February 09 2011 07:28PM
Say hello to the newest member of your Toronto Maple Leafs. He's the one on the right. Earlier today, Brian Burke closed his eyes and flung another dart at the big board of NHL talent. And the names he hit were Joffrey Lupul (pictured) and Jake Gardiner. I laugh when I read that Lupul is a "top-six forward." Nobody knows what the hell Lupul is after two back surgeries and subsequent infection problems. But, since he still obviously has designs on the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's a gamble Burke felt he had to take.
Joffrey Lupul was a 50-goal scorer for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. Before you begin to salivate over this lamp-lighting potential, I remind you that Nick Kypreos was a 50-goal scorer for the North Bay Centennials of the OHL. OK, now that we have that cleared up, Lupul is a guy who, at 27 years old, has never lived up to any potential that the NHL has assigned him.
He's never had more than 53 points in any one NHL season and (to me, this is the real tell) has now been traded four times in his seven-year NHL career. Hmmm. If I had a flag, and could wave it, it would be red. I get that the kid has been dealt a tough health hand. I get that he's only 27.
But I well remember his year in Edmonton - 2006-07. It was a season in which he clearly underachieved. He had one decent year in Anaheim and another decent one in Philly. But, if Joffrey Lupul requires optimal conditions to succeed in this league, the non-talent laden line-up of the Toronto Maple Leafs may not be his cup of tea. And Lupul indicated he liked playing for Ducks' head coach Randy Carlyle. Wonder how he'll cozy up to Realistic Ronnie Wilson.
Either way, he's going to score more goals than Francois Beauchemin did. And Brian Burke obviously feels that, right now, Keith Aulie is NHL ready and an able successor to Beauchemin. And it likely also means that...brace yourselves Mike Komisarek bashers...number 8 is going to get more minutes than he has in recent months.
The Leafs are going to miss Beauchemin. And Joffrey Lupul is going to find out what Phil Kessel and Kris Versteeg and Mikhail Grabovski have before him. That playing under the heat lamp, in the centre of the universe, can be most unpleasant when you don't do what's expected of you.
And, as usual, I'm sure Toronto fans will expect Lupul to be nothing more than a saviour.