Post Turkey Mailbag

It was the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday so we didn’t have the mailbag on Monday. You get it today. Here are responses to your questions.

Sigh. Somehow one of these clowns is going to score, but thankfully the Leafs should be incapable of giving up a hat trick to either one of them, if for no reason other than the two of them combining for three shots on goal seems like a stretch. I am willing to bet that Roman Polak scores though, because of course he will. I’m also willing to bet that Connor Carrick will continue to set the league on fire with his secondary assists.

Hopefully soon. If anything the past few games have illustrated the Leafs lineup isn’t without its flaws, and bringing in a 60 point winger can cover off a wealth of sins that exist in the defensive game, and elsewhere. It would also be nice to bump Ennis back to down more of a sheltered scoring role rather than expecting him to keep up with Matthews and Marleau.

Anyway, the negotiations don’t give a lot of hope for this being resolved soon, and I think as optimistic as I can be is targeting November 1st as the day that Nylander is back in the lineup. It’s a shame that his reputation is taking a hit on this, and honestly I think most of the blame falls with the team for not handling this better. That doesn’t mean I think he should an $8M/yr winger, but it means I think the Leafs should be able to convey his importance to the team, while still reaching a reason contract outcome.

Hate is too strong a word. He’s not Tom Wilson or Patrick Kane. He’s just not a desirable goaltending option for a lot of us. I’ve made a handy table for a bunch of reasons…

Why People Like Sparks Why People Don’t Like Sparks
Great AHL season Bad NHL career
NHL debut shutout Bad NHL preseason
Bad Start to this season
The Calder Cup!!! Did you see the rest of the team?
Makes Big Saves Seems like a below average tracker
He has nice equipment He didn’t work on goaltending this summer
He’s Not McElhinney He’s Not McElhinney
He has a social media presence He has a social media presence
He needs more time He needs more time

The bottom line for me is that he is a question mark at the NHL level, and I don’t see a lot of value in developing a goaltender to get to his backup upside when you can go out and find a backup goaltender who suits your needs now.

Let’s say I’m wrong about Sparks and he is capable of being a starter in the NHL, he’s not going to be a starter the way that Freddie Andersen is a starter. He’ll likely be a starter the way that Scott Darling is a starter. He’s a chance you can take on goaltending when your team is a bubble playoff team or worse, but when you have a contending team the last thing you should be doing is taking gambles in net.

Goaltenders can be acquired fairly easily, as the Hurricanes and Flyers just proved. I’d say that Sparks should have an incredibly short leash, and given his role he’s not going to get the sample size people want him to have to figure it out.

I think it’s reason to assume that Matthews wins the Rocket, but the Art Ross likely belongs to Tavares.

Oh goodness, we really need to be having this discussion already, and I’m not wanting to hear any “it’s only been three games” nonsense from any of you. The Leafs right side has been bad for a good long time, and addressing it should be a priority.

Now, the Leafs do have some internal options. They could try Rielly or Dermott on the right side, a position that both of them have played at points. Either Rielly-Dermott or Gardiner-Rielly are improvements. There also needs to be some consideration to Justin Holl and what he could potentially do, although this is addressing the bottom of the lineup needs more than the top.

The name that always gets thrown around most freely is Chris Tanev from the Canucks, but that name usually comes with a ridiculous price tag. Once the Canucks realize that they aren’t getting a premium price for a guy that has actively been shopped for the past three seasons and is injured as often as he’s in the lineup, he’s a potential solution.

I wouldn’t rule out Kevin Shattenkirk with the Rangers. although that’s a lot of contract for a guy who had a pretty serious knee surgery. If the Rangers can eat some salary, and the Leafs are willing to give up a little more to get that salary down, I’d say this is a good fit. Ideally if I’m the Leafs I try to jettison Zaitsev for Shattenkirk and pay more to do that. I’m not wanting to guess at the other pieces needed to get this done, but this intrigues me.


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