Well, we got what we all wanted. USA vs. Finland. Laine vs. Matthews. A better idea of who to choose first overall. The result? Well, Leo Komarov was awesome. The Leafs should probably keep him. The pick? Oh, whatever. Donate it to Goodwill, Leo is the best.
*cough* A bunch of you had questions for the mailbag this week. Let’s chat about those, shall we?
@__Pete__33 asked: Assuming Nylander stays at centre, and Kadri gets moved to the third line, do you see Tyler Bozak being traded, and for what return?
“Nylander stays at centre” can probably be swapped with “the Leafs sign Stamkos”, but whatever the case, you’re likely correct that Nazem Kadri will be looked at to be a super-elite third line centre moving forward. With that considered, and even if it doesn’t happen, Tyler Bozak’s days are probably numbered.
Bozak was much improved this year, but as the Leafs shore up their centre depth, he appears to be a redundancy in the long run. Both sides of his game can be replaced by players in the organization who either have higher upside or lower price tags, and his improved play likely gives him some positive value. The Leafs likely won’t be holding out for a bidding war; a cost-effective right defenceman or 2nd or 3rd round draft pick with no bad money heading back probably does the trick.
@tiller_daniel asked: Who do you see the Leafs targeting as their goaltender of the future, assuming they go outside of the organization?
Trying to build around a “goaltender of the future” is a losing battle these days. The goaltending market is oversaturated with “good enough” talent, meaning that big money is usually best invested elsewhere. People talk about Toronto taking a run at Andersen or Gibson out of Anaheim and I understand the logic behind it, but that would likely be more of a “good value” move rather than a “finding the cornerstone” one. Locking into a non-elite goaltender is both a poor use of money and a huge risk; it seems to be wiser to keep rotating through undervalued yet average goaltenders on short-term deals.
@Tommysobe: Is the series against Albany a wakeup call to MLSE to let them know that their bumper crop of rookies still need growing?
Absolutely not. In the first three games, only 1:45 has been spent with either team up by more than one goal. Albany is at worst the second-best defensive team in the league with incredibly tight systems leading the way. They’re the third best team in the league by points percentage; the best at home too. More than all of that, the playoffs are a crapshoot. A team being down by 1 game in the biggest goliath-vs-goliath series the league will see over this year isn’t a wake-up call; it’s a less than ideal situation, but nobody is losing sleep.
@mugger23 asked: Who makes the playoffs first, the Leafs, Canucks, or Oilers?
Both the Leafs and the Oilers seem to be suited to go from the basement to decentish pretty fast. Toronto struggled offensively at times, but are gaining a bunch of young forwards next year that project to be quality NHL contributors. The Oilers were an almost good team when Connor McDavid was healthy; if they upgrade any of their weak spots in any vaguely sensible way, they should finally make the long-awaited turnaround.
@dave_freemantle asked: Thoughts on the hit on Stuart Percy from last night’s Marlies game?
I’m very, very unimpressed with Joseph Blandisi. I can’t fault the refs for missing the hit since it happened away from the play, but the fact that Blandisi went for a cross check from behind, into the boards, with a player who has a history of concussions is seriously uncool.
— Joshua Handy (@joshuahandy) May 9, 2016
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the league will review the hit, and Percy didn’t practice today. According to Paul Hendrick, though, he feels “much better” today and will be re-evaluated tomorrow. For his sake, I hope it’s not another head injury; the kid has had enough rough breaks in his career.