DO SOMETHING, I’M GIVING UP ON YOU
I’LL EVEN SIGN IF YOU WANT ME TO
ANYONE, GIVE US A ROSTER MOVE
JUST NOT KRIS RUSSELL, WE’LL GET SO RUDE
*cough* The dog days of the offseason are driving us all a little insane. But there’s still hope yet! Phil Kessel is somewhere in town with a shiny trophy, and arbitration cases are just a few weeks away. While we wait for the next little big thing to go down, we’ve reached into the mailbag to respond to some of your questions.
@captainboxmaker asked: Does Connor Brown start on the opening night roster?
I wouldn’t bet on it. That’s not a knock on Brown, mind you. Mike Babcock is a huge fan of his, and Brown looked fantastic after returning from a major injury in the spring. But there is a significant log jam on both wings, to the point where Brown would either push a player onto the waiver wire or play in non-opportunistic minutes. He’ll get his call-ups, but the Marlies are probably the best fit for him to start the year.
@RicherKevin asked: What are the odds that two of Marner, Matthews, and Nylander finish top three in Calder Trophy voting this year?
Pretty doubtful. If voting gets spread among Toronto players, that could do more harm than good, knocking them all out of contention. If they’re as good as advertised, the masses will settle on a clear-cut choice and probably push that singular player into victory. My money would be on Matthews with all things considered, but given what they all bring to the table, who knows for sure?
@bdlaker asked: What would be considered a successful season for the Leafs organization next season?
The standings probably don’t matter at all this year. A tank isn’t necessary, and they aren’t good enough to win the Stanley Cup just yet. Seeing gradual improvement out of all of their U24 prospects and roster players is probably the goal, and a lack of setbacks for players signed long-term. This might be the lowest maintenance of the “Shanaplan” years; targets will surely be set for organization clubs and for individual players, but nothing will be do-or-die.
@highandwidemiss asked: Who is the Toronto Marlies’ leading scorer next year?
Despite being a younger team, there’s always an inclination to place a bet like this on a player who is a bit older and a bit more immediately talented, without the long-term upside or the threat of being called up long-term.
With that considered, my early guess is Byron Froese. I’d assume that the Leafs will feel the logjam come September and expose him to waivers and that he won’t get claimed. Froese was a point-per-game player with the Marlies in 2014/15 and will likely spend the year as one of their top centres. Colin Smith, who was similarly productive last year and signed an AHL contract this year, is a candidate for similar reasons.
We’ll have a better idea of both rosters in a few weeks, though.
@JaredOfLondon asked: Which Pokemon is Tyler Bozak, and why do you hate it so much?
Cyndiquil. Fire starters are the best and most powerful starters always, and in Bozak’s case, he was definitely the fire Pokemon out of all the “Free Wallet” players in the Burke Era. But he also gets to be a Gen 2 Pokemon.
Gen 2 is the black sheep. Sequels of anything rarely have the same level of nostalgia attached to them (outliers include Back to the Future 2 and the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays), and that’s definitely the case here. Gen 2 as a video game was a double dipping of the Game Boy platform, the new Pokemon weren’t terribly inspired, and Pokemon Johto was one of the worst eras of the anime. It was still Pokemon, but it wasn’t as good as the brand name Pokemon that we all loved. Cindiquil always lived in Charmander’s shadow, much like Bozak lived in Phil Kessel’s.
Then Gen 3 happened. The new characters were a slightly more unique spin on the core theme, and more importantly, the video game came out on the Game Boy Advance. Yes, Gen 2 worked on the Advance, but the result wasn’t favourable. This is a metaphor for the constant Advanced Stats debates we have had about Bozak compared to names like Mikhail Grabovski and Nazem Kadri.
Eventually, Gen 2 got its respect, when Heart Gold and Soul Silver brought them back. They fit the DS better than they did the Game Boy Colour, much like Bozak fits much better under Babcock’s carry-and-cycle oriented offensive system than he did under Wilson, Carlyle, and Horachek. But with Auston Matthews coming in to be the new Charmander in the Pokemon GO era, Cyndiquil fades back into obscurity.
I hate Cyndiquil because I grew up on Gen 1 of the anime & cards, but didn’t own a Game Boy until Gen 3.