Monday Mailbag: Philling Empty


Phil Kessel’s first game against the Leafs has come and gone, and it was pretty underwhelming. He didn’t score. The Penguins didn’t run up the numbers. Tyler Bozak stayed out of the lineup, presumably to avoid showing up his best friend. But it’s behind us now, and we can focus on the important things, like continuing to lose while looking good doing so. Oh, and answering Mailbag questions, obviously.

@matthew_gooding asked: How excited are you that the Leafs will get a 2nd rounder for Carlyle?

My gosh, if that happens, I’m going to laugh so hard. For those who don’t know: The Leafs would receive a second round pick if a team hires Randy Carlyle as their head coach during the season, and a third if they don’t. This is because, despite his firing, he’s still on the Leafs payroll for two more years.

The Leafs would actually get more for Carlyle than they gave up for Mike Babcock.

@SuperMaurice asked: What is the status of Frank Corrado? Haven’t heard about him since the trade.

Mike Babcock preached that he wanted to have tangible, in your face experience with his players before making decisions on them. Corrado wasn’t exactly in Toronto’s plans; they saw a player they kind of liked available for free and pounced. With the Leafs playing not-terribly defensively and Babcock having practices available for him to evaluate, it’s not a huge shocker to see him out of the lineup for now.

If I had to guess, the Leafs will likely swap him and Scott Harrington around soon. If Corrado plays well, Harrington will get sent down.

@da_murph2 asked: is Leo Komorov a serious top six option right now or has his point production be a fluke?

Why not both? Komarov probably isn’t a 50 goal scorer, but at the same time, his current production isn’t that far out of line from previous years. Last year, he had a higher even strength points per 60 than anybody on the team, including Nazem Kadri (2nd), Phil Kessel (5th), James van Riemsdyk (6th) Joffrey Lupul (7th), and Tyler Bozak (8th). This is despite playing in unfavourable zone situations, no less.

Komarov excels at traits that we consider those of a bottom sixer; hitting, chirping, occasionally fighting. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad offensive player. Komarov lead Dynamo Moscow in scoring in 2013/14, top 3 in 2010/11 and 2011/12, and when the 2013 lockout happened and he went back to Russia sooner than expected, was quickly placed on a line with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Komarov can play top six minutes. Is he a late blooming Jarome Iginla? Probably not. But he can be a 40 point play driver if given the opportunity.

@PuckDontLie asked: Why can’t everyone be as cool as Jon?

Because he lives in Edmonton and for some reason, always gets the first pick in the TLN joke lottery. He’s also older, wiser, and has more ridiculous stories. One day, I’ll buy his book at the local Oodle Noodle.

@seanandrewdance asked: Who are the Leafs voting for?

That’s a good question. You’ll have to ask them. But seriously, don’t forget to vote today! Take your three hours off work if you need to, but do it.

  • Gary Empey

    Re- “we can focus on the important things, like continuing to lose while looking good doing so.”

    For a team to tank you need incompetent management and piss-poor coaching. (This is a pretty good definition of the leafs last year after firing Carlyle.)

    Tanking in the NHL has essentially brainwashed fans to root for their own teams to lose.

    Do we really want to risk perpetuating the existing culture of losing, that comes with tanking ? Do we want to have our veterans teach our new players that it’s okay to lose for a year or two or three? We have seen other teams do it and get top picks only to find out their players never learned how to win at the NHL level.

    If a team is fighting a culture of losing, like the Leafs, for many seasons, reinforcing losing by tanking is not an idea that will turn that culture around.

    • Kanuunankuula

      I think the season is going the best way it could. We’re playing well, possession is good, but we’re losing. Work hard, work the right way, but still lose (because of F talent)

      • Gary Empey

        I agree with you. The future looks better under the new regime. My comment was directed at those misguided fans who think losing is the best way to rebuild your team.

        Like most Leaf fans, I am happy come draft day if we have a top pick. I am never happy about how we got it unless it was through a trade or the lottery (which we never won yet). There is only a 20% chance of the worst team overall (Columbus) winning the lottery. Beginning in 2016, three separate draws will be held to determine each of the top three picks in the draft. The winners will be locked, in order, from first to third slot.

        Here is a hot link to the new 2016 NHL Draft Lottery Simulator. Leafs pick 5th overall at the moment.

        • silentbob

          This doesn’t remove the importance of finishing low when rebuilding and when top picks/prospects are needed.

          Sure the worst team only has a 20% of getting the top pick, but that 20% is much better then any other team. Plus that last place team can, at worst, only fall to the 4th pick. The team that finishes 5th could potentially be pushed back to 7th.

          The new system doesn’t change that you still want to, when rebuilding, be slotted as high as possible.

          • Gary Empey

            Personally I am sick of losing. I am sick of bad management. I am sick of poor scouting both junior and NHL. I am sick of bad trades. I am sick of seeing million dollar players giving up. I am sick of the media and fans vilifying the Leafs.

            I could not agree to any strategy that intentionally wants the Leafs to lose.

            I am happy with Shanahan’s spring cleaning. He seen their was a major problem and fired all the scouts, GM, coaches. He hired Babcock because he expects and tries to win every game. With Hunter running the scouting department, I see a bright future on the horizon.

            PS I am also sick of the wife not allowing me to have a beer while watching the Leafs in case they get blown out,

          • Gary Empey

            NHL draft lottery, finishing dead last in the standings at season’s end isn’t a guarantee of landing the first-overall pick anymore. There’s also no guarantee that getting the first-overall pick will net a franchise player. The 1980 Montreal Canadiens (Doug Wickenheiser), 1982 Boston Bruins (Gord Kluzak), 1983 Minnesota North Stars (Brian Lawton), 1986 Detroit Red Wings (Joe Murphy), 1993 Ottawa Senators (Alexandre Daigle) 1999 Atlanta Thrashers (Patrik Stefan), 2000 New York Islanders (Rick DiPietro), 2001 Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers), 2003 Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins), 2006 Erik Johnson (St. Louis Blues), 2010 Taylor Hall (Edmonton Oilers), 2011 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers), 2012 Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers), 2013 Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), discovered that the hard way.