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Monday Mailbag: Nylander=Yes; Leivo=No

You have to be happy about William Nylander being back, right? I mean, if the TLN Facebook page is an indication, that previous statement definitely isn’t true, but if you can’t find joy in William Nylander being a Leaf, I’d argue you can’t experience joy.

Nylander has a lot of recency bias to make up for, but he should be well rested, healthy, and dare I say, in the best shape of his life?

Anyway…with Nylander’s return we say goodbye to the official mascot of the Leafs pressbox, Josh Leivo. Perhaps he’ll find himself on Elias Pettersson’s wing and we’ll all get to suffer through daily citings of his secondary assists and goals off of rebounds.

Here’s the mailbag…

Thanks. Let us know if anything comes to you.

I think the second part of your question answers the first part. Since Leafs Nation (I assume you are referring to the Leafs fanbase and not the fantastic blog that shares the same name) is such a tire fire, it’s never too soon to start trying to trade a player. And the what have you done for me lately attitude goes hand and hand with Toronto sports fandom.

As for when Nylander trade talk seems reasonable, I’d argue that it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do once some of the Leafs other key players are under contract, and absolutely not until Marner is signed. If the Leafs have Marner, Matthews, Kapanen, and Johnsson under contract, yeah sure go nuts, pick a winger that you want to shop for a defenseman and have at it. I’d just say until we know what Marner is going to cost it seems premature to sell either one of them.

And why is Leafs Nation such a tire? Sports fandom in general is an absolute sewer. It’s filled with overly serious people who are treating entertainment as if it is a life or death thing. Too many people seem to rely on the Leafs to dictate their happiness and that is an impossible thing for a team to deliver on. There’s also the fact that Leafs Nation is so huge that you can always find someone who will disagree with you even on the coldest take and that they are willing to die on that hill.

I’ve been giving optimism a try lately, so I’m going to go with Nylander fulfilling this contract and moving on to another one. There doesn’t seem to be any barriers to him rejoining the team, his coach and teammates seem excited for him to be back, and he’s a deal that although it isn’t discounted, is a perfectly good price to pay for a player who would absolutely be one of the top two forwards on most of the teams in the league.

The Leafs won’t be without some tough choices down the road, but Nylander’s contract will probably look pretty good after the Marner and Matthews deals get signed.

The Leafs will probably be looking to add someone at the trade deadline, and they should be able to do that no problem. Considering they would need to give up picks, prospects, players that the other team values, I’d imagine they’ll run out of those before they run out of cap space on the few players they’d target.

Of course, given the cap crunch for next season, the Leafs won’t want to burn through all their available cap space, and they will want to be able to manage any performance bonus overages and it looks like Matthews and Marner could take them to the cleaners there.

I think it would be more confusing to watch the Leafs and think Josh Leivo is bad. Leivo has been a perfectly fine bottom six player this season and his strong CF% and xGF% supports that he can probably handle a tougher workload than he’s been getting. What happens in that situation could reinforce that Leivo is nothing more than a bottom six sheltered scorer, or it could point the Leafs maybe whiffing on this trade.

What I think is reasonable no matter where you fall on Leivo is not getting too worked up one way or the other about him departing. He wasn’t going to fit into Mike Babcock’s plans for the Leafs and in all likelihood he would be getting leapfrogged by the next class of Marlies wingers coming up.

I’d like to go off the board and say the no facial hair policy if for no other reason than how angry it made internet beardos, but I will show this question the respect it deserves and choose from the two options.

I’m going to go with the Phaneuf trade. There is a chance that the Leafs could have one day figured out the cone of silence thing on their own, and were well on their way to it by no longer employing Dreger’s cousin, or lamp post aficionado, Brian Burke.

The Phaneuf trade was something special. It started the Senators into a death spiral from which they never will recover. When the Senators relocate, people will include the Phaneuf trade as part of that reasoning. It also rid the Leafs of a contract that is now propelling a third owner of that deal into a draft lottery position.

As bad as that deal was, the interesting part of it is that it only represented a very modest pay increase for Phaneuf, and as an unrestricted free agent someone was going to offer him this ridiculously stupid deal. What you would have expected was that the team that saw Phaneuf play day in and day out, and knew how slow he was getting would have decided to let him hit the open market, especially when absolutely nothing was working for the Leafs at that point.

So yeah, Thanks to Lou for that. Not so much for a lot of other things, and it certainly lessens the benefits of the Phaneuf deal when you start throwing money at Nikita Zaitsev, but at the time your “heart” was in the right place.

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