Prior to last nights game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs were relying primarily on the Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski lines for offense. Since the all-star break there have only been five forwards who have registered goals for the Leafs: Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur. With all the talk during the four game losing streak focusing on the poor play of both Jonas Gustavsson and James Reimer, or the sloppy defensive zone coverage (all justified points by the way) the lack of secondary scoring has flown under the radar.
In an effort to remedy the situation Ron Wilson has moved struggling centre Tim Connolly to the wing alongside Grabovski and MacArthur. However the offense is still missing from the other players. An ability to receive production from your so called role players is key to successful teams, and the Leafs have been glaringly missing it as of late. Even in the best of times the majority of Toronto’s offense relies on how the top two lines are going, but this has definitely been the worst stretch of the season.
While I have nothing against Joey Crabb, Mike Brown, Darrly Boyce and Colby Armstrong the fact of the matter is that at the moment they are not getting the job done. Would it not be wise of the Leafs to perhaps recall Matt Frattin from the American Hockey League to remedy this offensive problem? After playing the majority of the first half of the season with the Leafs Frattin took his demotion to the Toronto Marlies in stride and has been on fire as of late. In 18 games with the Marlies this season the former University of North Dakota product has scored 11 goals and has 14 points in total. During his stay with the Leafs Frattin demonstrated that he is not a liability in his own zone, and that he is also willing to go to the dirty areas to get the job done (something absent from the current Leafs roster). Physically capable of playing a bottom six role, there is no legitimate reason why Frattin is not playing alongside Matthew Lombardi and Nikolai Kulemin on the third line.
As the Leafs continue to lose games as well as a grasp on the playoffs it may be time to shake things up by providing a hungry rookie like Frattin an opportunity to inject some enthusiasm and offense into a stagnant Leafs squad.