TLN Monday Mailbag: January 9th


Prisoner of Azkaban was my favourite Harry Potter book, but to be fair, I lost interest in the series when it took JK Rowling too long to put out Order of the Phoenix. Give me a break, I was an easily distracted nine-year-old.

Chris Tanev is an absolutely incredible talent that doesn’t get appreciated enough in the Eastern Conference. While he doesn’t produce a heck of a lot of offence, he’s one of the best defencemen in the game at actually preventing shots on goal. Year after year, the Canucks have given up significantly fewer attempts with him on the ice than they have without him. Combine that with an extremely affordable contract (he’s in year two of a five-year deal worth $4.45 million a year), and the fact that he’s still just 27 years old, and he’s definitely a chip that looks interesting to Leafs fans who desperately want the Leafs to get better in their own zone.

I don’t know if this is an actual fit, though. Part of Toronto’s lack of defensive presence is the fact that they play that see-saw, yo-yo game that allows both teams to get a ton of offensive chances. They play to their own strength, and a player like Tanev could throw that off. Granted, Toronto does have a low-event pair already in Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak, so if the goal is to have three legitimately good pairs with different purposes, that could work.

But the Canucks are also still in denial of their place in the world. There’s still a lot of talk about not going all-in on a rebuild until after Henrik and Daniel Sedin have retired, which would put this much down the road. Their smart move is to “blow it up”, but I don’t know if that happens this year and I don’t know if it starts with Tanev, a player who is young and cheap enough that he might even be worth keeping for the ride.

Congratulations, you’ve hit the stage in the rebuild where the games mean something to you again. So much so that wins are an opiate and losses are a bunch to the gut. Toronto had a deflating loss against an arch rival and now don’t have games to play for a few days. This feeling is natural. Don’t stress it.

I’m at a 50/50 as to whether we’ll see Tyler Bozak back next year. Not pumping the “Bozak is bad” train, but there might be something to maximizing his value for a trade, or if he has a not-so-stellar end to the year, maybe he’s one of the two 70/40 forwards they expose for the expansion draft.

I can see William Nylander going back to Centre if Bozak goes, as a result. The fourth spot will be interesting; do they bring in a vet? Do they promote Frederik Gauthier to a full-time role? Does somebody like Adam Brooks have a huge cap and force himself onto the team? Really, we don’t have a good enough idea of what will happen just yet, but there’s a lot of possibility.

I have my doubts. Yes, they’re being leaned on now, but that likely has more to do with perceived flaws with the alternatives than it does being happy with them. The Marlies have a few players that are closer to being ready to go and should be even better by September. The free agent market won’t have a ton of superstar defencemen, but maybe you find somebody solid for the third pair. If this is the “have some experience” year, the team should be grown enough to venture into the wilderness on their own next year.

Watch divisional enemies: Boston plays tomorrow and Thursday, Ottawa plays Thursday, Florida plays tonight and Wednesday, Tampa plays Thursday. Go to a Marlies game: they take on the first overall Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Ricoh Coliseum on Wednesday night. Read we’re pretty great. Read a book and learn some stuff. Shovel somebody’s driveway and get some pocket change to put towards playoff tickets. Spend time with your friends. Cry.