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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Lupul failed a physical in training camp last fall and promptly left the team, never to be heard from again. The Leafs put him on long-term injury reserve and there he sat. That is, until smart pundits realized he wasn't on the NHL's list of players exempt from the Vegas expansion draft because of career-ending injury. Eyebrows were raised, but the team and Lupul remained dead silent on the topic. All this aside, Loops' NHL career is done. He has been out of pro hockey for too long to jump back as a top-six player at 34. He'll collect his last year of salary from the Leafs and quietly ride off into the sunset.
Loops has never met an injury that hasn't fit his game. The poor guy – he just can't catch a break. In five seasons in blue and white, Lupul has suffered through a sports hernia, knee surgery, groin strain, forearm injury, separated shoulder and concussion. The Leafs have been trying to trade him for more than a year, but no general manager was daft enough to take on a $5 million albatross (and with a broken wing, no less). A buyout could be coming. Or the Leafs may be forced to eat a chunk of his salary in a trade. Lupul still has sick hands and could certainly skate in the middle-six on many teams if he was healthy. Let him sit on the wire until he either heals or takes his bags elsewhere. And even then, be prepared to have a Plan B for his next – and inevitable – injury.
Flip a coin – any coin. Heads, Lupul gets injured. Tails? He gets traded. Wait – you’re using a two-headed coin? That’s not fair, but sadly, it’s accurate. Loops is now the Leafs’ top-line right winger, and he has – in moments – shown remarkable offensive talent. But his output in Toronto was always better when he skated with the now-departed Phil Kessel. And now his center will be Nazem Kadri. But hear us out. Skating with Nazzy and James Van Riemsdyk could be the perfect tonic for Loops … when he’s healthy, of course. JVR and Kadri can play the cycle; Loops is a drive-the-net, one-shot guy. If those two guys can dig out the puck, Lupul can finish. And he could even find twine 25 times. He’ll be available late in drafts; you can do worse in the last few rounds.
"Loops" isn't getting any younger, and he's certainly not getting any healthier. You can pretty much count on him missing 20 games a season, and that means you'll need to have a handcuff for him if you decide to buy in. We'd like him a lot more if he skated beside Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak -- his chemistry with Nazem Kadri is awkward at best. Count on him to score at a 60-point pace, but remember that injury risk, and the plus-minus drain that comes with that lack of chemistry.
Loops has been nothing short of electric in blue and white … when he's healthy, that is. He was arguably the Leafs' most exciting and productive player in 2011-12 until he hit the IR, and was equally exciting in just 16 games last season (18 points, including 11 goals). But injuries have been an annual occurrence for the only hockey player to make the 2013 best bodies list and we can't help but think that trend will continue. Draft him as an elite scorer, but count on 15-20 missed games.
Loops and Phil Kessel displayed all 29 dimensions of compatibility last season -- they had the sizzle and they had the steak. And, until he went down with a separated shoulder, Lupul was among the league's best offensive players. In fact, he and the Thrill rivaled the Sedin twins in on-ice chemistry and output. Will he repeat his point-per-game pace of last year? We doubt it -- compatibility will only get you so far. Don't get us wrong -- he'll do well enough. But'll likely miss a dozen games and bring home 60-odd points. He'll be an early overdraft this year -- don't take the bait. We want to see a full season of good health before we anoint him one of the game's best wingers.
Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve -- Joffrey Lupul should have been a sniping star. But injuries in his prime development years pretty much flat-lined his growth and he’s been an underachiever everywhere. He didn’t exactly explode after his arrival in Toronto last year but he was still getting back into game shape. And there were signs that he was developing some chemistry with linemate Phil Kessel. This year, he and Kessel will get a true playmaking center and that will benefit both men. A 30-60 season is absolutely possible if he’s finally healthy.
A back injury effectively ended his season in 2009-10, and the winger only played in 23 games for the Ducks. Typically, Lupul puts up solid numbers having scored more than 20 goals and more than 45 points in three out of five seasons. His point production allowed teams to trade him for Chris Pronger, twice, during his career. Because of his back injury, his health is a huge question mark for 2010-11. But if he is healthy and competitive, the potential from him to score 20 or more goals this season is there. The only issue that would hold Lupul back is finding the right role for him with Anaheim stocked with forwards.
Lupul returns to the team that originally drafted him in the first round in 2002 and where he spent his first two NHL seasons. Lupul joins a solid young forward group in Anaheim that includes Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. Lupul will most likely play on the second line with Teamu Selanne and Sakou Koivu. Lupul finished with 25 goals last season, he could easily reach 30 this coming year and should be treated at a top 25 forward in fantasy drafts.
The 24-year-old Lupul was red-hot last season until a concussion and spinal cord bruise sidelined him early in 2008. He returned only to be sidelined a week later with a high-ankle sprain. He played just 56 games last season but was still able to tally 46 points. Lupul was healthy and productive during the playoffs so provided that last season's injuries were an aberration, look for him to stay close to a point-per-game pace.
It is surprising that a 23-year-old with Lupul's scoring ability is on his third team in three years. Expect him to find a home in Philadelphia and have a strong season. He's a goal scorer and will keep finding the back of the net. Forty points isn't a long shot, so keep him in mind late in your draft.
Lupul comes over to Edmonton as part of the Pronger trade. In his second season, Lupul lit the lamp 28 times, increasing his rookie total by 15. Of those goals, 12 came with the man-advantage. The pressure of the playoffs didn’t rattle him either as he potted nine goals in 16 playoff games for the Ducks. And for those in leagues that give bonus points for shots on goal, he was 12th in league with 296. At just 23 years old, he should be a part of the Edmonton offense for years to come.
The 21-year-old showed glimpses in 2003-04 what he's capable of (13/21/34 in 75 games). Even if Lupul starts the season on the third line, it'll only be a matter of a handful of games before he gets promoted to the second line -- if he's not already stationed there when the season begins. In his first NHL season, Lupul held his own, showing guts in the corners and in front of the net; he finished fifth on the team in scoring. He'll have to maintain that aggressive style if he's going to grow as a potential scoring machine. Last year at Cincinnati (AHL), Lupul had 56 points in 65 games. If Lupul can improve a bit with his puck handling and overall ice knowledge, there's no reason he can't score 40-45 points this season.