TLN Monday Mailbag: January 16th


Going to bed at 7:30 PM is bad for you if you’re going to just wake up again at 10:30 PM. Enjoy this dive into the mailbag (which was more full than usual; sorry if I didn’t answer you this time), while I try to find a way to pass out for a bit.

I’d probably say that Froese would come back up again in this scenario, unless you want to continue an experiment that Sheldon Keefe has been going with in playing Colin Greening at centre. Smith is an intriguing player, but doesn’t have an NHL contract at the moment.

I’m going to tentatively go with Bozak here, though I think all three being gone isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Komarov seems like the safe bet to be the second 70/40 forward exposed to Las Vegas in the Expansion draft, and if they want a forward from the Leafs, he’d be a better choice than Matt Martin. Van Riemsdyk rumours, for better or worse, just won’t go away. Bozak would be a smart flip at the right return, but we’ll have to see if that actually happens.

I think looking for something new would be overthinking it right now. Teams are still making hilariously bad picks and passes that look silly almost immediately, so why act like it’s time to find the next step?

Always grab the best player, regardless of position. Don’t be scared to pick up once passed over players who have put up better than expected Draft+X seasons that would’ve made you happy to get out of your 2nd or 3rd rounders. Zero in on players who are doing incredibly well in top pro leagues already. Don’t draft a billion Nathan Gerbes, but also put more stock into an averaged sized kid who is killing it over the 6’5 guy who looks like has an “NHL build” when playing against teenagers. Consult a model or two. Make sure that all the candidates that you pull out of this line of thinking are heavily scouted, because while there are likely dozens of undervalued players in the draft, you only have so many picks to take them with.

TSN is in a weird position where so many different personalities are affiliated with them, and they’re in a spotlight that requires them to put out around the clock pot-stirs. According to them, Auston Matthews has been everywhere from face first with a wall to better than Connor McDavid.

My preseason (hell, pre-pick) prediction was that he’d be dominant right away. I spent some time talking on Twitter and in the World Cup of Hockey media room about how he could be the 2nd or 3rd best player on Earth by the end of the year, depending on how Crosby felt. I don’t think putting him above McDavid is realistic, and I’m not sure if he’s already #3, but he’s definitely an elite forward already. As far as long-term value, the only player on earth that I’d trade him for right now is McDavid. Even if more predictable than most pundits thought it was, it’s still unbelievable and stupidly entertaining to watch it all unfold.

I don’t tink any team is prone to struggle. Streaks are unpredictable, and when you start to overthink them, you lose sight of the big picture. The big picture right now is that the Leafs are being rewarded for quality hockey. They could hit a puck luck wall next year, or they could go the opposite way and steamroll the league. Are they prone to either outcome, though? Probably not.

I don’t think Kapanen should have been the next guy to begin with, injury or not. He’s doing great, but building up his confidence and creativity was more important than having him play some depth minutes with the Leafs.

Brendan Leipsic is the guy. He’s having a hell of a year, has already spent some time with the Leafs, he scores everywhere he goes, and he’s an eager forechecker and creative neutral zone player that would fit in perfectly. I’d have him as a slam dunk to make the Leafs next year, and I don’t think you stall his development at all by pulling him away from the Marlies mid-season.

  • LukeDaDrifter

    Looking a a site called http://www.thedraftanalyst…. Here are the ranking from back in October.

    Here are the top rated defencemen. 4th – Timothy Liljegren, Superelit – 9th – Urho Vaakanainen, Liiga – 16th – Miro Heiskanen, Liiga – 18th – Erik Brannstrom, SHL – 19th – Dmitri Samorukov, OHL – Henry Jokiharju, WHL – 22nd – Callan Foote, WHL – 23rd – Nicolas Hague, OHL

    Personally I would like to see us draft the best defenceman available.

