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July 7th Mailbag

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Mail! Get your mail here! Hockey content, and.....other things.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Hello all!

In solidarity with the Canada Post worker, Fulemin has locked himself out of his own mailbag. Accordingly, I will be his scab for the week, and have answered all your questions. Some of them are even serious hockey questions, too. Fancy that!

Without further ado: your mailbag!

"What fillings/toppings do you stuff your taco with, is the order in which you put things on the taco important and is a taco a sandwich?" -Alspicer

I'd say semi-important. There's tiers of toppings. The "first tier" is the essential ingredient tier: the meat, the cheese, and if you're so inclined, the refried beans (I love adding them for extra protein, and because they force you to use less meat, making it last longer). That stuff goes in first. The "second tier" is your vegetables: for me, that's usually tomatoes and avocados, though the other week I made a pico de gallo that didn't totally suck. Then you have the "third tier", which is your sauces (any combo of salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, guac). This should go last to ensure all your other toppings are sprinkled with delicious, delicious sauce.

I have to think it is a sandwich, but at the very least, a taco should be a wrap. If you stuck any other foodstuff on a flat bread that you then rolled up, you'd call it a wrap. So, a taco is a wrap. But is a wrap a sandwich? We haven't delved into this deeply enough, but I'd say that it is.

"If you could merge any two NHL teams, which would you chose?" -thistypeofthinking

The San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars. Recall that the two franchises have some lineage dating back to the North Stars in which half of the Minnesota roster went to the Sharks for some weird reason. Let's make them into a mega roster and call them the North Stars, but have them play in Not Minnesota. Wild fans would get really mad; it'd be hilarious.

Think of how good that team would be. Your top six would have Joe Thornton, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Sharp, and Tomas Hertl. A top D pairing of Brent Burns and John Klingberg! As good as the Stars' offense is, it'd be even better. Not to mention that Martin Jones would singlehandedly solve the Stars' goaltending woes. All hail the new Minnesota-free North Stars! Bring back the green and yellow uniforms, too; those would be snazzy.

"What would be the best header for a clickbait PPP article I....er, *someone* can draft during the dog days of summer?" -Fulemin

Some free ideas:

"25 Auston Matthews GIFs That Saved Humanity"

"What Matt Martin's Dog Can Tell Us About the Leafs"

"Are You A Nylander Or A Marner? Take Our Quiz and Find Out!"

"13 Reasons JVR Should Rent My 'Basement Suite'" by Species

"What do you like most about Vancouver, the absurd housing prices or the constant sports-related rioting?" -Goldenhawk99

Buying a home is hard, thouhhg.

Anyway, here is my power ranking of things I enjoy about Vancouver:

1) Beer

2) Food

3) Food, when combined with beer.

4) The weather, as West Coast living has now rendered me a wuss who cannot handle temperatures below 5C or above 25C.

5) The crisp, carbonated taste of the steady stream of tears that come when the Leafs are in town and play at 4 PM PT.

Speaking of Vancouver, I had a weird dream the other night where Bo Horvat was traded to the Avalanche for players I can't remember but am unsure actually exist. Why? I don't know. I can tell the offseason action is starting to wind down when I start dreaming up trades. Last summer, I actually had a dream that Colin Greening was traded to the Lightning and believed that this really had happened for about three days. I guess he did end up in blue and white, though.

"Is pineapple an acceptable pizza topping?" -ShahOfToronto

Fruit has as much place on a pizza as facts within organized religion. Unacceptable.

"How do you feel about pizza-bagels" -ShahOfToronto

Good, provided you don't ruin them with something dumb like putting pineapple on it.

"Where would you rank the Leafs’ NHL defense group (no prospects) in their division as it sits right now?" -Brigstew

Probably somewhere in the mushy middle. I think a lot of it depends on how Zaitsev, Carrick, and Corrado pan out, honestly. They're better than some, but way worse than others.

Here is how I would break it down (much like taco toppings, I use tiers):

TIER 1 (Good-to-Elite): Florida; Tampa Bay. I'm struggling to find anything wrong with either blueline. Jeez. Remember when adding the state of Florida to this division was supposed to be a punchline?

TIER 2 (Passable Because of One Very Good Player): Ottawa. Their blueline is okay with Karlsson, but downright ghastly without. Phaneuf doesn't suck as a second pairing guy (contract aside), so there's that.

TIER 3 (Meh): Montreal; Toronto; Detroit. Montreal took a huge hit trading Subban for Weber, but he's still a beast offensively at least. Without him, though, their best defenseman is Jeff Petry. That's like the Oilers two years ago. No one wants to be like the Oilers.

I'd rank Toronto a bit higher because I'm high on Gardiner and Rielly. Both are okay, but probably lacking in top-end talent compared to the  teams ahead of them. I like Toronto the most of these three long-term, but right now, in 2016, it's really hard to differentiate them.

