Toronto Maple Leafs logo at center ice before the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
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After a 100 year history, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had their fair share of bad players. But who exactly are the Top 20 since the 2005 lockout?
Since the start of the NHL, Toronto has always been the mecca of the hockey world. Players from all over Canada have dreamed of playing for the Blue and White. And also the Green and Brown (when they were the St. Pats). Even players in Europe and beyond wished to dawn the Maple Leafs crest. And throughout the team’s history, there have been many amazing players.
But with everything good, there is always something bad. And the Maple Leafs have had their fair share of bad players. Especially after the 2004-05 lockout when the rules changed the game. Toronto picked up most of these guys due to their previous seasons without looking at what they could achieve the next year. While Toronto’s old management looked at these guys being quick fixes or fringe players, they should have just used their seasoned rookies playing in the AHL. The results would probably have been much better, plus the rookies would have ultimately gained more experience.
So who are Toronto’s worst players since the 2004-05 lockout? Well theirs many, but these are the top 20.
Mariusz Czerkawski’s previous NHL season in 2003-04 saw him score 49 points in 81 games for the Islanders. Toronto thought he was going to be a solid player that would come in and score 40+ points again. So they went and acquired him in the summer of 2005. However Czerkawski would only play 19 games for the Leafs scoring 5 points. He was later claimed off waivers from Boston that season. Where in 16 games, he would only score another 5 points. And three years later, Mariusz retired from hockey all together after playing just one game in Poland.
During the summer of 08’, the Rangers dealt Ryan Hollweg to Toronto. And the Leafs instantly put Ryan in the lineup. However Hollweg would only spend 25 games that season for the Leafs. And would only score two points and be a minus seven. He’d play the rest of the year with the Toronto Marlies scoring just three points in 28 games. And that would be Hollweg’s only season as a Maple Leaf. Even as a fourth-line player, Ryan didn’t amount to much and showed why he was traded. Ryan spent the next three years under Phoenix’s organization. He’s played in the Czech Republic since than and still continues to.
Luca Caputi was a solid prospect for Pittsburgh. And Toronto thought he was going to be a future star for the club. He was the main return piece that sent Alexei Ponikarovky to the Penguins in 2010. However, Caputi would only spend three years in Toronto’s organization. Out of those three years, Caputi only spent two playing with the Leafs. During his trade year, Luca only scored six points in 19 games. The following season wasn’t that much better. He’d only play seven games for the Leafs and not score a single point. The rest of that season was spent with the Marlies. And the following season he’d play between the Marlies and the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. He later retired after the 2014-15 season in Sweden.
Mike Van Ryn
From 2005-06 to 2007-08, Mike Van Ryn was a solid defenseman for Florida. But halfway through the 2007-08 season Van Ryn opted to have full on wrist surgery. That off-season Florida general manager Jacques Martin wanted to bolster his defence. Van Ryn was the player Toronto received back when they dealt Bryan McCabe. Expected to fill top four minutes and put up McCabe-like numbers, Van Ryn struggled to do so. Since he would only play 27 games for the Leafs scoring just 11 points. He was a plus two player throughout those games however. That would also be Van Ryn’s last season in the NHL since he would retire the following year. McCabe on the other hand would play two more seasons before retiring. Winner of that deal? Florida.
Brett Lebda signed as a free agent before the start of the 2010-11 season. While often being paired with Chris Chelios in Detroit, Toronto thought they were getting a solid d-man. So in his first year in Toronto’s organization, Lebda would play 41 games. He’d score four points that year while being a -14 player. The following year however, Lebda was involved in the deal that brought over Matthew Lombardi and Cody Franson. Two players who also no longer play with Toronto. One of which would only spend one year in Toronto as well. If you’re wondering who that player was, it’s Matthew Lombardi.
An original player by the Maple Leafs, Staffan Kronwall was drafted in 2002. And made his pro-debut in 2005-06 and throughout the next three season’s would play for Toronto. His first season as a Maple Leaf, Kronwall played 34 games scoring one point. And he wouldn’t play for the Maple Leafs until two years later. In 2007-08 Kronwall only appeared in 18 games for the Maple Leafs not scoring a single point. During his last season in Toronto’s organization he was eventually waived by the Maple Leafs and later claimed by the Capitals. He’d leave for the KHL for the start 2011-12 season. He still plays there to this day.