  • Kanuunankuula

    If you’re moving on from Bozak, you better be sure that WN is ready to be a full time C. As to the wingers, you never know with Vegas, they might pick up Martin, same as commenters here, some GM deem him somewhat valuable. You can disagree with that (as I mostly do), doesn’t mean they won’t take him.

        • Harte of a Lion

          Getrdone, if Vegas ended up with 2 average players who can play and contribute immediately (plus a draft pick) I consider they might… Everyone please remember this is only speculation on my part. Is taking a chance on Rychel or whoever a better bet than adding Marincin, Leivo and a draft pick? Feel free to plug in any names you like.
          Rychel has not been impressive this year with the Marlies. The Leafs traded for him based on potential however it’s another case of him and his inconsistent and disappointing play. Can everyone say Ho-Sang?
          Thank goodness the Maple Leafs finally have the organizational depth so we can have these discussions.

        • LukeDaDrifter

          I can’t see the NHL letting Toronto dictate who Vegas will chose from the exposed players. The NHL got all the owners and the players association to buy into the idea that having a team in Los Vegas that can turn a profit right away is the very best way to break into a new market and make the NHL stronger. Look at Arizona. The NHL is still bailing them out. The owner wants out. The NHL still hopes sometime in the future they can turn a profit. Most of us are doubtful. The only way for Vegas to do that is to start with a team with good young players. If they want veteran experience there going to be plenty of that available through UFA’s.

          I am baffled when I see the media still proposing that this is a great opportunity to deep six a bunch of overpaid thirty something vets nearing the end of there career. Vegas is not taking those guys, when there are good 25 year olds exposed.

          It you were placing a team in an already hot market for hockey it might work. In the past it has failed miserably in markets where hockey is new.. The successful teams must keep them afloat. This expansion draft is completely designed to stock Vegas with a team that can complete with good young players right out the gate.If I had to guess only about a third of NHL general managers have positioned themselves for this expansion draft. Even at that they will still lose a good player. If one wonders why we aren’t seeing much action on the trade front, it is because two thirds of the League are not in a position to add a good player without losing a real good player. We are not talking about so called rental players here.The Leafs are one of the teams that look to have planned for this draft. Lots of folks seem to think this would be a great year to trade JVR and Bozak. You also will need to check how close you are getting to exposing Kadri. If Martin or Komarov go down with a serious injury you are starting to get close. I don’t think anyone on the IR can be exposed. Most of the league is going to be forced to offer someone they believe to be a core player.

      • Kanuunankuula

        Why would you do that? As it is we have extra slots for protection:
        Andersen, Gardiner, Rielly, Carrick, Kadri, JVR, Brown, Leipsic, maybe Rychel? Rychel and Leipsic have about 40 games to go before even to become eligble I think.

        Bozak whether you like our C depth or not.

        • Harte of a Lion

          Kanuunankuula, The Leafs currently have only six forwards to protect: Kadri, Brown, Bozak, Komarov, Martin and JVR. On D it’s Reilly, Gardiner and Carrick with Andersen the protected goalie. The issue is they don’t have players to expose who qualify under the 70/40 rules.

          They need Smith and Froese to dress for 12 games each, even as the 13th forward, and they qualify. They can also offer Laich a contract for 2017/18 with the intention that if he is not selected, he plays one final season with the Marlies and then retires to become a coach, scout or some other management position. He has stated he would love to continue his association with the Leafs and its doubtful Vegas would select him even with a minimum contract as playing days are coming to a close however McPhee drafted him so it’s possible he would be selected for his veteran leadership…
          Anyone who has watched him with the Marlies can see that he has lost a step and a half, he is just SLOW… or maybe his heart is t in it any more.
          The other option is to trade for a cheap veteran player that qualifies under the 70/40 rules or sign a recently retired player who played 70 games last season who would like one final payday.

          As far as I can tell, Leipsic Lievo and Rychel don’t qualify as forwards needed to be protected as they haven’t played enough games the past 2 seasons.
          I have read the expansion rules and many articles that swing both ways about Rychel and Leipsic so I’m not 100% certain either way. If these 3 need protection Lou might trade the Ducks 7th from the Enroth trade to Vegas for future considerations which would be Vegas selecting Marincin.

