That magical time of the year when we come together to willfully allow an elderly sweatshop owner to break into our homes, all while trusting him to not murder us in our sleep.
While Christmas may, in fact, be the season of giving, it also serves to be the season of receiving as well. This led my blue and white brain to ponder one very important question.
What should each Leaf get for Christmas?
Well, look no further, folk’s. Gather ’round as I decide which hypothetical gifts a bunch of millionaires should take home this holiday season.
Ron Hainsey: Another Penalty Killer
Above all else, Santa should just give Ron Hainsey a gosh darn break. He’s currently played a staggering 138:57 on the penalty kill, which is straight up bonkers. The next closest
Didn’t the Leafs re-sign a certain defenceman just to fix this problem? And yet, here we are. Just give Old Man Ron a breather.
Mitch Marner: A Goal
All signs are pointing towards Marner being on the naughty list.
There’s really no other logical explanation for the shocking lack of puck luck he’s been cursed with since opening night. You could give Marner the puck while he’s INSIDE the net, and he’d still find a way to shank it.
Now, this isn’t from a lack of trying. Marner’s been flying lately. He just seems to be cursed with Tyler Bozak Syndrome. For the love of Christmas, give poor Mitch a goal!
William Nylander: Decent Linemates
Nylander has currently put up 21 points in 31 games. By all accounts, that’s a perfectly respectable stat line for a sophomore winger.
However, most sophomore wingers aren’t saddled with Dominic Moore and Matt Martin as their linemates on a nightly basis.
Playing someone as talented as Nylander with Moore and Martin is like buying a brand new Ferrari and replacing its engine with one from a Toyota Yaris. It’ll still get you where you need to go, but you’re pretty much committing a criminal offence by wasting it.
C’mon Santa. Set William free.
Curtis McElhinney: A Vezina
After his 41 save shutout of Connor McDavid, he’s earned it.
Patrick Marleau: Texting Lessons
Marleau is 38 years old, well on his way to another 25 goal season, and is beloved by Leafs fans alike. What else could he possibly need?
In fact, his texting lingo is so lacking, he apparently doesn’t even know what “HBU” means. I don’t care that you’re almost 40, Patrick. That’s some bush league stuff right there.
If anything other than texting lessons, or at least a texting dictionary appears under Marleau’s tree on Christmas morning, Santa will be doing him a disservice.
Leo Komarov: A Primary Point
Wanna hear a cold take? Komarov isn’t having the best season by any stretch. With just 7 points in 31 games, Uncle Leo hasn’t been burning up any game sheets lately. Especially when you consider he has 2 primary points on the year.
That is absurd. If Santa has a heart, and he probably doesn’t due to his immortality, he’ll throw Leo a primary point or two.
Roman Polak: Retirement
I need to be clear here. This is not what each Leaf would want for Christmas. This is what each Leaf should get for Christmas.
Josh Leivo: A Shovel
Making a Shawshank-style escape is pretty much the only way Leivo is going to free himself from Babcock’s doghouse at this point. No better way to dig yourself out than with a brand new Dewalt Shovel™!
Zach Hyman: Nothing
Hyman gets to play with generation superstar, and godfather to my future children Auston Matthews on a nightly basis. The Leafs have already given him everything he could ever need.
You get nothing! Good day, sir!
Andreas Borgman: Connor Carrick
Paying Borgman with Polak is like giving Zanex to The Hulk. And if you take one look at Borgman, he’s a green paint job away from actually becoming The Hulk.
Carrick gives Borgman the opportunity to smash. For the love of God, let Hulk smash.
Frederik Andersen: Garret Sparks
Like Old Man Hainsey, Freddy has been severely overworked. He currently leads all goaltenders in minutes played with 1571:40. The next closest goalie is Mike Smith.
Can you imagine having to play Mike Smith over 1,400 minutes by Christmas? Sucks to be you, Calgary.
