It’s the last mailbag of 2015! We have a few great questions for you, but more than anything else, I’d like to thank you for putting up with me to the point of encouraging me with talking points over the last 52 weeks. Here’s to 52 more in 2016!
@matthew_gooding asked: Leipsic is on pace for 51 points in 76 AHL games. Should Leafs use him in their bottom 6 next year?
If there’s room at on one of the third line wings, I think he’d make a fantastic fit. Leipsic’s numbers, if anything, are deceivingly low, in the sense that he’s not playing on the top line or first powerplay unit, leaving him with less responsibility than he could theoretically handle in the AHL. This works to his benefit too, in the sense that it allows him to shore up other parts of his game and play without pressure (both in terms of expectation and quality of opponent), but all signs point to him being NHL capable next year.
I wouldn’t do it if it meant playing low fourth line minutes, however. HIs play style is perfectly suited to a trouble-making, forechecking, yet offensively purposed third line; if he shows in camp that he can handle the workload, throw him the keys.
@ahurst11 asked: Does Pittsburgh make the playoffs this year? Who do the leafs take with Pitts first? Debrincat, Gauthier?
I still can’t see them missing out, even given the present standings. The team is too talented not to rebound and Marc-Andre Fleury seems to finally have himself together as a top-end goaltender. The Penguins have the second-worst shooting percentage in the league at even strength (5.6%), and are in the bottom third on the powerplay (11.5%); neither of these things are likely to remain the case.
@mo_tews asked: Who do you think will be the first young Marlie (i.e. Nylander, Leivo, Leipsic, etc.) to be called up?
It depends on what you define as “young”; personally, I think Richard Panik is likely to be the first player called up when the roster begins to have long-term holes. He’s older than that group at 24 years old, but has experience with the Leafs already, and has earned another look with his efforts on the top line.
This, of course, is thrown out the window if the Leafs are going with the occasionally-speculated move of calling up William Nylander at the 39-game mark (to avoid burning a UFA year). In that case, it’s just a few more weeks!
@ReasonableOnion asked: Have you, like me, constructed an altar in your place of abode at which to pray for #AllHeartSnizzbone?
It sounds like Nylander is going to be fine, which is very good. I like how both sides are handling his situation; Sweden’s doctors were quick to decide that sending him to a hospital rather than having their trainers make the call. The Leafs were quick to touch base with Hockey Sweden officials. The Swedes have held him out of the lineup even with him being symptom-free, knowing that symptoms sometimes show up after a few days when it comes to head injuries.
Yes, they want to win gold, and the Leafs want to win trophies of their own one day, but at the end of the day, we’re taking about a potential brain injury to a man young enough to still be physically developing his brain. Every precaution should be taken. It seems like those precautions are being taken, and that’s great.
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