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Monday Mailbag: Leaving Niagara Edition

After the first couple of days of skating and team building the Leafs are returning to Toronto and we are now one day away from the first preseason game. This is exciting-ish. To celebrate I’m going to answer some of your questions in the usual “fake authority” tone.

My initial hope is for Connor Carrick to earn the spot, but that’s just me picking my favourite of the group. Carrick seems to be the most well rounded option, as well as the most experienced of the group. The idea of Dermott-Carrick pairing that starts out pretty sheltered but gradually becomes the 2nd pairing over time is the dream for me. That being said I want Holl on the team too, and think the Leafs should carry eight defensemen this season.

I feel like I’ve been unfair to Ozhiganov because I don’t like Zaitsev and reflexively I’m giving him the KHL free agent treatment as not going to figure it out soon enough without even seeing him play. I invite him to surprise me and prove me wrong.

This is a lot of words for “it will be the guy that we start hearing about a lot of the first couple of preseason games.”

I’m pretty sure if you ask anyone else on this site they’ll go with SDA or maybe Sandin, so I’ll try to be a bit different and go with Engvall. He’s a player that I was really wrong on for a long time, and he certainly held his own with the Marlies. I’m interested in seeing what he can do against NHL players, even when they aren’t trying their hardest. He might not be a star player for the Leafs down the road, but I’m curious to see how close to NHL ready he might be.

I just wrote up something about my Nylander/Dubas feelings this morning that will cover off this answer nicely. If you don’t feel like clicking I’ll just say it doesn’t shake my confidence in Nylander, Dubas, but I will remain nervous until all three of them are under contract long term.

West coast is the best coast, at least for beer. This is fact and everyone who argues in favour of Ontario or east beer being better than B.C. beer is straight up wrong.

The Leafs have the benefit of being Canada’s team and where ever they hold their camp they should have a red carpet rolled out for them, and be celebrated. That being said, Edmonton has built a world class arena and stocked it with the Oilers. This is incredibly sad, especially since the taxpayers are paying for it. No city is more deserving of the joy that the Maple Leafs bring than Edmonton, and hopefully there will be a day in the near future that a camp is held in Edmonton and Auston Matthews is given the key to the city.

I have no good answer for your question, but I can certainly say it will be something I will be keeping an eye for in the future. To me it seems like an attempt to justify Zaitsev when most of us have had our pitchforks and torches out for him for a while. Ideally I hope this is part of a pump and dump strategy and not part of a longer term justification of keeping a bad defenseman around just because they don’t want to send him to the AHL.

Again, I don’t have the actual answer yet, but maybe someone who has the will to go back and watch old games from last season will provide us all with the closure we need on this topic.

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