In other news, Garret Sparks has been tearing up the AHL this season and has clearly outgrown the league. Calling him up would give Babcock the peace of mind to start someone other than Andersen in a non-back-to-back situation.
In turn, it would also save Andersen from withering into a pile of dust from pure exhaustion.
Tyler Bozak: Traded
Other than his recent two-goal performance in Pittsburgh, Bozak has provided precisely zero value to the team all season. His line is driven by a guy who can’t even shave, and he’s seemingly made whiffing on Grade-A chances an art form.
It’s time to pull a Gwyneth Paltrow and “consciously uncouple” from Tyler. It’s for the best.
James van Riemsdyk: Some Gum
I’m convinced that JVR has single-handedly kept the neon mouthguard industry running. The guy must go through about a million of those things due to his constant mid-game chomping.
Guess what, James? This whacky new thing called “gum”, or it could be pronounced “goom”, has just been invented. You can chew it all day and it’ll never break! Give it a try, buddy. I think you’ll like it.
Morgan Rielly: A Time Machine for Ron Hainsey
Rielly is just 23 years old, and yet has gone through more defence partners than JVR has mouthguards. This summer, like a pre-Christmas miracle, Rielly was given Ron Hainsey, and his life was finally complete.
Rielly and Hainsey have become the Leafs most effective pairing, while Hainsey has also helped Morgan take a step towards becoming a legit #1 defenceman. If Rielly can go back in time and bring 29-year-old Hainsey into the present day, he’ll be set up for life.
Jake Gardiner: A Brain
I’ve been a staunch believer in Jake Gardiner ever since the Leafs robbed Anaheim to get him. And he has shown some real flashes of elite talent over his tenure in the 6ix.
Alas, while Gardiner rarely misses a game, the same can’t be said for his brain. Yes, he’s made some truly baffling decisions with the puck over the years, and I regret to inform you that it hasn’t gotten any better in 2017-18.
Please, let me love you, Jake. Get a brain.
Nazem Kadri: A Selke
His defensive prowess may have slipped this season, but this would still be hilarious.
It would at the very least annoy Steve Simmons, and when that happens, everyone wins.
Connor Brown: Uhhh a Gift Card, I Guess?
Honestly, I didn’t really put too much thought into Connor Brown’s gift. But, I bet he’s used to that by now.
Connor’s been fantastic this season, and I’m sure he’d receive this gift card the same way he receives his assignments from Babcock, with a smile.
Matt Martin: A Robot Hand
What use is a fighter who can’t fight? Admittedly, Martin’s looked a lot better this season, but he seems pretty banged up right now. Most fans speculate that he’s nursing an injured hand, which has severely limited his ability to fight.
Martin earns his dollars (2.5 million of them to be exact) primarily with his fists. Now, there’s really only one logical solution to make sure he never injures his moneymaker again: robot hand.
In fact, wouldn’t life would be better if everyone had a robot hand? You know I’m right.
Dominic Moore: Same as Hyman
In July, Moore was signed distinctly to be the Leafs’ 4th line centre. However, he’s somehow found himself playing extended periods with guys like Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Connor Brown and Kasperi Kapanen.
Getting paired with even one of those players would be on the Christmas list of every single player in the NHL. With that said, Moore has already been given everything he could ever want.
Nikita Zaitsev: Some Corsis
Zaitsev is an enigma.
He seems like a good defenceman and is trusted with the playing time befitting of one. Yet, at the same time, his possession metrics constantly dip below the 50% Mendoza line, and it’s really pissed off the analytics community.
If Nikita can just learn to drive the play a bit, I think his contract will look a lot less daunting. And even if he doesn’t, we don’t really have a choice, because he’s locked in for another 7 years.
Auston Matthews: William Nylander
Absence only makes the heart grow fonder.
Please, Santa. For Fremlin’s sake, reunite hockey’s hottest couple.
Merry Christmas, everyone!