If you look back to July and August the Leafs would have given Matt Stajan away for basically nothing. He was even a healthy scratch early into this season. Now however he is showing us what Pat Quinn and the Leaf's brass had noticed in his game. Taken in the second round 57 overall to his hometown Maple Leafs the pressure was on Matt right away. Scoring in his first NHL game while playing the wing with Sundin and Roberts shot expectations way too high for the young center.
Quinn had always maintained that although Stajan had the ability to put up decent numbers in the NHL, he was valued more for his hockey sense. Stajan now rejuvenated and injected with some Ron Wilson venom, he has started to take his game to the next level. Last year was the first year in Stajan's NHL career that he was a minus player, and the first time dating back to his first of 3 season with Belleville.
So we ask ourselves, is this a product of good coaching or a late bloomer? My answer, is both. Wilson is a defensive coach who has shown respect for Stajan's ability to play in his own end. After he benched him, he told Stajan what he wanted done and then gave him the ice and wingers to do it. The other side of that is that it can take a lot longer for young players to develop in Toronto, the pressure is something that none of us regular folk can understand.
The real test will be to see if he can sustain this pace for a full season. If some one told us last year that Stajan will pot 20 and 80 points we'd have laughed hard enough to rupture a kidney, now tasting our feet is not all bad. If production slows to below 60 point pace he'll be moved and if it sticks I think he sticks. At 24 years old we can't afford to just give up on him. Just look at Mike Fisher, Stajan is a similar player and wouldn't we all welcome Mike fisher?
So, surprised? to this level, YES!