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Mailbag: Jeremy Bracco and God

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All that and more in this edition of the mailbag.

2015 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Why?—JaredFromLondon

Because.

We are all fans of this team. The players genuinely seem like fans of the team, Babs seems to be a huge fan of MLSE and the way they are now doing things, as is Shanny (from the Blueprint videos). Do you think that the new found image and culture of the Leafs these past 2 years or so affects the way that young up and coming executives like Dubas feels about possibly leaving?—Mike Brown’s Moustache

Yes and no. (I was trained as a lawyer. Sorry.)

I think it probably makes executives like Dubas less inclined to make lateral moves. There isn’t likely to be a better situation waiting at the AGM level for someone like Dubas; the Leafs are high profile, poised for success, and Dubas is already enjoying the reputational advantages that come from a rebuild currently perceived as succeeding. In other words, he’s getting job offers to be GM.

Which is the other side of the coin. Most executives are ambitious. I assume Kyle wants to eventually run a team. If he’s blocked out of the top job and/or if he’s not getting along with the people above him, he’s going to have incentives to leave. My betting would be that if he’s not poised to become the GM one day, Kyle will eventually want to take that job wherever he can get it in this league.

(This is putting aside financial compensation, which I know nothing about. The Leafs can obviously afford to pay their executives as much or more than anybody; whether they’re doing so and how big the difference is, I don’t know.)

If Nashville ends up winning the Cup, will it be considered just an incredible lucky streak, or justly deserved? Will we start hearing about a "Nashville model" of franchise building the way Chicago and Pittsburgh have been lauded over the last few years?—Goldenhawk99

I think you need multiple Cups, or at least years of sustained contention, before you get talked about as having a “model.” So maybe in a couple years. However, people always try to draw inferences from the winner, and there are a bunch of varying merit you could take from the Preds.

  1. Just get in, and you have a shot. This a lot more true if you’re a good team that’s underachieved than a team who is genuinely an eighth seed in talent, but some GM is going to reference Nashville and Ottawa next trade deadline anyway.
  2. Build from the net out. Yeah, just get four top-pair defencemen. Good luck with that.
  3. Be bold in chasing talent. I’m hoping this is the one. One team is about to win with outstanding forwards and limited defencemen (Pittsburgh) or the other way around (Nashville.) There’s no one right answer other than make moves to improve your team even if they’re aggressive. Subban for Weber is a good precedent, on the Predators’ end.

Why u no punctuation?—JerseyLeaf

dun wanna

Which incoming Marlies player do you think will have the best first, full season on the team (including late season arrivals like Grundstom who have barely played)?—TrackSuitAndTie

You’ve given me a pretty good answer in Grundstrom. But I’ll say Adam Brooks. The Marlies are wafer-thin at centre and Brooks has been utterly destroying the WHL for two years now. He’s way too old for that league, but I think he’s going to get every opportunity to succeed with the Marlies and he’s going to take advantage.

How are you?—SuperMaurice

Maurice always adds the personal touch. I am well, thank you.

In light of all the Avs/Dubas stuff:

Have people overvalued Dubas? Perhaps Shanny included? Retaining salary on Kessel and trading the Konecny pick are both on his resume. What evidence do we have that in a year when Lou’s contract is up we actually want him at the helm?—The Bag

You’re correct that we don’t really know how much of a role he had in what decision-making (although that also applies to the two moves you mention.) As per Mirtle, he’s been “marginalized”, so perhaps you can say he had less to do with moves in the past year—what ones there were.

Beyond that, we have his earlier success with the Soo Greyhounds (he brought them from a bottom-feeder to a division winner) and his generally impressive work running the Marlies. I think there’s stuff there to feel good about beyond Dubas’ bent for analytics and his boyish good looks. But to a large extent, what people like about Dubas is that he’s a young, fresh face with progressive bona fides, and people tired of the old guard project a lot onto him because of that.

What is your prediction on what the leafs probable starting line up may be including the outcome of the expansion draft (not what you would like to see but what Lou and co. will likely do). Given, the number of moving parts in this question, feel free to use place holders and qualifiers. For example, the Leafs will acquire a 2D. And that player will be through a trade most likely, or perhaps Franson on a short deal while a big signing of Shattenkirk or returning Polak are possible but unlikely.—jeffgm

So, here’s a short list of my guesses as to what the Leafs will do (not what I want them to do):

  1. I predict the Leafs will lose Josh Leivo in the expansion draft.
  2. I think the Leafs will attempt to re-sign Brian Boyle.
  3. In the event they fail to do that, they’ll address the 4C role with some kind of acquisition. Marcus Kruger is my preferred option in a trade; free agent options are thin, but there are players of the grinding 4C class like Boyd Gordon, John Mitchell, or Jay McClement. I’m guessing the Leafs don’t go into the year with Gauthier or Smith as their 4C.
  4. I expect the Leafs will make a trade for a top-four defenceman. Depending on who they’re trading with, they might deal JVR to do this (Anaheim might like him) or they might not (he would have little use to Vancouver.) My guess is the Leafs pursue either Chris Tanev* or Josh Manson.
  5. I think the Leafs will re-sign Curtis McElhinney.

