that mad awkward? Anyway, here’s a completely unrelated article advocating his continued appearance on the blue line.

NHL Links

http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Flyers+sign+Riemsdyk+year+extension/5329000/story.html

Sometimes I almost wish Burke was this wild with his signings.

http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Yahoo-Fantasy-Hockey-The-Top-100-players-for-2;_ylt=AgSCiSKIF9rBs0WOwzuyOloJfwM6?urn=nhl-wp11289

Its never too early to start thinking about your hockey pool.  Here are 100 names to know