TLN Mailbag: The Day After

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We figured that there was no point in doing this mailbag before the clock hit zero yesterday, so instead, we let the dust settle a bit. Now that that’s done, let’s just jump straight into it! If you have a question for next week, leave it in the comments or tweet either myself or @TLNdc.

@thejustinfisher asked: Why didn’t the Leafs trade Roman Polak?

The benefit that Polak is that he’s got a single year to go on his contract after this one. This makes him a slam-dunk rental option for many teams next year, though this also carries a downfall, in that the teams that would have been most interested in him aren’t sure how their cap situations will look next year. Ultimately, I think that left teams off the board.

The draft may provide a bit more of a market. Teams that were interested will have the playoffs behind them, giving them an idea as to whether they want to push harder in the upcoming season. They’ll probably have their dollars and cents in check, too.

With that said, if somebody offered anything close to the reported asking price (at least a first round pick, per Darren Dreger) and Nonis refused to budge, I’m skeptical.

@andrewsheehy228 asked: Did Leafs management make the right decision to not trade Dion Phaneuf to a division rival like the Detroit Red Wings?

I think so. At the end of the day, it didn’t sound like the Wings were prepared to make a substantial offer for him, even with the $2 million retained. Even if they were, getting the most assets is fun, but you also need to make sure you’re picking up more points over the course of the season than your competitors. The Red Wings, like about a quarter of the rest of the league, are in Toronto’s division, which makes the six games against them that much more difficult, and makes them that much more likely to be ahead of Toronto in the standings.

This doesn’t matter right now, but Dion Phaneuf isn’t about right now; he’s about the next six years. Making rivals better for longer than a period of time that the Leafs could easily turn around in is a risky proposition. 

@dontbesaad20 asked: Who is the most exciting prospect in the system other than William Nylander?

A lot of people will say Andreas Johnson, who we ranked at #2 in our TLN mid-term chart, and they’re probably right. With that said, I don’t think it’s right for me to pretend I know something about someone or something that I don’t, and I’m not super familiar with Johnson. So for the guys I’ve seen, I’ll go with Connor Brown; he’s surprised me a lot this year and shown exceptional vision and play anticipation in his debut AHL season. Since September, I’ve gone from “why does anyone care about him beyond the minors?” to “okay, he might be an NHL top sixer in two years”.

@leafs1523 asked: Do you think the Leafs could get San Jose’s first round pick for Jonathan Bernier?

This is something that I’m sure the Leafs will look into at the draft, as will other teams that are offloading goaltenders. Antti Niemi is due to be an unrestricted free agent and will probably come with a bigger contract demand, despite it Bernier arguably being better. Conversely, if the Leafs aren’t attempting the quick fix, they may be willing to go with Reimer and a kid (probably Bibeau) next season.

A first may be tough, though. The Sharks seem very interested in rebuilding on the fly. I guess it depends on how they do over the next few months.