Tim Stapleton, 29, RW, 5’9, 180 lbs
Last Year's Rating: N/A This Year's Rating: #23 Difference: N/A
As an undrafted player coming into the Toronto Maple Leafs organization during the 2008-09 season, Tim Stapleton has had his rounds in the NHL, AHL, and in Europe trying to become a permanent fixture on a team.
Though undersized, Stapleton showed his offensive potential in the USHL during two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers. His 82 points in 113 games before being joining the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
He played four seasons with the Bulldogs, never scoring less than 30 points in a season. He had 152 points in 162 games before finishing off the 2005-06 with the Portland Pirates, collecting five assists in nine regular season games.
Without getting a contract offer in the NHL, Stapleton went to Finland where he played two seasons with Jokerit Helsinki, becoming a scoring machine, scoring 110 points in 111 games, including a 62 point season (29 goals, 33 assists) in only 55 games.
This prompted the Toronto Maple Leafs to sign Stapleton as he came back to North America. With the Toronto Marlies in 2008-09, he collected 79 points in 70 games. He was able to play four games with the Leafs, scoring once, with a minus three rating.
The next season, Stapleton signed with Atlanta and played the majority of the season with the Chicago Wolves, scoring 59 points in 73 games and adding 13 points in 14 playoff games. He had a brief six game stint in 2009-10 with the Thrashers, scoring twice.
Last season, Stapleton started out with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, before being dealt back to the Thrashers organization and playing 45 games, collecting seven points, 12 penalty minutes, and a minus ten rating.
Stapleton may lack size, but his speed and his playmaking ability makes him a threat on the ice. His ability to score and perform in the AHL is what drew the Thrashers to him. With the size of most of the Jets forwards, Stapleton would be able to make his presence known by having two bigger linemates who can make space for him.
If the Jets keep Stapleton, he may have a difficult time cracking the full-time roster, possibly being a third or fourth line winger. If he wants to make the roster, he may have to take a third line playmaking role. His size may be his biggest drawback but his drive and offensive potential will be his greatest asset.