The decade of the 2000s has been especially poor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and they have only made the playoffs on five occasions in 16 years. One can blame this bad stretch on bad management decisions or poor coaching but the one common denominator is that the Leafs have had a lot of awful players on their squads since the new millennium. The worst stretch perhaps in the franchise's entire history, has been since the 2004-05 lockout. The Leafs have only made the playoffs on one occasion, losing in the first round to the Boston Bruins in 2012-13. Even then, that was a 48-game season, so essentially the Leafs have yet to make the playoffs in a full season since 2004.
In formulating this list I realized that a lot of the worst players that have played for the Leafs have not scored a lot of points or have not played in a lot of games. For the former, most of these players were not on the team to score fancy goals but to be a fourth-line grinder and cause momentum with a big hit or fight. However, with the league changing over the past few years, the emphasis has been more on skill and speed and the role of the goon has been all but channeled out.
The purpose of this article was to show the average hockey fan that fringe fourth line players that can not skate at the current speed of the NHL and provide some sort of meaningful skillset, will not last long in the league. More than half of the players on this list were fighters and depth players in the older NHL and as the game got faster and their skills diminished, they simply could not keep up with the speed of the game. Thus they were no longer needed and they were either sent to the minors or forced to retire and find new careers.
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21 Mike Komisarek
Komisarek is not number one in a lot of Leafs fans hearts, but he is the best of the worst when it comes to this list. He is on this list because after he signed with the Leafs his career went down the toilet and he did not contribute much of anything and currently his NHL career is on life support. Nevertheless, somehow before signing with the Leafs he was named an NHL All Star in 2009. We can thank the Montreal ballot stuffers for that! At 34 years old he might be able to make a comeback in the league but only if a team is really desperate and he plays a limited role.
20 Andrew Raycroft
Raycroft’s career started off nicely enough and he won the Calder Trophy in 2004 as the league’s best rookie, but after being traded to the Leafs in 2006 his career took a major nose dive. His goals against average went from 2.05 in his rookie year to 3.92 in his second and final year with the Leafs. He was so bad during his second year that Leafs management waived him on June, 24, 2008 and gave the starting goalie position to Vesa Toskala who was also pretty terrible and could very well also be on this list!
19 Mark Bell
Bell’s career started positively as well and in his first five years with the Blackhawks from 2001-2006 he had two 20 goal seasons. However, when he signed with the Leafs in 2007, he encountered some demons and his NHL career did not continue to develop. He was suspended the first 15 games of the NHL season from a DUI conviction in 2006 and he never bounced back from that and since 2007 he has focused on making his life better and staying away from drugs and alcohol.
Bell last played in the NHL in 2012 and has 87 career goals to his credit. Bell is on this list partially for his bad behavior but mostly that in his one season with the Leafs he only managed 10 points in 35 games which is pretty terrible for a former top 10 draft pick which he was in 1998.
18 Colby Armstrong
Armstrong was another one of those free agents that just did not work out for the team. He signed a three-year $9 million contract in 2010 but played in 79 games and managed only 26 points due to injury during that span. The third year of his contract was bought out but he has only played in one NHL season since 2012. He currently works for Rogers Media in Canada as an analyst and he is a better broadcaster than hockey player. At least better than what he was for the Leafs!
17 Jamal Mayers
The only reason why Mayers is not higher on this list is because of his longevity in the league and he is part of one of the bigger trades in Leafs history as he was part of the Dion Phaneuf package in 2010. Unlike a lot of the players on this list Mayers managed to stick around the league with a very minimal skillset since he could skate and did not have hands of stone. He had 90 goals in his NHL career and played over 900 games and won one Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. However, in 115 games for the Leafs he only scored 9 goals and had 24 total points.
16 Christian Hanson
The Leafs have had a habit of signing American free agents for some reason and Hanson was one of the first. His NHL career only lasted 42 games in which he scored a measly three goals and recorded nine points total. What puts Hanson on this list is that even his AHL career was awful and in his best season in the minors he only managed 13 goals and 34 points for the Toronto Marlies, back in 2011.
