Did you miss me?! *cricket noises*
Okay, okay, so I’m sure that having Bobby and Cat in my place on the mailbag hot seat was a blast, but those two have more important things to do with their lives, so you’re stuck with little ol’ me again. Let’s take a look and see what you all had on your minds!
@djlevitan asked: Although the farm is loaded with forward talent and Rielly/Gardiner are faring much better in the new system, it seems like the team will still need a #1 D. Does that alter the 2016 draft strategy? Trades? How would any of that change were Stamkos to land here?
The Leafs aren’t really in a position at this moment to write off any particular position as “good enough”. They could theoretically be close to that at centre or in goal if the right things happen over the next few months, but there are no guarantees anywhere at any time; you should always actively be looking to improve in every position, and getting the best player for the lowest cost should supersede over-investing to plug a hole.
There’s also a lot of wiggle room for players in all of the positions to grow into bigger roles. You mention Morgan Rielly; a 21-year-old who produces at a #1 level and drives play at a top-end #3 level. Most of the league’s best could do that at 21; it’s hard to imagine him being far off from being “that guy” by the time the Leafs need one.
@StephenSwales17 asked: Where do Nylander/Kapanen/Marner fit into next years roster if the current top 6 remains mostly together?
Even if the Leafs keep every player in their regular top-six this year, it’s unlikely that they’ll “remain together” and block in players who younger and potentially more talented. I’ve grown to like Tyler Bozak a bit more than I used to, but William Nylander is arguably already better than him offensively, and you want offence out of your top six. Mitch Marner, if he remains a right winger as he’s been on London throughout the year, is probably already the most talented right winger in the system. Both will establish roles on the first or second line to put them into positions to get better, rather than stunting their growth by playing them eight minutes a night.
As for Kapanen, I’m not sold on him being on next year’s team yet. He’s good, and he’s going to become a quality player, but he’s really only been continuously productive in the past couple of weeks. The Leafs might be better off to make next year the one where he runs the offensive show with the Marlies.
@_woodhead asked: How much of the Marlies success is attributable to the skill of the roster, vs the coaching change?
Sheldon Keefe has proven himself to be a fantastic, successful coach at every level that he’s run benches in so far in his young career, and has probably helped the players learn how to stick to the system that the organisation wants to push forward with. He’s likely been key in the next steps of development for a couple of the younger players.
With that said, the Marlies’ wild ride extends beyond this season. Yes, 0.796 is a historically high level of dominance, but don’t forget that after starting the season with a half-roster and winning just 12 of their first 27 games, the team closed out with a 0.675 in their last 49 under Gord Dineen. The talent level has only gotten better since; it’s not a shock that this group is the best in the AHL. Keefe building upon what his associate developed, though, is probably part of the gap between “the best now” and “arguably the best ever at the level”.
Somebody asked: Who would win in a Super Bowl between the old and new Leafs management?
First off, I’m really sad that whoever asked this either privated their account or deleted the tweet before I could write down their name. It’s an unreal question.
The old regime was probably a bit more athletic; big, brawny, mid-aged men who could probably send Lou Lamoriello to the hospital with a tackle. But I take the new regime 10 times out of 10, if only for what would happen after they asked their coaching staff for advice; the new gang would get a playbook from Babcock while the old one would have Carlyle telling them to keep their helmets off for safety reasons.
@ngsa asked: Are the leafs thinking of trading Komarov? If so who’s interested?
Do I believe the team is actively trying to sell on him? Probably not. Are they listening to offers, though? Absolutely. His perceived value has never been higher, and if this is the player he’s going to be if used correctly then his contract looks pretty good moving forward. A king’s ransom could be had if the right teams start competing with each other.
As for where he’ll go? You might find out here in a few days as we continue or Trade Destination series!