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Report: Setoguchi to join Maple Leafs. Can he rediscover his 30-goal ways?

Devin Setoguchi is reportedly close to heading to Toronto and could have a shot at making the Maple Leafs out of training camp. If that’s the case, the 28-year-old could be a nice fit in Toronto as the Maple Leafs and Setoguchi work to turn things around.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Devin Setoguchi’s 2014-15 campaign was forgettable, but he could be getting a shot to prove he still has some game left in him at the NHL level.

This past season, Setoguchi began the campaign with the Calgary Flames on a one-year, $750,000 deal. Coming off of a disappointing 11-goal, 27-point season with Winnipeg in 2013-14, the hope was Setoguchi could provide some scoring punch on a show-me deal with the Flames. Instead, he went pointless in 12 games and was promptly demoted to the AHL. While some would have considered it his last shot at the NHL, a report says Toronto will be giving him a chance come training camp.

According to a report from CTV Calgary’s Glenn Campbell, Setoguchi has signed the paperwork to join the Maple Leafs for what appears to be a tryout contract. The deal hasn’t been officially announced by Toronto, but the one-time 30-goal man will likely be heading to Leafs Nation for a shot at making the team out of camp.

Along with the news that Setoguchi is heading to Toronto comes word that the 28-year-old had checked himself into rehab and has been “clean and sober” for five months. It was never reported that Setoguchi had substance abuse problems, but he says he’ll enter camp with a new outlook.

“It’s been a real long road, but I’m feeling great,” Setoguchi told CTV Calgary. “It’s the best I’ve felt in a long time. And I’ve had a lot of clarity and a lot of eye-opening stuff happen…So I’m going into camp with a clear head and I’m feeling really special.”

With his new attitude and fresh outlook, can Setoguchi get back to the star sniper he once was, though?

For Setoguchi, having a successful season, especially coming off of a year in which he was demoted, likely means 15 goals and 30 points and a full season of NHL action. Problem is he hasn’t produced those point totals since the 2011-12 campaign with the Minnesota Wild. The difficulty for Setoguchi is that his one great year — a 31-goal, 65-point season with the San Jose Sharks — has saddled him with great expectations for the past several years.

Drafted in the first round, eighth overall, by the Sharks in 2008, Setoguchi bucked the sophomore slump with his big year, but every other season the right winger has been an average NHL scorer and effective bottom-six forward. That he had the one big year was thanks in large part to Joe Thornton, who was an incredible setup man for the then-22-year-old Setoguchi. His goal total was also bolstered by 11 power play markers.

That season, with Thornton as his pivot, Setoguchi mustered 246 shots on goal, 33rd most in the NHL. In subsequent years, when Setoguchi’s goal total slipped from 31 to 11 in his last full year with Winnipeg, his shot totals took a dive.

What Setoguchi needs to recapture his goal-scoring form is a center who can get him the puck in space so he can get a shot off. Setoguchi’s shooting percentage has remained consistently around the 11 percent mark for his career, meaning when he gets the openings, he’s finding the back of the net. It’s no surprise that Setoguchi’s first slip from 31 goals to 20 correlates with him spending fewer minutes alongside Thornton and more with Joe Pavelski. Give him a playmaker and Setoguchi can give you some goals.

In Toronto, Setoguchi might be able to provide a surprising amount of offense if he’s playing alongside a Nazem Kadri or William Nylander, but there’s a better chance he suits up in the bottom six. If the Maple Leafs are patient and don’t expect Setoguchi to be more than an effective 20-goal player, they could be happily surprised.


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