TLN Monday Mailbag: May 8th

So I hear that Mitch Marner is scoring a billion points at the World Championships. Makes sense; 20-year-old Mitch is much more mature than 19-year-old Mitch and prefers the sophistication of a Player 0f the Game watch to having yet another ring in his drawer. Or maybe he’s just over his Mono and the quality of opponents is worse than the Washington Capitals. I don’t know.

On that note, let’s stop thinking about that and hop into this week’s mailbag. We’ve got a bunch of questions that need answers!

This is definitely an interesting possibility. Most would initially glance at this and say “but LTIR”, however, using Long-Term Injured Reserve only works throughout the season and wouldn’t cover any of the overages Toronto would face due to their rookies earning performance bonuses. The team is at a stage now where pure cap space is more valuable than the illusion of space that these two provide.

I think this would work for one of the two players, but not the other. I’d be shocked if anybody took on Nathan Horton; teams like Arizona, New Jersey, Carolina, etc tend to take on these contracts to get themselves up to the salary cap floor because the players they take back are owed less actual money than their cap hit. That isn’t the case with Horton; he has an uninsured contract, meaning they’re on the hook for the full amount. While he is owed less as the years go by, it’s not a drastic taper like Pronger or Savard; he has $15.9 million in remaining cap hit and $14.1 million in remaining salary. Lupul, however, only has one year remaining at $3.75 million in remaining salary; there’s no word as to whether his deal is insured or not, but even if it isn’t, that’s $1.5 million in immediate savings and a quick bail-out for the other team.

If they could find suitors and the cost wasn’t massive (say, a mid-tier prospect or draft pick) on each, I’d do it. The team is going to need cap space very soon to stock up for deep playoff runs and to extend its core, so the less of it is spent on overages from the prior year, the better.

Raddysh is an interesting case. He’s no doubt going to get looks from teams due to being a fair bit over a point per game with Erie this year and being an ever-so-sought-after right-handed defenceman, but he also did so in his over age year. If I were the Leafs, I’d offer him a very generous AHL contract to prove his chops with the Marlies, and if he looks worthwhile, promote him to an entry-level deal in the following year.

Now that it seems pretty likely that a spot will be used on Matt Martin, for better or worse, I’m pretty curious to see which of the kids goes in his place. Most likely, it’ll be Josh Leivo or Brendan Leipsic, and I’d prefer not to lose either of the two. The question, of course, is whether either would be able to solidify a roster spot here, but both appear to be poised to be quality NHLers.

I think it depends on who is on the board at the time. That’s not me making a suggestion about who the Leafs should draft; I usually don’t have opinions until the days leading up to the draft, and even those aren’t usually all that strong. But this will likely be Toronto’s highest pick for a while, so if there’s someone with upside available, they may as well swing.

It would be nice to see Toronto gain some more picks, but the better direction to go would probably be to move out some prospects that they don’t see as part of their plans to regain those picks. Whether or not Toronto has any of those that would still be appealing to other organizations is up to debate, but that’s the direction I’d go unless there’s nothing appealing when they’re up for selection.

It would likely take multiple injuries, or for Frederik Andersen to have a catastrophically bad season. The fact that most were skeptical of the team to start the year doesn’t change the fact that they clearly played like a team that deserved to be where they were (if not slightly better), and given the age of their core, natural development curves should give them another gear next season, even if the makeup of the roster doesn’t change that much.

It would 100% be a disappointment if they drop out at any point in the next few years. The window is open now and it’s open with good reason. It’s not longer “things have to go right to make it”, its “things have to go wrong to miss”. That’s a little daunting, but it’s still great to see.

  • Kevin

    I would defer to Mike Babcock when he said the Leafs were not “automatic” to make the playoffs on a yearly basis. The Leafs have more building before you can really say the “window is open.”

      • Gary Empey

        Have we forgotten, (I know Capt. J didn’t) there was a lot of competition for that last playoff spot. A lot is going to depend on what Ottawa, Boston, NYI, Tampa, Flyers, Carolina, Florida do in the off season. There are a lot of top names being bandied about this year. Is it reasonable to assume the competition will ice the same team as they did last year?

        • I do think that the leafs aren’t automatic as we made it in part to Florida and Tampa being heavily injury-ridden, but after a year of growth, I think that teams like Ottawa are going to start to fall away. The Metro division isn’t getting weaker any time soon, so if we assume that there is only the Atlantic and, say, 1 wildcard spot, I’m projecting Montreal to win the Atlantic again, Tampa finishing second and Florida and Toronto being interchangeable for the 3rd/WC spots.