Monday Mailbag: November Rain Edition

The Leafs won and that’s good.

Auston Matthews hasn’t found a miracle shoulder cure and that’s bad.

We’re still talking about the Nylander contract and that’s really bad.

Your mailbag…

Thank you for being as open ended about this as possible, that should allow us to do this a bit more efficiently.

We are exactly in the same place we’ve been with this all along, and nothing has really changed. That’s incredibly frustrating, but it doesn’t change the fact that both Nylander and Dubas are right to approach this from a look after their own interests, and not commit to a multi-millionaire dollar deal immediately because it is what is most convenient or because it saves face in some way. Nylander doesn’t want to lose millions of dollars he feels he is worth, and Dubas is hesitant on how he’ll allocate the salary cap. There isn’t some grand new idea that hasn’t been explored that will materialize, we are just likely to watch the tires spin for the next few weeks before they ultimately land on a one year deal to avoid Nylander playing overseas.

I do want to hit a few notes worth mentioning because we seem to be getting progressively crazier with this situation:

  • Any trade seems like a bad idea at this point. It will absolutely torch the negotiations with Matthews and Marner if they have to deal Nylander, and this seems like a huge risk for forward depth. No trade is a good idea.
  • Even if the Leafs and Nylander reach a one year deal, it’s still going to need to be a salary the Leafs will feel comfortable qualifying Nylander for in June. It’s hard to imagine the Leafs offer him more than $6M on a one year deal, and at best the majority is paid as a bonus to make up for the time missed so far this season.
  • Long term is still the best option, since it’s what both sides want, but going shorter isn’t a kiss of death, as long as you are prepared to make tough decisions and/or negotiate in advance before the next deal is up.
  • This really should teach us all the GMs with the “no negotiations in season” belief are dinosaurs, and (conveniently) a lot the blame for this situation needs to fall on Lou Lamoriello. Not every deal can be done this way, but at least publicly he has been against contract talks in season and for the life of me I don’t see how it is a distraction for players. Generally it seems like a sign the team cares.
  •  And just because it needs to be said on a daily basis, NYLANDER ISN’T A HOLD OUT. He doesn’t have a contract, and isn’t playing because of that. Stop making this about him having an attitude problem.

Besides me? I mean, I just spent the last question saying that I wouldn’t trade Nylander, so pretty much any of the Slavin, Pesce, etc. Carolina based options that have come up, I’d easily say no to and since I believe Makar will be a bust, this is a double no for me.

However…If we are keeping this in the context of what a strong return for Nylander would look like, a young right shooting D on an entry level deal or cheap longer term deal is probably the return people would kick rocks about the least.

Probably McDavid, since he won’t want to slot in as a 4th line center after Matthews comes back. If he’s willing to move to the left wing, he might be able to challenge Hyman for the top line role provided he’s willing to dig pucks out of the corner.

Freddie Gauthier, not a tire fire on the fourth line is probably the better sentiment. The Gauthier line at best delivers a half minute of sheltered hockey where the Leafs have no risk of being scored on, but also no chance of scoring, essentially it is a timeout with the clock running. It’s a way of feeling bad for Josh Leivo while he’s still getting a chance to play. Anyway, considering that it looked like Gauthier could have just as easily been a healthy scratch on the Marlies this year as he could’ve been the Leafs fourth line center, this is the best personal outcome for him, and since it is the fourth line, you’d have to put in some real effort to strongly object to what he’s been doing.





Okay, let’s start with the fact that I’m assuming in this trade situation, I’ve dealt Hainsey and Zaitsev and received nothing close to helpful in return. I assume there was a conditional late round pick for Hainsey, and guessing a return for Zaitsev is something I am completely incapable of, so I’m going to assume the Leafs now have a new under performing depth winger who makes $4M a year for a couple years.

I’m also going to assume that no immediate help is on the way as far as trades. Nylander for Pesce isn’t happening, nor should it. And the Leafs are stuck holding pat until the trade deadline thanks to parity. We’ll work with what we’ve got.

Top Pairing: Morgan Rielly- Travis Dermott

Both of these players have been on the right side at some point in their career, and while I’d start with Dermott there, I’d potentially consider Rielly an option if Dermott doesn’t pan out before blowing up the pairing. Both are more offensively inclined players, but neither is a complete idiot in their own end, and they are the exact kind of players you’d want on the ice with either of the Leafs top two lines.

Second Pairing: Jake Gardiner- Igor Ozhiganov

This is throwing Ozhiganov into the deep end a little because he’s probably better suited to being a bottom pairing defender, but at the same time he’s probably the best traditional defensive defenseman the Leafs have, and also arguably the best natural right side defender too. He’s a good safety net for Gardiner and gives Jake a chance to play the way Jake does with minimal scolding.

Third Pairing: Andreas Borgman- Calle Rosen

Out with the old and busted, and in with the chance to try something new. Both Borgman and Rosen are free agents at the end of this summer and will be deciding if they want to continue to pursue North American hockey careers or whether they want to return to Sweden and settle into what will probably be a decade of steady employment in the SHL. Give them a chance to show what they can do, and it will be fun for the rest of us. Plus they are the bottom pairing and won’t get into as much trouble.

Extras: Martin Marincin and Justin Holl

Martin Marincin is the ideal 7D. Whomever gets pulled out of the lineup for performance or injury, he’s an ideal candidate to slot in. He’s also an excellent road defenseman and he might just be a good fit to replace either Borgman or Rosen during road games since he’s a solid defensive presence even when the other team is seeking to exploit the Leafs bottom pairing being on the ice.

As for Holl, he still deserves his shot at the NHL, and I’ve been a fan of his, but if Mike Babcock isn’t a fan, it’s probably best to let him move on in whatever form that takes, trade being most ideal, but if it’s waivers it’s waivers. Not that they ever have much control over the situation, but I’m not seeing a lot of incentive for young NHL/AHL tweeners to be excited about joining the Leafs, unless they hit.

This concludes another fun week of the TLN Mailbag. Remember to hit us up with your questions next Monday when we remember that this post is something we do.

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