Is Joffrey Lupul done?

The Leafs’ offseason hasn’t been all that eventful so far, but one story that will continue to simmer in the background will be that of Joffrey Lupul and whether he’ll have a place in the lineup come October. All signs so far point to no. But if he doesn’t, the big question becomes “What can the Leafs do with him?”

According to Lupul himself, he believes he has some miles left on his career, and doesn’t appear to be ready for Robidas Island. But given his laundry list of injuries and a blatant reduction in his effectiveness on the ice, is there really any chance he bounces back? Let’s take a look at where his numbers have been at since things started spiraling.


At times last season it really felt like Lupul’s standing as an NHL player was in question. We’re talking sub-replacement-level. While there have always been knocks on his defensive game, and grumbling about his cap hit isn’t new, I think this past year was the first time it felt like he really couldn’t help the team at all. That’s sad, because as a fan it’s clear to see he leaves it all out there, maybe even to a fault. 

Using Dominic Galimini’s HERO chart tool, which weighs previous years’ performances in a number of areas to predict how a player might contribute going forward, we can see Lupul projects most likely to a fourth liner next season. Even more alarming is that his possession game is nearly as likely to be along the lines of a run of the mill call-up as it is to be that of a third line player. It goes without saying his days as a top six are toast.

Story 1

It’s pretty easy to see why the Leafs are trying to move on from Lupul and his final two years at 5.25-million, whether it’s through trade or injured reserve. At this point the expectation for him would realistically be a 10-15 goal scorer (in a full season) who’s likely to continue being a major drag on possession. And I think there’s a good chance he’s an AHL player before these last two years are up, if he isn’t dangerously close to that already.


Lupul’s possession game did look a little better in general this past season with Babcock on board, compared to the Carlyle years, but relative to his teammates he’s still been below water and getting worse. 

Season TOI Rel.CF60   Rel.CA60   Rel.CF%  
2011-2012 950.15 6.63 9.86 -1.17
2012-2013 202.51 0.18 3.36 -1.19
2013-2014 1008.09    1.48 4.78 -0.99
2014-2015 680.1 -0.42 6.3 -2.59
2015-2016 531.52 -8.14 3.27 -4.97

via Corsica.Hockey

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a hit piece on Lupul. He’s been as good as we ever could have expected since the trade to Toronto happened back in 2011. Even beyond his scoring touch I’ve always appreciated his willingness to engage and fire things up a bit. It’s just he’s been bogged down by injuries so much in recent years and is now the victim of his own cap hit when/if healthy. Combine that with the fact he’s 33-years-old by the season opener this fall, and yeah, it’s tough to argue for any type of bounce-back happening here. 

I’d love to be wrong though. I really don’t see Lamoriello being able to find a way out of the remainder of Lupul’s contract, and given he’s going to fight to play and keep his career alive, it’d be nice if he could help in a meaningful way. But I just don’t see it given his already weak numbers trending down hard at a well past-prime age. The Leafs are going to have to get creative.

  • Gary Empey

    This narrative reminds me of the talk on here about how Bozak is about to get traded and yet he never does. Or how we are signing Stamkos. Instead we ship out Phaneuf, Bernier and Kessel. And sign Polak. With regards to Lupul, I will believe when I see it until then this is sensationalistic National Enquirer headlines.

  • JB#1

    I think based on the expansion rules, he will be trotted out for the requisite number of NHL games and then left exposed for the expansion draft.

    Both him and Bozak will fit neatly into the requirement for “experienced” NHL forwards that must be exposed. If one is claimed, then so be it.

    Unfortunately, the days of Lupul fitting into the long-term plans of the Leafs are gone.

  • silentbob

    he has been done for years now. he hasn’t been effective since kadri’s breakout year in 2012-2013. even then, he only played 20 games so it’s not even a big enough sample to accurately claim he’s been good. he hasn’t really been good since 2011-2012 to be quite honest. he will soon join robidas on robidas island. too many injuries have slowed down his production, speed and productivity at his age. he’d be somewhat useful if he wasn’t so horrendous defensively but he’s basically useless. i don’t even want him in the dressing room. overpaid shattered glass should stay far away.

  • Gary Empey

    We’ve all been thinking it.

    Nice guy but too many injuries to live up to his contract.

    We will all fondly remember when Lupul, Kessel, Bozak made up one of the league’s most dangerous lines for about 3 weeks in the winter of 2011.

  • Gary Empey

    “At this point the expectation for him would realistically be a 10-15 goal scorer (in a full season) who’s likely to continue being a major drag on possession. It’s just he’s been bogged down by injuries so much in recent years and is now the victim of his own cap hit when/if healthy. Combine that with the fact he’s 33-years-old…”

    So he’s basically Milan Michalek right now. He can’t even stay consistently healthy for half the year to hit that many goals. at least Michalek’s contract is up this year. we have another year of this wasted cap space ugh. This is why you sell high when given the opportunity. Awful contract. I hope he just stays buried in the AHL. I’d rather see Greening over Lupul at this point if they demand a vet playing over a kid. At least he can stay healthy and be solid defensively while chipping in with some points. Leivo should definitely get his chance. He’s earned it or Brown.

  • silentbob

    Something most people don’t know about Lupul (and JVR) is the big impact they had on Kessel’s production. Its true playing with Kessel boosted their production to career highs, but the same is true of the reverse as well.

