Hornby’s first half grades:
Groin injury and the quiet rise of Reimer has clouded his future and not helped his push for a new contract in 2011.
Not progressed as fast as hoped, but often the victim of poor offensive and defensive support.
Team’s best blueliner this year, erased last year’s doubts, plays tough, but has poise exiting the zone.
Much more was expected from the new captain, both in offence and overall impact. Gets into trouble with undisciplined play and a wild shot.
A steady defenceman and veteran presence, just not worth all that the club paid for him.
Highest scoring defenceman, if you can live with his soft physical play. What you see is what you get.
See Beauchemin, a player most useful when he simplifies. Nice comeback from injury, but makes too much to be 5-6 defenceman.
Wilson stuck with him a long time, but he needs a betters second half to stay in the mix.
Hoped to be doing a lot more by now than a double-digit minus player. Has played wing in a pinch
RW Phil Kessel
Which Kessel will show up on any given night, the scorer or the sulker?
C Mikhail Grabovski
Lost marks for not scoring much up to mid-November, but is on a great roll now.
RW Nikolai Kulemin
Not only going to the net and standing his ground, but scoring, too, a great example to others.
LW Clarke MacArthur
So far, the best off-season pick-up Burke made. Career highs in points are coming up, at a bargain salary.
C Tyler Bozak
Showing signs of emerging from slow start that raised many doubts of his first-line status.
LW Kris Versteeg
Culture shock is dissapating for the ex-Cup winning Hawk and he’s kept up his points.
RW Colby Armstrong
He and the team lost momentum with his finger injury. Leafs were 5-2-1 when he was hurt and better with him in.
CLW Nazem Kadri
Now back at primary school. Troubles with the headmaster didn’t help.
LW Mike Brown
Some of Burke’s old Anaheim truculence was welcomed, but a long-term finger injury wasn’t
C Tim Brent
Surprise training camp addition beat out Kadri and held on to his checking role.
LW Fredrik Sjostrom
His speed and penalty killing work is valued despite the PK’s poor numbers.
RW Colton Orr
Every team needs a policeman and Orr rarely crosses the line to put the team in trouble.
C John Mitchell
Up and down battle to stay in the lineup won’t be helped by his latest knee injury.
Incomplete grades: G James Reimer, D Keithe Aulie, RW Joey Crabb, LW Luca Caputi, C Darryl Boyce.
Coach Ron Wilson and staff
They have a young roster and need Burke to deliver another experienced body, but poor starts to games, special teams’ woes, plus late-game breakdowns are not all the players’ fault. The players certainly haven’t quit on Wilson.
General manager Brian Burke
Big moves in the off-season, but no movement in standings
Five first-half flops
* Leafs wilt in three fan-friendly road buildings in Montreal, Buffalo and Ottawa, out-scored 8-1.
* Burke and Wilson criticize rookie Nazem Kadri’s flaws, but let to many veterans off the hook.
* Eight games without a win (0-6-2) and 10 losses in 11 ruins a promising start.
* Waffle throwing, booing of Dion Phaneuf and ‘Fire Wilson’ chants as impatient ACC gets ugly.
* Kessel goes nine games without a goal against Boston as another lottery pick looms.
Five finer points
* 4-0 start one of the best in club history.
* Newcomer Clarke MacArthur leads team in points; he Giguere and Schenn call out unwhelming teammates.
* Down 4-1 after two periods, Leafs stun Ovechkin and Caps with first win in team history when down by two and less than three minutes to go.
* Wilson - Kaberle family feud story goes away.
* Leafs’ finally showing some prowess on the power play and ability to win shootouts.
Second half predictions
* Improved play next month. Leafs are 74-54-18 after Feb. 1 since the NHL lockout.
* Trades closer to the Feb. 28 NHL deadline, but the goal should be draft picks, not bodies.
* More Marlie call-ups if Leafs tumble from the race, Kadri, Aulie and more of the young defencemen.
* Contracts a big story with Kaberle, Giguere and RFAs such as MacArthur.
* Wilson’s future if he becomes the first Leaf coach to miss the playoffs three times.