Monday Mailbag: Noted Leafs fan Connor McDavid and the Forever Undefeated

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I’m not saying that this losing streak is in the past, but what I will say is that since the last time the Leafs lost a hockey game, about 1.05 million children have been born. That’s about 40% of the population of Toronto, who have never been alive to see the Leafs lose. They, for now, are the blessed generation.

Lets answer some mailbag questions, shall we? If you ever have any, tweet myself or @TLNdc.

@thejustinfisher asked: Will the NHL rig the Draft Lottery so that Connor McDavid can play for his #dreamteam?

For those out of the loop, Connor McDavid spoke to the Toronto Sun on Saturday about seeing a photo of two fans who channeled their inner me and put his name on their Leafs jerseys.

“It’s pretty crazy to even think about,” McDavid said, referring to the possibility of being a Leaf one day. “But that would be an absolute dream come true.”

To be honest, seeing a quote like that kind of spoils the joy of finally winning a hockey game. Because, when you think about it, the Leafs would have been just nine points ahead of Edmonton had they lost in regulation, putting them closer and closer to those third highest draft odds.

But what if they don’t need to bottom out? What if the league could throw the Leafs a bone and rig the draft lottery on their favour?

Conspiracy theorists will be quick to tell you that this isn’t uncharted territory. The NBA has at least six or seven drafts that people are pretty certain were fixed in some way, shape or form. Many believe that Sidney Crosby was awarded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, both as a favour to Mario Lemieux and in an effort to save the franchise from bankruptcy (again).

So, how about this. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the most profitable team in the NHL, but are starting to lose their allure to the consumers now that they’re, well, hot garbage. They’re co-owned by Rogers, who just made a decision to give the NHL $5.4 billion over the next dozen years. Rogers isn’t getting the return on investment that they expected to out of the gate. The Leafs being good would be profitable for the league, profitable for Rogers, and a good way to make up for the falling Canadian Dollar.

A superstar centre like Connor McDavid is probably Toronto’s biggest need. 

Go buy your jerseys. At the worst case, if enough of them are sold, maybe Connor will pull an Eric Lindros.

@SnowQueen_1991 asked: What do you think of the Leafs trading Carter Ashton back to Tampa Bay?

Carter Ashton may have needed a change of scenery more than any player in the National Hockey League. The Leafs never really put him in a position to succeed, usually sending him on the ice with enforcers and shutdown forwards. The Marlies gave him opportunities, but they’re offensively lacking this year. Staying here would have definitely ruined his chances of becoming a viable NHL player.

In Tampa Bay / Syracuse, he gets a second crack at it, and Toronto clears two contracts. The Leafs don’t get anything back (a conditional 7th barely counts as anything), but that’s not surprising when you consider that Ashton cleared waivers earlier in the year and that David Broll, who I think highly of, was having a bad year in any league you put him.

@AHume92 asked: With the emergence of Garret Sparks, is it likely that the Leafs move a goaltender in the offseason to open up a roster spot?

Garret Sparks is having a stupendous year with the Orlando Solar Bears, leading the ECHL in Save Percentage (0.936!) on a team that gives up a ton of shots. There’s a very real chance that if he stays healthy for the rest of the year and doesn’t get called up that he’ll end up the league’s MVP, which is pretty good for a twenty one year old. His AHL performances have been great too, having a shutout and 0.966 SV% in two games with the Marlies.

The trade off? The Leafs appear to like Antoine Bibeau more in the long run. He plays a “save” game vs a “stop” game, which always attracts more attention because it’s more visually appealing. He’s a year younger and has had a few particularly memorable games over the past sixteen months.

Even though I think Sparks is the best of these three goalies (Christopher Gibson included) moving forward and has been far and away the best of the bunch this year, Bibeau is the variable that would push one of the others out. As of right now, he hasn’t been consistent enough in the AHL; he’s had just enough great performances to make the bad ones not cause a demotion. 

Basically, Toronto’s youth goaltending situation is very weird and I don’t think the Leafs will make an NHL decision based off of them yet.

@cgaragan6 asked: With reported interest in Cody Franson from Anaheim, do you think the Leafs could pry Shea Theodore out of Anaheim?

It would have to require the trade to have more variables. Theodore is very highly regarded by the Ducks and is probably their best defensive prospect. He’s been a point per game in both the WHL and AHL this year and has promising offensive instincts.

I don’t think they’re going to trade a recent first round pick that is having success for a rental. The move would have to elevate into sign-and-trade, or involve the Leafs offering up a little bit more, if I had to guess. The only way I see it hitting one-for-one territory is if a rival team gets into a bidding war with the Ducks, making overpayment worth their while.

@JordanWillNance asked: How likely is it that William Nylander plays with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season?

We’ll go with 30% temporarily, but it’s a total crapshoot right now. I’m sure the Leafs are watching with keen eyes to see what Nylander can produce, and would like to see him with the Leafs as soon as possible. With that said, while he’s had moments of brilliance in his first handful of AHL games, he hasn’t been super successful overall. His production isn’t up to sniff and he’s still getting used to the rougher, more acceleration-driven style of play. We’ll see where he’s at later in the regular season.

  • D

    As much as I’d like to see Connor in Edmonton, him being in Toronto would be a good business move for the NHL. But if the league is going to risk its reputation with the draft, then having Connor go to Los Angeles (should they miss the playoffs) would be the likely move.