Jeffler is a very busy boy. He is in the holiday spirit and is at the local mall buying lots of gifts for his family and friends and Twitter followers. If you do not receive one, I’d ask him “What’s up? Do you not like me?”
As he’s very busy, I have taken over the Monday Mailbag and have also trashed the truck and lit it on fire.
Jonathan Bernier’s Next Contract
— Kanye Cam Rennie (@cameron_rennie) December 16, 2014
I believe that Jonathan Bernier is a good number one goaltender, and I believe that the Toronto Maple Leafs have every intention of keeping him around and playing him like a good number one goaltender. The not-so-nice part about that is that the Leafs will also have to pay him like a good number one goaltender.
There are a lot of goalies who have followed a similar trajectory as Bernier. First, they play through their entry-level contract, get their feet wet in the NHL on consecutive one, two or three year deals, then get a hefty raise and sign longterm. Jimmy Howard and Cory Schneider both followed this kind of path, and currently make (or are just about to make) $5M to $6M a season.
What makes Bernier a unique case is that at the end of this season, he’ll be a restricted free agent.
This gives the Leafs a considerable amount of negotiating power, though I don’t think they’ll be too eager to play hardball with their prized netminder.
I think you’re likely going to see Bernier’s new contract come in at somewhere between $4.5M and $5M a season, for two or three years. This way, Bernier makes some pretty good coin in the short term, and sets himself up for a big payday just as he enters his late 20’s.
It’s not dissimilar to a bridge deal, which is pretty ok for goaltenders in my opinion. I don’t think you can use that same long-term, low dollar strategy that you can use on skaters, and who actually wants to be tied to any goalie for six or seven-plus years? Not this guy.
Splitting Up The Top Line
@thejustinfisher the Leafs 21-42-81 line is the worst top line in the NHL by Corsi rel. Is it time to break them up?
— Daniel Henry (@haganenodan) December 16, 2014
That’s a very tough question.
If we’re just talking about fixing the top line, then yes, I’d be pulling Tyler Bozak out and letting Nazem Kadri play between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel. I think Kadri’s been pretty fantastic lately, and I think he’s earned the opportunity to get an extended look (say, five games?) with the team’s top wingers.
That being said, the Leafs have been winning a lot of games lately because of their second and third and fourth lines. At the same time, they have not been losing games because of their first line. Whoa, right?
If you take Nazem Kadri and use him to amp up your top line, does Bozak cause problems between Daniel Winnik and Mike Santorelli? Or does he break up a pretty effective Joffrey Lupul-Peter Holland-David Clarkson line?
Splitting up (an ideally improving) the top line is easy enough to do by promoting Kadri, but if it causes negative repercussions throughout the rest of your lineup then it probably isn’t worth doing.
There’s also the fact that the Leafs are winning games and racking up points right now. It might be unsustainable and come down like a house of cards, but I wouldn’t do anything to the lineup as it stands until we do see things go a little sideways.
Kadri should be playing with van Riemsdyk and Kessel, but making that change should probably wait until the Leafs’ next two-game losing streak.
Trade Rumours Got You Down?
— Lazer (@notreallylazer) December 16, 2014
Probably because it drives fans up the wall, and in turn makes them talk about it, and obsess about it, and visit and revisit Sprotsnet Dot Com over and over again to find out if it anything has actually happened.
There’s also something sexy about trading away young stars. Look at Edmonton right now with Taylor Hall – people are eating that story up. I know I am.
To be honest though, I haven’t heard anyone seriously talking about trading Jake Gardiner or Kadri in a while.
Let the sports media outlets say what they want, but I think most Leafs fans, despite some apprehensions, now trust the front office enough to not to ship out young talent for the sake of shipping out young talent. I mean, I think people were pretty impressed when sure-to-be-traded Jake Gardiner became signed-for-five-years Jake Gardiner. I don’t think the same group that made that call (Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas, probably) would turn around and deal Kadri. At least not for a fair return.
If your real question is why aren’t we talking more about trading Bozak? Well, we probably should be. I’m not going to slag on his underlying numbers because I find that boring, but yes, we should be talking about trading him.
Bozak is having a good year, at least according to the boxscores. Say what you will about his Corsi but he’s also got 25 points in 30 games and I’m sorry but that’s pretty good. If there ever was a time where another team would say “hey, that Bozak guy could be a solid contributor for us”, it’s probably now. And they’d probably be wrong about it, which is good for the Leafs.
But I don’t know. I just can’t see it. Unless this team completely crashes and burns (again) then I don’t see how anyone in the front office will justify moving Bozak while the Leafs are in the hunt. And if this team does crash and burn (again) then it will be far more than Bozak being moved out.
Sorry, but I think you’re probably going to have to deal with Bozak until at least the offseason, if not longer. The only way I see him not playing out his contract for Toronto is if Bozak is part of a package that brings in a true number one centre.
And who’s that? What, Eric Staal? Man, that’s a whole other question for a whole ‘nother mailbag.
— princess dianga (@bobbycappucino) December 16, 2014
God, if I only knew…