TLN Monday Mailbag: July 4th

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Shoutout to James Van Riemsdyk, Jake Gardiner, Matt Hunwick, Garret Sparks, Connor Carrick, Jeremy Bracco, JJ Piccinich, Nolan Vesey, Tony Cameranesi (for six more weeks), Dominic Toninato, Dakota Joshua, Joseph Woll, JD Greenway, and Jack Walker on this fine Fourth of July. May your day be filled with glittery eagle GIFs.

Also, we have a mailbag that’s overflowing with questions, so let’s get chipping away!

@F_Grisanzio asked: Why do we go nuts on everything this organization does? This regime should need more time to get rid of contracts from the Nonis era.

I’m not as far on the “this contract is the worst” scale with Matt Martin as others are, but ultimately, the concern is about giving a player term. I’m not sure how “the Leafs need to get rid of old questionable contracts” is a justification for signing a new questionable contract.

The present skepticism comes from a recent trend of moves that aren’t as clearly in line with either rebuilding or capitalizing on market inefficiency as the ones last year. I think it’s fair to be skeptical. I don’t know if the fanbase has “gone nuts” yet, even in it’s most critical pockets, it just feels like an extreme after such a lengthy stretch of silence.

Trust me, if the Leafs end up making a move that is extremely obviously bad, the skepticism will be a lot rougher than what some have said this week. It’s not at that point, though, and I personally don’t think it will get there.

@JazzJackrabbit_ asked: What would be the Zaza equivalent of an NHL shootout attempt?

For the Leafs? Some say Jason Allison is still skating up to goal... but league wide, definitely this.

@Qtktkat asked: Do you think the Leafs will play their expiring contracts more than the kids, in order to trade them at the deadline again?

If they do, it won’t be for the sake of deadline flipping. The Leafs didn’t think they were 30th place bad last year, and percentages considered, they probably aren’t if you replay the season again. They’re adding a bunch of players (Matthews, Nylander, Marner, Zaitsev, and maybe others) who are safe bets to improve the team offensively and Andersen is a safer bet in net. This likely won’t be a bottom feeder team next year.

Mike Babcock will look to win games. If he plays a player, be it a prospect or a veteran, it’ll be because he thinks that’s making the team better. If management wants to go a different way, it’s up to them to add players to and remove players from the available lineup. But Babcock’s playing to win.

@GirlsWhoKnows asked: If you were Mike Babcock, how would your lines look with the additions of the new free agents?

Let’s not think about that yet. If this question means “if you’re the head coach”, the Leafs have way too many roster players right now and it would be silly to assume this is the final group of guys who will go into the season. Even if they are, decisions on demotions and waivers still have to be made before one arranges into lines.

If the question is literally “if you’re Mike Babcock”, then let’s wait until Dan Cleary retires or signs elsewhere.

@ryanfancey asked: Why do you hate the Leafs?

They aren’t catering to my analytics needs. If they trade some of these extra pieces for players who are dominant at score adjusted BOFA, what’s the point of even playing the season?

  • Capt.Jay

    Does anyone think it’s possible we trade some of our many 1B prospects as a package for another teams 1A prospect? What would it take to get a Drouin, Chychrun or Domi to come our way?

    • Gary Empey

      nope. teams aren’t going to give up elite prospects/young players unless they get elite back. I assume you’re talking about doing something like Kapanen, Brown, Bracco etc. for one of those guys but why would the other team want that. Those guys you mentioned are current or future core pieces, they aren’t going to divest stars for some possible second and third liners.

    • Jeremy Ian

      Would be great — but doubtful. On the other hand, there is a backlog of 1B’s. Plus seven more picks in June 2017. I think the 1B’s are more like enhancements to trade one of the vets (Bozak?, retain a little salary Michalek…)), maybe then you get a decent prospect?

    • silentbob

      Let me ask you – do you think it’d be smart for the Leafs to trade one of their 1A prospects for 2-3 1B guys?

      How many “1B prospects” would it take to make giving up Marner worth it?

      • Capt.Jay

        The difference is Pheonix has 7 guys like that where as we have 3. Sometimes teams will take 2 or 3 fringe second line or good third liner for 1 second liner or fringe 1st liner. Pheonix has been drafting in the top 10 for 10 years and an older Brown, Leivo, Kappenen, Hyman, Lindburg, Gauthier, Lypsic, might serve them better than a 18 they picked up this year.

