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Mail Call: Leafs lose Dell, Hockey on Lake Ontario, Bogosian thoughts and more…

Welcome to our first mail call of the regular season. Looking at the standings, the 3-1 start looks pretty good. Watching the games  or diving into the stats on the other hand has led to a lot of uncertainty about this team. Luckily we are very smart and have all the answers that Leafs Nation seeks. Let’s get at it…

We decided to hand this question over to our resident Brendan Pridham, Earl Schwartz. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who understands the CBA and the salary cap better than Earl, and we’ll continue to exploit his knowledge until a team hires him away from us.

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Earl: 

In the realm of CBA topics, retained salary is relatively simple! Teams cannot retain more than 50% of a player’s cap hit in a single transaction. If a player has a $4m cap hit and the trading team agrees to retain 50%, the receiving team gets said player at a cap hit of $2m and the original team retains a cap hit of $2m. If the player’s salary is different from their cap hit, the salary is retained in the same proportions. So if the player had an actual salary of $5m, the original team would still pay the player $2.5m.
A contract can be involved in a retained salary transaction no more than 2 times, but more than 50% of their contract can be retained if it’s in seperate transactions. This has happened with Rob Scuderi in 2016, and Devan Dubnyk in 2014. Last season Ilya Kovalchuk was on a league minimum contract and had 50% retained, resulting in a cap hit well below league minimum. That was an interesting case as well.
For retaining on multi-year SPCs, the % retained cannot vary from year to year. The only way the amount retained can change is if the contract itself changes. Think Toronto’s $1.2m retention on Phil Kessel, that can only be impacted by Kessel retiring or being bought out.
Other rules, a team can’t have more than 3 retained salary transactions at once, or retain more than 15% of the cap. The only time I can remember that mattering is at the end of the Sedin’s career, there was some talk of them bother being traded at 50% retention but IIRC Vancouver already had 2 RSTs.
In order to avoid circumvention, teams cannot re-acquire a player they retained salary on for a calendar year. That’s only for when they’re on the same SPC, for example Montreal traded Plekanec to Toronto at the 2018 trade deadline with $3m retained, then signed him again once he became UFA in July.

That’s pretty much the gist of it!

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Wow, three questions. Let’s divide those up a little.

On Dell:

Mer:

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I am coping with the loss of Aaron Dell quite poorly, thanks for asking. Most people know I have a major soft spot for goalies, in general. But the hockey answer is that I finally, as a Leafs fan, felt somewhat comfortable with our goalie depth, only to have it snatched from us before we could even have fun with it. We were, for a short while, a team with 3 NHL-level goalies, and that felt great. It was awesome to see Saturday’s game with Campbell in net and Dell on the bench, giving Freddie much needed rest (not necessarily needed yet this season, but needed in the overall context of how many games he usually starts). I am hoping the Leafs either pick up another goalie on waivers, or make a trade for one (either Dell again, because he seemed awesome, or someone similar). Until then I’m telling myself that Hutchinson isn’t bad for a third-string.

Nick B:

Aaron Dell leaving saddens me but at the same time, I’m excited to see Michael Hutchinson as a third string goalie. It currently looks like he’s destined to be the starter for the Marlies, but Joseph Woll or possibly Ian Scott could steal that role.

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Earl:

This is precisely why the Leafs signed Hutch, they knew there was a risk of losing Dell. You cope by making Hutch your G3 and hoping it never comes to playing him

On players speaking honestly with the media:

Mer: 

Positive! Unabashedly positive. So often we talk about hockey players needing to show more personality. We’ve also experienced hockey reporters crossing the line *coughSteveSimmonscough* and more recently being called out for it by the players, and I think that’s FANTASTIC. Players are people, too, especially during a pandemic when things are weird and scary for them just as much as anyone else. I have always been a fan of Jake Muzzin’s no bullsh!t approach to media, calling out the team when it’s needed, and the more players I hear about or see doing this blatant honesty thing the more I love it. It’s entertaining, of course, but it’s also refreshing. I want to know who these guys really are, and this helps with that.

Michael: 

I think players be more honest will do nothing but good things for the NHL going forward. Hockey is a sport that is meant to be entertaining, so it’s surprising that players to this point have been mostly held back from speaking their minds on the opposition and on how they themselves played. Part of why the NFL and NBA can be so appealing is that the players are able to speak their minds and show off their personality. It creates talking points and dialogue that both gets people to react and eager to tune into the next game. If NHL players start doing this more, it will help make for a more entertaining product and the fans get to learn more about what these guys are like off the ice.

Nick B:

I want more players to act like this. Show your personality, get mad and create drama. One of the reasons that the NBA is a much bigger sport is because of the drama. I didn’t agree with Bill Daly talking to Voracek about the comments because one, they were hilarious and two, reporters need to be able to take what they dish out.