*I am assuming Jim Benning’s “we’re not shopping Tanev” talk is salesmanship and not a hard expression of strategy, but who knows.

So, I’m predicting the Leafs’ opening night roster will probably not look all that different except for that new defenceman. Slot Chris Tanev in next to Morgan Rielly, and there you have it. I recognize this isn’t a fun answer, and if nothing else, maybe I’ve jinxed the Leafs into action.

Swedes, how great are they?—SmallTownBringDown

Love ‘em. Sweden has been very good to the Leafs. Borje, Mats, and now Willie? Yes indeed. (By the way, if either of Borgman or Rosen is more than third-pairing ever, I’ll be over the moon.)

Where is may boi Bracco going to be next season?—SmallTownBringDown

The Marlies, as he should be. The Leafs could throw him into a trade, but I think they probably won’t.

I believe this next month will be a time of important decisions for the Leafs, and for other teams. How likely is it that GMs are paralyzed by too many choices, unknowable risks, and incalculable rewards? David Poile is being heralded as a GM who takes risks. Is he really the anomaly or are we overselling to ourselves the timidity of GMs?

In other words: tell me there will be trades, lie to me if you have to.—KatyaKnappe

We have two teams in the finals that were catapulted to the top table by making big trades for star players, we have some teams with obvious surpluses at one position or other, and we already have a minimum of 30 players changing because of the expansion draft. Action is in the air! Parity is triumphant! Your team is only one move away!

But yeah like 34 of the GMs are going to chicken out because they’re risk-averse cowards in a failure-prone job. :(

Which of your previous mailbags has been your favourite mailbag?—KadChilger

They’re all fun. I did one where I got to evaluate giveaways and takeaways through the power of interpretative dance, so that one is my favourite question I’ve ever had. But Species always asks something challenging about Star Trek (which I do not watch) and brigs sometimes asks me absurd Pokemon stuff, which I enjoy.

How positively do scouts and analytics look upon Jeremy Bracco being Mitch Marner’s long-lost brother raised in America (which explains why he isn’t as good, right Don? [THAT’SRIGHTCANADIASRIDINTHEBUSANDMITCHYMARNSISTHEREALDEALLET’SGO!] Thanks, Don)?—brigstew

Well, you can see the stylistic similarity; they’re both smallish, offensively talented playmaking RWs with a fair bit of bravado who have had impressive production in junior. I totally get the association.

Here is where I’m a buzzkill. Mitch Marner (who is two months younger than Bracco, remember) had better point production at 17 than Bracco just had at 19/20, and it wasn’t especially close—83 points in 57 GP for Bracco this year, 126 in 63 for Marner in 2014-15. This is probably hammering the point into the ground, but: the debate with Marner is now whether he can be a top-20 winger in the NHL. It is still far from guaranteed Bracco is an NHL player.

Bracco’s talent and speed are obvious at the junior level, and he’s a very neat prospect, but I think we have to recognize having a nice OHL season at Bracco’s age is no guarantee of future success. Last year, PPP regular M. Piedlourde looked at Bracco, and suggested Jeremy Morin as a comparable; the comparison seems especially apt now, since in his last junior season Morin put up 83 points in 58 games—almost exactly matching Bracco’s total this year. Morin is bigger than Bracco, and was younger than Bracco at the time...and has stagnated in the AHL. He’s 26 and doesn’t appear like he’s ever going to hit 100 NHL games.

This doesn’t at all mean Bracco is doomed; he’s a cool prospect. It’s just a wide-open question right now what he’ll be, and I would very much reserve judgment on him until he plays a pro season. So in short: Bracco is Mitch Marner’s long-lost third cousin from somewhere far away. Let’s see him earn his spot on the family tree.

Are you more of a consequentialist or a deontologist? Please explain your choice.—allbummereverything

We are a very unique hockey site.

Consequentialist. With the following hedges:

a) Moral responsibility for consequences has to be based on the foreseeability of those consequences

b) I attach very limited positive moral duties to individuals (essentially, complete your undertaken obligations and do no harm otherwise)

Unless you’re either religious (I’m not) or a very determined moral rationalist (nope) I don’t think you can really have a moral stance that doesn’t account for consequences, because there’s no other moral purpose to serve aside from consequence, and because I don’t think the world is amenable to rules you never break. There are always exceptions that you need the moral faculty to accommodate, and any deontological system will lead to odd or inadequate results in individual cases (like Kant’s.)

So yeah. Just keep your eyes open and try not to hurt people.

FMK – Nylander, Marner, Matthews. Whatcha got?—allbummereverything

I answered this once before, and it pained me too deeply to do it again. All of our big three are beautiful and lovable.

