Monday Mailbag: Good To Be Back

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As it turns out, I haven’t died, lost the will to write, or been hired by an NHL team. Instead, I did a lot more focusing on the task at hand with the Five Hole For Food road crew this year, and didn’t write sleep-deprived filler articles throughout July. But the tour is done; we raised a staggering amount of food once again this year, and have gone our separate ways. 

Which means I’m back! I fly back to Toronto tomorrow evening, and I’m here to irritate you all with my thoughts and takes once again. To start off, here’s a few questions that you had for me this week.

@Synsensa asked: With the changes to the draft lottery that will begin next year, where should the Leafs fall in the standings for an ideal draft pick?

For those who aren’t totally in the loop, the draft lottery is seeing some revision made to it. Rather than just the top spot being put up for grabs for non-playoff teams, the entire top three picks are now attached to the results of lottery balls. In theory, the worst team in NHL history could draft fourth overall moving forward.

With that said, a lack of guarantee doesn’t change the fact that you will have the highest chance of getting that first pick, and that the higher you are in the draft, the better chance you have at getting a great prospect. It’s not likely that they’ll be the worst team next year, but the end game if you’re taking hasn’t changed.

@ScottMaxwellPTB asked: Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, and Dion Phaneuf: Resign one for twice their cap hit, trade one, and buy out one?

This is actually harder than I thought it would be. My original response involved resigning Phaneuf for twice the cap hit, because that would violate the CBA and immediately be void. It’s a cheap answer, but I’m all for exploiting the rules.

Unfortunately, league max is 14.26 million this year, and as such, Phaneuf would actually get his $14 million. With that said, there are still ways around this.

You buy out Tyler Bozak. He’ll have the lowest buyout cap hit of the bunch; approximately 1.4 million over six years. This saves the Leafs 2.8 million dolllars, bringing them to a shade under 10 million in available cap space.

You sign Jonathan Bernier to a contract. Not long term, maybe a year or two at $4-5 million,  leaving you with $6 million remaining.

You take Joffrey Lupul and some prospects and you send him to Carolina in a trade for Eric Staal, who has one year left at $8.25 million. This leaves the Leafs with $3 million to left on the cap.

You wait until the start of the season to double Dion’s cap hit to $14 million. You’re now $4 million over the cap. Which means Nathan Horton’s LTIR will bring you $1.25 million under. Waiiiiit…

I jump off a building and someone else deal with this question.

@Macphecr asked: Who is going to be in tough to make the Marlies? What are the most interesting camp battles for the Marlies?

The entire class of 20+ year old rookies. Gautheir, Valiev, Verhaghe, and the like. It sounds crazy, but because of the Leafs’ new system of using the Solar Bears as a vehicle for player dvelopment, spots won’t just be handed to them. Management might find it advantageous for them to dominate the ECHL for a few months to learn the ropes of professional life before heading into Toronto. 

Goaltending will create interesting battles. Antoine Bibeau, Christopher Gibson, and Garret Sparks all had solid years last season and at the moment, there’s no stand out candidate for the starter, backup, or ECHL starter roles. Just like last year, it’ll be ultra competitive.

@sport_dot asked: Who is the most impactful prospect in the organization outside of William Nylander and Mitch Marner?

I think this is still up for grabs, mostly because we haven’t seen what Kasperi Kapanen is capable of within this organization yet. The praise for him is sky-high, but at the same time, not as high as it was a year ago. I’m in between him and Connor Brown at the moment as the distinct #3 – Brown has exceeded all expectations at both the junior nad professional levels and catapulted himself up the depth chart, so it’s tough to rule him out at the moment.

@LeBrolley asked: Is there a minimum return on a Tyler Bozak trade? If so, what is it?

From my own perspective? I’m stilll pretty skeptical about him, and would probably trade him for just about anything that doesn’t require eating salary, be it via retention or via taking on a bad deal. I have huge concerns about his productivity without Phil Kessel, and if he falls back down to earth, it’ll be impossible to move him for years.

