TLN Monday Mailbag: December 26th


Happy Boxing Day! If you celebrated Christmas yesterday, I hope you had a ton of fun. If you didn’t, I still hope you had a ton of fun and got to see your families too. The specifics of how you celebrate your few days of rest, relaxation, and reminiscence shouldn’t matter, as long as you’ve built up some good times and good memories.

Speaking of memories, here’s hoping tonight’s World Junior game is one to remember. I’d be down for Canada scoring a bazillion goals. While we wait for that, though, let’s talk some Leafs.

I’ve really appreciated the fact that, after years of debate, this is finally the season where people are beginning to appreciate Jake Gardiner for what he is. The 26-year-old might be one of the most cost efficient top-end defencemen in the league, and he does it in a way that is so reserved that you barely notice it.

The issue, of course, has always been that when he screws up, he screws up hard, but those incidents have lessened this year. He’s continuing to tilt the ice and he’s been contributing a bit offensively, and having Connor Carrick next to him rather than a continuous shuffle of players has surely helped things too.

Actually Elite might be a different story, though. You need to be among the absolute best in the league in your position to get the Elite tag. I’m very much on team “Actually a #1 defenceman”, or at least actually an extremely good #2, but I don’t see him pleading a case to be one of the Top 5 left-side defencemen in the league.

The Shattenkirk conversation is going to be a real interesting one to have next season. The Leafs could use another defenceman of his caliber, but at the same time, there’s no need to handcuff themselves to a long-term deal for a UFA aged player that isn’t of an elite skill level.

Something that might be interesting: Toronto’s salary should be near the bottom of the league next year once again, with few raises being necessary and a fair bit coming off the books. If the Leafs make it into the playoffs this year and maybe even win a round or two, perhaps it’s possible that they can pitch him on the “meteoric rise” angle and offer him a stupidly loaded one-year contract. Most guys like the job security, but something like $10-12 million and a chance to chance a ring in a huge market before testing the market again could be enticing.

The Leafs are Actually Good, and with that in mind, all of them would have avoided Santa’s Actually Naughty list. Every single Leaf got a present, even if they celebrated a different holiday or just saw the holiday weekend as a time to stretch their legs. They’re just that good.

This is an extreme longshot. Many have been misled to believe that his eligibility for the draft can be impacted by how many games he plays; that is absolutely not true. Corrado is eligible to be picked as it is.

Not playing him for the sake of the expansion draft would solely be to avoid another team wanting him, presumably hoping they look at Martin Marincin instead. While technically possible, I don’t think that has anything to do with it. Unless the Leafs believe he’s secretly about to become the next Drew Doughty the second he plays three games in a week, the opportunity cost here makes no sense.

If, for example, the Leafs internally believe Corrado to be more valuable in a given game than Roman Polak, would the potential points gained by playing him, possibly the difference between barely missing and barely making the playoffs, not be more valuable than the difference between Corrado and whoever you have to sign to replace him in July? I just don’t see this scenario being likely. They’re not playing him because they think Polak is better, simple as.

James Van Riemsdyk is getting a lot of the trade gossip these days but I’d put my bets on Leo Komarov or Tyler Bozak. It’s looking likely that at least one of them will have to be exposed to the expansion draft and I’m sure teams will be calling to see if they can grab either of the mid-aged forwards on the back end of their deals.

Many will say that a right-handed defenceman is the biggest need, but adding another player to the mix creates an expansion wormhole as well. Figuring out who can be a stable backup goalie for them is probably going to be key; you want Andersen to not be gassed come March or April.

Maybe not the absolute best ever (I’m not the expert there), but personal favourite? Moreso for his personality, I was always a Wade Belak fan. Could throw them when you needed him to as well. Hope he’s in a better place.

I highly doubt that will happen. You can take this sentence in two different ways:

  • I doubt fans will lose hope, seeing as most who are still on the rebuild train have accepted that this will be another pain year. Talks of the top end of the draft are still existent for a team that’s had their sustainably best opening few months in a solid decade. There isn’t much pressure on them to climb up the standings.
  • I highly doubt they’re going to miss the playoffs. They’re playing top-half hockey right now and have lost some of the points they’re trailing with in really weird, hard to repeat situations. They haven’t gone on a big winning run yet, either. Combine that with the Atlantic being a tire fire, and there may not even be a reason to ask that question.