After five solid seasons with Tampa Bay, Toronto would sign Paul Ranger before the 2012-13 season. However that year, Paul would spend it with the Toronto Marlies. The following season was when he would get time with the Maple Leafs. He played a total of 53 games that year scoring 14 points. That was also his final year in the organization as he would leave for the Swiss Elite League in 2014-15. Paul retired from hockey all together after that season in the NLA. Leaving his career point total as a Maple Leaf, 14 points in 53 games.
Signed as a free agent before the 2003-04 season. Klee would only spend two years in the Maple Leafs organization. In 2005-06, Ken Klee played a total of 54 games for the Leafs scoring just 15 points. He was also a minus one on the season. He was later traded to New Jersey that brought Alexander Suglobov over. Another player that didn’t fair out to well for the Maple Leafs. Klee was a solid bottom tier defenseman for Washington, something Toronto hoped he would be for them. Unfortunately he wouldn’t be, only spending a year and a half before he was on his way out. Klee retired from hockey after the 2008-09 NHL season.
After solid seasons for the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers. David Booth was eventually signed as a free agent by the Maple Leafs before the 2014-15 season. That year Booth only appeared in 59 games for Toronto scoring 13 points as well as being a minus eight. He’d also play two games for the Marlies only scoring once. Toronto’s hopes of Booth coming in and being a top six scorer were obviously not met. He’d only spend one year as a Maple Leaf. The following season he would go play in the KHL. And this year he’s supposed to be playing for Omsk in the KHL, but has yet to appear in a single game.
When the Maple Leafs acquired Frazer McLaren from San Jose in 2012. They instantly threw him in the lineup. And in 35 games, McLaren scored five points. Not bad for a guy who’s only job was to hit and fight. However the following season in 27 games, Frazer didn’t score a single point and shared time with the Marlies. He didn’t score for them either in the six games played. In 2014-15 he’d be playing once again for the Marlies. And throughout 22 games, he only had a single point. He went back to San Jose’s organization for the 2015-16 season. But as of today he’s currently a free agent looking for a new place to play.
Dec 15, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; The Toronto Maple Leafs logo at center ice before the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Air Canada Centre. The Lightning beat the Maple Leafs 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
After having such outstanding seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Tim Connolly eventually became a free agent in the summer of 2011. The Maple Leafs hoped that when they signed him to a two-year contract, he would show that offensive prowess yet again. But unfortunately Connolly only scored 36 points that season in 70 games. His next year didn’t fair out much better since he’d spend the entire season with the Marlies. And with his time down in the AHL, he only scored 12 points in 28 games. He eventually went on to retire from hockey after that 2012-13 season. Connolly wasn’t even close to matching expectations for the Maple Leafs. So what went wrong? Many think it was the pressure of the market, others think it was his age. Whatever the case may be, Connolly was a terrible player during his two years in Toronto’s organization.
Clarke Wilm only spent one season as a Maple Leaf. And that came during the 2005-06 season. After somewhat solid seasons in Calgary and Nashville, Toronto took a shot on Clarke when they acquired him in 2003. In 60 games for the Maple Leafs in 2005-06, Wilm only had eight points and was a minus 15. The following year he signed Jokerit in Finland where he played for two-years. The next three after that were spent with Hamburg and Nurnberg in Germany. Clarke retired after that 2010-11 season. His Maple Leafs career totals? Eight points in 70 games.
Bates Battaglia was never really a solid NHLer. But after his two-year hiatus from the league, when he came back expectations were high. Since he would join the Maple Leafs and former head coach from Carolina, Paul Maurice. And when he spent 79 games with the Marlies in the AHL scoring 67 points, many thought Toronto made a solid pick-up. So the following season he would get the chance to play in all 82 games. And throughout those games, Battaglia only had 31 points while being a plus nine. A sign of things to come? The answer is no. In 13 games for the Maple Leafs the next season, Bates didn’t score a single point. He’d spend the rest of that year and the next with the Marlies. The following three seasons were split between AHL clubs and European leagues. Bates went on to retire from hockey after the 2011-12 season.
Toronto signed Jeff Finger to a 14 million dollar four year deal after his 2007-08 season with Colorado. Which made fans think Jeff may just be a solid defenseman. And his first season with the Maple Leafs wasn’t that bad. Scoring a total of 23 points in 66 games. The next three years however, featured nothing but declines from Jeff. In 2009-10, Finger played a total of 39 games scoring only 10 points. Making his career Leafs numbers, 33 points in 105 games. Since the next two seasons would be spent with the Marlies. And after the 2011-12 season, Finger retired from hockey.
