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TLN Monday Mailbag: May 22nd

Find someone who will hold you the way that William Nylander wanted to hold Henrik Lundqvist. Or, if you’re lazy, read the following handful of responses to twitter dot com questions. Or go enjoy your Monday. I don’t know. I’m not much of an authority on life decisions. If you’re opting for the middle option, though, begin reading below!

I don’t think there’s much of a question here; you have to go with Hunwick. He’s isn’t coming off a major injury, and I believe he was the clear driver of the two on that pair, even as they improved. I don’t really feel like carving into Polak any further (he’s a guy I want to like and you’ve already heard many times why I still wouldn’t often dress him), but I’ve come around to the idea that Hunwick is a legitimately fine third pairing defenceman who gets given tough minutes (be it in actual usage, or in non-opportune teammates).

I’d also probably not shrug too hard if both were to depart since I doubt Hunwick wants to be battling for his roster spot in September and would prefer a more guaranteed place, but I’d definitely keep him of the two.

It’s entirely possible that they’re just watching for fun. Yes, both teams have a bit of a surplus in areas that the Leafs could use an upgrade in (particularly the Ducks with their defence), but the names they’d be looking at now would likely be relatively known quantities; not to mention Toronto would probably have to send back expansion draft-exempt players to not put the other team in the same position that they were when they started shopping.

It’s not going to be as easy to take advantage of other teams’ situations as some believe it’ll be. Almost every club has 7+3+1 that they’d like to keep. Those who make relief trades will almost assuredly be giving up good young assets, and people in this market seem to be adverse to that right now, for fair reason.

Besides that, maybe they just want to get an in-person look at how those teams operate in the playoffs? I know Babcock has said in the past that he’s not super huge on watching playoff hockey, but he hasn’t coached a lot of it in the past few years, and he has a team that he wants to turn into a perennial powerhouse. Looking at how other teams have created their own makeup may be beneficial, so he can apply those ideas to his own team.

Ultimately, though, we’re all just spitballing. For all we know, Lou might just have cousin’s in Tennessee or something.

Something will likely have to give on the left defensive side. Not counting unrestricted free agents or any attempt to bring in acquisitions, the Leafs and Marlies are already at eight players playing the position (Gardiner, Rielly, Marincin, Dermott, Rosen, Borgman, Nielsen, Valiev). Valiev and Rosen can both play on their non-dominant side, so that might alleviate some issues on the Marlies, who don’t really have a ton of righties to work with at the moment. Gardiner, Rielly, and Marincin have all flipped sides too at times, though ideally they’ll all stay left (though Marincin might be going way left in the expansion draft in a few weeks).

I don’t think anybody’s at the defined end of the road yet, but, especially when you throw UFA lefties Matt Hunwick and Andrew Campbell in the mix, the Leafs have some decision making to do. They’re set up nicely to make a quantity for quality move soon; who gets moved in that situation is a tough question, though.

Two vaguely similar questions, so we’ll double up on the answers.

  • I doubt we see Marner go to centre full time. He’s capable of playing the position in a pinch, but he seems much more comfortable on the wing. I don’t buy that he’s too small or irresponsible or any of that stuff, but he’s been conditioned to be a winger for a while and his habits are ingrained. It’s a little different from Nylander, who they have on the wing as an adjustment move with a clear plan to move him to the middle one day.
  • As for the two playing together on a line, I’m sure it could work. They’re both elite talents and move with pace. I’d imagine both would have to tweak their games a little bit, though; one of them would have to carry the puck less and the other would have to sacrifice being a playmaker to be the triggerman. I’d a line with the two of them would emphasize Nylander as the “driver”; not they aren’t about a wash as far as talent goes, but he’s more dominant at breaking out and has the better release, so the play would be more likely to flow through him. I’m more than happy to have all three of the superstar kids running their own lines long term, though; seems like that’s a better distribution of talent moving forward.
  • MartinPolak

    I hope we bring back Polak just to see if jeffler will flip flop or stick to his guns. Another bonus of Polak is it takes some of the pressure off jeffler needing to fixate on how much he dislikes Martin.

  • LAKID

    Marner and Nylander are one trick ponies and once the East figures T.O. out they will go as the Dodo birds similar to johnny hoggy. Only Matthews will survive and without support he will anothe Hotdog munchin’ Kessle.

  • Skill2Envy

    I’d take Hunwick of the two but I’d rather neither, I think the Leafs will have competition for the third pairing.

    I could see Marner flanking Kadri. Kadri is being groomed for the shutdown role, Marner already plays better defense and both are good offensively.

    I’m not using shutdown in the Martin-Cazikas-Clutterbuck term, I mean more of the Datsyuk/Toews shutdown. Puck possession = shot suppression. Hockey has evolved.

  • jimbobray

    The big surprise before the season starts next fall will be the additions at defense by the Leafs. I expect they will have at least two, if not three, new D-men, and all will have upper tier mobility. I expect the Swedish pair to fight it out for one position (likely Rosen, with his great skating ability), and I expect a couple of trades as well, probably including draft choices. To compete for the Cup, the team needs two very mobile puck movers to fit in with their excellent young players up front. The team is beginning to realize these D-men won’t come cheap, meaning several of the young assets down on the farm and others still in amateur hockey, plus draft choices will be spent on the upgrades. Let the dynasty begin!

    • Gary Empey

      That is the way I see it as well. I actually see the possibility of both those recently signed Swedish defencemen making the roster. I see Dermott, Rosen, and Borgman (the rookie of the year in the Swedish league.) filling out the two bottom pairing and one on the taxi squad.

  • Gary Empey

    Does anyone who has been watching this year’s playoffs feel there is any need to have some physical players on the team? By getting rid of Martin and Polak do we have anyone left to throw a bodycheck?
    Do folks feel we can be like Muhammad Ali…… ” Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”