From the looks of it, the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t be the magic team to get Mike Babcock. They are neither obnoxiously talented or obnoxiously youthful just yet, which leaves him in an awkward middleground. While he hasn’t made his decision yet, the hype is already dying down; so much so that he wasn’t asked about in this week’s mailbag.
@cgaragan6 asked: with the stocks of Mantha and Drouin (supposedly) dropping, can the Leafs hypothetically make a good hockey trade for either?
I have a feeling that the Drouin speculation is overhyped. The Bolts are very clearly an amazing team, and while he’s already looking like the real deal, the team is doing anything they can to win the Stanley Cup right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays in a more vital role next year.
Mantha, on the other hand, has been publicly called out by his own management, and is having a less-than-brilliant playoffs in the AHL. If the Red Wings are willing to revisit the Dion Phaneuf discussions they had from before, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mantha is suddenly less of a dealbreaker.
@matthew_gooding asked: Do the Leafs take a run at Appleby in the draft or as a UFA?
If he’s still available in the later rounds, it’s possible, and if he goes completely undrafted, I’d say it’s just about a lock. The Leafs have good goaltending prospects but don’t have a huge amount of them, and could probably use some Orlando talent for next year.
@tanyarezak asked: Who do you see sent down to Orlando next season?
On that note, we’re going to be seeing a lot of guys on that team. Kyle Dubas has hyped up a “baseball-like” tiered system where both the AHL and ECHL are loaded with young talent, and the team has the financial flexibility to offer good money on minor league two-ways. You’ll see a lot of fliers taken on undrafted prospects, with a combination of all of the NHL-contracted prospects scattered and rotated among both teams.
@SmokinHoaken asked: Is it possible that Cody Franson comes back?
Wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world. He enjoyed his time here, is a legitimate childhood Leafs fan, and performed better at his worst here than he did at his best in his second tour of duty with Nashville. Unless a team understands his full potential and is willing to offer him a good contract with the knowledge in mind, Toronto isn’t the worst destination for him.
@JDylanBurke asked: would you trade William Nylander for Jake Virtanen?
I was going to respond with “would you trade <underwhelming Leafs pick> for <good Canucks pick>?”, but, uhh, the Canucks have a lot of misses and trade all the hits.