TLN Monday Mailbag: May 16th


Life advice: If you’re going to play sports for six hours at a time, don’t trust Diet Pepsi to hydrate you. It might be tasty, but taste is deceiving. Also, you won’t be able to walk the next day.

Thankfully, a lack of movement has led to me being able to sit down and answer some questions in our fine TLN mailbag. Many people were curious about the same one or two topics, but there was still some variety all the same! Let’s dive in.

@LBrien asked: The Pittsburgh pick: Trade up, down, or stand pat? Who are the players that the Leafs should look at in that range?

This question was by far our most asked this week. To be honest, it’s something that’s a little bit more complicated than trying to answer in a paragraph or two; I could do so, but it wouldn’t give you anything more insightful than somebody flipping a coin for answer 1 and drawing names out of a hat for answer two.

We’re going to have some awesome draft coverage on TLN over the next few weeks. Shawn and the two Ryans will be spearheading it while a few others will join into the fun. Those posts should unlock the secrets to the universe.

If you’re impatient, though,’s random number generator says that the Leafs should stand pat and draft Will Bitten.

@cooom asked: Which game was more exciting yesterday? Jays or Raptors?

The Raptors and the fans made me somehow more proud and excited for the city where I’ve lived my entire life in. The Jays game just made me really mad at Rougned Odor. Easy choice. Go Raps.

@TylerIvey asked: Where do you see Tyler Bozak fitting into the lineup next year assuming he’s still on the team with Auston Matthews and William Nylander both likely to be playing centre? 

I thought that Tyler Bozak looked the best he ever has this year, in no small part because of how Mike Babcock’s system favours his play style. I used to think that he was a detriment to an NHL team; I still don’t think the’s a top-line forward, but he looks like a useful player on any team that has a remotely modern breakout scheme.

That said, I’d be shocked if he’s still a Leaf three months from now. A good year without Phil Kessel surely helped prop him up as a positive value asset, and quite simply, the Leafs have too many centres for him to compete with now. It was one thing when he was fighting with Mikhail Grabovski, now it’s Nazem Kadri, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and possibly someone better than the three of them come July. There’s just not enough room.

@bruvark asked: How many more draft picks should you acquire before the law of diminishing returns kicks in?

You can never have too many young players in the pipeline. Not everybody is guaranteed to reach their potential, but if you know what you’re doing and have a lot of opportunities to show that off, you can build an excellent depth chart.

There is one issue though; you’re only allowed to have 50 players signed to NHL contracts in your system at once. A team can’t just go out there and pick 15-20 players every draft, unless they plan on trading their rights very fast or they plan on walking away from a lot of 20-year-olds 24 months later.

Toronto is lucky enough to still be in that transition phase where their adults are still getting trickled out and the pool of youth is still being filled. One more draft with a colossal crowd is a great thing. Always having an extra pick or two is nice. I don’t think you’ll be seeing the Leafs draft over a dozen players every year, though.

@LD10 asked: The highest scoring Leaf next year will be…

Shawn Warford.

  • Gary Empey

    @cooom asked: Which game was more exciting yesterday? Jays or Raptors?

    Your question should have been…

    Which game was the most boring…Jays or Raptors.

  • Gary Empey

    @LBrien asked: The Pittsburgh pick: Trade up, down, or stand pat? I will answer the first part of your question..Trading Up

    The Leafs will have to offer one of Nylander, Marner or Reilly to trade up to the top eight. Personally I don’t see that happening.

  • Gary Empey

    @TylerIvey asked: Where do you see Tyler Bozak fitting into the lineup.Assuming he’s still on the team with Auston Matthews.

    I am 98% sure the Leafs will be drafting Laine.

    Bozak likely slots in as 3rd line center.

    I was only joking about the 98%. I change my mind every time I see Matthews and Laine play. We all know that Matthews will be an above average 1st line center. Laine at 18.5 years old will arrive in the NHL with the best shot in the league. I don’t just mean one timers. Best absolutely incredible, wrist-shot and best backhander as well. It is really going to come down to how much value the Leaf scouting brain-trust puts on those skills.

    Right now I have Matthews at 51% and Laine at 49%

    Finland plays Canada in the last game of the preliminaries. It is going to be highly interesting to see how Laine shapes up when facing a real NHL team for the first time in his life.

      • Gary Empey

        You have likely seen him a lot more than I have and have a better read on him. It is always hard to predict how top 18 year old goalscorers will preform at the NHL level. Some hit a small bump then find how to score again. Others seem to hit a brick wall when up against faster, better defense, backchecking and goaltending.

        He has the best wrist shot I have ever seen in the NHL. I have been watching for over sixty years. It looks harder then most slap shots I see. Unbelievable release and accuracy. Teams are already trying to cut off all passing lanes lanes to him, just as they do for Ovechkin. It really surprises me to see players show so much respect for an 18 year old. If you noticed in today’s game, Perry tied to take out his knee to knock him right out of the tourney. Speaking of Ovechkin I noticed he can’t just look for some open space and wait for someone to get the puck to him. On the power play he will let the opposition block him. When he sees a teammate has control of the puck he races to the open space at the same time the puck is thrown there.

        I still have Matthews ahead of Laine though, but very close.