Either way, whether it’s patience or playoffs, don’t bet on bridge jumping yet.

  • LukeWarmWater

    Fellow posters I’m repeating a message I gave out in another article. My brother Lukedadrifter lives in the Philippines which was ravaged by a horrific typhoon over Christmas. My prayers and best wishes go out to my brother. Now Lukedadrifter is one tough Maple Leaf fan in fact he reminds me of Bobby Baun who in 1964 in a key playoff game broke his leg in the third period. Baun went into the dressing room got a couple of shots came back out and in o.t. scored the game winner to help the leafs win that series. They eventually won the Stanley cup in 1964.

    Luke you take care now buddy.

    • LukeDaDrifter

      Season’s Greeting to you brother Luke. A tropical storm did pass through up north. Where I live on the island of Mindanao we do get lots of rain and sun. We do have winter here, only a real expert could tell the difference from summer. I better close now. My wife just told me it’s my turn to wash the Caraboa.(Water Buffalo).

      If you are coming here from Vancouver by boat https://uploads.disquscdn.c… the Philippines is the second turn on the left.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    Re – expansion draft. Most of the bubble players and AHL guys will be exposed unless they are on a ELC. The big difference this year from former drafts is, teams will be also forced to expose at least one guy that played a regular shift for his NHL team. He must also be signed for next year. Taking defencemen for example teams can protect only 3. They must expose at least one who has played 40 games this year or 70 over the last two years. Guys like Polak and Hunwick and Corrado may be exposed but do not meet the exposure requirements. (the are not signed for next year)The penalty for not having a player to expose is #1 one draft pick #2 and 3 draft pick awarded automatically to Vegas.

    Oddly enough we can protect 7 forwards but only have 5 at the moment that meed the exposure requirements. That means one of those five must be exposed. We do have some forwards signed for next year that need to play more games to meet the requirements.

    Make no mistake. Los Vegas is going to start out with a good young team, unless their GM makes some stupid choices

    • Kanuunankuula

      Toronto has so few forwards to protect, I would look into using the 4D and 4F option, and snatching a D-men from someone like Minny or Anaheim (and then protecting them with Carrick, Gardiner and Rielly)

      • LukeDaDrifter

        That is certainly an option the Leafs have to be looking at.

        Marincin looks to be the most likely defenceman to be exposed.

        One of Kadri, JVR, Bozak, Komarov, or Martin must be exposed.

        One of Brown, Froese, or Smith, could also end up being exposed instead.

        Brown needs only 7 more games and a contract for next year.

        Froese needs only 12 more games and a contract.

        Smith needs 12 games and a contract too.

        I am starting to think Lou may try to add two defencemen.

        • Kanuunankuula

          Kadri, absolutely protect.
          JVR, if he’s still here, absolutely protect.
          Bozak, if he’s still here, and our C-depth requires it, protect.
          Brown, yeah if nothing better to protect.
          Any of the other guys I really don’t care. But I’d rather protect Carrick & traded X d-men over them. And I love Leo, but he’s not essential.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            It is going to be really hard to predict. Every team must expose at least one forward, one defenceman, and one goalie who meet the expansion requirements. Plus every team will have a lot of other players exposed who do not meet the requirements but are not protected either. Los Vegas must take one and only one player from each team. I think they have only three days to submit their choices after all teams have decided on who is exposed. George McPhee LV’s general manager is going to have a massive job deciding on his 23 man roster then picking 7 guys to start his prospect pool. I am sure Vegas will be looking for the best of the young players available with some not too old veteran presence.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            One mistake i have made is only one defencemen but TWO forwards must be exposed. Yes the speculations should be fun. Lucky the Leafs are in a position to acquire a defenceman not lose one.

  • Stan Smith

    Have to comment on the enforcer. Tiger Williams has to be #1. Not only because he was a great fighter but he also amassed 513 pts in 962 games. #2 would have to be Tie Domi, the all time leader in penalty minutes for the Leafs and the guy that taught Wade Belak how to fight on skates.