15 Brad May
Brad May is similar to Mayers since he has longevity playing over 1,000 games in the NHL but he has had some seasons that were down-right awful. His worst statistical season was 2005-06 in which he had only six points for the Colorado Avalanche. He is best known for his "May Day!" overtime goal back in 1993 against the Bruins, but by the time he got to Toronto, it was clear he was no longer an NHL caliber player. In his lone season with the Leafs in 2008-09 he had only two points in 38 games. He currently is a successful broadcaster with Rogers Sportsnet and analyst with the Buffalo Sabres.
14 Boyd Devereaux
How Devereaux managed to play 627 games in the NHL is beyond me. I guess being picked 6th overall by the Oilers in 1996 had something to do with it? He had a career high nine goals for the Detroit Red Wings during the 2000-01 season and has a very modest 67 goals in the NHL. Since playing his last NHL game in 2009, Devereaux has participated in The Battle of the Blades, a figure skating completion that was broadcasted in Canada. He and his partner finished in third place.
13 Wayne Primeau
Another player that has played a bunch of games in the NHL with 774 to his name, but another player on this list that was not that good. Primeau’s best season came in 2004 when he scored 9 goals and totaled 29 points for the San Jose Sharks. In his one season with the Leafs in 2009-20 he scored 8 points in 59 games and has 194 points in his NHL career. Too bad his brother Keith who was a force with the Detroit Red Wings could not share some of his talent with his brother.
12 Colton Orr
I remember Colton Orr playing for the Maple Leafs and he busted his butt every time he was on the ice and did whatever he could to help the Leafs win. He was a heart and soul player and great team guy but at the end of the day he just was not good enough to play in the league anymore. His intangibles made him last as long as he did in the NHL with 477 games played and only 24 total points scored. It is kind of sad to see that his NHL career was largely ended due to a concussion he suffered during a fight with George Parros in 2010, but bottom line is that even if he did not suffer the injury, there is no way he would be able to play in the current NHL.
11 Vesa Toskala
Vesa Toskala was a complete bust in Toronto after showing a lot of promise in his short stint with the Sharks. He is one of a parade of Toronto goaltenders that failed. In three seasons with the Leafs, Toskala's numbers dipped to under .900 in SV%. His numbers in Toronto totaled out at 145 games, an .894 SV% and a 3.08 GAA. Toskala eventually began sharing starts with Jonas Gustavsson, as Toskala flopped. He was eventually traded to Calgary where his NHL career ended after just six more starts.
10 Rickard Wallin
Why the Leafs management allowed Wallin to play 60 games for the team during the 2009-10 is beyond me. Prior to that he had only played 19 games for the Minnesota Wild between 2002-2004 and played rest of his career in Sweden where he has had some team success. I think even Wallin knew that he was not an NHL player and that is why he stayed away from the NHL and only the ignorance of the Leafs allowed him one last chance to play in the best hockey league in the world.
9 Brett Lebda
Lebda is the only undrafted player on this list and for good reason. He played professional hockey for nine years from 2004-2013, but only played in 397 games and scored 97 points in the NHL. He played with the Leafs in 2010-11 and only scored 1 goal and added 3 assists in 41 games. He last played in the NHL in 2012 for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Lebda was one of those guys that showed some skill in college and in the NHL, but this did not translate to any offensive output in the NHL.
8 Ryan Hollweg
Hollweg was actually a decent goal scorer in junior but none of this translated to success in the AHL or NHL. He scored 20 and 30 goals on a couple of occasions for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, but his best season in the NHL was 2005-06 when he scored a lowly 5 points for the New York Rangers and in his entire NHL career he scored only 5 goals and 14 points in 228 games. As for his Leafs tenure, he played just 25 games and managed two assists.
