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Mailbag: William Nylander and Mystery Socks

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All that and more in this edition of the mailbag.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2020 Blogger’s Expansion Draft, you only get to protect one of @arvi or @KPapetti...who are you exposing to Seattle?—@regressIan

How could you do this to me, Ian? Did you see Sophie’s Choice? Look what happened to Meryl Streep when she had to pick a child!

Anyway, Arvind puts up with me on the podcast, and if we lose him, it’ll just be me talking into a microphone by myself for 90 minutes. No one wants that. And yet in letting Kevin go to Seattle I fear I am becoming Blog Dale Tallon. You’re a monster, Ian.

How can I hold and love all these Marlies when I have such small arms? It’s what we’re all wondering.—@EmilyJoMichele

It’s not the length of our arms, but the size of our hearts, and our hearts are filled with infinite possibility. Alternatively, we get Marincin to hold some of them for us, he’s huge.

If you could successfully pull off a coup and take over as supreme leader of a country, what country would you choose? Would you pick a smaller country you could rule under-the-radar? Or go big with a superpower and all the ups and downs that go with it?—@stovemin

My goal in running a country would essentially be to relax. I would like an open bar next to a pool, and so I need a small, wealthy country that essentially runs itself. Therefore I shall become Emperor of Luxembourg. Kneel before me, or just chill out on a pool chair, whatever.

Bonus: What would your first act be as supreme ruler of your new homeland?—@stovemin

First act will be to declare that everyone should more or less keep doing what they’re doing. Second act is to order a mojito.

Why are you such a nice boy who will answer all questions given to you, unlike other, fancier bloggers?—@Elseldo

Prestige bloggers like James Mirtle have grown soft with their power and glory. Me, I’m down here in the trenches, answering questions about Star Trek.

Fill in the blanks: the Leafs will start 2018-19 with _______ as their 3C, ________ as their 4C, __________, __________, and ____________ on the right side of their blueline, and ___________ as their backup goalie.—@50_MissionCap

I’m going to give really boring answers here, because while I’m almost certainly going to be wrong on one or two of them, I think the odds are this is the most correct on aggregate, because I don’t think the Leafs are that likely to make many moves. So: William Nylander and Miro Aaltonen shore up the centre spots. Ron Hainsey, Nikita Zaitsev, and Travis Dermott take the right side. Calvin Pickard is the backup.

Do u like me—@DylanFremlin

Like like you like you? I mean I like you but I don’t know if I’m ready for heavy petting at the mall cinema yet.

Johnsson 6 years × $2M. Who says no?—@TT_o_T

I actually don’t mind this idea, and yet I think both sides say no. Johnsson probably believes in his capacity to earn a raise more than that, and the Leafs are eating more term risk than teams almost ever do. I know this deal is the Calle Jarnkrok special, but it stands out so much in our minds because almost no one else has signed one. Katya looked at this already but I think the Leafs sign him for two years.

How much wood could a Marner chuck if a Marner could chuck wood?—@HardevLad

He’d chuck as much wood in the mothafuckin’ hood if a Marner could chuck wood.

Who would win in a three-legged race between Rielly/Gardiner and Marner/Nylander?—@Totally_Offside

I feel like Rielly and Gardiner have been involved in more situations where they had to coordinate their way through dumb activities so I’ll say them. Bonus: whoever controls the rightmost leg becomes our new 1RD after.

When can we expect the leafs to start doing stuff and what kind of stuff should we expect them to do?—@cherrypicker68

At the draft, and for the sake of wild speculation:

a) I think they’ll trade a goalie, though I could see them waiting until mid-camp; depends on the market for McE/Pickard/Sparks

b) The Leafs will make some sort of pick trade, I expect, and yet there’s so much chatter about everyone moving down that I wonder if it’s going to reach some critical mass and actually incentivize moving up a little. I think the Leafs could trade down with, say, the Rangers if someone desirable is there at 25.

c) I expect them to get a defenceman but not a big name

d) They’re going to pursue John Tavares if they can

If you had to guess, what do you think Nikolai Borschevsky’s favourite flavour of ice cream is? He is a hard one to read, that Nik.—@CplMatthews

F#@k, Marry, Kill: Kirk (original), Picard, Sisko.—@JesmondJester

The conspiracy to make me learn about Star Trek continues.

