Apr 212011
 

The best and most consistent line for the Maple Leafs this past season was the Grabovski-Kulemin-MacArthur line.  This trio of forwards are all just entering their primes at ages 27, 24 and 26 respectively and they were the second, third and fourth leading point producers on the Leafs.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at how these three guys careers have progressed up to now.  Here are each players basic stats over the past 4 seasons (3 for Kulemin) along with their 5v5 even strength HARO+, HARD+ and HART+ statistics (my HockeyAnalysis.com offense, defence and total ratings).

Mikhail Grabovski:

Season Games Goals Assists Points +/- HARO+ HARD+ HART+
2007-08 24 3 6 9 -4 1.185 0.641 0.913
2008-09 78 20 28 48 -8 0.959 0.891 0.925
2009-10 59 10 25 35 3 1.209 0.904 1.057
2010-11 81 29 29 58 14 1.343 1.064 1.204
2008-11 (3 yr) 218 59 82 141 9 1.137 0.972 1.055

In limited ice time he showed some decent offensive capabilities in his rookie 2007-08 season and progressed nicely in 2008-09 statistically but his ratings suffered some.  Many people considered his injury shortened 2009-10 season to be a bit of a disappointment but his HARO+ rating indicates that he really helped his team offensively when he was on the ice and in 2010-11 he took his offensive game to another level again.  Of the 221 players who have played at least 1500 minutes of 5v5 even strength ice time over the past 2 seasons, Grabovski ranks 18th in HARO+ and 24th in HART+ which is outstanding.

Nikolai Kulemin:

Season Games Goals Assists Points +/- HARO+ HARD+ HART+
2008-09 73 15 16 31 -8 1.092 0.757 0.925
2009-10 78 16 20 36 0 1.050 1.034 1.042
2010-11 82 30 27 57 7 1.264 1.024 1.144
2008-11 (3 yr) 233 61 63 124 -1 1.109 0.952 1.030

Kulemin had a more than respectable 15 goal rookie season and he showed that his good shot will work in the NHL but last season was a bit of a breakout year for him even though he didn’t dramatically improve his offensive numbers.  It was a breakout season because he really learned how to assert himself physically.  He isn’t a big physically imposing player, but he is strong on his skates and has learned that he can hold his own against opposing forwards.  This has really helped his defensive game and then this year he took his offensive game to another level.  Kulemin ranks 57 in HARO+ and 40th in HART+ among forwards over the past 2 seasons.

Clarke MacArthur:

Season Games Goals Assists Points +/- HARO+ HARD+ HART+
2007-08 37 8 7 15 3 1.219 0.922 1.070
2008-09 71 17 14 31 -4 0.941 0.902 0.922
2009-10 81 16 19 35 -16 0.983 0.792 0.887
2010-11 82 21 41 62 -3 1.206 0.971 1.089
2008-11 (3 yr) 234 54 74 128 -23 1.025 0.904 0.964

Of the three players, MacArthur has clearly been the lease consistent so far in his career, offensively anyway.  He showed some good things in limited action in his rookie year but his offensive production stagnated for a couple seasons before taking a jump forward his season.  Defensively he has been mostly mediocre for his whole career so far.  Overall we can be less certain about what MacArthur will bring to the Leafs in the future.  At best I think he is a decent second line center who can provide some secondary offense.

Of the three players, I think MacArthur is the least valuable and the Leafs will have to make a decision on where he fits in going forward.  He probably has more pure playmaking skills than either Grabovski or Kulemin which makes him a good fit for that line.  Overall thought he is easily replaceable and a decision will have to be made as to whether to whether to keep him around and at what salary.  An alternative would be to work a youngster such as Kadri onto that line either at wing or at center (moving Grabovski, who struggles at the face off dot, to wing) and use MacArthur as trade bait to fill a hole elsewhere.