Mailbag: Finnished with all the Matt Questions


I’m eating a chocolate chip granola bar right now. It is very tasty. I’m also having a bottle of water. It is very watery. Neither of these statements are relevant to anything, but I couldn’t think up a better intro. With that said, here are a few of your questions (we had a lot of them this week).

@pas_55 asked: Will the Leafs organization be choosing the new coaching
staff in Orlando?

Leafs management, largely lead by assistant GM Kyle Dubas,
has pushed a heavier than normal usage of their ECHL affiliate in the coming
years. The team plans on using a baseball-like system of signing as many young
players as possible to minor league deals, in an attempt to develop as many
potential NHL prospects as possible. It’s an expensive proposition compared to
what the rest of the league has done, but it could be one that changes the way
that teams approach their minor league programs moving forward.

But will that effect the staff? That’s a very good question,
to which I answer “yes and no”. The Leafs will be more involved in the day to
day operations of the Orlando Solar Bears than any NHL team has been with their
ECHL affiliate, no doubt. I’m sure they’ll give some opinions on what the team
should or shouldn’t do, and give a general outline of the direction they’d like
to be headed. But straight up choosing is unlikely, given the fact that they
don’t own the team and are headed into the final year of their affiliation.
Both of these things could obviously change, but as it stands, the team isn’t
in a position where they can dictate everything.

@conin79 asked: What do you make of the rumoured trade for Carolina’s 5th
overall pick?

For those out of the loop, friend of the blogosphere Eklund
floated the possibility that the Leafs could send Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri
to the Carolina Hurricanes for Alexander Semin, a third round pick, and most
importantly, the fifth overall pick in this year’s entry draft, allowing the
Leafs to go 4/5 in this year’s draft.

It’s a fun rumour to talk about, but it would be a terrible
decision on Toronto’s part. The Leafs are likely to get a very good player out
of that 5th overall pick, but nothing is guaranteed, and you’re
giving up two guaranteed players. Not to mention, whoever they draft is likely
to be in the same talent range as Kadri, but a few years behind schedule.
That’s not a bad thing in a rebuild, but with Kadri still being pretty young at
24 years old, he’ll still have a lot of hockey left in him when the Leafs are
ready to compete again.

If you consider Kadri for 5th overall a wash,
this brings this trade to Phil Kessel for Alexander Semin and a third round
pick. I got ripped to shreds earlier in the season for suggesting that Semin
isn’t as bad of a player as his performance this year indicates, but even at
his best, I don’t think he’s better than Phil Kessel at his average; probably
not much better than Kessel was this year, at his relative rock bottom. Not to
mention, he’s older, and doesn’t save you much money.

This trade makes a bit more sense if you swap out Kessel for
an actual cap dump, but Dion Phaneuf is the only player who meets that description
on this team in Semin’s salary range, and he’s probably still more valuable at
the present. I’d pass on exploring this avenue at the moment.

@richardhead93: Since you started watching, which player has had the
coolest name in the Leafs organization?

I, like pretty much anybody who watched the Leafs in the
late 1990’s, am going to have to go with Lonny Bohonos. Lonny wasn’t exactly
the best player the Leafs ever had, but in a sport played on ice and defined by
the winter, it was a fun contrast to have a guy whose name sounded like a
summer vacation.

Honorable mentions go to Jonas Gustavsson for his “The
Monster” nickname, and Garnet Exelby for signing all of his autographs with a
simple XLB, which was admittedly pretty creative.

@thejockocracy: Would the Toronto Media let the Leafs bottom out for
four or five years?

I don’t think this is going to be the concern that a lot of
people claim it to be. The surviving members of Leafs management, at least for
now, seem to be giving off the vibe of “we know we’ll get criticized and we’re
not going to plug our ears, but we’re also going to see our plans through”.
Take this quote from Kyle Dubas on Connor Brown and William Nylander, for

“Seeing the way they continue to play, their disposition and demeanor here, how they’ve developed and evolved as players, it was absolutely the right decision. That won’t change, just because.. people will start to write “are Brown and Nylander going to be on the Leafs?”. That’s going to have no effect on us. Our mandate and our strategy on both those players isn’t going to change at all through the summer.” 

The best way to shut the Toronto Media up isn’t to do what
they tell you to do. Treat it like a dog who is begging for table scraps; if
you give them a piece, they’ll shut up as they’re chewing it, but eventually,
they’ll come back for more. If you train them not to (by, you know,
succeeding), they’ll stop asking as often.

If all else fails, get the board of directors to send emails
to the 85% of the Toronto Media that they own and tell them to shut up for a
bit. An unlikely scenario no doubt, but available in the worst-case.

@tucker_geo: Matt Finn was a good prospect going into this year. What
happened? Is he still redeemable?

This question has become the new “how is Connor Brown doing?”.
It’s been asked closed to a hundred times now, and has been published in about
half a dozen mailbags in this calendar year alone. This will be the last time
that I answer it until we see him play hockey in 2015/16.

Finn struggled for a couple of reasons. He was trapped
behind a few defencemen in the Marlies depth chart, and suffered a few injures throughout
the year. Combine that with being, well, a 20 year old rookie, and it’s no surprise
that he had a bad year. He can’t run with the excuses, though; this has to be a
huge offseason for him and he needs to have a very strong training camp if he
wants to retain a favourable spot in the organization. 

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  • silentbob

    I think you’re a bit off on the Canes trade rumors.

    First, remember the 5th pick is going to be used to pick Strome, Hanifin or Marner. All guys being called elite, potential franchise players and all drawing comparisons to some of the best NHL players. I think saying Kadri is in the same talent range is being very generous to Kadri.

    Second, I agree the value seems a bit off but looking at it as Kadri for the pick and Kessel for Semin is the wrong way to look at it. I think its more Kessel for the 5th pick (which I think is fair, I think we’d want at least that for our pick, which has basically the same value), Semin to make the Canes salary cap work, plus it doesn’t hurt us at all. I’m just not sure why Kadri is included. He is worth more then a 3rd round pick. Is that 5th pick THAT much more valuable then Kessel……?