His AHL numbers were almost as bad with his best season coming in 2010-2011 for the San Antonia Rampage when he had 17 points.
7 Brendan Bell
There are a couple of reasons why Brendan Bell is higher than Brett Lebda on this list. First and foremost was that he was a second-round draft pick of the Leafs in 2001, 61st overall, but it took him four years to make his Leafs debut during the 2005-06 season. His first full season was the following season and he played in 31 games but only managed five points. He was then traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for Yanic Perreault on February, 7th 2007.
His best NHL season was in 2008-09 with the Ottawa Senators and he scored 21 points in 53 games which is actually pretty decent. The second reason why Bell is so high on this list is that out of the 12 years he has played professionally, only five were in the NHL. Also, other than those two years he had with Toronto and Ottawa, he stayed in the NHL for less than 20 games that season.
6 David Clarkson
David Clarkson has to be an inclusion on this list due to his massive contract and how low below expectations he crashed. While he never should have been given the ridiculous seven-year, $36.5 million deal, no one would have expected such a massive drop off in production. Clarkson cashed in on a 30-goal season in New Jersey. His Maple Leafs career began by serving a 10-game suspension due to clearing the bench in a preseason game. He finished his first season with 11 points in 60 games. He managed 15 points in 58 games the next season before the Leafs miraculously got out of his contract by trading him to Columbus for Nathan Horton.
4 Philippe Dupuis
Dupuis is as high as he is on this list because in his lone season with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011-2012 he did not contribute a damn thing. He played in 30 games and did not register a single point while accumulating 16 penalty minutes. He is perhaps the most fringe player on this list as he did not really play any role in his NHL career other than taking up space on the ice.
3 Frazer McLaren
Without even looking at McLaren’s NHL statistics I knew that he was a bad player. When he was with the Leafs from 2012-2014 I can honestly say that I never noticed him on the ice unless he was falling on his butt or making a fool out of himself. He lacked skating speed even in the slower NHL and he would make a complete tool out of himself in today’s NHL.
He is a tough guy that for whatever reason never fought and he again just there on the ice to take up space and not contribute much of anything. His stats are not really worth mentioning but somehow he did manage to score 4 goals in the NHL. A couple most likely bounced off his rear because he had hands of stone.
2 Aki-Peterri Berg
Berg actually makes me feel good for all the bad draft picks the Leafs have made because what prompted the Los Angeles Kings to pick Berg 3rd overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft is one of the NHL’s bigger mysteries. Berg is by far the worst defenceman on this list and maybe in Leafs history and his lack of numbers most definitely backs that up. In 606 games in the NHL he only scored 15 goals and added 70 assists for 85 points. Similarly, this year the leading scoring defenceman in the NHL, Erik Karlsson has 79 points in 79 games. Berg’s last season in the NHL was in 2005-2006 and it was his worst registering only 8 assists in 75 games and a measly 56 minutes in penalties.
For someone that is 6-foot-3 and over 200 pounds, it was aggravating to watch on a night by nightly basis how he did not apply his size at all. During his playing days Berg reminded me of a big tree that just stood there waiting to get chopped down and skated around in circles of. Berg finally ended his hockey career in the Finnish National League in 2011.
1 Justin Pogge
Justin Pogge is one of the major reasons why the Leafs have struggled during the decade of the 2000s. In 2005 Leafs management deemed him their goalie of the future after winning gold with Canada at the World Junior Hockey Tournament and traded their number one draft pick Tuuka Rask to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Andrew Raycroft, who is also one of my worst Leafs since the lockout. Rask on the other hand, since he became the Bruins number one goalie in 2010 has 136 wins, 26 shutouts a career G.A.A of 2.16 and a save percentage of .926.
It pains me to see how well Rask is playing and what could have been for the Leafs and trading Rask was also my worst Leafs management move in their history in another article. Pogge played a total of 7 games in the NHL with 1 win to his credit. He continues to play hockey in Sweden.
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