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TLN Monday Mailbag: July 10th

The second week of free agency is always more boring than the first one. Almost everybody of profile is off the radar, so the bulk of signings tend to be in the “oh, that’s a neat deal for a single season” territory. The Leafs have made none of those unless you feel like arguing about Zach Hyman’s extension a little more.

While we wait for the next small-medium move to be made by an NHL team, let’s dive into the mailbag and see what’s on your minds!

Both Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman have impressed scouts, fans, and executives with their play in the Swedish Hockey League, to the point that both are thought to have legitimate NHL potential. Not to the same degree as Nikita Zaitsev, who was expected to come in and be a top-four defenceman immediately, but still plenty of capability to get a regular shift in with a couple of years left in their development cycle to best prepare themselves.

Of the two, I’d put my bets on Rosen to be the one to play more NHL games, and if there are no further additions to the roster, he’ll be up there with Travis Dermott for a shot at that last roster spot on the point. Of himself and Borgman, he’s the older, more experienced, and more mobile one (in the sense that Rosen is an elite skater, not that Borgman is a poor one) who has experience playings on both pairs, making him more likely to be of use to an NHL roster.

Our very own Adam Laskaris posted a roundup of various moments from the past few days of camp this morning. My hot take? There isn’t really much to fuss yourself with here or at any team’s development camp. They largely exist to make sure that your younger players are in decent shape, to ensure that they’ve got a plan for the summer, and to let the media have a chance to ask them the same ten or twenty things (spoilers: every player wants to work on their skating).

There are, of course, invites that come along too, but it’s extremely rare that anybody goes from being a camp invite to a contract to becoming a legitimate player. They’re around for the sake of maybe finding a few players to bring to your AHL camp a few months down the line, but mostly to give you some replacement-level players to use as a competition barometer for your drafted guys. If your second round pick is in over his head facing a line of guys who averaged 10 points in a European third tier, then you might have a problem.

Not to say that these camps don’t serve a purpose; I just don’t think fans or even media need to keep as much of an eye on them as they do.

The Leafs traded Ponikarovsky to the Penguins at the 2009/10 trade deadline. He stuck around in the NHL for a few more years and a whole bunch of teams after that, playing for the Kings, Hurricanes, Devils, and Jets. Ponikarovsky got his first taste of the KHL during the 2012/13 lockout, and since the end of that NHL season, has called the league his new home. After three years with superpower SKA St. Petersburg, Ponikarovsky spent last season as a depth forward on Bejing’s Kunlun Red Star expansion franchise and will return there for his sixth KHL season this year. Poni is 37 now; I’m not sure if that’s younger or older than I was expecting.

Likely not in the opening night roster; whether he sticks around at all depend on how other teams value him, but I can’t see him being Babcock’s third option on the left side. Assuming the last spot goes to one of Dermott or Rosen, I think the Leafs are relatively fine if they can’t make another move; upgrading at any position is always nice, but the Leafs are better overall now than they were in April, and I value differential more than strictly worrying about whether a specific position was made significantly better. Even if the Leafs get a big name, I wouldn’t be shocked if their defence doesn’t look as much like a top-end defence compared to what people believe it would be, strictly because of their playstyle.

The good thing about this rather odd offseason salary cap situation is that if the Leafs were to go nuts enough to make a move like this, “Who says no” would be the National Hockey League.

That’s a good question. The playoffs are essentially a weighted game of Plinko, so who really knows, but I really hope we find out the answer to this in about 11 months. That would be an incredible final.

About what, this mailbag going over the typical question limit of five questions? It’s fine. He’ll find a way to fix it.