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Mailbag: Auston Matthews, Superstar Ninja Turtle

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All that and more in this edition of the mailbag.

Macy's Welcomes Carmelo Anthony To Herald Square For The Launch Of TMNT X Melo Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

What is your favourite dessert?—SuperMaurice

I’m not a huge dessert guy. My main addiction is salt, which is good because salt is good for your heart. That said, shadow cake never did anyone wrong.

Rank these forwards from least likely to most likely play in another NHL jersey:

Jonathan Toews

Patrick Kane

Patrice Bergeron

Sidney Crosby

Evgeni Malkin

Alex Ovechkin

Steven Stamkos

John Tavares

Jamie Benn

Anze Kopitar

—Goldenhawk99

So let’s tier this thing up, from most likely to least.

Imminent contract expiry: John Tavares. Everyone’s going to get super tired of this chatter if they don’t extend him, but the fact is the Islanders have not successfully exploited having a top 5 C in the NHL, and they haven’t extended him yet. This makes JT moving a very live possibility. I still bet he re-signs, but the number is way closer to 50% that he’s somewhere else for 2018-19 than it is for any other name on this list.

Outside chance: I think the Bruins are probably going to contemplate a rebuild around 2020, and Bergeron’s contract is more affordable than the rest of this group (of course, he also has lower point totals.) Bergeron might still be both tradeable and worth trading around age 35...or up for a new contract after.

Washington gives up: Ovechkin is declining and his contract is still big, but it doesn’t have that much term on it and he would make some sense as a name player in another market (assuming he doesn’t just go back to the KHL.) Ovi also has a modified-NTC instead of an NMC, which theoretically makes him more movable than most of the rest of these players.

Enormous contracts: Jonathan Toews is brutally overpaid for his production at this point; Stamkos (albeit oft-injured), Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn are still putting up numbers, but the mechanics of moving big cap hits with that kind of term are really, brutally difficult. Never say never (Weber for Subban happened!) but this is very unlikely. Of course, they might still sign elsewhere once their deals conclude in their mid-30s.

No reason to move: Kopitar, Crosby, Malkin. Kopitar is slightly more likely to move because his offensive decline, and that of his team, are obvious, but he has a ring and a huge salary, which make ring-chasing and a trade much less likely. Crosby is going to retire a Penguin; Malkin can go back to Russia if he tires of Pittsburgh, but he probably won’t soon. These guys aren’t going to other NHL teams.

Now everyone thank Goldenhawk for getting me to jinx LA into a Kopitar trade tomorrow.

What is your favourite The Land Before Time character?—MrSmithy

Spike. No question. Spike is the best.

Congratulations, you have been chosen to select the Leafs new goal song. The only stipulations being you can’t use any song that has been used in the NHL before. What do you pick and why?—Alspicer

I’m cheating a little bit here, because this song was used in a Nike ad for the 2010 Winter Olympics and it was dope as hell, but that’s not the NHL per se.

This is one of my favourite pump-up songs of all time. I listened to it on the day the Leafs clinched a playoff spot in April and I was so psyched I temporarily approved of the Matt Martin contract.

What player currently in the NHL would you most love to see on the Leafs? Not in a roster building way, or a he’s really good way, because then obviously the answer is Connor McDavid, but who would you like to see on the Leafs so he can be loved by you and the fans the way he should be.—KatyaKnappe

Jacob Trouba. Putting aside that he would coincidentally check a lot of boxes for the Leafs, he seemingly is continually underrated and continually underpaid, while played by a questionable coach with some questionable partners. Plus he tried to force a trade out of Winnipeg, which I can empathize with and respect.

