During the 2010-2011 season, Clarke MacArthur was undoubtedly one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ best forwards.
Playing alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, he set a new career high in points (62), recording 21 goals and 41 assists across a full season – the only time he’s ever hit the 82-game mark in his nine-season NHL career. The 62 points he scored were good enough for second place on the team behind sniper Phil Kessel when the season finally ended.
(For what it’s worth, Grabovski (58) and Kulemin (57) also set new career highs in points that season – individual highs that none of the three players has come close to repeating over the last three seasons with the exception of “Grabo” in 2011-2012. The bottom line: the trio gave the Leafs legitimate scoring depth on the second line in 2010-2011, which Toronto’s struggled to replicate ever since.)
Unfortunately, MacArthur’s production in Toronto quickly dropped afterwards with him recording 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) and 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) in the two subsequent seasons.
Part of this drop in production can be attributed to head coach Randy Carlyle, who left MacArthur feeling frustrated after he took over the coaching duties from disgraced former head coach Ron Wilson.
“It was a tough way to end it,” MacArthur once told the media. “Just getting scratched in the playoffs, that was it for me. I came back and I scored some goals that were good for the team, but I was done here after that. That was it, the game of hockey, it wasn’t exciting coming in any more. It was time to move on.”
However, it would be unfair to blame Carlyle entirely for MacArthur’s sudden decline in performance. It may be the case the 2010-2011 season was a fluke for him, Grabovski and Kulemin since their individual numbers have all declined following that magical season or that as their respective roles have changed, their respective point totals have changed, too.
(MacArthur himself seems to hold Carlyle mainly to blame, especially when it comes to Grabovski’s drop in numbers: “He was a guy who had 30 goals and two years of 55 or whatever points, and then Randy came in and it just didn’t work out. They turned him into a checker and look at him now – four points in his first game [with Washington], three goals.”)
In any event, MacArthur would leave the Leafs as a free agent in the summer of 2012 to join their provincial rivals. The Ottawa Senators signed MacArthur to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million. He preformed strongly for his new team, recording 55 points (24 goals, 31 assists) in 79 games. For a team lacking offence, these are solid numbers – he finished fourth in scoring on the team.
With the departure of captain Jason Spezza this off-season and the possible/probable loss of Bobby Ryan next summer, the Senators gave MacArthur a five-year extension yesterday, carrying him right through to the 2019-2020 season at the cool cost of $23.25o million. His average cap hit over this span is a very manageable $4.65 million, especially if the salary cap continues to expand as expected.
What does this mean for Leafs fans? While it didn’t work out for MacArthur in Toronto, he’s been able to find a new home in Ottawa. We’ll have plenty of opportunities to see his stuff over the coming years, but it’ll be in a different jersey. That’s the regrettable part given the scoring depth he once provided the Leafs. I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll burn us at some point in the future.
What are your thoughts on MacArthur’s time in Toronto and his new deal with Ottawa? Is it really a deal with the devil?
Let us know in the comments section below.
(Editor’s Note: You can get the full details on MacArthur’s contract extension from the Ottawa Citizen here.)