John Pohl was acquired from St. Louis in the summer of 2005. And the following season he’d play for the Maple Leafs right from the start. However he would only appear in seven games scoring four points. The rest of the year he played for the Marlies scoring an amazing 75 points in 60 games. Everything was pointing to Pohl being a future stud for the Leafs. And next year he would spend the entire season with the Maple Leafs playing in 74 games scoring 29 points. So how would he fair out in year three? He played 33 games tallying five points. A massive decline from the year before. Which seen him leave for the Swiss Elite League the following season. He’d split that year with the Swedish Elite League as well. And after the 2009-10 season with Chicago of the AHL, Pohl retired from professional hockey.
Dec 1, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft (30) prepares to face the Ottawa Senators during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Signed as a free agent in the summer of 2006, Boyd Devereaux was expected to come in as a solid second-line player. However he would spend the majority of his time on the third and fourth-lines. Under his first season with the Maple Leafs he appeared in 33 games scoring 19 points. He’d also spend that year with the Marlies. In 2007-08, Boyd spent the entire year as a Maple Leaf. And in 62 games he only scored 18 points. The following season was than again split between the Maple Leafs and the Marlies. And in 23 games for the Maple Leafs that season, Boyd dropped in production again to only 11 points. In 2009-10, Devereaux would sign in the Swiss Elite League than go on to retire after that season. So how well did Boyd do while with the Maple Leafs, he had 48 points in 118 games.
After David Clarkson scored 30 goals for the first time in his career, Toronto offered him a seven-year deal worth $36.75 million. A deal that Clarkson wasn’t able to live up to. His first two seasons as a Maple Leaf he was suspended by the league for various reasons. And when he did play, he didn’t amount to much. In 2013-14 through 60 games, Clarkson only had 11 points. The following year wasn’t that much better. Cause in 58 games he only tallied up 15 points. Toronto was able to trade him to Columbus that season for Nathan Horton who has been on the long-term injured reserve since. So in hindsight Toronto got themselves out of a bad deal and away from a terrible player.
When Jason Blake posted two 50+ point seasons over three years with the Islanders. Toronto seemed to have found a decent scoring winger when they signed him as a free agent in 2007. And his first two seasons were pretty good to be honest. In 2007-08 he scored 52 points in 82 games. And in 2008-09 he had 63 points in 78 games. However 2009-10 was when Blake fell back down to earth. During that campaign he appeared in 56 games but only scoring 26 points. His lack of play and production had him being dealt to Anaheim at the trade deadline. Blake would finish that year and two more for the Ducks before retiring from hockey all together in 2012.
Claimed off waivers from Montreal during the 2003-04 season. Chad Kilger would finish off that year as well as play the next three NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs. During his first full year as a Leaf in 2005-06, Chad appeared in a total of 79 games scoring 28 points. The following year he would manage to play a full 82 game season, but this time registering the same output as the year before. And in 2007-08, Kilger had a decline in games-played and points. He’d only appear in 53 contests to go along with 17 points. So in 219 games played as a Maple Leaf, Kilger only had 75 points. He also went on to retire after that 2007-08 season.
Andrew Raycroft was an amazing junior prospect, and was look at to be a very serious professional goaltender. And everything seemed that way when in his full rookie season he won the Calder Trophy. He played 57 games that season for the Bruins winning 29 games as well as posting a 2.05 goals-against-average and a .926 save percentage. So when the Maple Leafs traded goalie prospect Tuukka Rask to Boston they thought they got the better of the deal. Well look at Rask now easily one of the best in the league. While Raycroft on the other hand would only play two seasons for the Leafs playing a total of 91 games. And in those 91 games, he only won 39 times. His best save percentage out of those two seasons? .894. His best goals-against-average? 2.99. Andrew was later signed by Colorado the next season where he only played one year. After that he was signed by Vancouver where again he’d only play one season. Dallas signed him next, and surprisingly Andrew spent two years with the Stars organization. But inevitably after the 2013-14 year in Sweden, Raycroft retired from hockey. Easily making him the worst Maple Leaf since the 2005 lockout. And probably one of the biggest goalie draft busts of all-time.
While many more Maple Leafs could have easily made this list. The top 20 is based on games played as well as points accumulated for the club since 2005. If you know a former Maple Leaf that you feel should be on this list, let us know in the comments.