F-Sisko

M-Picard

K-Kirk

Does this reflect some of my personal feelings towards William Shatner being kind of a dink? Perhaps. Conversely, I like Patrick Stewart and I feel we could build a nice life together. I know nothing about Sisko but he seems like a handsome fellow, so what the hell.

We all know about Hyman and his children’s books. What kind of books do you think other current Leafs would write?—@BriGrey

The Man Who Had Everything by William Nylander

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Although I Can See Why You Would Think That by Jake Gardiner

BOOM BOOM BAM by Roman Polak

Discourses on the Nature of Dialectical Social Development By Connor Carrick

A Comprehensive Guide to the Peter Principle by Tyler Bozak

Yay!!! (Sponsored by Bulova Watches) by Mitch Marner

Return of the King by Auston Matthews

(Arvind came up with the Bozak one.)

Do you think Dubas is going to replace JVR with a player who plays a similar net front style, or just go for BPA regardless of playstyle? Will that be a hole in our PP? If so - who’s the best internal option to fill that role?—@JoeyDrury

The thing about James van Riemsdyk is that his combination of size and hands is really, really rare. If you look at the past two seasons and sort by 5v4 primary points per 60 minutes, JVR is eighth (behind Stamkos, Kucherov, Hall, Wheeler, Marner, Kadri, and Nylander.) For a loooong ways down the list after that, it’s a lot of stars, guys who played with stars, and guys who are expensive. And many of the remaining ones still don’t do what JVR does. I don’t think any direct replacement is coming.

I think we’re going to miss him, though the Leafs still have a lot of talented PP players. I think the low guy on the powerplay might move away from JVR’s stand-and-deliver style to one a little more mobile in the low slot. If so, you might get some surprising benefit out of Andreas Johnsson, who is zippy and opportunistic and plays bigger than his size, but he’s not going to win shoving matches against giant defenders. If we’re counting on just slotting another guy who can stand there and screen, well, we don’t have anyone who’s that well-suited.

Why are people talking about not keeping Sparks? As good as McElhinney has been, if you gotta move one of them cuz Sparks won’t clear waivers then move the freakin’ 36 year old!—@4xchelon

I get you, and probably agree with you. I don’t trust that McE will sustain this forever, he got really, really good at high danger save percentage over the past couple of years and that feels unlikely to last. But: if you’re skeptical about AHL stats, but some other team isn’t, it’s possible Garret Sparks gets you something back in a trade and McElhinney basically doesn’t. If that’s the case, maybe you look at a Sparks trade, and hang onto McE or Calvin Pickard (who has actually done pretty well in the NHL previously).

If you took every Leafs GM in history from their 1st day in office and brought them forward in time to today, who would be the most surprised by their lasting legacy?—@tronnoadam

This is an interesting question, and I’m afraid it’s going to have something of a depressing answer. I doubt he’d admit it fully, but I think Brian Burke would be really shocked by the fact that his reign as GM was essentially a total failure. He missed the playoffs five times (every year he was in charge) and while he made a few good trades, the team was arguably not as well off when he left as it would have been if the Leafs had simply sat on their hands and made reasonable draft picks. He did put some complementary pieces in place that we’re now happy to have, but I doubt Burke is satisfied that his legacy was to prepare someone to pull the team from the ashes four years later.

Is it October yet?—@RaskForRaycroft

The real October is inside you all year long. It’s like Christmas.

Am slightly disappointed to not have seen much of Jeremy Bracco these playoffs.... what can we expect for him next season and what do you think of his prospects within the organization?—@HoserHut1

He’s going to play a more prominent role on the Marlies and should hopefully be at or near the top of the team in points. I wouldn’t worry too much about him being squeezed out of the lineup right now; he just turned 21 and the Marlies are an obscenely stacked AHL team. All years are big development years for a guy his age, but a big step next season would position him to scrap seriously for an NHL job in 2019-20.

I think his chances are decent to do that. He’s a talented kid, and while I’ve been low on him in the past, he has at least as much offensive potential as any Marlies forward who hasn’t appeared in an NHL game yet.

Johnson, Kapanen, Dermott: With nearly nothing to base this on, who will have the best NHL career?—@NiddamDent

There’s an excellent chance I look silly doing this, but hey, that’s what I’m here to do. Dermott, Kapanen, and then Johnsson, but this pains me a lot; I really like Johnsson’s skill. Age is playing a big role there, the fact that Dermott is earning an NHL job this early is really impressive (on defence, no less), while Johnsson is near his supposed peak.