TIER 4 (Oh Dear God): Boston. They're like Ottawa and Montreal in that their blueline is entirely dependent on one player, except that player will be 40 next March, and is getting slower by the day. They are so very screwed when Zdeno Chara retires. I can't wait.

TIER 5 (Sad Trombone): Buffalo. Their best blueliner is Rasmus Ristolainen. Let that sink in for a moment.

"If you could only follow one analyst/blogger on Twitter, who would it be and why?" -Constant Gardiner

Me. I make myself laugh the most.

In all seriousness, though, probably Bob McKenzie. When you get down to it, Bob IS hockey. What else are we all doing on Twitter during silly season for rumours but waiting for him to drop a bomb? 90% of the internet after a big trade/signing are just people in your feed RTing or quote-tweeting him.

I can't help but feel as though if Bob disappeared off Twitter, we'd all just be wandering around aimlessly, waiting for NHL teams to leak information. Based on current trends, we'd hear about signings maybe a week later. Sure is weird how free agency died down right when Bob went on vacation. Maybe Kris Russell signed with someone (read: Boston) three days ago and we have no idea.

Side note: Basketball Twitter has the "WojBomb," named thusly for when the top basketball insider drops a trade or signing on Twitter, seemingly out of nowhere. I propose we call the hockey equivalent a "Bob-omb." Get it? It's a Super Mario pun. We should have more Super Mario puns.

"Who are your three predicted nominees for the Calder trophy next year?" -Shingo

Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner for a 1-2-3 punch. Only we have excellent and flawless prospects that are superior to everyone else's terrible prospects.

I assume the NHL will consider Patrik Laine to replace whoever is third in voting to throw other fanbases a bone, but then they'll be like "psh, it's Winnipeg; who gives a crap?" So, it's a Leafs sweep. Unfortunately, Arizona's Dylan Strome will finish slightly ahead of Nikita Zaitsev for fourth place to pull off the combo breaker.

"Of the current NHL teams, what team do you think would most improve their logo/jerseys if they changed back to one they previously had?" -Exit Steve Left

I'm of the firm belief all three California teams should go back to the uniforms they wore in the mid-1990s. Kings should wear silver and black with their old logo. Ducks should go back to the eggplant and teal; it was gawdy, but suited them better. The Sharks should go to the old logo with teal and silver, assuming they don't form that North Stars super team.

"1) In Leafs history, what do you think is the most painful "taken right after the Leafs pick" player (as in the Leafs picked someone who was meh or a bust and the next player was a future HOFer or something)?
2) Josh Leivo aside, the 2011 draft was clearly a disaster for the Leafs (insert bitterness about the Percy non-offer here), using only the players taken within 5 picks after the Leafs pick, who would you take at each spot if you were to re-do the draft with hindsight?" -Exit Steve Left

I can't think of anyone drafted right after a Leafs player off the top of my head, but here are some bad picks I can recall that I'd like to have back:

1993: Landon Wilson with the 21st overall pick; Saku Koivu taken two picks later by Montreal.

1995: Jeff Ware (he of 21 total NHL games) taken 15th overall; Petr Sykora taken three picks later by New Jersey.

1998: Nik Antropov taken 10th overall, which in and of itself wasn't a bad pick, but Alex Tanguay was taken by Colorado two picks later (for bonus points, the Leafs also could've drafted Simon Gagne or Scott Gomez who were taken much later in the first round. Imagine Gomez not only not being around to be a thorn in the Leafs' side during the 2000 and 2001 playoffs, but playing for them!)

2006: Jiri Tlusty taken 13th overall; I'm reaching a bit here, but Giroux (22nd) or Varlamov (23rd) would have been nice.

2011: Stuart Percy at 25th overall, while the Lightning nabbed Vlad Namestnikov two picks later. This was also five picks after Tyler Biggs at 22nd.

Now for more information on 2011, pretending I hadn't made the trade up with Anaheim to draft Tyler Biggs, here's what I would have done:

Rd. 1/Pick 25: Vlad Namestnikov

Rd. 1/Pick 30: Rickard Rakell (Anaheim did good there).

Rd. 2/Pick 39: Brandon Saad

Rd. 3/Pick 86: Josh Leivo (they got one right!)

Rd. 4/Pick 100: Johnny Gaudreau (FOUR picks back? Seriously?!)

Rd. 5/Pick 130: no one sticks out

Rd. 6/Pick 152: no one sticks out

Rd. 6/Pick 173: no one sticks out

Rd. 7/Pick 190: Jyrki Jokkipakka (sorry, Sparks.)

Rd. 7/Pick 203: Ondrej Palat

Seriously; we could've had two of Tampa's better young players and whiffed on it. Imagine a 2011 draft class consisting of Namestnikov, Palat, Gaudreau, and Saad. This is why I drink.