TLN Monday Mailbag: April 24th

Just because the season is done, doesn’t mean we are. Granted, this was a bit of a quiet site today as we all took in the events of Game 6 and had a breather, but there’s still work to do! For example, there’s this pile of questions (that we took before puck drop, no less), that must be addressed:

The next move is to spend some time look at the reinforcement wave. The Leafs may be done, but the Marlies are in the mist of their own playoff push, heading to Game 3 of the first round on Wednesday night at Ricoh Coliseum. There’s a significant combination of on-the-bubble prospects, and pending RFA/UFA players, and some decisions as far as career paths go have to be made in a few cases.

There’s a ton else on the agenda for the team, but that’s likely the most immediate priority, save for the run going deep and approaching the draft day(s).

I’ve probably been on the sign Jumbo train longer than anybody, first suggesting it as an option as early as the preseason. Thornton hasn’t rushed to sign his extension as he has in the past with the Sharks, previously signing with a year to spare and six months. That could change, but until he does, the idea that the 37-year-old might want to jump to a rising team where he can be more of a support player on a short-term deal is interesting.

For the Leafs, it would be massive to get a player who, while he’s approaching the end of his career, is still an elite play driver and top line calibre point producer. As long as they can keep him down to a 1-year deal (don’t need another Robidas situation if his knee injury gets re-aggravated), hand the man a blank cheque and get on with it.

It’s hard to say, given that the Leafs have a ton of forwards already and could be in the mix for more top-end support in the coming months. As far as abundantly NHL ready in general, though? I still feel that Seth Griffith is plenty capable, and it’s a real shame that Brendan Leipsic and Kerby Rychel didn’t get a chance to show their hands at a higher level this year. There are NHL teams that could absolutely use their services.

Moving to the back, I’d imagine Travis Dermott and Rinat Valiev could make an NHL team without sticking out in a negative way, though they might still both be a year away. If Garret Sparks’ injury luck bounces back in any way, he’d be at least a capable backup.

The general idea here is that there are quite a few players on that team who could find an NHL home. Nobody who would step in and become an immediate high-impact player, but plenty of capable ones.

It’s too early to say. All depends on who moves in and out in the centre position. He’s certainly capable of playing centre if need be, but in a world where Toronto already has Matthews, Kadri, and Bozak, and could bring back Boyle, and as we suggested in Question #2, could take a run at Thornton if the opportunity is there, it might make sense to let Nylander continue to be be an great to elite winger in the immediate future.

They should’ve traded Nylander when they had the chance.

*looks at Noah Syndergaard’s hair*


  • Gary Empey

    Joe Thornton
    Center — shoots L
    Born Jul 2 1979 — London, ONT
    [37 yrs. ago]
    Height 6.04 — Weight 220
    Thorton will be 38 years old, come training camp. He just had surgery on his ACL. For some reason most consider Bozak at 30/31 years of age, too old for the rebuild.

    • Kanuunankuula

      Bozak was never the player or even close to what Jumbo was, even on his best day. Even in decline Jumbo is better. He’s also one the mutants whose playing well above the usual years. His results last year (at 37) were pretty elite, and this year good at worst.

      • Gary Empey

        Thorton was a better player in past years. He will be shortly 38 years of age, just after having major knee surgery. He was already in rapid decline this year. I think it is unreasonable to assume at his age, he will come back to have a solid year again in the NHL. It is more likely he will retire.

        2016/17 stats Thorton 7 goals 43 assists = 50 points – Bozak 18 goals 37 assists. = 55 points

  • DukesRocks

    Jumbo Joe is not what the Leafs are looking for or need. They need a solid top 4 d-man. On the UFA market, Alzner would be my choice if the price is right. I have a feeling Lou will pull off a solid D-man via trade during the expansion draft/regular draft. Depending on what’s available to Vegas, a side deal might be arranged by Lou to net us a top 4-dman. The biggest reason the Caps won this series is they are a bigger heavier team and basically pushed the Leafs around. The baby Leafs will be one year older next season and by default will be bigger and stronger, however, we need need to find that balance between skill and toughness. The way I see it there aren’t many positions open on next year’s roster. Martin who could be exposed in the Edraft, is going no where. What to do with Hyman? I know Babs likes him with Mathews and I get it, but maybe Leivo would be a better fit. He has a better hockey IQ, more skill and can win puck battles. You also have JVR, Bozak and Uncle Leo on the final year of their contracts, however, I don’t see any of the 3 being moved. While I like Boyle, he will not be coming back. I feel Gauthier will be taking over 4th line centre duties. Then you have a ton of depth forward in Sosh, Leipsic, Fehr, Rychel, Lindberg, Bracco, Johnson etc. We’ll know more in a few months how Lou plans to address the D and team toughness.

    • Miller

      Finding D through free agency is not the right move, especially this year. The D issue will have to be addressed via trade if you want to find a legitimate top 4 and not over pay.

      Jumbo Joe makes a ton of sense in my opinion. Cap is not issue this season or the next. Why not bring in a vet for a season to help groom the kids and still play at an effective level?

    • JB#1


      The one thing this Washington series clarified for me is that the Leafs do NOT need to be taking a run in free agency at either Shattenkirk or Alzner. IMO, neither of those players could keep pace with the Leafs and we don’t want to overpay anyone who can’t keep up – the future of the NHL is younger and faster and the Leafs need to poke around looking for those kind of D-men. In Lou we Trust…

    • Kanuunankuula

      Oh no, no no no. Alzner is declining hard, and was atrocious against the Leafs. Trotz subbed him for Scmidth, and they started winning. Someone is going to offer him a an absolute boat anchor of a contract. Let’s not be that team.

  • Kevin

    I like the idea of the Leafs taking a run at Patrick Marleau if they decide to move on from JVR. Joe Thornton is interesting but the Leafs would be better off resigning Brian Boyle.