        Anyway, it was just a question for discussion sake.

        I mean, New Jersey just got Hall for a very good defenceman that isn’t his equivalent so anything is possible. We also just got Rychel for Harrington so again, there’s that.

    • Gary Empey

      Captain let me address your first question first – Regarding trading many 1B prospects for a 1A prospect.

      The Leafs will be definitely loading up a “Noah’s Ark” with 1B’s for package trade. Unfortunately they would get a better return if the just sold the “Ark”.

      Your second question (What would it take to get a Drouin, Chychrun or Domi) is far easier to answer….a Rielly, Marner, or Nylander. Throw in your boatload of 1B’s for good measure.

  • Jeremy Ian

    on @Qtktkat’s question:

    Worth considering that we ended with 69 points last year. Horrible goaltending to start, deep tank mode down the stretch. Still, we lost a pretty whopping 25 one-goal games.

    Jeff’s right — with Andersen in net and Matthews, Nylander, Marner, Kadri’s goal % up to avg, healthy JVR, and x-factors like Carrick and Zaitsev on defense, the point swing could be dramatic. Say you win half of those one-goal games from last year, the Leafs end reaching for c. 90 points.

    That’s three points out of the playoffs.

    So, how do you handle the deadline?

    While I don’t think you’ll get a lot from flipping the UFA’s, Bernier, Greening, Polak, Hunwick, Laich… (leaving Cowen, Michalek, and Lupul out of the mix for now…) do you showcase them for another draft haul?

    If so, the team will dip, possibly seriously. Figure some injuries and youth struggling with the pace at the end.

    So, Jeff, what are the opportunity costs of “playing to win” at the deadline?

  • silentbob

    I don’t get why people are upset and/or confused about what they’ve done since the draft. A team can’t be made up of players who just carbon copies of each other. They probably identified some area’s of weakness in their development system – size, physicality etc… and drafted players to address those weaknesses. I would guess they went for over aged players to effectively put many of this years prospects on a similar clock to the guys they drafted in the last year or two.

    I do think its weird that they seem to go all in addressing 1-2 needs each draft instead of thinking of everything at each draft, but ultimately the Leafs development system still has a lot of talented & skilled players, though now there are some bigger, tougher, more physical guys as well.

    Signing Martin was probably done for a similar reason, they felt they lacked a physical element, so they went out and addressed that need. They probably over paid for it but most teams down when it comes to UFA’s, and they aren’t going to have to pony up for Matthews, Nylander or Marner in the next 4 years, so…..

    • Gary Empey

      It’s not like the Leafs are assembling a fantasy league team where stats are the be all and the end all. Many seem to forget that they are building an NHL team where analytics, important as they are, are merely a piece of the bigger puzzle.

    • JB#1

      Silentbob,

      I have said the same thing previously about the kinds of players favoured by the Leafs in the 2016 draft. They probably went for over-agers to try and get their development cycle to sync up with the younger, more skilled, players taken in the 2015 draft.

      The prospect pipeline being what it was before the 2014 draft, I think the Leafs realized they had to concentrate on specific areas with each draft until such time as they have a more rounded prospect pool. Once the Leafs have more prospects fitting into each of the traditional categories, I think over the next draft or two, we’ll see them spread the picks around to try and provide better odds that they will hit on a winner in each of those categories.

      Now, the common theme I see running through the arguments of a lot of the people who don’t like the Martin signing seems to be that he was brought in to fill a four-line shutdown role and that there were other, better and cheaper, players who could have filled that role.

      I’ll say the same thing now I have said before about the Martin signing – he wasn’t brought in for a four-line shutdown role, he was brought in to provide a certain level of toughness and make the Leafs a harder team to play against.

      Anyone who thinks Babcock did not have a big say on the Leafs signing Martin, quite frankly, hasn’t been paying attention to anything Babcock said towards the end of last season. He was dismayed, as was I, by some of the younger, skilled guys not being willing to get into the middle of a scrum and stick up for their teammates. Martin was brought in to have the backs of those younger kids but also to remove any excuses for the younger kids not getting involved.

      Again, I am willing to be patient and see how this all plays out at the beginning of next season before I pass judgement on the Martin signing.

      Time will tell.

    • Gary Empey

      Re- “in addressing 1-2 needs each draft “

      Could it be that the more players you draft for specific need, the more likely you will get one you need, that will have an NHL career?