Monday Mailbag: Belation


I typically fill up the introductory paragraph of the mailbag with gibberish and nonsense to give the illusion of pre-jump words. This week is no exception, but I wanted to use this spot to thank everybody for the birthday wishes I received yesterday on all the forms of social media yesterday. It was borderline overwhelming and it’s nice to know so many people have my back.

Anyway, there’s a bunch of questions sitting here. Let’s dive in!

@3rdPeriodSuits asked: What’s up with Connor Brown?

Brown suffered an ankle fracture in Toronto’s October 30th game against the Grand Rapids Griffins, after blocking a shot. He’s listed as out indefinitely though it typically takes anywhere between 4 to 10 weeks to recover from this type of injury. There hasn’t been much that’s come out about his recovery since.

@Drunk_Canuck asked: Will Kasperi Kapanen keep up his 20:8 goal to assist ratio?

@scoresberg asked: I heard Kapanen has very few shots on net, why and is it a bad thing?

Kapanen’s “struggles”, which are hard to truly classify as struggles, are understandable. He’s a new player in the organization, meaning he started this year having no ingrained chemistry with his teammates. Further to the point, he’s dealt with illness and injury since the end of training camp, meaning his body has needed to get back up to speed on the ice and that he hasn’t had much time to practice and adjust to Sheldon Keefe’s systems.

This would explain why he’s struggled to find open players to set up, and why he’s not getting as many pucks to the net as some of his teammates. With that said, he’s still averaging nearly two shots per game; solid numbers, though they pale in comparison to some of the other guys on the team. I wouldn’t doubt that things will click as he gets more games in.

@thomasbakai asked: Any observations on William Nylander aside from his amazing offensive production? Faceoffs, protecting leads, etc.

One of the great things about Nylander going back to playing centre this season is how versatile it makes him in terms of positioning. Part of the reason that he’s creating so much shot volume is because he’s got a combination of speed and awareness that allows him to support in board battles, get to the net as necessary, and place himself in all sorts of different areas during a cycle. He’s not as “on rails” as he had to be as a winger.

@gottabe_KD2 asked: Do you think this will be the only year where Leafs fans stay away?

Probably, and if the Leafs keep playing in a highly entertaining fashion, it might not even last until April. The more casual part of the fanbase is jaded by Toronto’s repeated failures, but I think that the “this is part of the process” mantra is starting to become more widely accepted, and that with the Leafs playing entertaining and sometimes even competitive hockey in the process, it’ll bring some people back.

With that said, once the team is good again, you’re going to think they never stopped.

Everybody asked: Who from the Marlies is going to get called up to the Leafs soon and/or next year?

Just a quick note here; I get this type of question a lot. Every week, I receive about 20 questions and 15 of them are a variant of the above. I understand the excitement that people have for the organization, but it’s a very open-ended question that would have to be answered with a lot of variables. We don’t know what types of players will get moved from the Leafs as the year progresses, and what the return will be. We don’t know how prospects will perform in the next training camp. The Marlies have been incredible this year and a lot of individuals are helping stir that drink, but predicting callups and graduations isn’t something you can properly do in such an open-ended fashion.

So, apologies to anyone who hasn’t had this answered for them, but this question is now in the mailbag trope hall of fame with “Is Connor Brown for real” and “Why is Matt Finn struggling”.

  • BarelyComments

    question for next week, or maybe worth a post: What do you make of Lupus’s start? At the beginning of the season I remember a good number of the staff arguing for him to be waived and sent to the Marlies. I remember thinking that was a bit of a stretch then but I definitely wasn’t imagining him to have as strong a start as he has had so far… Reasons? Is he just getting lucky? Or do you think he’s really improved his play under Babcock’s system…