The tides have turned. Peter Horachek is a genius. Tyler Bozak is going to come from behind and win the Rocket Richard in the final games. G-Man is going to finish top ten in team plus/minus. Everything is going according to plan.
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch. Though, technically, Garret Gamble is actually 6th in team plus/minus right now. Anyway, today is Monday, which means its time to answer some mailbag questions!
@matthew_gooding asked: Why is Trevor Smith playing instead of Casey Bailey?
Getting Bailey into the lineup for his first game was more of a contractual obligation than anything. The Leafs flexed their financial muscles by promising a burning of his first contract year now, rather than next season.
Obviously, you want to show him that you’re committed to your promise, so they put him in the first game the could, but I imagine the next step is getting a thorough evaluation of what exactly he is and what they can do with him moving forward. In the meantime, Smith is a pending UFA and is using these final games to try to get a job, be it in the form of an extension or with another team.
We’ll probably see Bailey again before the year ends, but in the meantime, it makes sense.
@ReasonableOnion asked: Even though he’s on Long-Term Injured Reserve, does Nathan Horton still count toward the 50 contract roster limit?
Yes. Being on injured reserve still makes him a part of the roster, and until just before opening night, he’ll technically be listed as a player that is available to play. As long as he has a contract and is on a professional roster in the Leafs organization, he’s part of the 50 contracts.
@michysmichy asked: Why do people still care?
Because if the team being bad was enough reason for people to stop caring, the team would have folded thirty years ago. Love, whether it’s for a human being or a professional sports team is irrational and defies all forms of common sense.
Besides, the NHL is an entertainment product, and even though it’s not the result you’re looking for, the Leafs are at least a mildly entertaining disaster. It’s like slowing down to look at a car accident along the highway.
@ahurst11 asked: Do you see the Leafs going after Panarin, Tikhonov, or O’Connor if they are at the 50 contract limit?
If they feel they have a significant chance at making something happen, and they’re certain these guys are the real deal, they’ll find a way. The “trade deadline” only affects playoff eligibility, so there’s nothing stopping them from making a contract dump trade with a team that is okay with a low incentive or merely owes someone in management a favour.
That said, other than some brief speculation around O’Connor, I don’t really know if these are serious concerns.
@Dr_UO asked: If the Edmonton Oilers decide to sell their first round draft pick for this season, should the Leafs try to obtain it?
The Leafs should be trying to acquire any draft pick they can. Picking up another blue chip prospect isn’t something that can easily be ruled out, obviously, but it’ll ultimately come down to value. If the Oilers are really in love with some of Toronto’s roster players that they’d like to shop? Sure. If they want Morgan Rielly and William Nylander? No.
There’s no point in closing doors, but you should always open with caution.