Seeing the Tatar return, and our playoff results, wearing your very best hindsight goggles..... do you wish the Leafs had traded JVR?—@NiddamDent

With hindsight it’s hard not to, right? But I don’t think it was a realistic move to make. You don’t sell out talent from a 100+ point team. And if you put me in a similar situation next year with, say, Jake Gardiner, I won’t make the trade then either. So I guess I haven’t really changed :P

I need help deciding who to vote for. Which Ontario party leader would be the best at hockey, and why?—@NiddamDent

Say what you will about her, Kathleen Wynne has impressive stamina. The woman’s 65 and still a regular runner. Doug Ford looks like a grown-up Augustus Gloop, so I’m putting him third behind Horwath.

Should the moon be destroyed, or should we add a second moon?—Species1967

The moon has already been destroyed. Why do you think they needed to fake the moon landing on a soundstage in California? The Allies exploded it in 1944 so Hitler couldn’t build a moon base.

If you had to change your name to an uber-manly type name (i.e. Max Power, Trent Steel), what would it be?—LatinHeat

Honestly the best uber-man name is actually one for a guy who was briefly a Marlie and is currently an Orlando Solar Bear: Denver Manderson. That name sounds like it could build me a house by words alone.

Pat Sajak, Sting and Shaggy were a weird combination prior to the finals game 3 (this was the first game I watched since the Leafs were eliminated and it made me not want to watch any more). If it were the Leafs in the finals, who would you have in their pre-game in order to 1 – not look like they are trying to imitate vgk and 2 – be interesting and not cheesy.—Mike Brown’s Moustache

Every event in Toronto is legally obligated to feature Drake, so I guess him. Assuming I can’t have my second guest be Pusha T at a family event, I want the weirdest possible options. I like what the Caps did with theirs so let’s have like, Alex Trebek and DJ Khaled or something. “What is ANOTHER ONE!”

After the show Drake can have a chat with Khaled about the benefits of not being Jamie Benn.

You’re the Leafs GM and manage to sign Tavares to 10 mil/7 years. What are the complimenting moves you make after that in the offseason to replace JVR/Bozak/Komarov and shore up the defense?

Follow-up: What then do you sign Mitch Matthews and Auston Marner to in the following off-season, assuming they continue their level of play?—LatinHeat

If I sign Tavares, I basically have to settle for a budget RHD upgrade, which would probably be someone like Mark Pysyk or maybe Radko Gudas. That’s all you’re getting, and hopefully you can make the trade for relatively cheap, although it’s not nothing for an everyday NHLer. I don’t think you do much with the forwards other than promote guys around John Tavares. Tavares is your all-in move.

As for the follow-up: I sign our reverse-named stars to the least I can get away with. Really, I try to sign them in summer 2018 along with Tavares to lock up the core ASAP. Realistically, though, I won’t be surprised if Matthews and Marner pull $11M and $7M AAV respectively.

How many current NHLers are likely to end up in the HHOF (say, 75% shot or higher).—Arvind

Sidney Crosby; Evgeni Malkin; Alex Ovechkin; Nik Backstrom; Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, John Tavares, Connor McDavid. That’s sixteen.

There are a lot of guys I could see being there—everyone from Tyler Seguin to Matthews and Laine, but 75% is a high bar, so the list favours guys with rings and trophies and an established record. (Also, I didn’t include Marian Hossa because he’s not really a current NHLer, but he should get in and I wanted to add that.)

While getting dressed in the morning, you open your sock drawer, but your socks are not there. There are still socks, many of them in fact, but they are all different, funky colours and designs. You know these are not your socks, but you don’t know where they came from. You ask your significant other and they stare at you genuinely confused. ”These are your socks,” they say, “you weirdo, just put some on and lets go, you’re going to be late for work.” You believe they are being genuine and not just screwing with you, and they are correct. You have less than 10 minutes to finish dressing and head out the door. do you put on a pair of the mystery socks or do you go sockless until you can unravel this mystery?—JaredFromLondon

Sockless. I am absolutely not participating in whatever voodoo psychological thriller shit is going down at the start of this film. Shit, I’ll probably call in sick to figure the mystery out. My fiancee is 100% the obvious suspect here, if she’s not behind it then I’m in clear and present danger.

