I’m back for another week! Thank you, @Jeffler, for relinquishing the mailbag for a second time to my highly-undeserving clutches.
The draft is just under two weeks away, and the Leafs have made it fairly clear that they’re totally fine with going into the draft GM-less – so long as they have someone in charge by the start of next season. I think this is a pretty godawful way of approaching the first draft in your umpteenth rebuild, but I’m like many of you – still clinging to the tiniest plausible deniability that Shanahan is incapable of making mistakes. We’ll see.
@RFlores91: I want to know why the Leafs are the ONLY pro sports franchise that thinks it’s a good idea not to hire a GM any time soon?
This was the first question I got after making my breakfast this morning, so naturally I asked my roommate (who covers college sports and has a healthy obsession with baseball):
“Colin, are there any sports franchises that you can think of that don’t have GM’s in place within the first two weeks after dismissing their last one?”
Apparently, the Atlanta Braves don’t have a general manager – just a restructured management hierarchy that sees the president of baseball ops and the assistant GM work in tandem to fill the role left by an empty seat in the front office. Since we could argue that the Colorado Avalanche do something similar – just with their head coach serving in this format – it’s possible the Leafs could look at rolling with this for a while longer before the wheels fly off the wagon..
Look, I’m not saying I don’t have plenty of problems with this anyway – most notably that if it seems like Kyle Dubas is ready to take on a higher management role, don’t bring in someone else just for the sake of following good politics.
If the team actually plans on giving a high level of decision-making power to whomever serves as Nonis’ successor, though, I’m unable to explain why they think it’s a good idea to enter the draft and free agency without a GM.
@JSBMjeanshorts: How long before this “GM by committee” thing stops being cute and starts hurting the rebuild effort?
I actually think that a ‘GM by committee’ is more likely to be effective than the coaching-by-committee tire fire in New Jersey was last season, so I won’t say it’s going to hurt the rebuild. As for bringing in a significant voice to the management group post-draft and free agency, though? See above.
@FranklinSteele: Thoughts on who a good fit for the GM would be?
Mike Futa, George McPhee, James Gorton… all three have been tossed around as potential GM’s in the last few weeks, although the Leafs seem hesitant to allow the Gorton rumors to flourish.
You have to assume that Futa, who has a somewhat plausible reputation for understanding scouting and roster composition, is going to take over as a GM somewhere in the next handful of seasons – so I wouldn’t be all that surprised if it’s in Toronto. Giving him a pass for Thomas Hickey, he’s drafted some of L.A.’s most valuable players in recent years – and although the club dealt away Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn for Mike Richards, imagine what the Leafs would be with a Drew Doughty to supplement their current blue line? I’m still convinced the job is Dubas’ within the next handful of seasons anyway, so I’d go with Futa for now.
@BenSmith1027: Will Babcock bring his F150 to Toronto with him, or buy a new one?
Never trust a coach that won’t color-coordinate his ride to his new Original Six team.
Combining two questions here: @Tortacular asked “At what point in this rebuild (will they really?) do you look at trading Kadri?” then @Asmae_t asked “Is Phil Kessel finally ready to come home and apologize to Julien?”
The Toronto Maple Leafs would be remiss, in my eyes, to fail to protect Nazem Kadri moving forward. The kid slept through practice, got scratched, ended up getting scratched a few more times, and rounded it all out by trying to stick his elbow through Matt Fraser’s face. It happens. He seems fine now.
Ultimately, I think that Kadri has more all-around value for his age than Phil Kessel – so I think if you’re truly trying to rebuild, you keep Kadri around.
As for Kessel, most of his current accepted trade list has nowhere near the adequate cap space to take him on. Contrary, Asmae, I believe that Kessel has no intention of ever donning the black and gold again (and thank God, because I can’t find my St. Patrick’s Day Bruins Kessel shirsey and I’m too poor to buy a new one). TLN’s own Ryan Fancey raised an interesting point when he argued that Kessel’s current accepted trade list looks like one of a player trying to force his team’s hand into keeping him – and I’m in agreement.
@JDylanBurke: Who would you personally take with the fourth overall pick?
This is the first person who’s asked me this. Thank you, J.D., for valuing my opinion, even if you are a Canucks fan.
This all depends on what the Coyotes do, obviously – and, as some of you may know, that’s a team that I’m somewhat invested in.
I’ve been huge on Mitch Marner for a while, because I’m a shameless London Knights fan and he’s exciting as hell to watch play. You have to assume the Coyotes will take one of him or Dylan Strome, though, and you assume it’s going to be Strome donning the Sedona Red in Sunrise in two weeks because centre depths reasons – and between Marner and Hanifin, I’d probably go Hanifin. I love a ton of the Toronto forward talent in their prospect pool right now, but don’t love their defensive corps all that much – especially since you have to assume the window for the club to fall in love with Jake Gardiner is starting to close.
Then again, Marner has one thing that many of Toronto’s top scorers currently don’t – a surprisingly well-developed sense of defensive responsibility. He’s got a good 200 foot game for a high-scoring winger, and Toronto could benefit from that for years to come.
Either way, the fourth overall pick is going to bring in a hell of a player, regardless of who they take. They could even bring in Mathew Barzal and probably be well-served for it.
@SebNoren: Does Nylander already have the best hair in the organization?
Christ have mercy.