TLN Monday Mailbag: May 30th

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What a great first game of the Stanley Cup Finals we’ve seen so far! Clearly, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks are the types of teams that the Leafs aspire to be in the long run. Full of talent, fuelled by a bit of luck, but mostly with a long-term plan centred around consistent success.

Truly it’s a great way to spend a Monday night. Wait, Monday?

*looks at clock* *swears*

Hey! It’s time for another mailbag.

@matthew_gooding asked: Why didn’t the Marlies add Nikita Zaitsev?

Outside of the fact that there wasn’t a way to trigger a multi-year contract early and that he wouldn’t be able to sign an ATO (thus giving him no route to join the team), Zaitsev has played a lot of hockey this year. Between the KHL, European Hockey Tour, and World Championships, and with the World Cup ahead of him, there wasn’t much of a point in getting Zaitsev to fly over, play for a couple of days, fly home, finish taking care of loose ends, and then fly back to start training with Gary Roberts as he always does.

Patting him on the back and saying you’ll see him when he gets in town makes more sense. Besides, even in a scenario where he could have played. the Marlies defence stayed healthy throughout; Andreas Johnson, for example, only initially drew in as injury relief. Zaitsev would be their best defenceman, but you have to let your core finish what it started.

@Spiam_Liers asked: Has Antoine Bibeau’s playoff performance given him an edge over Garret Sparks for the other NHL spot next season?

Not a chance. He had a 0.900 save percentage over 12 games after being 0.909 over 40 games. Neither of these performances scream NHLer. We’ll go into more detail about this in the coming days, though.

@ShawnReis asked: How do you take your coffee?

No milk or cream, four or five sweeteners. I only drink hot coffee out of caffeine sustenance; I like iced coffee, though. Second Cup makes my favourite iced coffee because it’s not full of milk and overfilled with ice like most places, and is much cheaper per amount of coffee. 

@KatyTearle asked: If the Leafs lose their minds and draft Patrik Laine first overall, where do you think he’ll fit best in the lineup?

First off, I’m going to stress that the Toronto Maple Leafs organization is probably aware that the gap between #1 and #2 is bigger than the media has made it out to be, and will take Auston Matthews without the slightest bit of hesitation.

With that said, let’s pretend that Matthews decides to skydive without a parachute, or worse yet, says he’ll only play for the Coyotes. If the Leafs do indeed pick Patrik Laine, his best place to play will be on the left wing on the second line, which will eventually become a 1B line. In this scenario, William Nylander remains a centre and the Leafs pursue a right winger for either this line or the top line, depending on where Mitch Marner slots in. James van Riemsdyk will be the one who plays with Steven Stamkos, though.

@MetalThrshnDad asked: If the Leafs pick 30th and 31st, who do you take?

I’m not as prospect-smart as the rest of the writers on this site. I keep tabs on the people up top, but after that, I admittedly run off of stat sheets and cool shootout goals on youtube. Thankfully, Shawn, both Ryan’s, and Jessica are hard at work on the #AfterAuston series at the moment, where we go over some potential options in that 29-31 range, and maybe even some late-round steals. Follow their wisdom, not mine!