If you had to rank your Top 25 10 Leafs Over 25, what would the ranking be and why?—Achariya

Assuming “over 25” is anyone who has had their 25th birthday:

  1. Nazem Kadri
  2. Jake Gardiner
  3. Frederik Andersen
  4. James van Riemsdyk
  5. Patrick Marleau
  6. Nikita Zaitsev
  7. Tyler Bozak
  8. Zach Hyman
  9. Leo Komarov
  10. Martin Marincin

This is really hard! I’ll be honest, if I really stayed with this, it’s possible I would change this a bunch of times. Nazem Kadri’s high quality and his excellent contract mean I think he’s going to be the biggest contributor to the Leafs in the next few years; I love Jake, but I’m a little worried we won’t be able to retain his services. Frederik Andersen isn’t totally irreplaceable and he was expensive, but he’s been a good starter and ultimately that’s still worth a hell of a lot.

JVR is great, but I’m convinced we only have a year of him left, if that. Patrick Marleau has been lovely but is getting old, and you have to project some pretty serious negative growth. Nikita Zaitsev is our best player at our weakest position (RD), but I have some concerns about him that I’ll air out on the podcast next week.

Bozie’s similar to JVR in that I think he’s going soon, whereas Hyman edges Komarov in the “energetic LW” category thanks to age. Martin Marincin rounds out the list as a useful third-pair defenceman, which puts him ahead of pretty much everyone else who’s left.

The AHL needs a new team and MiniBettman has entrusted the decision to you. Who is the team and where are they based?

Suggestions:

Fresno Fulemins

Reno 911s

Ottawa Senators—Zambulance

All of these are fantastic, but: I made a team once in NHL 17 called the Hamburg Hamburgers. Their jerseys were the colour of brown paper bags and their arena was called McDonalds. I think the branding opportunities here are obvious, and it’s time for the AHL to go to Germany.

Do you ever shred the red?—Mike Brown’s Moustache

I assumed this was a graphic sexual euphemism of some sort, but according to MBM it’s a particular way of preparing tomatoes. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes to begin with, so I haven’t evolved to the more sophisticated ways of making them. Thus, I do not shred the red....wink.

If you had Lou-like power over each player’s fashion choices, what is one change you would make for:

Auston Matthews

Mitch Marner

William Nylander

Jake Gardiner

Morgan Rielly

JVR

?—Brigstew

Auston Matthews: There’s a difference between “can” and “should”, and learning it is an important stage for every young man. Auston Matthews can fill out a double-breasted suit, which is very impressive at his age, but this doesn’t mean he should. It’s 2017, Auston. Modernize.

Mitch Marner: I actually would just keep encouraging Mitch Marner to do the weird stuff he keeps doing. Dressing like a 1920s detective? Go for it, Mitchy.

William Nylander: He has to promise never to wear that damn black garbage bag jacket again.

Jake Gardiner: He and Morgan Rielly have to coordinate their outfits more often and keep doing that weird doubles act thing.

JVR: More black t-shirts. Species advises me he looks good in them, and while I normally think it’s sort of a lazy fashion choice, I actually agree in James’ case. The biceps help.

Have you heard of any good hockey podcasts recently? If so, where could we find one, and who are the (presumably intelligent, handsome, and well-endowed) hosts of said podcast.—Arvind

Arvind is gently reminding me that we have a new podcast ongoing called Back To Excited, in which you can listen to us make noises. Episode One is here, and Episode Two will be up early next week.

So, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles borrowed some elements from Daredevil:

The Hand = The Foot

Splinter = Stick

Casey Jones & The Punisher have some things in common as well.

Based off this I was following the Defenders reveal as ninja turtles and it’s been working out well.

Daredevil = Leonardo, the leader, calm, able to rally the group

Luke Cage = Donatello, the smart one, the thinker, the most adverse to violence

Jessica Jones = Raphael, the angry violent one who deals with the team through sarcasm to avoid dealing with feelings

So, Iron Fist should have been Michelangelo, the goofy comic relief. Not the whiny trust fund baby we got.

How disappointing is Iron Fist, and on a scale of 1-10 how badly did they mess it up. I can’t answer myself because I quit watching after 3 episodes.—elseldo

So, here’s the ugly truth: the only one of those I’ve seen is Jessica Jones, which was great. However, I am totally onside with your theory of character-based team composition and by all accounts Iron Fist was garbage. It’s tough to sell the troubled rich kid thing, and the banner example of it is Batman, so that doesn’t gibe at all with Michelangelo.