          If someone can explain why any of these players (Rychel, Leivo or Leipsic) need to be protected, I would be grateful.

          • Bob Canuck

            With respect to Rychel et al, I agree that the rules need some clarity. However, looking at how has interpreted the expansion rules, any unprotected, non-exempt player can be selected by Vegas. At a minimum, a team’s pool of exposed players must include players that meet the 70/40 and goalie rules; the pool of exposed players can include those not meeting the 70/40 and goalie rules. This interpretation is consistent with the wording from; those rules do not say that Vegas can only select players meeting the 70/40 and goalie rules.


            If you use Capfriendly’s Quick Protect feature, Rychel et al are protected and Martin and Komarov are exposed. As the Draft Team, I selected Froese; he does not meet the requirements of the 70/40 rule but the pick was accepted.

            Therefore, my understanding is that, if the expansion draft was held today, the Leafs would have to protect Rychel et al in order to not risk losing any of those players.

          • Harte of a Lion

            Thanks for the clarification Bob, I read the same articles and it’s still not clear. It appears teams could lose their top AHL prospects?
            I still believe that if the Leafs traded Leivo or whoever (?) plus a 7th (future considerations) to ensure McPhee takes Marincin over Rychel works. Anyone who believes backdoor dealings between GM’s to circumvent league rules do not take place need to look at some waterfront I have near the Everglades. Leivo or whoever (?) and Marincin are worth more than an AHL player who never lived up to his draft selection who may or may not pan out.
            Rychel has all the tools on paper but seems to have serious consistency issues which is why the Blue Jackets gave up on him and swapped him for a bag of pucks, some practice jerseys, a 5th and Scott Harrington.
            Looking back, McPhee (Capitals) and Lamoriello (Devils), have some history. They made 6 trades, 5 being minor and one that sent Jason Arnott to Washington for David Steckel and a second.
            Four years later, Lou flipped Arnott, a 1st (Daniel Paille)and Randy McKay to the Dallas Stars for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner and won their 3rd Stanley Cup the following year. All hail the great Lou Lamoriello!!! We need that kind of return when we trade JVR.

            Depending on the players available league wide, the Vegas team can go 2 or three ways. The St. Louis model where they selected a great goalie plus a core of hard working veterans to become respectable immediately (at least for an expansion team) The Panthers followed a similar path while the Senators wanted to be bad for a few years (they succeeded) while getting high draft picks in their first 5 drafts. They selected 2nd,1st, 3rd, 1st and 1st and slowly built a competitive core.
            It is important for Las Vegas to reach respectability as quickly as possible but that won’t happen with most of the players they choose in the expansion draft. I would expect that 1/2 the players selected will be flipped during year two for prospects and draft picks. Look what the Leafs have achieved in a couple of years. They had a big head start by having certain important pieces in place like Kadri, JVR, Bozak, Reilly, Gardiner, Brown and Komarov plus Gauthier and Leivo which helped tremendously but the Leafs have added 14 core/key players beginning with the 2014 draft.
            In no way am I implying the Vegas Golden Knights can become respectable in 24 months however they must ice a semi-respectable team from day one while trying to acquire as many prospects and draft picks as possible for the future. With the freebies that the Casino’s will give away from their corporate season packages, IMO, the novelty will not wear out for the first 5 years giving the team the opportunity to put a solid foundation in place.
            I also read that players selected in the expansion draft can not be traded during the first season so the only trades Vegas can make is for draft picks or free agent signings they make this summer. If the NHL is attempting to help the team have success A.S.A.P., why handcuff them with such limitations. I would have rather have the rule amended to ‘no player selected in the expansion draft can be traded to his former team during the first year after expansion’.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            Any trades with Vegas regarding the expansion draft must be cleared by the NHL. It is unlikely they will allow any future considerations type of trade. The NHL has made it perfectly clear they don’t want Vegas starting out with a bunch of minor league, and bubble NHL guys. Having a team take 10 years to build a winning team in a new market is a recipe for disaster, when trying to build a fan base. And we as fans should also want them to start out with a decent team. It would be good for the game. Don’t forget each team is receiving $16 million for the player Vegas chooses. Who Vegas chooses is really hard to figure out. They may not always take the best player each team exposes. They have to put a complete team together.And I think they are not allowed to trade any of the players they acquire for one year. That rule was put it place to stop teams from trying to make deals like the future consideration stuff. Let’s face facts. If you were the GM for Vegas, you would be looking for the best, young players you could get. Mix in some late twenty, young thirty year olds. Some young prospects like Leipsic and Rychel as well.

