For whatever reason, I had the bright idea to seek out mailbag questions on Saturday night. I wanted to get it out of the way and published, knowing that it was the last one of the season before things would truly begin to switch to topics like the offseason and the draft. The result? Questions that are vastly different to what I would get if I asked for them today.
If you have a mailbag question for next week’s post, don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments or tweet at @tlndc.
@jvreims asked: Who on the Toronto Marlies are upcoming free agents, and who do you think will return next year? Who will be added?
Unrestricted free agents on the Marlies include Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren, Troy Bodie, TJ Brennan, and Kevin Marshall. Orr and McLaren are locks to be walked away from; they haven’t played much and haven’t contributed a ton in the games they’ve played. Brennan is likely to stay; I think they’re incredibly pleased to have him back in the organization and may even consider giving him an NHL third pairing role next year. Marshall, on the other hand, has become lost in the depth chart and likely won’t return. Bodie is a wildcard; despite being named Captain recently, he’s old enough where you’d think he would need to be an elite AHLer to re-commit to, and I’m sure an NHL team will offer him a two-way.
The restricted free agent list includes Andrew MacWilliam, Petter Granberg, Sam Carrick, Greg McKegg, Brad Ross, and Eric Knodel. I don’t expect them to qualify Knodel, given the fact that he hasn’t earned AHL minutes and hasn’t exactly ripped it up in the ECHL either. The same goes for Ross; he’s well liked in the room, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations and I’m sure his banned substance suspension did him no favours. Carrick and McKegg have put up good numbers, are younger, and looked decent in the NHL, so I’d imagine they’ll stay. While I don’t see much upside in MacWilliam or Granberg, I’d expect at least one if not both of them to be retained; it’s too early in Granberg’s development to write him off, and in MacWilliam’s case, he’s that grizzled not-quite-vet depth guy that teams seem to love.
As for adding? Expect a ton of AHL/ECHL two ways being handed to undrafted free agents. As well, the 2013 draft class, now getting to the AHL required age of 20, should trickle in. This includes Frederik Gauthier, Carter Verhaeghe, Fabrice Herzog, and possibly even Andreas Johnson. Rinat Valiev (2014 3rd) is also a probable addition.
@cgaragan6 asked: if you were to keep one player, who would you pick out of Kessel, Phaneuf, Bozak, Lupul, and why?
Phil Kessel. Bozak and Lupul aren’t going to get any better or any more valuable as time progresses, and still have potential positive trade value attached to them. I’m less harsh on Phaneuf than most are, but at the same time, he’ll be getting up there in age by the end of the rebuild. Guys like Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner appear ready to be the face of the team on the blue line, so it’s not like his position is left empty if he is moved.
Kessel, on the other hand, is far and away the team’s best winger, one if it’s longest serving players, and will still be in his early thirties by the time this team is seriously competitive, and that’s if they use the overly patient model. A year of struggle puts his value at an all time low, and he’s way too good to trade for less than a kings ransom.
@lapensee182 asked: Who is Canada’s Team, and why is it the Leafs?
Canada’s team in is Team Canada. They’re the only team that every market in this country can agree to like, and the only one that really represents the full populace. Besides, even if it was an NHL team, it wouldn’t be the Leafs; everyone hates Toronto as a city and as a franchise.
While we’re on the topic; cheering for a Canadian team in the playoffs because they’re Canadian is silly. As said above, every other Canadian fanbase hates the Leafs and would cheer against them. Besides, every team is full of Canadian players, who will almost assuredly bring the cup “home” during their days with it. Pick teams that you like, don’t pick based on their corporate address.
@haganenodan: What is TLN’s position on dCorsi and War On Ice’s Wins Above Replacement statistic?
On a personal standpoint, I’m not huge on the concept of trying to pull a bunch of the numbers that we all have together in an attempt to make a super-number. In a world where we’re trying to identify inefficiencies in systems, it seems like the value of the information gained from these super-stats is less than the time invested to think them up. They don’t lead to significantly different conclusions in comparison to their separated counterparts. It seems like more time should be invested in trying to find completely new glanced-over variables in the sport and finding ways to quantify and evaluate them.
At the same time, I’m sure those efforts are being made by the very same people, and even the slightest progress is still progress. People like Stephen and the WOI team who are constantly contributing new metrics still do a bunch of good by doing so, because they’re still additional tools to have in the shed when evaluating a player or team.
I’d say that on the whole, we encourage innovation on this site and that we’re always looking forward to seeing what’s next.
@mo_toews asked: Who is your playoff team?
After a year where all of my favourite childhood teams all missed the playoffs, it feels good to have some reasons to care! I’m going for Vancouver in the West and Washington in the East. I originally started following the Canucks not long after I was a Leafs fan; Pavel Bure immediately blew my mind as a very young boy and joined Doug Gilmour as my co-favourite player of all time. Throughout the years, the Canucks have continued to add players that I immensely enjoy, which helps. As for the Caps, I was a big fan of Peter Bondra and Olaf Kolzig as a kid, and while my interest tapered off a bit in the early 2000’s, Alexander Ovechkin revitalized it in a big way. Even though I typically rank the Canucks over the Caps, I feel like a Cup Win for Ovechkin would put a stamp on his return to the top of the hockey pyramid.