In conclusion, Iron Fist should have been scrapped and replaced with Iron Man. Hey, they already use him in every Marvel movie anyway.

Which of the current Maple Leafs would be which Ninja Turtle and why?—Kronzor

Auston is the most obvious Leonardo of all time, and Leo Komarov’s goofy brilliance seems like Michelangelo to me. Connor Carrick has the bookish demeanour and the glasses to pull off Donatello. The tough one is Raphael, since I don’t know who’s especially sarcastic on the Leafs. We’re going with Connor Brown until I figure it out, since at least he matches the red colour scheme.

Hello Mr. Fulemin,

If PPP abruptly ceased to exist, how would it affect productivity on a local, regional, national and international level?

Feel free to use any reasonable definition of productivity.—NotARealOne

Our readers would briefly spike in productivity but then decline as they were forced to consume click-through slideshow listicles on Fanrag Sports to get Leaf news. I assume so, anyway, since I think spending too much time with those things kills your brain cells.

What would be your top PP and PK units for the 2017-2018 Leafs?—I Am Rad Boss

For fun I’m just picking the best single groups I can throw together.

Powerplay: Gardiner (point), Matthews (right wall), Nylander (left wall), Kadri (high slot), JVR (crease and corners.) Basically this unit is stuffed with the maximum number of shooting threats I can manage amongst the forwards; it counts on Gardiner or Nylander to enter the zone, and then to distribute once they’re in the zone. It’s going to count on these guys to share the puck and JVR isn’t the most determined forechecker of all time, but this is an absolutely murderous array of shooters.

Penalty kill: Leo Komarov, Dominic Moore, Gardiner, Ron Hainsey. I’m mostly doing this so that norm will get annoyed and post the “Leafs forwards by 4v5 CA” thing that has Soshnikov doing so well in short minutes, but beyond that this is a fairly conventional set of choices aside from Gardiner, who I want on for his entry-exit proficiency and to prevent things being purely grindy. Hainsey had decent enough PK numbers in recent years, though PK numbers are noisy.

Who’d win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?—I Am Rad Boss

This depends on whether God is a metalhead. I’m not. Sorry :(

Rank the days of the week, in order of how good they are, without factoring in subjective personal schedule factors (e.g. you can’t rank a day higher because you eat pizza on that day or play hockey on that day). Mine goes Saturday, Friday, Sunday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday. I’ve heard arguments for Sunday > Friday and could imagine some other crazy ones.

Obviously if you don’t work Monday-Friday your list would be different but that’s also cool since the same principles could apply based on the days you don’t work.—Shield

I honestly can’t improve on your original list. The only controversy is Sunday vs. Friday because, if you’re on a Mon-Fri schedule, Sunday offers a free day against Friday’s more relaxed/raucous night. Yet from that perspective, Saturday’s glory is partly obtained through stolen value from Sunday. Sunday: the unheralded defence partner of the weekend.

Anyway, that aside, I think people generally feel better on Friday than on Sunday, at least when they leave work, and after that it’s just proximity to the weekend. So your list holds up.

Why can’t I hold all these limes?—Ghost of Bohonos

Because you picked up too many, you ninny!

Why was the Strategic Defense Initiative referred to as Star Wars and not Ronald Ray-gun?—emjaymj

Please enjoy this moment, courtesy of MJ.

What’s my username?—The Constant Gardiner

The Gardiner Expressway, obviously. Or the other way around. ;)

Which Star Trek Captain would you assign to each of these Maple Leafs roles: Team President, Head of Scouting, General Manager, and Head Coach?

Kirk – young and ambitious, bends or violates the rules on occasion, willing to take risks and decisive action as needed, treats those under his command more like friends than as a Captain.

Picard – enjoys classical studies like philosophy, an accomplished mediator, he avoids confrontation unless absolutely necessary, has had a distinguished career, he tries to always uphold the rules and his personal principles in all circumstances, keeps a professional distance from his crew to maintain status as the authority figure.