    He got overshadowed by Kessel, not surprisingly, but the Leafs got several very good and very productive years out of Lupul, even with his injuries. Unfortunaley he just isn’t that player anymore. The good news is, even if they can’t send him to Robidas island he is only under contract for 2 more seasons, he won’t heurt tem when its time to start being competitive.

  • silentbob

    Something most people don’t know about Lupul (and JVR) is the big impact they had on Kessel’s production. Its true playing with Kessel boosted their production to career highs, but the same is true of the reverse as well.

    He got overshadowed by Kessel, not surprisingly, but the Leafs got several very good and very productive years out of Lupul, even with his injuries. Unfortunaley he just isn’t that player anymore. The good news is, even if they can’t send him to Robidas island he is only under contract for 2 more seasons, he won’t heurt tem when its time to start being competitive.

    • silentbob

      This post I made got a lot of dislikes, I’m guessing because I said that Lupul, and then JVR, had a give and take relationship to Kessel and they boosted his production just as he boosted there’s instead of just “leeching” of the greatness of Phil (I know a lot of Leaf fans don’t like this concept because…….Kessel reasons). Well here are the facts.

      Kessel started playing in Toronto in the 2009-2010 season, in which he scored 30 goals and 55 points. The next year Lupul was traded to the Leafs and played his first game on Feb 10. Before Feb 10 Kessel played 54 games and had 35 points (a 53 over 82 game point pace). From Feb 10 to the end of the season Kessel scored 29 points in 28 games with Lupul.

      Lucky, for the purpose of this analysis, Lupul got hurt in 2011-2012 and only played the first 66 games of that season. During the 66 games Kessel played with Lupul that year had scored 69 points (and 85 point pace). In the 16 games after Lupul got hurt he only scored 12 points, he went from over a PPG to 0.75 PPG. In that off-season they traded for JVR and Kessel never really had to play without one of the two again while he was here.

      While I would never say that Lupul is more talented then Kessel or that Lupul didn’t greatly benefit from playing with Kessel (he probably 1-2 million more a year then he otherwise would have gotten because he played with Kessel) we shouldn’t forget and ignore that Lupul was a very good, productive player his first 3-4 years here and his arrival did “unlock” Kessel’s potential.

      • Gary Empey

        That’s a fair analysis. Even last year before Lupul was injured Babcock pointed out to the rest of the forwards, they should go to the front of the net like Lupul does.

  • Trevor5555

    I can see the Leafs having a 3rd line of Michalek – Bozak – Lupul to start the year with hopes they bounce back. Maybe playing 15 min a night reduces the wear and tear and they stay healthy. If they can each put up 10-15 goals thats better than our bottom 6 production last year.

    Its worth giving them 20-30 games to try to create some trade interest. Lupul had 10 goals and Michalek had 7 goals and Bozak had 12 goals all having missed a lot of time. Its worth a shot to see if they can form a good 3rd line. We are on the hook for the cap hit anyway, may as well play them. 13.7 Million is a lot of money for that line but they could rebound.

    If they stay healthy and combined for 40 goals thats an upgrade over last year where our 3rd and 4th lines combined for 45 goals all year. 40G from them and 25G from Greening – Holland – Martin and thats a 20 goal increase from the bottom 6. A big help if it happens.

    I really dont know if any Marlies are a huge upgrade over Michalek / Lupul but training camp will give us a better idea.

  • Gary Empey

    I think Lupul and Michalek will easily pass through waivers and could end up impressing as a hard-working ‘sheltered’ wings on Bozak’s line just like Trevor described above. It is very unlikely however that they will survive the season without getting injured and LTIR’d or traded at the deadline and replaced by Soshnikov and Connor Brown.

  • Gary Empey

    Oops, I just looked at our roster and realized that even without Lupul and Michalek we’ll have plenty of players on the roster to replace them before Sosh and C. Brown are called up. It looks like we’re in for a very similar season to the one we just went through with Babcock playing vets in order to inflate their trade value and then dumping them off before the trade deadline. Hopefully, this time we’ll be in a better position standings-wise and meet some of our ‘dumps’ in the playoffs.

    • Trevor5555

      I really like our AHL depth. We have 6-7 AHL guys after Nylander and Carrick who will be very close to NHL ready to start the year. At least with the Marlies we will know who the best call ups are and we will be improving our NHL team when we trade / replace Lupul or Michalek.

      The teardown should be complete by this years trade deadline or at the latest next offseason and our prospects will be NHL ready. Leivo, Soshnikov, Rychel, Leipsic, Brown, Hyman, Froese are all ready for bottom 6 duty in the NHL so Lupul, Michalek, Greening, Laich and Bozak should all be on the trade market from now through to the trade deadline. We may get a decent return for some namely Bozak and Greening. Depending on the play of our defence we could put Hunwick and Polak on the market at some point too. Loov and Valiev look pretty good so far and we got Nielsen, Dermott, Desrocher and Brouillard starting their pro careers this year as well as a few good prospects in the pipeline.

  • silentbob

    The reason he has been so injury prone is because of his extensive drug use and partying ways. He may look in great shape but his insides are corroded. This is not slander or defamation. I’ve seen it first hand.