Monday Mailbag: The Pre-Deadline Special

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A week from now, we’ll all be yelling about what the Leafs did or didn’t do at the deadline. For now though, there’s some time to yell about all the other things in the Toronto hockey world! Welcome to this week’s TLN Mailbag, where I take your Leafs and Marlies questions and give some bad to mediocre responses. If you’d like to ask a question, tweet @tlndc or myself. Alternatively, you can leave a comment below and it may get featured next week.

@Nick_Holroyd asked: What’s your opinion on Brendan Mikkelson? Will he be a leaf?

Mikkelson was a good addition to the Marlies roster this year. Without TJ Brennan, they were sorely lacking an offensive defenceman, and while Mikkelson isn’t exactly that, he’s the closest they’ve got. He was already familiar with the club, having played for them temporarily when the Ducks lacked an affiliate years ago.

With that said, he is unlikely to be a Leaf. He hasn’t spent significant time in the NHL in a couple of years, and is now 27 years old. At no point in the past half decade has he looked like a potential NHLer, which is unfortunate, but the reality of the situation. If I had to guess, he’ll parlay his success this year and his increased spotlight into a contract in Europe come July.

@DontBeSaad20 asked: If the Leafs get the third pick, would you take Hanafin, or trade the pick?

There is a lot of hype around Noah Hanafin, but I don’t know if he’s a lock to be taken at third overall. Personally, I’m buying into a lot of the Mitch Marner hype, and would be intrigued by the possibility of picking him, though I truthfully am not an expert on prospects.

I wouldn’t want the Leafs to trade the pick unless the return was massive, though.

@cgaragan6 asked: Thoughts on a potential Burmistrov deal? Winnik for Burmistrov straight up, or would/should there still be a draft pick involved?

The idea of acquiring Alex Burmistrov is an intriguing one; he was a former top ten pick and looked spectacular at times for Atlantapeg. He seems keen to come back to the National Hockey League and probably won’t be doing so with the Winnipeg Jets, which means he’s now a bargaining chip for them.

However, he hasn’t been incredible in the KHL this year; his 26 points with Ak-Bars trails teammates like Justin Azevedo and Oscar Moller, who have since been given up on. If the choice is Burmistrov or a 2nd rounder, and you can’t free up enough roster spots to give him true “put up or shut up” minutes, its hard to say for sure which option is preferable.

@MasonLyttle asked: Do you have a favorite Cup-of-Coffee Marlie?

I was really high on Fabian Brunnstrom when the bidding war for him went down, and I was really disappointed that he didn’t sign in Toronto, and more so when he failed to deliver in Dallas. So, when he was traded to the Leafs in 2011, I was excited. Knowing he wasn’t going to pan out but still eager to see him play, I treated those 35 games like gold. Not that he particularly delivered on them, though.

@ahurst11 asked: How does the Marlies goaltending situation shake out next year? Sparks cant be in the ECHL for another year. Bibeau/Gibson equal?

I have a feeling that at least one of the five goaltenders in the organization will be moved before June, and if the earth is truly being scorched, that one of the kids will get called up to back up whoever starts in the NHL. Based off recent history, it’ll probably be Antoine Bibeau that gets that call, even though he’s probably been the weakest performer of the three this year. I get the feeling that the Leafs organization is high on him and are more willing to give him the opportunity than the other two, whether it makes sense or not.

    • silentbob

      It seems to me that a lot of Leaf fans tend to look for players in the draft that are like the Leafs top player. When we had Sundin, at least it seemed to me, that a lot of fans seemed to gravitate toward the European players over North American. Now with Kessel it seems like a lot of fans are more drawn to smaller, faster, more skilled guys over bigger players.

      I agree, size does matter in the NHL. 6-8 years ago when the Habs won the division and went 2-3 rounds deep in the playoffs they had a small but fast and skilled team, and they ended up taking some time trying to get bigger and tougher after they found out that at the end of the day they just got pushed around too much and lost in the playoffs. I hope the Leafs can learn from the Habs experience and don’t have to go through that themselves.

      • CMpuck

        Or maybe Leaf Nation was black out drunk and ignoring the hang over when Boston would routinely bully Toronto into 7-1p losses where Kessel was invisible.

        Let’s make the same mistakes throughout this rebuild though. Hell keep Kessel with Nylander, Marner, Kadri…. we could be the next Edmonton.

  • Poluza

    I don’t think the Leafs will fall as low as 3rd. If the Leafs maintain their current path to 5th overall selection I would like to see Dylan Strome. Maybe They select with some more size, Pavel Zacha.

  • CMpuck

    We still have the same problem that we have had for a couple of years. In need of a top line center and in need of a stud D Guy, so either Strome of some big D is good for me.