Sisko – noted for success in combat strategy, when push comes to shove he does whatever it takes to win, extremely loyal to friends and crew but will respond harshly when someone goes too far out of line.

Janeway – an accomplished scientist, quick to learn, prefers friendly and less formal relationships with those under her command, prefers collaboration over the formal chain of command.

I think it goes:

Picard - President

Sisko - GM

Kirk - Head Coach

Janeway - Head Scout

I’m mostly counting on Janeway’s general scientific method to provide key insight into scouting and drafting, which is not something the others specialize in; she also has to liaise with the other folks on this list, so collaboration is good. Picard is up on his cloud nine, while Kirk is winning hearts and minds in the room. Sisko Lou Lamoriellos opposing assets in a trade.

I have a forearm injury to what I believe is either my flexor carpi radialis, or my flexor carpi ulnaris. If I flip my right arm over, the muscle is on the left side of my arm, underneath the large, leftmost muscle, and nuzzled right next to my ulna bone. I originally hurt the muscle throwing a ball way too far without warming up and I never really let it heal. It was mostly gone for a year or so, but I hurt it again recently.

Behaviours which trigger the muscle: wrist shots in hockey, pitching in baseball, bicep curls, taking off my socks, grabbing my own butt with my right arm and pulling.

I’m avoiding physio, but will attend if I have to. What can I do to help the injury heal other than, you know, stop doing all the things that make it hurt?—scrambles

I honestly didn’t even know what the things you were describing in the first sentence were, so all I can advise is to stop grabbing your own butt.

Also see a doctor, man.

How many Stanley Cup rings will Freddy the goat get now he has been cast into the cold by this sites cruel shadowy figureheads?—smalltownbringdown

We’ve yet to successfully jinx anyone into being a Cup champion. Stuart Percy was playing for the Pens’ AHL affiliate this year, so I guess he sort of got close to a Cup. (He’s still only 24. Sigh.)

Gauthier could have a nice time overseas, though. Lot of money in the Swiss league now.

Will the Leafs win the season series against the Habs?—smalltownbringdown

You know what, YES. THE NIGHT WILL END.

If you could take one Leaf player, and ramp up one skill to 100/100 (like editing an EA Sports player), what combo would you choose?? All their other skills would be as in real life.

Kadri + god-level faceoffs? Gauthier + skating? JVR + backchecking?

Which would get you the best player…. and which would help the Leafs most as the roster now stands?—ZoneEntry

If you can put Auston Matthews’ shot suppression up to maximum, you suddenly have a guy who will lead the league in scoring chances at one end and smother the opposition at the other end. This would make him some kind of Ovechkin/Bergeron hybrid, which would make him the best player on earth.

As for what would help the Leafs most: I think if you could ratchet up Morgan Rielly’s defence to best-of-the-best levels, you get a Norris-calibre defender who stabilizes your top pairing and is under contract for most of his 20s at $5M per. Put that behind the Leafs’ super-power offence and I think we’ll be calling the engraver.

There’s an argument for just buffing up Frederik Andersen in some way, but it’s hard to know what counts as a discrete skill and what difference it would make. If giving Freddie hyperkinetic reflexes enables him to put up .950, then shit, do that instead.

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

And, as a follow-up, how would you pitch a reboot of either that show or the less impressive follow-up show that chased her through time?

(a video link to the Rock-A-Pella sung theme song WILL be mandatory)—Slick Will

Has anyone tried looking in San Diego? Seems obvious imo.

I am honestly shocked no one has attempted a gritty reboot of Carmen Sandiego, where it’s just called “Carmen” and involves her being hunted across the globe by shadowy corporations and law enforcement agencies alike. She’ll be sort of antiheroic and will incongruously have an affair with the lead investigator tracking her, because that’s the sort of thing that TV shows do. Also there definitely has to be a dramatic line-reading every episode where either Carmen or Lead Investigator Chiseled McStubble wonders where in the world she is.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!