It’s been a while since we’ve done a mailbag. Or maybe it’s just been a while since I’ve done a mailbag. I don’t really read the site, I get to read all the best content while I write it. Anyway, I thought, “hey, I bet there might be some Leafs questions kicking around”, especially following the Marlies getting bounced, but those seem to be few and far between. Promises were made however to do a mailbag, and I will comply.
A question about the Leafs core and long term forecasting: What’s your optimism level for the Leafs chances in the next 5 seasons? Can they advance past the first round against like a 38 year old Bergeron?
— Mike Stephens (@bymikestephens) May 27, 2019
I would say that I have a very high level of optimism for years 2-5 of this, but not so much for next season, and I think it might be best for the Leafs to take a purposeful step back for a year before gearing up for next few years.
The Leafs are in a bit of a pickle from a cap standpoint and there will be a struggle to just get the Leafs to cap compliant and that’s before even addressing upgrades. So with the fact that it will be difficult to address upgrades, perhaps it’s a good chance to offload a few non-core players via trade who will help the Leafs pick up some prospects and picks, and become cap compliant. Perhaps it’s better to get players like Sandin, Liljegren, and Bracco a chance at the NHL level instead of giving the opportunities to role players who might be more NHL ready, or fit the mold of a typical bottom six forward or bottom pairing defender better. Taking the year to see what the Leafs have in their system, while attempting to restock it might be what is best.
As for the core itself, well, it seems that the core means different things to different people. For the majority of fans it seems the core consists of every player on the Leafs that they like. That’s probably a bit excessive. My own personal version of what a core should be is six players max, and in the Leafs case that’s probably Tavares, Matthews, Rielly, Muzzin, Marner, and Andersen. With Nylander being my addition on the grounds that I’m a hypocrite and immediately break my own rules. There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic about this core, and think they can hold their own against an aging Bruins roster as long as they are smarter about which players are surrounding that core.
One of the biggest reasons I will be on my soapbox about acquiring draft picks over the next month is that the Leafs need to have a readily available supply of cheap middle six forwards and bottom pairing defensemen ready to step into the lineup. The Leafs are going to spend a small fortune on those 7 players in the core, the other 16 players need to a healthy mix of entry level contracts who are playing well above their pay, and veteran cannon fodder who desperately want to prove they deserve more on their next contract and not be bounced to the KHL.
The Leafs are in a good situation with Mikheyev and Bracco as complimentary wingers who could step up on the Leafs this season, and as much as we like players like Johnsson, Kapanen, and Brown, they’ve priced themselves off the Leafs.
The Leafs will often find themselves in situations where it is better to hold onto what they have rather than ship it out, but after a first round playoff lose, that’s probably not the time you commit to your non-core group and rolling the dice on new complimentary players makes sense, especially since there is no reason to believe that the Leafs will be out of a playoff spot even if they move on and “the anything can happen” 2019 playoffs should be a reminder that you don’t need the best team, just a team that lines up well against your opposition to advance. Also hot goaltenders help.
Finally, fewer salary commitments heading into 2020-21 (and a potential new CBA) is also a nice bit of flexibility to have. Being able to reboot following Marleau’s contract expiring makes more sense than settling for worse players this offseason because of salary cap restraints. The only barrier to doing all of this is getting people past the notion that this is a lost season, which I don’t think it would be.
When is Willy n Kadri gonna b Traded ??????
— Blue Jay’s ⚾️💙Maple Leafs 🏒💙Rush🥍💚 (@RonaldSteciuk) May 27, 2019
Well, if you read the long ass answer to the question above, you’ll see that I view Nylander as part of the core, and because of that I don’t really want him traded. In fact, given what Marner is going to be looking for contract wise, I would rather the Leafs trade him and keep the more affordable Nylander, knowing that he’s likely to rebound from his poor offensive outputs in 2018-19. That said, if Nylander is going to be traded, the Leafs shouldn’t be entertaining that idea if they are getting approached with deals based on him being a salary dump or any type of sell low situation. If you have to decide between trading Nylander or trading both Johnsson and Kapanen, you trade both Johnsson and Kapanen. They are good players, but much more replaceable. So in short, next summer at the earliest, but hopefully never.
