Mailbag Monday: Same Question Week

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The good news: we’ve moved on from a dozen people asking about Connor Brown. The bad news: we now have a dozen people asking who the Leafs will pick at four. Which shows that the Leafs are bad, but not bad enough to get worse, and that our priorities as a fanbase are locked in until June. So there’s that. Here’s what we salvaged out of the leftovers:

@WorkHorseDiesel asked: If fans threw something on the ice for you, what would it be?

Probably a pair of skates, if only because I’m so awful at skating that they’d assume mine were broken, or something. Bringing this to the Leafs though, it makes you wonder what they would get. Red Bull for Phaneuf? Cookies for Kessel? Alarm Clocks for Kadri? Nelson Mandela books for Bernier?

@sagajo asked: Can Casey Bailey play with the Toronto Marlies if they make the playoffs? Or only for the Leafs?

The Marlies can’t add anybody to their playoff roster that wasn’t on there at the NHL trade deadline. This means that you won’t be seeing Soshnikov or Bailey on the playoff roster, nor will you see guys like Brandon Kozun, who spent stretches of the year with the Marlies but were up with the Leafs on deadline day.

The exception to this rule are players signed to Amateur Tryout Contracts; in other words, Toronto’s junior prospects can be signed to play once their seasons are done. Obviously, this refers to guys like Frederik Gauthier, Fabrice Herzog, Carter Verhaeghe, and many others. But Bailey is limited to the Leafs, unless he played a regular season game or two for the Marlies, which is very unlikely.

@mo_toews asked: If the Stanley Cup Playoffs started tomorrow, who in the mix do you think could be the biggest surprise?

I think the Leafs would be the biggest surprise, after Rogers demands to the NHL that they need them to get in for ratings reasons. No, but seriously, the playoffs are often a crapshoot and this year is no exception. Every team in the West seems like it could cruise through the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup, and every team in the east looks like they could, well, lose a series in three games.

I could see the LA Kings pulling, well, an LA Kings and going on a run if they can overtake the Flames, but beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess. I’ll have my eyes on Vancouver, Washington, and the New York Islanders in particular.

@BudgieGilmour asked: Who is your pick for the Hart Trophy?

I don’t like the idea of giving the Hart Trophy to a goaltender, mostly because I feel that realistically, any above average starting goaltender is a better MVP choice than an elite forward. There’s a reason they have a position-specific trophy (well, two, but the Jennings is dumb).

With that said, Carey Price is having a top 5 season of all time for the position. His numbers in all regards are right up there with Dominik Hasek in the late 90’s, and he’s not being sheltered by a great team or a strong 1B goaltender to give him a rest. He’s a 0.938 on an okay team while playing most of the games. He may deserve two Harts.

@Ander1ap asked: Who on the Leafs would do best in the 3-on-3 OT format? How will the rules affect the team in general?

You’re probably looking for guys who have played on big ice before in situations like this, and can play long shifts; typically, that’s a sign of stamina.

I’d probably run Kadri-Kessel-Rielly as my “A” unit, the one you’re likely to get the goal from. My “rest” line would probably be something along the lines of Bozak-Gardiner-Phaneuf; not that I think that Bozak is the third best forward on the team, but the assumption is that this line will be taking defensive zone faceoffs and be focused on moving up the zone, and in 3 on 3, that involves breakaways, something Bozak excels at.

As for how it would effect the team? Probably for the best. If they’re really a “rush” team as everyone describes them, 3-on-3 is rush city. As well, they’re not particularly brilliant in the shootout, and this year’s test in the AHL has shown that shootout probability drops massively under 3-on-3.