Last season, Clarke MacArthur came out of nowhere to score 62 points, doubling his previous career-high in becoming the Toronto Maple Leafs’ darkhorse.
This year, the darkhorse will be none other than newly-added centreman Phillipe Dupuis. Known for his on-ice energy, Dupuis, 26, played in his first full season in the NHL last year with Colorado Avalanche where he scored 17 points in 74 games. Dupuis signed a two-way one-year deal with the Leafs worth $650,000 on July 7.
His 128 hits from last year ranked fourth on the Avalanche while his +34 in giveaways/ takeaways ranked him second on the team. Although he’s not a big point producer, he’ll give point-producers like Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski plenty of chances to score because he generates puck possessions.
The Laval, Québec- native was also fifth amongst Avalanche forwards in average short handed time on ice per game at 1:35. That should come in handy to the Leafs who were dead last in the Eastern Conference in penalty kills.
The weakest area of his game was that of winning the draw. His face-off percentage was a measly 46.2 per cent which was sixth amongst Avalanche centreman, and nearly six per cent less than Tim Brent, the centreman he is set to replace on the fourth line this season.
The Leafs had two 20-goal scorers and two 30-goal scorers last season so clearly the offensive depth is there.
What the Leafs get in Dupuis is a hardworking agitator who could help defensively in shorthanded situations, just what they need. Now. the Leafs’ fourth-line is projected to be one of the meanest and most toughest in the league featuring the likes of Phillipe Dupuis, Mike Brown and Colton Orr, the team leader in fighting major penalties.
A darkhorse is a supposed to be a no-name player who makes a name for himself by overachieving. There’s no question Dupuis is a no-namer, he’s been virtually unheard of around the league, at least in the East. But with a little bit of hard work and defensive presence, Dupuis can most definitely make a name for himself in Toronto.