The Toronto Maple Leafs are barely clinging to the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and if they stand any chance of making the playoffs this season, they desperately need to find secondary scoring.
It’s not a coincidence that when Toronto got off to a hot start to begin the season and steamrolled through October, they were receiving consistent secondary scoring from Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond and Nazem Kadri. However, while the team has been struggling for close to two months now, the secondary scoring has dried up and so have the wins.
When the Maple Leafs finished October with a 10-4 record, Kadri had tallied 13 points along with a plus/minus rating of plus-two. Unfortunately, the past two months for Kadri have been awful as he’s only managed to record 10 points and has a plus/minus rating of minus-13 since Halloween. After blowing the best opportunity of his career to play on Toronto’s top line, Kadri’s name has surfaced in recent trade rumors, as many are beginning to wonder if he truly fits in with this roster.
Lupul finished October with 11 points and quickly became the leader of the team’s second line, while providing necessary support for Phil Kessel’s line. Unfortunately, since Halloween Lupul has only managed to record 10 points along with a minus-11 rating, while missing time due to a groin strain. If Toronto is going to hang on to the wild card spot, it needs Lupul to be the best forward not playing with Kessel. He was playing exactly how the Maple Leafs needed him to in October and he needs to return to that level of play soon or Toronto’s playoff hopes will be slim.
Raymond has been one of the biggest surprises of the year after he signed for one year and $1 million in training camp. He’s been consistent for the most part, having scored 26 points this season and considering what he’s making, it’s not like the Maple Leafs can demand more of him. However, if Raymond wants to earn the type of long-term contract that will prevent him from ever entering a training camp on tryout again, he needs to start finding the back of the net. Since Dec. 1, he’s only scored twice and although he has six assists, his minus-four rating in that span isn’t doing him any favors.
If the Maple Leafs have any hope of finding their way into the playoffs, they need Kadri, Lupul and Raymond to step up.