With at least half a dozen rookies in the
Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup this season, it’s highly likely that one of the
more skillful ones will break the franchise’s long standing scoring record for a
first-year player. The storied franchise hasn’t done much in the last half
century, but at one time it was home to numerous elite players and hall of
famers. When it comes to rookies though, just eight Leafs have managed to win
the Calder Trophy over the club’s 100-year history. The last was Brit Selby way
back in the 1965/66 campaign.
There are definitely some talented rookies
in Toronto this season, including this year’s number-one overall draft pick
Auston Matthews along with fellow forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander.
This isn’t to say that one of them will take home the rookie of the year
honours for their play this season, especially with close to 100 first-year
players in the league at the moment, but it’s almost certain one of them will
set a new franchise record for rookie scoring. The current Maple Leafs’ rookie
scoring record belongs to former centre Peter Ihnacak, who registered 28 goals
and 38 assists for 66 points in 1982/83.
However, Ihnacak was 25 years old at the
time and basically a seasoned pro as he had been playing for the national team
in the former nation of Czechoslovakia as well as one of the country’s top club
teams. Ihnacak, who was drafted 25th overall in the second round
in 1982 went on to enjoy a solid if
unspectacular NHL career with the Leafs with 267 points in 417 games. However,
the record for goals by a rookie is 36 which was set by Wendel Clark in 1985/86
and the assists record is held by Gus Bodnar at 40 from 1943/44.
Now if all of the Leafs’ top-scoring rookies
can stay healthy, one or more of them may be able to break Ihnacak’s, Clark’s
of Bodnar’s record by the time the 82nd
game of the season rolls around. Matthews appears to have the best chance since
he had racked up 20 points in 26 games as of December 12th. However,
Marner was just one point behind him with 19 points and the pair was followed
closely by Nylander and his 17 points. In addition to staying healthy, the
rookies will also have to continue producing points at their current pace over
the grueling 82-game schedule.
At their current pace, Matthews would end
the season with 38 goals and 25 assists for 63 points, which means he’d break
Clark’s record for goals and that’s it. Marner is on pace to score 22 goals and
38 assists for 60 points, meaning he’d fall short of all three current Leafs’
rookie marks ad Nylander would also be shy of the records with 19 goals and 36
assists for 55 points. So even though this is arguably the best crop of rookies
that have ever suited up with the Leafs, it’s still going to be a tough task to
break the existing franchise records. It’s sure going to be fun for fans to
watch them try though.
Labels: Ian Palmer