TLN Monday Mailbag: February 8th


Did you miss me?! *cricket noises*

Okay, okay, so I’m sure that having Bobby and Cat in my place on the mailbag hot seat was a blast, but those two have more important things to do with their lives, so you’re stuck with little ol’ me again. Let’s take a look and see what you all had on your minds!

@djlevitan asked: Although the farm is loaded with forward talent and Rielly/Gardiner are faring much better in the new system, it seems like the team will still need a #1 D. Does that alter the 2016 draft strategy? Trades? How would any of that change were Stamkos to land here?

The Leafs aren’t really in a position at this moment to write off any particular position as “good enough”. They could theoretically be close to that at centre or in goal if the right things happen over the next few months, but there are no guarantees anywhere at any time; you should always actively be looking to improve in every position, and getting the best player for the lowest cost should supersede over-investing to plug a hole.

There’s also a lot of wiggle room for players in all of the positions to grow into bigger roles. You mention Morgan Rielly; a 21-year-old who produces at a #1 level and drives play at a top-end #3 level. Most of the league’s best could do that at 21; it’s hard to imagine him being far off from being “that guy” by the time the Leafs need one. 

@StephenSwales17 asked: Where do Nylander/Kapanen/Marner fit into next years roster if the current top 6 remains mostly together?

Even if the Leafs keep every player in their regular top-six this year, it’s unlikely that they’ll “remain together” and block in players who younger and potentially more talented. I’ve grown to like Tyler Bozak a bit more than I used to, but William Nylander is arguably already better than him offensively, and you want offence out of your top six. Mitch Marner, if he remains a right winger as he’s been on London throughout the year, is probably already the most talented right winger in the system. Both will establish roles on the first or second line to put them into positions to get better, rather than stunting their growth by playing them eight minutes a night.

As for Kapanen, I’m not sold on him being on next year’s team yet. He’s good, and he’s going to become a quality player, but he’s really only been continuously productive in the past couple of weeks. The Leafs might be better off to make next year the one where he runs the offensive show with the Marlies.

@_woodhead asked: How much of the Marlies success is attributable to the skill of the roster, vs the coaching change?

Sheldon Keefe has proven himself to be a fantastic, successful coach at every level that he’s run benches in so far in his young career, and has probably helped the players learn how to stick to the system that the organisation wants to push forward with. He’s likely been key in the next steps of development for a couple of the younger players.

With that said, the Marlies’ wild ride extends beyond this season. Yes, 0.796 is a historically high level of dominance, but don’t forget that after starting the season with a half-roster and winning just 12 of their first 27 games, the team closed out with a 0.675 in their last 49 under Gord Dineen. The talent level has only gotten better since; it’s not a shock that this group is the best in the AHL. Keefe building upon what his associate developed, though, is probably part of the gap between “the best now” and “arguably the best ever at the level”.

Somebody asked: Who would win in a Super Bowl between the old and new Leafs management?

First off, I’m really sad that whoever asked this either privated their account or deleted the tweet before I could write down their name. It’s an unreal question.

The old regime was probably a bit more athletic; big, brawny, mid-aged men who could probably send Lou Lamoriello to the hospital with a tackle. But I take the new regime 10 times out of 10, if only for what would happen after they asked their coaching staff for advice; the new gang would get a playbook from Babcock while the old one would have Carlyle telling them to keep their helmets off for safety reasons.

@ngsa asked: Are the leafs thinking of trading Komarov? If so who’s interested?

Do I believe the team is actively trying to sell on him? Probably not. Are they listening to offers, though? Absolutely. His perceived value has never been higher, and if this is the player he’s going to be if used correctly then his contract looks pretty good moving forward. A king’s ransom could be had if the right teams start competing with each other.

As for where he’ll go? You might find out here in a few days as we continue or Trade Destination series!

  • Gary Empey

    My Maple Leaf 2016 Mid-Term Draft.

    As the Leafs are tied for third today I will assume we are picking 3rd over all. We also wouid pick 19th (Pittsburgh)
    I came up with 13 picks. I think we are only supposed to have 11.

    1st round–3rd – 19th-

    #3 Jakob Chychrun -D- 6′ 2″ / 194 lb. –Great size, speed, hands, shot, passing, and defending ability.-

    #19 GERMAN RUBTSOV -C- 6′ 1″ / 178 lb — Complete two-way performer with excellent size, skill and skating ability.

    2nd round 33rd – 44th –

    #33–Carl Grundström -RW- 6′ / 187 lb.– An edgy team first player who finished 4th in the World Junior Tourney scoring.

    #44 Pascal Laberge -C- 6’1″ / 162 lb. –He skates, has a good shot and great hands. He’s a good passer and a real competitor.

    3rd round-63rd – 74th-

    # 63- Lucas Johansen D – 6′ 2″ / 173 lb.

    # 74 – Max Lajoie D – 6′ 1″ / 172 lb.

    4th round–93rd–

    # 93rd – Vladimir Kuznetsov -RW– 6′ 2″ / 214 lb.

    5th round – 123rd -127th-

    # 123rd – Cody Porter G – 6′ 2″ / 188 lb

    Lee Roberts RW — 6′ 2″ / 181 lb

    6th round- 153rd – 177th-

    # 153rd – Jacob Neveu D – 6′ 2″ / 194 lb

    # 177th – Julien Tessier – 6′ / 180 lb

    7th round–183rd – 207th

    # 183rd – Jordan Maher – C – 5′ 11″ / 163 lb.

    # 207 – Nicolas Werbik – C- 6′ 2″ / 190 lb

    • CMpuck

      Yep, like Chychrun and Rubstov, then again, I’ve fallen for about half if not more of 1st round projected picks.

      Not a year to bicker over picks, their isn’t really an abundance of small skill forwards which is a position I feel we’ve meet our quota on. Hell wouldn’t even be mad if we picked up Debrincat, maybe with our 2nd round pick.

      Like one of Matthews or the Finns if we win a lottery, Chychrun if we pick 4th.

      Fabbro would be a nice pick up with Pittsburgh’s pick, we need a RHD in the system IMHO.

      Looking forward to the playoffs just to see the draft order more than anything.

      Tkachuk is the only pick I’d be disappointed with and with Hunter being such a mark for his Knights it concerns me a bit.

  • LeafGuyCarlo

    I cant see Marner up next year , Skill wise he can play anytime physically he not ready… Plus I cant see Babs having 5-6 rookies up all at once… Nylander Brown Percy Harrington Leipsic Soshnikov should be locks than you have LOOV and Valiev fighting for spots next season will be interesting especially with another top 4 pick fighting for spot also

  • jimithy

    I’m surprised when people still worry so much about size in the nhl. Johnny Gaudreau is 5’9 and 160 lbs soaking wet and the guy takes teams to school. Marner has the same kind of puck skills as Gaudreau. Any prospect can go either way, but I don’t think Marner’s size will be the limiting factor in his development.