Earl:

An uptick in player honesty is always a good thing, no matter how it’s perceived. I know Voracek got a talking to from the league but of course he did, he broke the status quo. I have no problem with what Voracek said, especially when he still tried to answer the question. If he wants to call someone out he should absolutely be able to, and the fans are allowed to like it or dislike it. It’s entertainment. Do a full on wrestling promo! The only downside is the reporter says “my feelings hurty!”, and I simply do not care.

On your last trip to a hockey arena:

Mer: 

I was last in SBA on 2/20/20 when the Leafs blanked the Pens 4-0. I took my 7 year old to his first SBA game and it was amazing. It was a night to remember and if it was our last chance for a while I’m glad it was that game. I miss everything about it. I miss warmups, I miss the making friends with the people around you, the energy, the snacks, the overpriced drinks. I love going to hockey games and it will be on the short list of things I want to do as soon as it is safe to.

Michael:

The last game I went to was on January 14, 2020 when the Leafs faced the New Jersey Devils. That was the game Auston Matthews and Blake Coleman traded hat tricks with Toronto winning 7-4 I believe. What I’ve missed the most about being at a live hockey game is the sights and sounds inside Scotiabank Arena. Hearing the players moving down the ice, scoring goals, and the fans reaction is always a blast to see in person. I look forward to reliving that feeling in the future.

Nick B:

Maple Leafs vs. Florida, almost a year to date. What I miss most is people coming together and enjoying the game we all love. To me, being at a hockey game takes my serotonin levels to an all-time high and right now I miss it. A lot.

Earl:

As a spectator, the last game I went to was probably a Marlies game. It seems like an entirely different world now, I just miss everything about it. Taking the GO train right to exhibition station in my Dermott Marlies jersey. Street meat outside the arena. Beers I could actually afford. Telling anyone that would listen how good Kristians Rubins is.To be serious for a second though, experiencing hockey in a group setting was the huge part of what made it so special. The last game was with some close friends, but being in arena with people of all shapes, sizes, colours, languages, and all cheering for your favourite team is one of the best parts of hockey. When I was playing, having great teammates who succeed and fail alongside me was one of the best parts. It’s always been the people that make the sport incredible, so remember to treat them well when you see them again!

Nick B:

Why can’t ChrisInTheSix skate on Lake Ontario?

Earl:

This would be cool right up until Matthews takes a shot off the bar and everyone just has to watch the puck slide off to Rochester

Jon:

Temperature could be a big part of it, but I like the idea. As a resident of Alberta, I was really hoping for a Lake Louise game this season, even if I couldn’t attend, it’s a beautiful backdrop for hockey and makes for a great event. I’m not sure Lake Ontario fits the natural beauty aspect, but the Leafs playing outside with the Toronto skyline as a backdrop would be cool too. Maybe they try it for a Leafs practice if conditions allow. And if the NHL’s Lake Tahoe experiment goes well this year, a Leafs game in Muskoka seems like the next logical step.

Earl:

Should the Leafs play Nylander less? No.

Jon:

Basically what Earl said, but in addition to that the Leafs have no shortage of talent that can feast on lesser competition in the bottom six. Spezza, Simmonds, Mikheyev, Robertson (when healthy), Hyman, Kerfoot (more or less), and potentially Barabanov all have some offensive skill in their game that will exploit third pairings. Keeping the duos of Matthews and Marner, and Tavares and Nylander together means that someone is always drawing the top pairing and the other “top line” will get the second pairing which is already enough of a mismatch. I wouldn’t want to split up the duos.

Earl:

Did you ever play the card game WAR? Where you flip a card, and whoever has the highest card wins both the cards?
Playing Bogosian is like having a deck of only 4s. You know that 2/3rds of the time he’s on the ice he’s going to do the wrong thing and you lose possession. But Keefe admires the consistency, and refuses to switch his deck for a shuffled one that might have a King (Lehtonen).
So you keep playing your 4s knowing “I’ll never lose to a 1, 2, or 3!” That’s great, but Bogosian is blocking point shots and your opponent has a handful of high danger scoring chances and your 4 can’t stop an 8.
The only scenario where you actually win is an incredibly unlikely amount of tying 4s, and the only scenario where playing Bogosian is better is an incredibly unlikely amount of Penalty Kills. Shuffle the deck pls.

Jon:

I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone on this site that is pro-Bogosian, but I might be the closest thing to that. I get why he’s here and it’s not for the regular season. He’s here for the playoffs when the refs put away their whistles and his holding and obstruction infractions won’t be called. He’ll be the guy who puts his glove in the face of the guy who just snowed the goalie, and like last summer with Tampa, it will pass the eye test after failing it consistently in the year leading up to the playoffs.

Bogosian as a penalty killer isn’t a problem, and in a bottom pairing he might be better suited for playing with Lehtonen than Dermott, so we’ll hopefully see more of that so we can make up our minds better.

Skill wise, Bogosian might be the Leafs 9th best defenseman, but the reality is that other than Muzzin he’s the next most physically imposing option, and that’s something that the Leafs do lack, whether you highly value it or not.

So ends our mail call. If you have any questions for us in the future, look for our mail call requests on twitter @TLNdc