Maple Leafs' mid-season report card | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMaple Leafs' mid-season report card

Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 | 12:31 PM

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Phil Kessel could reach 40 goals for the first time, but Toronto's best scorer still endures bouts of inconsistency. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) Phil Kessel could reach 40 goals for the first time, but Toronto's best scorer still endures bouts of inconsistency. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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As the Toronto Maple Leafs seek to find an extra gear over the remainder of the NHL season, here's how I grade the team's individual performances in the first half.
It was supposed to be a season to build on.

After the Toronto Maple Leafs made the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, the team was supposed to take another step forward this season. But, at the midway point of the 2013-14 campaign, not much has changed.

Despite adding goaltender Jonathan Bernier as well as forwards David Bolland and David Clarkson, the Maple Leafs are really no further ahead, are they? Injuries and suspensions have played a major role in keeping the Leafs down, so it remains to be seen if the team can improve in the second half.

In the meantime, here's how I grade the Maple Leafs' individual performances in the first half:

Phil Kessel, RW, 42 games played, 20 goals, 18 assists, 38 points: Still the team's most serious scoring threat. Also still inconsistent. On pace for 39 goals and has never scored 40. Grade: B

James van Riemsdyk, LW, 40-15-15-30: The more he goes to the net, the more success he enjoys. Continues to develop his two-way game. Grade: A-

Mason Raymond, LW, 42-11-15-26: Has more than justified GM Dave Nonis's faith in his ability to come in and add supplemental offence. Grade: B

Nazem Kadri, C, 38-11-12-23:
Like the Leafs as a whole, has yet to build on last season's breakout year. Had the opportunity to play on the top line while Tyler Bozak was injured and did nothing to show he belonged there. Grade: C+

Joffrey Lupul, LW/RW, 33-11-10-21:
Injuries and a suspension have conspired to take some of the impact out of his game. After taking his performance to a higher level the past two years he seems to have settled. Grade: B-

Cody Franson, D, 40-2-18-20: Team's leading scorer on defence, he settled on a one-year contract hoping to make an impression this season that will lead to a pay hike. A little advice: Shoot the puck more! Grade: B+

Dion Phaneuf, D, 40-4-13-17: On the bright side, he's a plus-15 while skating against the opposition's top scorers nightly. But his offensive output is down and he's headed toward career lows. Grade: B

Tyler Bozak, C, 18-5-10-15:
When healthy, he's justified his inclusion on the team's top line as the defensive conscience and occasional scorer of the unit. Grade: B

Jake Gardiner, D, 41-2-10-12:
Has not followed up last season's solid playoff performance with a step-forward season. Part of that is due to coach Randy Carlyle's lack of confidence in his game. Part is due to Gardiner's reluctance to be more assertive. Grade: C

Nikolai Kulemin, LW, 30-5-6-11: It's increasingly obvious that 30-goal, 57-point season in 2010-11 was a fluke, but he remains a solid defensive performer and hard worker. Interesting: three of his five goals are game-winners. Grade: B

Morgan Rielly, D, 33-1-10-11:
Teenage blue-liner played his way onto the team in training camp and has justified his inclusion on most nights. Gives hope for the future. Grade: B

David Bolland, C, 15-6-4-10: Team's most valuable player until his injury has been missed since going down with a severed leg tendon. Grade: Incomplete

Peter Holland, C, 20-5-4-9: If rumors of the Leafs' shopping Kadri are accurate, it's likely because they believe Holland could take his place. He's done everything asked of him and shows an offensive upside. Grade: B

Trevor Smith, C, 25-4-5-9: Called up as an injury replacement, offered the Leafs inspired two-way play until he was injured. Grade: B

David Clarkson, RW, 30-3-5-8: Season got off to a bad start when he was suspended for the first 10 games and he's been unable to really take flight since. Hasn't been the scorer or leader he was signed to be. Grade: D

Paul Ranger, D, 34-2-6-8: Made significant strides in the first half for a guy who was out of hockey for three years, but needs to eliminate those killer turnovers that lead to opposition scoring chances. Grade: C

Jay McClement, C/LW, 41-1-4-5: Defensive centre is at his best when killing penalties. Has offensive upside that has gone untapped this season. Grade: B-

Carl Gunnarsson, D, 42-0-4-4: Normally solid defender has struggled this season. Usually paired with Phaneuf, but the receent acquisition of Tim Gleason has some believing Gunnarsson may slide down the depth chart soon. Grade: C-

Jerry D'Amigo, LW, 14-1-1-2:
Depth player has provided solid defence and inspiration in his first NHL stint. Grade: C

Mark Fraser, D, 18-0-1-1: Injuries have kept him inactive for much of the year, but even when healthy shows a lack of foot speed that has become a huge issue. Grade: C-

Colton Orr, RW, 30-0-0-0:
Enforcer has also been injured often and doesn't seem to have the same thirst for fighting since his season-opening bout with Montreal's George Parros, who hit his head on the ice. Grade: C-

Frazer McLaren, LW, 0-0-0:
Tough guy doesn't play much. Grade: C-

Jonathan Bernier, G, 13-11-4 record, 2.40 GAA, .931 SV%: Brought in to be the team's No. 1 goalie, Bernier has only recently taken possession of the crease. Bernier has a calmness to his game the skaters seem to appreciate. Grade: B

James Reimer, G, 8-5-1, 2.83, .924: Reimer's athletic ability has improved this season even if his rebound control has not. He gets in trouble when he tries to handle the puck. Grade: C

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