TLN Monday Mailbag: August 29, 2016

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Great news everyone, September rolls around on Thursday (that came quick, didn’t it?) and hockey is just around the corner. Until then, though, we’re left to contemplate, speculate, and discuss whatever hockey-related ideas we can possibly squeeze some entertainment out of.

With that said, let’s get started on today’s mailbag.

@40BaySt does Marner make the team out of camp?

Even though his odds have presumably worsened over the course of the summer — what with the team bringing the likes of Matt Martin, Kerby Rychel, and Brandon Prust into the organization in various capacities — I still think he ultimately ends up on the Leafs this year.

Like, the guy put up 126 points in his draft year, then this year he put up 116 (in 6 fewer games), and then he put up an absurd 44 points in 18 games in the playoffs, en route to winning pretty much every CHL award you could imagine. And numbers aside, his skating, puck skills, and two-way game look polished enough for him to play in the NHL at a high enough level.

Size will be a big question mark, and he needs to come into camp as close to 170 pounds as possible. He also still has a lot of developing to do, and if he does play for the Leafs next season I imagine it’ll be in a complimentary role, even more-so than the roles Matthews and Nylander figure to be pegged into.

But all things considered, I just think he’s too good to not make the team. I think he’ll be there come October 12th.

@LadleToTheGravy who wears the letters on opening night?

I think the Leafs probably roll three to four alternates this year, with nobody wearing the C. I think the best five bets to get a letter are: Matt Hunwick, Tyler Bozak, Morgan Rielly, Roman Polak, and Brooks Laich. Now, Polak and Laich figure to get limited roles, and you don’t usually see “spare parts” players like that get a letter, but I know the organization is extremely high on Laich’s character (as they should be), and Polak wore an A last season.

I also think Van Riemsdyk, Kadri, Lupul, Martin, and Prust are all letters candidates, but for various reasons, probably don’t get one.

If I had to guess, I’d say Hunwick, Rielly, Bozak, and Laich are wearing letters on opening night.

@trickgh83 if up to you, what would be next big move? Unload some prospects for seasoned skill? Or horde & develop & stand as is?

Generally speaking I think the team is in a fairly good position to stand pat. They have potential franchise players in Matthews and Marner, with other great supplemental pieces like Nylander, Van Riemsdyk, Kadri, Gardiner, Zaitsev, and Andersen in place. That’s not mentioning the wealth of draft picks and decent depth prospects that they have to keep the young players coming.

My big concern right now with the team’s future is defense. Cup contenders typically have an elite defenseman. I think the organization believes Rielly will be that guy, and I like Rielly enough that I think it’s possible that he becomes that, but right now I’m not convinced. This is going to be a big year, I think, in Rielly either proving me wrong, or Rielly proving that he’s better suited as a great complimentary player.

If Rielly isn’t the guy you can win with, the team needs to look elsewhere to fill that hole, so that would be my next (potential) big move.

@__Pete__33 since both our goalies came from Californian teams, are they destined to fail?

Toskala, Bernier, and now Andersen…third time’s a charm!

@cameo60 don’t you hate pants?

I like pants. I like jeans and pyjama bottoms. But, I also like shorts, and feel like society needs to be more accepting of adult men that wear them.

  • Trevor5555

    Marner will at least get the 9 game audition he’s allowed before they decide whether he stays the whole year. I think that skill wise all signs point to yes. His hockey sense is good enough that he can overcome his lack of size / strength. Toronto is trying to build a team arround speed and skill as key components and he fits the mold perfectly. Guys like Martin, Komarov and Polak and maybe Prust are important so we still have guys who are tough to play against. Even Greening, Soshnikov, Rychel and Hyman play with a bit of physicality so Marner is free to play a finesse game without hurting the overall physicality of the group.

    Stand pat vs make a move….Im comfortable with the team as is but they should try to trade some of Michalek, Lupul, Greening, Hunwick and Polak by the trade deadline. It would be nice to add a few picks and get more development time for prospects. If they can land a top pair RHD at some point it would be great as thats the biggest hole in the roster now. Looking at the Marlies there is a slight lack of offensively skilled centers, maybe we trade a winger for a center. Froese, Gauthier, Smith and Cliche are good but not a lot of upside regarding offensive skill however Brooks and Witala had great numbers in junior last year.

  • Gary Empey

    The problem with shorts is, a tendency for the wedding tackle to slip out for some fresh air…..

    Almost every team would like to improve their defence.

    More NHL caliber defense is our most pressing need. We really have only three at the moment. There are really only about ten elite defencemen in the league. You rarely see them traded. When you do it is always for an elite player in return.

    I think the Leafs are waiting to see how quickly our prospects on the back-end develop before they start looking hard at making a trade for someone.

    Referring to Polak as a “spare part” shows a lack of understanting what it takes to be one of the six defenceman, NHL teams dress.

  • Gary Empey

    I posted this ditty over at Sportsnet……

    The axe will fall, in Montreal,

    Like something we’ve never seen.

    The question there, that’s in the air,

    Whose first for the guillotine?

    • Kanuunankuula

      Hope not soon. I want to see them suffer. Also if they fire Therrien and hire Roy, that would be hilarious. As for Polak, referring to NHL coaches to know who’s worthy of a top 6 spot is really not valid. NHL is littered with coaches with a soft spot for guys like him. Does not mean he is top 6 D

      This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I think JVR should be traded as soon as possible. His raise is going to be significant (and it’s not that far away either in time), and it’s going to cut down his trade value. I’d like to see him moved for a potential 1D. Seeing as Anaheim decided to go full on stupid with their coach, I’d see how much it would take to pry Lindholm off them.

      • Gary Empey

        Polak was a top six on last years Leafs and will be again on this years Leafs unless someone can take his job. Has anyone got a video clip of either Corrado or Marincin throwing a bodycheck last year?

        Re- trading JVR…. I have seen it mentioned last year and this year. Our wingers seem to be the only position we have more of than we can dress. So something will have to give. Unfortunately most of them are still unproven at the NHL level. JVR is still considered the best shooter on a team that lacked scoring last year. He is also the quality one would have to give up to acquire a good defencman. On one hand it makes some sense on the other it may be too early. I am undecided. The Leafs may have as good or even better in our prospect pool than what we could get in return for JVR. By Christmas we should have a clearer picture.

        • Kanuunankuula

          Who cares about a bodychecks? I did see him get turnstiled a bunch of times by the Penguins though. Marincin had extremely good results compared what we gave up for him and what he’s paid. I’d rather see what Corrado and Marincin had (they’ve still got some potential) as opposed to Polak who is who he is.

          • Gary Empey

            You opinion on Polak is popular around here. Babcock takes a completely different view.

            Personally I was hoping someone from the Marlies would end up in his spot. Again Babcock did not think any of them were good enough yet.

            I certainly don’t blame Polak.

            Re – ” Who cares about a bodychecks? “…… Babcock

          • Kanuunankuula

            Babcock is not infallible. He overvalues certain traits perhaps more than he should. Seen in Detroit as well. That’s why he’s the coach, not the GM. Give him good players, not necessarily the players he wants.