Happy Boxing Day! If you celebrated Christmas yesterday, I hope you had a ton of fun. If you didn’t, I still hope you had a ton of fun and got to see your families too. The specifics of how you celebrate your few days of rest, relaxation, and reminiscence shouldn’t matter, as long as you’ve built up some good times and good memories.
Speaking of memories, here’s hoping tonight’s World Junior game is one to remember. I’d be down for Canada scoring a bazillion goals. While we wait for that, though, let’s talk some Leafs.
— Graeme Nishida (@graemenishida91) December 26, 2016
I’ve really appreciated the fact that, after years of debate, this is finally the season where people are beginning to appreciate Jake Gardiner for what he is. The 26-year-old might be one of the most cost efficient top-end defencemen in the league, and he does it in a way that is so reserved that you barely notice it.
The issue, of course, has always been that when he screws up, he screws up hard, but those incidents have lessened this year. He’s continuing to tilt the ice and he’s been contributing a bit offensively, and having Connor Carrick next to him rather than a continuous shuffle of players has surely helped things too.
Actually Elite might be a different story, though. You need to be among the absolute best in the league in your position to get the Elite tag. I’m very much on team “Actually a #1 defenceman”, or at least actually an extremely good #2, but I don’t see him pleading a case to be one of the Top 5 left-side defencemen in the league.
— Matthew Gooding (@matthew_gooding) December 26, 2016
The Shattenkirk conversation is going to be a real interesting one to have next season. The Leafs could use another defenceman of his caliber, but at the same time, there’s no need to handcuff themselves to a long-term deal for a UFA aged player that isn’t of an elite skill level.
Something that might be interesting: Toronto’s salary should be near the bottom of the league next year once again, with few raises being necessary and a fair bit coming off the books. If the Leafs make it into the playoffs this year and maybe even win a round or two, perhaps it’s possible that they can pitch him on the “meteoric rise” angle and offer him a stupidly loaded one-year contract. Most guys like the job security, but something like $10-12 million and a chance to chance a ring in a huge market before testing the market again could be enticing.
@JeffVeillette which leafs got presents and which leafs got coal.
— Totally Offside (@Totally_Offside) December 26, 2016
The Leafs are Actually Good, and with that in mind, all of them would have avoided Santa’s Actually Naughty list. Every single Leaf got a present, even if they celebrated a different holiday or just saw the holiday weekend as a time to stretch their legs. They’re just that good.
— Mo Rex (@Morock90) December 26, 2016
This is an extreme longshot. Many have been misled to believe that his eligibility for the draft can be impacted by how many games he plays; that is absolutely not true. Corrado is eligible to be picked as it is.
Not playing him for the sake of the expansion draft would solely be to avoid another team wanting him, presumably hoping they look at Martin Marincin instead. While technically possible, I don’t think that has anything to do with it. Unless the Leafs believe he’s secretly about to become the next Drew Doughty the second he plays three games in a week, the opportunity cost here makes no sense.
If, for example, the Leafs internally believe Corrado to be more valuable in a given game than Roman Polak, would the potential points gained by playing him, possibly the difference between barely missing and barely making the playoffs, not be more valuable than the difference between Corrado and whoever you have to sign to replace him in July? I just don’t see this scenario being likely. They’re not playing him because they think Polak is better, simple as.
@JeffVeillette Leafs main roster player most likely to be exited from org, and team’s biggest need (for what they need to acquire)?
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) December 26, 2016
James Van Riemsdyk is getting a lot of the trade gossip these days but I’d put my bets on Leo Komarov or Tyler Bozak. It’s looking likely that at least one of them will have to be exposed to the expansion draft and I’m sure teams will be calling to see if they can grab either of the mid-aged forwards on the back end of their deals.
Many will say that a right-handed defenceman is the biggest need, but adding another player to the mix creates an expansion wormhole as well. Figuring out who can be a stable backup goalie for them is probably going to be key; you want Andersen to not be gassed come March or April.
— Andy Sorensen (@sorensen_andy) December 26, 2016
Maybe not the absolute best ever (I’m not the expert there), but personal favourite? Moreso for his personality, I was always a Wade Belak fan. Could throw them when you needed him to as well. Hope he’s in a better place.
@JeffVeillette When the leafs eventually miss the playoffs how many fans will give up on the rebuild?
— Starbel (@__Pete__33) December 26, 2016
I highly doubt that will happen. You can take this sentence in two different ways:
- I doubt fans will lose hope, seeing as most who are still on the rebuild train have accepted that this will be another pain year. Talks of the top end of the draft are still existent for a team that’s had their sustainably best opening few months in a solid decade. There isn’t much pressure on them to climb up the standings.
- I highly doubt they’re going to miss the playoffs. They’re playing top-half hockey right now and have lost some of the points they’re trailing with in really weird, hard to repeat situations. They haven’t gone on a big winning run yet, either. Combine that with the Atlantic being a tire fire, and there may not even be a reason to ask that question.
Either way, whether it’s patience or playoffs, don’t bet on bridge jumping yet.