A loss in the City of Brotherly Loathe wasn't the anniversary gift Joffrey Lupul had in mind.
But even with the bitter taste in his mouth of a 4-3 setback at the rugged hands of the host Philadelphia Flyers, Lupul did everything in his power to make this a special evening.
Exactly one year after coming over from the Anaheim Ducks along with defenceman Jake Gardiner and a 2013 conditional fourth- round pick in exchange for veteran blue-liner Francois Beachemin, Lupul scored a goal and added an assist at the Wells Fargo Center, a rink he knows well from his brief stint as a Flyer.
As colleague Terry Koshan points out, Lupul's strong performance on Thursday night gives him 31 goals and 45 assists for 76 points in the 83 games he has played in blue and white. That's almost a point-per-game pace.
Not bad for a guy who was considered by many to be a throw-in when the original deal with the Ducks was made.
At the time, Lupul was an unknown quantity, having come off an earlier 87-game absence with a blood infection that struck him after he had back surgery. He was also under contract through 2013 with an average cap hit of $4.25 million US.
On the surface, it seemed as if the Leafs, who had cap space at the time of the deal, were willing to take Lupul's salary off the Ducks hands in order to acquire Gardiner, a former first-round pick whose outstanding skating skills made him a coveted commodity.
Gardiner has been a pleasant surprise for the Leafs, making the team out of training camp and showing composure in his development.
At the same time, no one could have predicted the impact Lupul would have over the next 12 months. Who thought this guy would be in the top 10 in NHL scoring just a year after being traded?
As we've said before, if Brian Burke is going to be slagged about the controversial Phil Kessel trade with the Boston Bruins, he needs to be praised for fleecing the Ducks in this deal.
Lupul's not-so-happy anniversary
Toronto Sun | Feb 10