Monday Mailbag: Please start winning edition

What’s up, everyone?

Did you have a good weekend?

Do you want to get mad about the Toronto Maple Leafs again?

Hey, here’s your chance!

Auston exists, so let’s say yes, for the sake of being easy.

Realistically? No.  Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Also, probably no.

When we talk about Connor Carrick, we’re really talking about the addition of Roman Polak.

Personally, I don’t see Roman Polak ending this season with this team, given the way his performance has been steadily declining and he’s making a number of mistakes each night. Perhaps he’s still in the lineup because Mike Babcock didn’t want him to sign for no reason? Maybe Babcock doesn’t like Connor Carrick’s lack offence? Maybe it really is part of some genius developmental plan to develop Carrick into a long-term stud for the Leafs.

I don’t really buy the supposed narrative that there’s any beef between Babcock and Carrick, but rather that he’s simply the odd man out. Fair or not, Mike Babcock is very much a “this is my team, let me coach it” type leader, and well, it’s Roman Polak’s team right now.

Besides a few lineup changes, the biggest difference likely comes in pushing more of a free-flowing game of hockey. The team’s been dumping the puck in far too often, without opening up chances for odd-man rushes, breakaways and long outlet passes that usually lead to high percentage chances.

The team’s playing passive, boring hockey, and needs to play a little more run ‘n’ gun to get things going offensively. Let Mitch Marner roam free!

Ooh, a fun one. In terms of pure skill, the answer has to be Phil Kessel, no? Logistically speaking, it makes less than zero sense, as the team does not have the cap space now nor in the future to hold that contract that they uh… signed themselves.

We were going to suggest Alex Steen as a possible Tyler Bozak replacement, but seeing his $5.7 million cap hit per year at age 33 over the next four years makes us less inclined to do so.

Crazily enough, the answer in terms of realistic happening might be… Michael Grabner, the man who scored nine goals on 186 shots attempted in Toronto. Yes, he had a down year, but has managed 43 goals in 109 games since moving to the Rangers. Making just $1.6 million this season, he wouldn’t break the bank. The Rangers don’t have any incentive to move him right now, but if they see their playoff stock fade down the line, there’s a chance they’ll be looking to cash in on the expiring deal. If the Leafs feel comfortable moving a mid-round pick for even more scoring depth on what could be a deep playoff run.

Since we addressed Carrick earlier, we’ll focus on Aaltonen.

And honestly, as a regular… no, probably not. While Aaltonen’s been in the AHL, he’s produced 4 goals and 10 assists in 27 games, slightly better than 0.5 points per game. Playing mostly in the Marlies top-six, he hasn’t exactly shown levels of dominance at age 24. Compare those to Dominic Moore’s NHL stats: 4 goals and 6 assists in 25 games.

Neither are overly impressive, but that’s kind of the point. Does replacing Moore with Aaltonen really add much?

The Marlies have a few forward prospects worth giving a shot to in their future, but no one’s really screaming “I need an NHL job right now” with their current performance.

Under the NFL rules? No, he did not, as ugly as that was. It was an exciting play in an exciting game, but, well, he didn’t complete the process of the catch, and it sucks the refs had to call things the other way.

Under Thanksgiving house football rules? Well, Jesse’s bragging to his grandparents all the way to dinnertime.

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  • Chelmsford Leafs

    Time for a dumb question from the UK. Why the fixation with static lines and the ‘dump the puck and line change approach?’ Why not play stretch passes, change players one at a time and play rotating lines? Surely if
    you have system and you have 10+ players capable of ‘top 9’ levels of play, it doesn’t matter who your line mates are? [yes, I understand that some players are better than others]