From the team’s perspective? To maximize value, it doesn’t make sense to show desperation. Toronto’s asking price is believed to be in and around the area of a second round pick, and if they can get close to that regard, I’m sure they’ll pull the trigger. With that said, I could see that price lowering in the coming weeks.

  • SEER

    If this is suppose to be a Rebuild year/team etc, WHY yb=n GOD’S name would you want to retain Bernier for twice the money than Reimer when hehas clearly not blown me out of the wtaer with 2 outstanding seasons as a Leaf….what a waste of money….it’s not like he wiped Reimer out with outsatnding numbers and proved he’s all that?

    again waste of money…Reimer should be given the reins once and for all and let him have a chance to finally be the starter without looking over his should especially if this is a rebuild..makes alot more since to go with Reims who loves this team, this city and wants to stay even with all that has happened…wasn;y it shanny who said he wanted whoever wanted to be a leaf,,,had to love it here had to eat, sleep, etc etc..the organization..and be a team player…doesn’t sound like bernier to me..BUT it is reims…….

    save the cash and send him packing..bernier that is…

    • V

      He didn’t say anywhere to retain Bernier for twice the money.
      I agree we should give Reimer a shot at being the starter again.
      Bernier is statistically the better goalie, but he just seems to have had allot of soft goals. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but it seems Bernier lets in more goals spread out than Reimer. By that, I mean Bernier s games seem to be more letting two, three or four and five goals in a game (which some seem to be at really bad times). Where as with Reiner, it seems to be more games with 2-3 or 5-6 with allot of saves coming when the team is behind and letting more goals in games where we are already loosing 3-0.

      I’d be interested in seeing stats for how many games they had with how many goals individually. (Ex, how many games they had with 2 goals and compare also the goals forwarded).

      I may be completely wrong, this seems to be more of a gut feeling than actual analysis.

      • SEER

        I totally agree with everything, and I meant to say that Bernier was already making I think 2.8 mil the first year they brought him over to Reimers 1,8 mil and 3.? mil this past season to Reimers new contract which was 2.4mil this season I think and its 2. mil this up coming season…so Bernier was already over paid as far as I am concerned…and to now offer even more money escape me…Reimer deserves to have a real chance to prove once and for all when given the ship to navagate he either can or can’t..I beleive he can…and he beleives it too…

        He’s so humble and so forgiven….I hope no matter what this is his year one way or another….

        Again noboady seems to really want the great Bernier either as alot of teams have gone and signed other goalies…..but agai way to much money to spend when your rebuilding a team and not really looking at standley cup anytime soon…

        Reimer has the heart and desire to run the show and has really improved alot this past season…he can only get better…

  • Harte of a Lion

    Reimerfan, so many things you are preaching about Reimer are true, he is humble, a great team player and has a wife who is smart and smoking hot. Unfortunately you forgot to mention a very important fact about his goaltending… If the puck was a softball and it was tossed underhand to him, he still couldn’t catch it.
    If he drastically improves this area of his game, and learns rebound control, he “might” possess the tools to be a starting goalie.

    You mentioned all the teams that aquired new goalies and no one took Bernier, well, Reimer has been available for over a year and no one came a knocking.
    It is okay to see the world through rose coloured glasses as long as you understand that other opinions matter.

  • Harte of a Lion

    I totally agree that Neslon Mandela’s grandson needs to go. He can’t handle the pressures of playing in the leafland.

    Besides the leafs owe it to James Reimer to make him a starter. Can’t we just stash bernier in the AHL for a bit and build up his confidence and trade value?

    • V

      I don’t think Bernier needs his confidence to be built up or his trade value.

      Sticking him in the minors would do neither either way.

      Going from the top played goalie on his NHL team (14th most starts last year) to AHL starter doesn’t build confidence – it breaks it. Playing in the AHL doesn’t increase your trade value as an NHL calibre goalie ever, playing well in the NHL does that.