Do you want to see Nylander at C next year OR would you prefer to see him paired with Matthews?—allbummereverything

Depends on Tyler Bozak. If Bozak is here then the only natural spot for Nylander is with Matthews, and to be honest, I think the two of them could light the NHL on fire next season. If you can get a decent return for trading Bozak now, do it; if not, Willie can be 1RW another year.

In the vast majority of depictions, such as art (Sistine Chapel), TV (Simpsons), Movies (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Bruce Almighty, etc.), and such, God is depicted as a generally older man with whitish hair and a beard. Whether you believe or not, why does everybody (including religious leaders) assign God – this infallibly omnipotent higher being – a sex/gender at all? Is it not reasonable to assume that if God exists, it would be in a form that transcends any sort of human form/standards?—ExitSteveLeft

People tend to do this because most monotheistic religions derive from patriarchal societies, and if you want to make a being powerful in those societies, you make him a dude. As people pointed out in the thread, Christianity, Judaism and Islam* all use male pronouns for God, which is obviously self-reinforcing even if God is intended to be beyond gender.

As for the gender of an omnipotent being that exists outside of space and time, yeah, there’s no need reason it ought to have any gender at all. If you want to believe in a God that intervenes in the world and made humanity in its own image, though, you might well assume it had human traits, including possibly sex or gender. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

*A Muslim reader has advised that the Qu'ran does not regularly use male pronouns in the original Arabic, and that Allah is intended to be beyond gender. So this problem is probably more specific to the West.

How do I get legs like William Nylander?—PassItToBerg

Protein and leg lifts. GET SERIOUS, KID.

If his draft were to be done all over again, where would you take Willy Nylander?—emjay

Third.

  1. Aaron Ekblad
  2. Leon Draisaitl
  3. William Nylander

I may be making a bit of a homer pick putting Nylander ahead of David Pastrnak, but Nylander has a better points per game and Pastrnak has played with two of the best forwards in the league. You could argue for Nikolaj Ehlers, too, but that’s about it. Brayden Point, Brandon Montour, Robbie Fabbri, and Dylan Larkin are all very cool, but I wouldn’t seriously consider any of them ahead of Nylander.

(Aside: if Ekblad has another down year next year, then...this answer may keep evolving.)

Okay, so: should I be scared about the FO?—Ghost of Bohonos

As of this instant, no, you should not.

I don’t think this front office has yet made a significant, definitive mistake. They’ve made decisions I disagreed with (Matt Martin’s deal) and ones I worry about (Nikita Zaitsev’s contract), but nothing they’ve done has really merited alarm bells and panic. Put that up against the things they’ve done correctly and I think we’re still in the black. If it’s Dubas who worries you, the Leafs are clearly trying to hang onto him, which suggests they think he’s worth something.

Having said that, the next step (to contention) is very high in degree of difficulty, and it’s possible this offseason will make or mar that step considerably. Things are about to get real.

Would you rather play…

A game featuring Mario exploring Hyrule?

or

A game featuring Link exploring the Mushroom Kingdom?—canuck89

Mario in Hyrule. I think if you give Mario all his many suits, a la Super Mario Bros. 3, and such you could really have some fun letting him run around doing crazy shit. I want Mario to do triple jumps and whip fireballs at people, and occasionally to turn into a frog.

Which player on the 2016-17 Maple Leafs roster would you assign these Star Trek foods as their favourite:

Klingon Gagh – serpent worms, eaten while they are still alive

Romulan Ale – a very highly potent translucent blue alcoholic beverage

Bajoran Jumja Stick – looks like a giant lollipop; it’s very sweet, though contains some nutritional value, particularly high quantities of Vitamin C

Bulerian Canapé – Considered a rare delicacy; it is a pate spread on toasted bread or crackers. It is noted to be "very fattening".

‘Owon’ eggs – Large purple eggs with a light yellow yolk. Most humans appear to find their taste repulsive. Klingons very much enjoy them.

Klingon Blood Wine – Blood and sugar fermented in barrels into a sweet wine, served warm. Yes. It’s real blood made into wine.—Species 1967

Species’ Star Trek questions are always a challenge. Here we go:

Klingon Gagh—Matthews. Matthews will calmly devour living worms with the same bored expression he wears when devouring the hopes of his opponents.

Romulan Ale—I intuitively sense Roman Polak is a tank when it comes to booze, and that he could easily drink stuff that would floor most ordinary men.

Bajoran Jumja Stick—Jake Gardiner. Looks light and sugary, but has the goods when you get down to it.

Bulerian Canape—Marner. He’s got to put on some weight somehow.

Owon Eggs—Martin Marincin is a gigantic defender who appears to defy the normal in most respects. I could see him having a really weird diet that gives him his strange Corsi powers.

Klingon Blood Wine—You know Matt Martin drinks the blood of his foes. It’s what they pay him for.

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Thanks to everyone who contributed!