As you’ve probably seen on FTB and Twitter, there is a Toronto sports team with what is considered to be a can’t-miss, top 3 prospect in the minors. The season appears to be lost due to a variety of reasons (injuries, underperformance, strength of divisional rivals) but that hasn’t stifled the discussion. The argument boils down to those who think he is not being called up to manipulate how long he is under team control (if they wait until next April, they gain another year of service time) versus the team line that he still has much to learn in the minor leagues (defence, intangibles, that sort of crap). My question to you is, if the Maple Leafs had done that sort of thing with a previous young prospect that spent time with the Marlies (say a Nylander, or a Rielly) for the same purpose of extending control or artificially depressing salary, would you applaud them for taking full advantage of the rules, or excoriate them for passing up an opportunity for making the Leafs better, albeit in a season where they were not a contender?—Goldenhawk99

Make the prospect earn it with performance; contract status decides in an edge case. By and large, unless the prospect is forcing my hand, my attitude would be “we’ll give you your nine games at the end of the year if you earn them.” I don’t think you totally close the door, and you should be fair if a prospect is really well above his level to the point he no longer has much to learn there. But if he’s still developing his defence or whatever that’s fine. Arrive and be ready to play right away, as Babcock says.

Do you expect Boston and Tampa next year to be as good as they were this year?

Which one is most likely to take a step back? In general what is your prediction for the Atlantic division if every team stays 100% healthy.—Klingburger

They’ll both be close to as good as previously, but their top lines were each supernaturally hot for stretches this year, and that probably will cool a bit. They’re both going to be playoff seeds, I expect, but I think Boston is going to have a bit more of a decline based on age—they have some good young players, but four of their top forwards (Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci, Backes) are in their 30s and Zdeno Chara is 9000 years old.

As for the Atlantic, at this early date:

  1. Tampa Bay
  2. Toronto
  3. Boston
  4. Florida
  5. Montreal
  6. Buffalo
  7. Detroit
  8. Ottawa

The ever expanding nature of the Star Wars universe, yay or nay?—pumpedtires

It’s too much, probably, but I’m way, way more weary of the Marvel Universe. The Marvel Universe seriously needed to actually kill off half of its cast, not this wimpy dead-but-just-kidding shit they’re in the process of doing with Infinity War. It’s way too many films and none of them are as good as anyone says. Thor: Ragnarok was carried by one really good music choice and everyone acted like it was God’s gift to cinema. BLEH.

That said: I think the main line Star Wars films have been mediocre (The Force Awakens) to actually bad (The Last Jedi), but I actually enjoyed both Rogue One and Solo. Maybe the key to making interesting Star Wars movies now is just to do ideas that are a little off to the side of the main plot or whatever. Give me a weird Star Wars Cowboy Bebop-style thing somewhere way removed from the main plot of the series and I’ll be over the moon.

Why is hope?—Ghost of Bohonos

Hope is the only reason we get through the rest of Pandora’s Box, they say.

What is the best wrapped food?

Burrito or Shawarma?—The Constant Gardiner

Burrito. You can’t really go wrong either way but damn, a good burrito is like touching the face of Quetzacoatl.

What’s worse: taking a shower with the shower head being way too low (like Will Ferrell in Elf), or taking a shower with shower head at a good height but the water pressure is extremely low (like a 1 or 2 out of 10)?—Fishingfreak99

This is a tough one but damn, low water pressure sucks. I think I’d have to settle for the low shower head and just adapt or twist it around or whatever.

Which player(s), past or present, do you have a soft spot for? Ones who are not traditionally “fan favourites”.—I Know Right

I mean there’s no way I can’t answer Nikolai Kulemin, right? Come to think of it, a lot of my favourites have been Russian—Sergei Berezin, Dimitri Yushkevich, Alex Mogilny. But Kulie is king.

My teenage daughter needs periodic reinforcement of her crush on teen-heartthrob William Nylander so she will watch Leafs games with me. What do you think is his 5 most attractive features? Please provide video/photo evidence of your rationale.—Mapleson

5. His playmaking

4. His enthusiasm

3. His shot

2. I don’t know exactly what to call this but here it is

  1. His team

Y tho?—Not A Real One

y not

Thanks to everyone who contributed!