          • Harte of a Lion

            Luke double D, I agree to a point. It’s doubtful that more than 20% of the players they select (5 or 6), will be with the team after the 2020, season so it makes sense that McPhee will attempt to stockpile as many assets as possible. I am attempting to look through the rules and offer Vegas the opportunity to add substantially to their cupboard. Are Leivo and Marincin plus a draft pick worth more than Rychel?
            I haven’t a clue but the responses to my comments have been interesting and informative.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            When using CapFriendly’s Protect Mode in their expansion tools. Rychel may be protected by the Leafs or he could be exposed. Anyone with 2 years of professional hockey in the AHL or NHL is eligble for exposure, unless they are still on an ELC. Teams like the Leafs must decide who they choose to protect. The Leafs will only be able to protect maximum 7 forwards – AHL/NHL who have played 2 years of professional hockey . Cap F has 15 forwards listed that they could possibly protect. at least 8 of them will be left unprotected. There is also an important part two. The exposure requirements. The Leafs have only five guys who meet the requirement. Two of them must be exposed. Guys like Brooks Laich could be signed and exposed but there is no reason he or they would. If Vegas is interested in him they can simply sign him as an UFA. Same thing for Michalek, Greening, Ben Smith, .You need to get your head around the fact the whole thing is set up to expose good prospects. The are no loop-holes. As a safeguard the NHL will refuse any trades that look like someone has found one. Almost every team in the NHL will be exposing some good young players under 25. The only sort of a loop hole is for teams like the Ducks and the Wild will be able to trade a top four D-man they are unable to protect. So far F-all is happening in that regard. The buyers know the price has to drop. The sellers still feel they are going to get fair market value if forced to trade a top four.. Think about this. If you were the GM for the Ducks which would you rather have an Andrew Nieson or lose Cam Fowler in the expansion draft?

          • LukeDaDrifter

            Here is another thing to consider. If you were to trade JVR for Fowler you may as well include Carrick in the deal. He will have to be exposed and would likely be taken. Players like Polack and Hunwick can be signed by Vegas if the want them as UFA’s.While Vegas must chose one player from each NHL team they will still have the 50 man NHL roster to work with.

          • Kanuunankuula

            Not necessarily. That’s only if you’re using the normal model, and not the 8 skaters. I honestly think Leafs should be looking at that model to try to pry a D-man loose & protect the 4 D-men. On forwards most of our valuable players are protected anyway, and leaves only a few to protect (Kadri / JVR / Bozak). You could trade one of those to get the D-man too.

          • Harte of a Lion

            Luke I found an article by one of the MSM guys who is much better than most discussing exactly what I am suggesting. He suggests the Penguins trade their first to Las Vegas for furure considerations, with the futures being they don’t select Fleury. I’m not the only one who feels these types of trades will happen.
            Check it out, Trade #3

          • LukeDaDrifter

            I read the article. I have seen some other ones as well. All I can tell you I have read a quote (can’t find it now) from Bettman and his deputy that the NHL is well aware of those types of loopholes in the past expansion drafts. In those past expansions, teams got screwed making those type of deals. NHL has said it is not going to happen this time around. People don’t seem to realize the NHL wants Murray playing goal for Vegas. The NHL is taking a personal interest in making Vegas a good young team to start. It doesn’t mean there can be no trades at all. This is why you see stories of Pittsburgh considering buying Fleury (NMC) out so they can retain Murray.
            Pittsburgh’s 1st round pick is likely to be around 30th. How much is that really worth?