As for Kadri, that one is a bit more tricky. He’s potentially another player being sold low, as his numbers were down as he was bumped to the third line, and his playoff discipline is going to be a narrative we’re going to be forced to listen to all summer. Considering the fact that Kadri has two recent 30 goal seasons, a decent contract, and the team that is trading for him is likely to be looking at him as a second line center, the return should be good for Kadri and if I’m Kyle Dubas, I’m listening to offers that respect what Kadri is, and not nonsense.
Kadri is a good player, but he’s a potential cap casualty and one that can net a better return than dealing a winger. The downside is the Leafs don’t really have much in the way of third line center options, and someone new would need to be brought in since the following things are true.
- Nylander should be a winger. That is where he is best. He needs to be given the opportunity to play his best, and bumping him outside of the top six and giving him underwhelming wingers benefits no one
- Freddie Gauthier probably shouldn’t even be playing in the NHL let alone having the potential to move up to the 3rd line
- We need to see if Nic Petan can be a regular in the NHL before assuming he can be a third line center
- Patrick Marleau is going to be in a fight to be a fourth liner, assuming he can be on the third line and return to center is a stretch
- Brooks and Engvall at best are showing they are capable AHLers at this point, neither is should be part of the NHL center equation
- Replacing Kadri through free agency or trade means the Leafs are eating up a lot of the cap savings spent on trading Kadri
So, really it looks like keeping Kadri makes sense by default, although a significant offer can change all of that. Same is also somewhat true for Nylander or almost any other player, but I’m listening a lot more on Kadri who does stand a chance of being dealt this summer.
Can I be on your podcast?
— Adam (@ElSeldo) May 27, 2019
Yes. Assuming I ever get one. For me to get one, someone else will need to be responsible for organizing it, recording it, editing it, and probably doing most of the promotion of it. They would also have to work around my schedule that involves me only being able to record after 7:30 PM Mountain time when my infant son goes to bed. All of this leads me to believe there will in fact not be any podcast for you to come on.
I will state that I am a fantastic podcast guest and everyone should invite me on their podcast because I often say interesting things in a very monotone voice.
Somethings are too beautiful for this world, and I think combining The Rock and Die Hard might be it. The idea of Bruce Willis and Nic Cage working together to save the world is something that might in fact save the world and I’m sure that’s why big government fat cats are keeping it from us.
I’m trying to imagine what this would look like. Since The Rock is still in the name I’d imagine it has to still include Alcatraz in some capacity. Given that Stanley Goodspeed is a chemical weapons specialist, it would be strange that there will be another chemical weapons related issue on Alcatraz, and even stranger that only a New York detective was available to help him. John McClane doesn’t seem like he’d visit San Francisco, but I guess you can always have it be the location of a police convention or some shit. Hmm…. maybe the police convention is attacked with a chemical weapon, and Goodspeed and McClane learn the bad guy’s lair is on Alcatraz.
More realistically, there was a planned sequel to The Rock where the government was going to chase Sean Connery around the country, and you could easily incorporate John McClane into that manhunt.
Additionally, you could have meant The Rock as in Dwayne Johnson, and just been suggesting that The Rock be in the next Die Hard movie, and in that case I would also be for it. John McClane is often the overpowering force and it would be interesting to see him potentially work with a stronger partner, although his son was a stronger sidekick what was a terrible movie, so maybe The Rock would need to be the bad guy. I don’t want to see that because The Rock should always be good.
not a question, more of a comment: please stop posting from deviantart
— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) May 27, 2019
This is never going to happen and now you’ve subjected innocents to my obvious reply to your comment…
There. You happy now, Fulemin? Look what you made me do. You want some more? I’ve got more…
There. Now I also want everyone to reflect on why for every single search you put into DeviantArt, you’ll always find a My Little Pony picture of that topic.
Tie Domi as a chicken…well that’s actually art, and I’m glad I found this.
Good art makes you think. Check out the full gallery of mascot work that will haunt your dreams. This is my gift to all of you.