Mailbag: Today Is What You Make Of It

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I was going to try to spin this title into something holiday related. I was going to go Jesus Easter, but not everyone is Christian. I considered chocolate rabbit Easter, but I couldn’t think of a way to tie it in. I almost got desperate and went with a 4/20 pun, but this mailbag is about blue Leafs, not green ones. Besides, the Leafs got low to close out, not high. Maybe you’re just going call today Sunday. Whatever. Just go have fun in your way. But first, here’s a mailbag.

To submit a question, send me a tweetemail meask me, or leave a comment.

Jeff, the NHL minimum salary is currently at 525k, right? But what’s the AHL minimum?

The AHL minimum is $41,500 US, or $43,000 Canadian. 

To apply this to Toronto, MLSE tends to compensate their two-way players well. Drew MacIntyre, for example, makes AHL contract max ($250,000). Jerred Smithson is close, at $200,000. Korbinian Holzer is on a one way deal, as are TJ Brennan, Trevor Smith, Frazer McLaren, and Brad Staubitz (though to be fair, McLaren was supposed to be a Leaf all year and Staubitz was traded for). 

Furthermore, all of the entry level contracts pay their rookies at least $60,000. AHL max on an ELC is $70,000, and many teams get their players lower. The Leafs aren’t just going to set money on fire, but are aware that without a cap in the AHL, having their players live comfortably is helpful.

Is it finally time for a Caryle firing? Clearly he is not onlh disliked by players, but fans. Hasnt done much as a coach (except stupid comments and bad line combos). Sure playoffs last year are pass, but that ship has sailed. Do you agree, if Nonis was smart, he would pull what Burke did to Willson

I think the widely accepted answer to this is yes, but I do want to point out that “disliked by players” is jumping the gun and speculative. I do know of prior Carlyle players who dislike him (both publicly and privately), but we haven’t been given that indication about anybody on the roster just yet.

Are the Leafs defensive issues more related to systems or personnel?

I think it’s a combination of both, along with matchups and zone placement. The Leafs definitely need to add a top pairing defenceman (either by development or acquisition) to go with Dion Phaneuf at some point, so the personnel isn’t perfect, but there are little moments that make you question the concepts as well.

Zone placement is a particular thing I’d like to look at. While things started to even out later in the year, there was a point where Paul Ranger and Mark Fraser were used as an offensive-zone pairing. Things like that make you wonder if an alteration of usage could make a difference.

Do you think Torts would make a good coach for the Leafs? I know you may think this is a joke, but just wondering.

I’m skeptical, to be honest. He’s another gritty, meat and potatoes style coach, and the Leafs (arguably, the entire league) don’t have a core that’s suited to that. 

how do you reply to comments people making the argument that you’ve (not you personally) never played the game so you don’t understand?

The game is ever-evolving and every level has significant differences. Your ability to pull that line out is relative to your era and ability. You got to AAA as a kid and are a mens league hero? Awesome. Way better than me. I’ll trust your opinions of AAA at the time and mens league now. But I’d listen to somebody who watches way more NHL hockey than you but can’t put on skates before you.

Same with the age thing. Give me Darryl Sittler and Tyler Bozak in a room, say I need to gain insight on “the game”, and I walk to Bozak. Sure, Sittler was the better player in his era, but it’s practically a different sport.

As long as you understand how the sport works and the strategical concepts involved, you shouldn’t be looked down upon for not being an active player. What you could theoretically be playing is not what they’re playing. Same goes for most of the people making the criticism.

The next mailbag will come whenever I have five good questions to work with