Toronto Maple Leafs: Low Expectations for Devin Setoguchi?


The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Devin Setoguchi to a professional tryout contract

The Toronto Maple Leafs have opted to take a non-committal chance on Devin Setoguchi, handing him a professional tryout contract. This much is common knowledge, but it’s not clear what Setoguchi will provide the Leafs should he make the team out of training camp.

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There are essentially two phases to Setoguchi’s career based around his time with the San Jose Sharks: the good and the mediocre.

Playing with the likes of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle, Setoguchi was good for at least 20 goals per (full) season in San Jose. He set a career high of 65 points (31 goals, 34 assists) in 81 games during the 2008-2009 campaign – his first full season in the NHL and a full 24 points above his next best season (2010-2011).

However, these numbers must be read with some caution. As mentioned, they were recorded in the presence of several elite-level players and came during a particularly dominant stretch of hockey from the Sharks. The Sharks won a President’s Trophy (2008-2009) during Setoguchi’s time with the team; they finished second overall on two other occasions.

Oct 4, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Calgary Flames forward Devin Setoguchi (22) prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

In other words, Setoguchi played for some mighty impressive Sharks teams and benefited from this simple fact. You only need to look at his career numbers on other teams for confirmation of this.

After four seasons with the Sharks, Setoguchi was traded to the Minnesota Wild in 2011 as part of the package for Brent Burns. He put up 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 69 games during his first season as a member of the Wild. This was actually a pretty decent output for Setoguchi based on his career numbers and mirrors his last two seasons in San Jose. He also put up 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) for the Wild during the lockout shortened season, but this wasn’t enough to solidify his place on the team.

Jan 18, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Devin Setoguchi (40) warms up prior to the game against the Edmonton Oilers at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

With one year left on his contract, Setoguchi was traded to the Winnipeg Jets during the off-season for a second round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. His one season in Winnipeg wasn’t memorable – he registered 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 75 games – and he joined the Calgary Flames as a free agent in the summer of 2014.

If the 2008-2009 season with the Sharks represents the high point in Setoguchi’s career, then the 2014-2015 season with the Flames represents the low point. He was held pointless over 12 games in his brief playing time for Calgary – a truly disappointing campaign for someone who used to record 20 goals a season with ease.

This brings us to the present where the Leafs are the latest team to take a chance on Setoguchi. They might be hoping for another Mason Raymond, but they may find they actually have a Jonathan Cheechoo on their hands: a one-hit wonder with the Sharks.

Setoguchi has been more consistent than Cheechoo over the course of his career. This isn’t enough, however, to hide the fact he benefited from playing with the Sharks during their peak years and if the Leafs are hoping to replicate the level of success Setoguchi enjoyed in San Jose, they better brace themselves for disappointment. It won’t happen.

What are your thoughts on the Setoguchi deal? Is he worth a look or are the Leafs just wasting their time on him? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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