          • Harte of a Lion

            I have recently read that until Vegas makes its final payment to the NHL, no trades can occur so unless the payment is received before March 1, all this “official” trade speculation is moot. I still suspect there will be some backdoor dealings to circumvent Bettman and his rules.
            I’ll say it again while I beat my head against a wall.
            If the NHL wanted to help Vegas ice a competive team quicker, they would allow all drafted players to be traded that first year to any team other than the team the player was selected from.
            By forbidding the selected players being traded for a year, the league is handcuffing Vegas, especially at the 2018 trade deadline.

          • LukeDaDrifter

            It is all very difficult to get a handle on it. As an example. If Pittsburgh offered us Fleury for a third round pick could we make the deal? Fleury has a NMC so that automatically means Andersen is exposed.It seems like every team is looking for more scoring, D-men, and better goalies. The Media keeps reporting phone calls and other rumours. No one is making any deals at all. Even the early birds have not arrived. Even moving Phaneuf last year makes me wonder if Lou was thinking ahead to this expansion draft. If he was still here then we could only protect Rielly and Gardiner, leaving no room to acquire a top four D-man.

          • Harte of a Lion

            It seems Phaneuf has been gone forever but the trade didn’t take place until February 9th and that was considered “well before the deadline”. The Leafs, meaning Shanahan, Lamoriello and Babcock continue to have the long term success of this team, meaning a cup contender year after year as their top priority. If the opportunity arises to improve the team without disturbing the core, they will make a trade. Babcock keeps repeating “it’s a process” and since he will be here for the foreseeable future, it’s unlikely that he will sacrafice now for tomorrow.
            We all know, sh*t everyone knows we have a weakness on the back end but remember, many defencemen begin to peak at 25/26, Gardiner’s age. Playing under Babcock he is beginning to show top pairing abilities worthy of a 1st round pick.
            Rielly is only 22 and though on a higher trajectory, he might not develop into that 1st pairing guy the coach (and everyone else) envision for another year or two. Gardiner has played in 367 games over over 6 1/2 seasons since he broke in with the team in 2011/12 while Rielly has already played 278 games in only 3 1/2..
            Carrick, the latest target of bloggers who are smarter than management has played 91 games over parts of four NHL seasons and is a month younger than Rielly. Remember Morgan season 2? Lots of potential but a mistake machine that often looked like he caught Gardneritis. Other than his draft plus 1 year where he played 34 games for the Capitals, Carrick had never play in more than 16 games in a season. He was a driving force for the Hershey Bears as a 20 and 21 year old until acquired in the Winnick pt. 2 trade. Not sure about anyone else but I have seen enough improvement in his game to consider him an above average 3rd pairing guy “now”. The Calder Cup was a disappointment for the Marlies and the fan base and perhaps it’s easier to banish it from memory after a disappointing loss to Hershey however I remember him absolutely dominating during the playoffs and there is no doubt he is too good for the AHL.
            It’s difficult for many fans to be patient, especially the bandwagon jumpers who climb back on while showing everyone else how smart they are. We have some quality pieces on defence who can skate, make plays and drive possession and under Babcock they will all continue to develop.
            If we sign Shattenkirk it’s unlikely we keep Gardiner. Why spend time and effort to develop top tier talent at all positions if your forced to trade it away because you *bleeped* up your salary cap by being impatient 1 or two years.
            I think St. Louis is inflating him by playing him on the third pairing in Lamoriello’s famous “Pump’n’Dump”. His offensive number are up but he is struggling on defence although part of that is the team’s struggles in net.
            Gardiner is 18 months younger than Shattenkirk while playing harder (still sheltered) minutes and this season has better numbers all around. I had already thought about a Gardiner extension, let’s see how Jake steps up in the absence of Rielly.
            Who would trade Gardiner straight up for Shattenkirk because that’s what it will mean. If Jake continues his development path this year I can see him getting a contract extension with a hometown discount like Kadri and Rielly. After all his suffering I expect he would love to win a cup or two with the Leafs.

