Monday Mailbag: Thank Gord We Have Hockey To Talk About Soon Edition

It’s Monday. It’s a mailbag. You’ve got questions. I’ve got bad takes. Let’s do this.

I feel like this is turning into a weekly mailbag tradition, and I’m sure I’ve varied at points over the summer, but given that Nylander and Marner are so remarkably similar, it’s hard to imagine their contracts will be too different. One of the reasons I think Nylander hasn’t signed is that he wants assurances that Marner isn’t going to get a small fortune next summer in comparison to him. Both of these players should earn around $7M, which seems like a bit of an overpayment, but not one that is going to be worth the overanalysis they will receive. Matthews is in a completely separate category, and he’s going to get paid and it should probably mirror Jack Eichel’s contract. Given that Nylander has to go first, I’m going to assume he’ll go with shorter term, but not quite a bridge deal. My guess

Nylander: $7,000,000 x 5 years
Marner: $7,500,000 x 8 years
Matthews $10,000,000 x 8 years

Nylander will happen in September, the other two will drag it out until next September.

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Good news! We’ve got a whole lot of thoughts on Jordan Subban, right here. We’ve got some thoughts on other prospects too.

That being said, I haven’t fully weighed in on Jordan Subban, and I’ll throw my thoughts into the mix.

If Subban does make the Leafs, the floor is he’s best available defenseman available due to an excessive amount of injuries, and the Leafs will have to shelter the hell out of him because of real concerns about his defensive play. The ceiling is still probably sheltering Subban, but feeling comfortable with him on the third pairing, and possibly trotting him out on the second powerplay unit from time to time.

With the Marlies, I think he is what he is, a solid offensive defenseman, that will probably see his icetime reduced in the final minutes when protecting a one goal lead.

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Like I said, it’s going to take a lot of injuries for him to get a look, or Sheldon Keefe and staff will have to pull off a miracle to make Subban so defensively sound that Babcock will feel comfortable playing him even 8 minutes a night.

So If I’m ready this correctly, you are suggesting Gardiner, 3 Marlies not named Liljegren or Sandin, and a 1st for Karlsson. I’m next to positive Ottawa wouldn’t consider this, but let’s populate this with Marlies and see how we feel about this…

First option, let’s consider Dermott and as Johnsson Marlies for the sake of making this worth considering,

Gardiner, Johnsson, Dermott, Grundstrom and a 1st for Karlsson.

Yeah, I think that could get it done. I think we’re starting to venture into a world where Leafs fans are wanting Karlsson agreeing to sign before it happens, because that’s a lot of futures to risk on one year of Karlsson.

Let’s look at it where we consider Dermott and Johnsson as Leafs.

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Gardiner, Grundstrom, Timashov, Bracco and a 1st for Karlsson.

You probably need to tack Bobby Ryan onto this deal for the Sens to even consider it, but even then, they aren’t doing trading Karlsson within the division when there should be at least 20 non-Atlantic teams coming up with an offer that doesn’t involve a UFA that won’t sign, a decent 2nd or 3rd line wing, 2 huge question marks, and late first.

I appreciate this because I don’t have the courage to take the abuse of putting together a post completely dedicated to what I think the line combos for next season should be, but I will take full advantage of answering these questions when I can.




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First, let’s take a moment to appreciate that Auston Matthews might be a 2nd unit Power Play guy. That’s pretty dang solid.

Second, you can see that I am very much committed to the 4 forward approach. Heck, I’d say trot 5 forwards out, but honestly Gardiner and Rielly are probably better offensive options than the other two players I was considering, who we’ll get to in a bit.

Now, the lines themselves. The first power play unit is much more of a cycling unit than the second one. It has most of the high end offensive weapons minus Matthews, and will rely on finding Gardiner for the point shot, or Tavares finding open shooting space, and having Kadri take a beating while looking for rebounds. Marner and Nylander are pretty much there to pass and you can debate me on whether Nylander needs a bigger role, but on the second unit. I trust him to play the point more than Marner, and his speed covers off the blueline better than Mitch would.

The 2nd unit is much more of a shooting gallery, and Rielly is really the only distributor on this line. Relying on Johnsson as the net presence is a bigger question mark, and I wouldn’t object to anyone who says that he should be replaced by Zach Hyman, or possibly Connor Brown. Kapanen on the point helps me sleep at night, knowing there won’t likely be any crazy short handed breakaways with him and Rielly back there, but I feel a heavier shot would be nice.

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Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about either of these lines. I’m already talking myself into swapping Rielly and Marleau as a defensive pairing on unit one and going with Gardiner and Nylander as the defensive pairing on unit two.

No matter what, these are the players I think should be used, and any combination of them together would make me happy.

Holy hell, a Hartikainen question!

This is a good question to ask someone, because honestly, I haven’t the slightest clue if the current Leafs management team remembers that they have his NHL rights (do they even have his NHL rights, did they ever qualify him? Both Eliteprospects, and Capfriendly do not show any NHL team holding his rights).

As decent as Hartikainen has been in the KHL, I think he’s pretty much a non-factor to ever come back, and I wouldn’t even give him dark horse status. Aaltonen is one to watch a bit more closely, even if it’s not happening this year, I wouldn’t rule it out next season, but after that, you can pretty much write him off too.

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If you’re dropping Hartikainen knowledge on me, you’re probably also likely aware that Fabrice Herzog still has his NHL rights owned by the Leafs, but since he hasn’t been particularly good in Switzerland, I don’t think we’ll need to worry about him making an appearance at camp anytime soon.

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