          • Kanuunankuula

            Again, what’s the point of protecting Komarov or Martin? I’d rather look at prying a D-man away from another team and protecting him using the 4-4-1 rule.

            I belive the rest of the season is not yet counted on Cap friendly. So it’s possible for Rychel and Leipsic can become eligble at the end?

          • LukeDaDrifter

            Gerby Rychel needs to play 38 more NHL games. Leipsic needs to play 40. They would have to be called up right away as the Leafs only have 41 more games left to play. Who are you going to waive to bring them up?

    • Getrdone

      Uncle Leo may be exposed to that exp draft, now you have Nylander move up to take Bozak’s place and Uncle Leo gone(exp. draft.) so you bring up Leipsic for on the one side of Kadri, now who on the other side?

      • LukeDaDrifter

        By trading Bozak you could inadvertently expose Kadri if Martin or Komarov get injured. Ok maybe you end up exposing Brown. Brown looks to have super chemistry with Matthews. He could easily hit 35 goals next year.

  • Tigon

    I wonder if Vegas takes a guy like Martin with a deal being they trade him back for Leivo and Corrado, maybe add another lower prospect like Cameranesi or a 6th or 7th rounder..

    Corrado cannot seem to find a place on Babcock’s team and neither can Leivo. Vegas can get two players doing this instead of one, both who are young enough (23) with upside to help a building team in Vegas and good enough to be NHL players now. Sounds like a win for them over keeping Martin or plucking Komarov with one year left before UFA. They could just go with Marincin though instead.

    It may seem like a weird deal but reality is the Leafs value Martin and don’t Leivo or Corrado so you might as well leverage them to ensure Vegas “takes” the guy you want them to while keeping our own team together; avoid losing Komarov or Marincin and freeing up the extra SPC and a little cap space.

    The trade couldn’t happen until after Jan 1, 2018 but I don’t think that would hurt the Leafs having to wait. Just a thought.

    • LukeDaDrifter

      Any trades must be approved by the NHL. They are already on record stating they are highly unlikely to approve any deals like you have suggested. The NHL wants Vegas to start with a fairly good NHL team. They deem it extremely important for Los Vegas to be competitive in their first year. Vegas paid half a billion dollars for the franchise. The NHL wants that to be the going price to purchase a team.

    • LukeDaDrifter

      The way things stand right now (Depending on big trades) Vegas will start with a better and younger top six than the Leafs have at the moment.

      Here is a very rough guess at some of the young D Vegas could have on the back end. Cam Fowler, Ducks, Marco Scandella, Wild, Connor Murphy Coyotes. Ryan Murray, Columbus. Ryan Ellis, Predators. I only went through half of the teams. All of the guys are 25 or under and will likely be exposed. There is zero chance Corrado is getting picked over those guys. It is unlikely Carrick is getting picked over those guys. It looks to me that Vegas will taking a good young prospect from us or a good role player..

      Edit: I had Justin Faulk there in error. I had copied his name for a different comment. So toss in Brayden McNabb, from the Kings.

      Throw in Marc-André Fleury in net and the team is starting to look pretty good.

      Just looking at the Hurricanes. At the moment they only have one defenceman who meets the exposure requirements. Justin Faulk. .If nothing changed they would either have to expose him or take the heavy penalty of a 1st round pick, 2 2nd round picks and a couple of 3rd rounders. To be fair they should have some other D-men that will have played the required games by the end of the season if they don’t get injured.