This is a mailbag article, in which I will answer questions.
How many ppl have you spoken to in your life?— Totally Offseason (@Totally_Offside) April 30, 2019
Are we counting times when I spoke for an audience? I did theatre for a bit, and if you count our audiences (remembers the size of crowds at college theatre shows) actually it doesn’t matter.
In direct conversation I’m going to guess, totally at random, that I have spoken to roughly 5000 people. In addition to the ~100 people who have been genuinely significant in my life, I probably spoke to virtually every classmate I had through Grade 12, every coworker at each of my jobs, people at social gatherings, service personnel every time I went to a restaurant or through a checkout line, and that girl I met at a law school party who I totally should have asked out. Using the magic of pretend numbers, that adds up to 5000.
Two questions:— Adam (@ElSeldo) April 30, 2019
Is Gordeev really forever?
Why am I banned from the podcast?
Gordeev is unfortunately temporary and transient right now. I don’t think the Leafs will offer him an ELC, although it’s not totally out of the question. But sometimes raw tools just stay raw, and I don’t think there’s been enough development there.
You’re banned because you have to pay to play. Hand us some money and we’ll talk.
You're put in charge of Marleau's offseason routine. What do you do?— Soap De Spencer (@TT_o_T) April 30, 2019
(No breaking his knees, he's playing 82 games next year.)
The truth is I think I’d just tell him to do whatever he thinks is best. He’s done a great job keeping himself in shape, and I don’t doubt he’s come close to maximizing his own abilities. He’s just old. Time and chance passeth to us all.
Who are the captains next year if you are running the team and why?—Leafer1984
Morgan Rielly is captain, John Tavares and Auston Matthews are alternates. I don’t expect this to happen, but Rielly is a leader on and off the ice and would handle the media aspects of the Toronto captaincy as well as it can be done. Tavares is a leader in his own right and sets a good example for the franchise. Auston Matthews gets a letter purely based on his status as a franchise player, and possibly it sets him up to inherit the captaincy whenever Rielly vacates it.
Organizational goalie depth: how does that work???— Dan (@265Kilometres) April 30, 2019
Or, to be more pointed, should the Leafs nab an established NHL backup (think Halak in Boston) or maintain the course with internally developed players/cost-efficient vets?
The latter. I don’t think the Leafs have the cap space to pay for any kind of established backup because they need the position to cost the bare minimum. I wouldn’t be surprised if they either extended Michael Hutchinson or someone of comparable cap hit to contend for the backup job, but I would expect the goalie to have a six-figure salary.
Can your bank prequalify you for a mortgage in 60 seconds? I bet it can't. (Ive prequalified for three mortgages already today)— Agony to Ecstasy (@miketwo) April 30, 2019
For Toronto real estate I’m pretty sure I would have to have an annual income of $Texas to afford a down payment, so the prequalification process would hit a snag on issues like “having enough money.”
What's your favourite leaf memory involving Phil Kessel?— Agony to Ecstasy (@miketwo) April 30, 2019
This is cheating a little bit but one of the site’s finest hours came right after he left.
Could you maybe explain to some people why Zach Hyman is more important to the Leafs and his line than people think? Because i'm getting tired of doing it myself— POTION SELLER (@DJJbuchanan) April 30, 2019
You know it!
The thing about replacing Zach Hyman is that it’s totally fine if you can improve on him. We would all enjoy it if Gabriel Landeskog were available to play LW with John Tavares and Mitch Marner. But he isn’t. Hyman is here and he makes $2.25M per.
So accounting for that? Every line with Hyman on it does well. Hyman himself was the 101st forward in the NHL in P/60 this year at 5v5, which means “above-average second-liner in production.” Yes, he played with great players, both of whom had career years, but isn’t that an argument that the line is working? And when we try to isolate his influence. well, take a look at this chart from the good folks at Evolving Hockey:
That’s really good! Now, if you would like to try Andreas Johnsson in that spot, for example, you can. But the Leafs aren’t strong enough at LW that Zach Hyman should be anywhere but the top six. He is a useful, not-very-expensive complementary piece. We should be glad to have him.
Is Connor Brown the most extreme example of context determining results in recent NHL history? (Let’s use the cap era as the bookend for recent history)— Craig Reid (@SprucedaleCraig) May 1, 2019
I think that award still has to go to Jonathan Cheechoo. He won the Rocket friggin’ Richard in 2006 and he was out of the league four years later, before he turned 30. Joe Thornton is a God.
Who is your favourite Leafs twitter follow?— Christopher Brown (@CBrownTO) April 30, 2019
There are lots of great Leaf Twitter people, it’s hard to pick one. I will own some bias here and nominate my podcast cohost @arvi, who is wise beyond his youth.
Isn’t it time to move on from time travel tales?— Jason Mahoney (@lujohe) April 30, 2019
All time travel plots are inherently silly (and please no one talk to me about that engineering nerd one that got made a decade ago.) The only question is whether you can make them fun, and the best example of that is the video game Chrono Trigger. Beyond that, forget ‘em.
If you were a player and had to choose would you rather be banished to the Josh Leivo Memorial Press Box or Robidas Island? What would be the pros and cons of both?— Huge Carolina Hurricanes fan (@tronnoadam) April 30, 2019
Robidas Island, easy (assuming the injury that’s keeping me there isn’t damaging my non-hockey life seriously.) Josh Leivo still had to keep showing up for practices and pretending to be an eighth defencemen or whatever and then just sit and watch. That would get annoying. If you’re LTIR’d forever you can kind of just do whatever the hell you want except play hockey. Joffrey Lupul seems to have had a lot of fun during his LTIR stint.
I have a question about hockey and power plays: why don’t teams ever pull their goalie during a power play or at any time other than with less than 5 minutes left in the game?— Molly Evans (@MollyEvvans) April 30, 2019
I would be interested to see whether there’s a mathematical argument that 6-on-4 advantage is so great that it’s worth a pull. But as for why they don’t: the opposing team can shoot at the empty net without worrying about icing it when they’re on the PK, and it would be very embarrassing when the goal inevitably went in. You’d also have to keep a very close eye on the player coming out of the box.
The fact is the extra man is only really worth it insofar as you can control play down in the other end or insofar as you’re desperate to score right this instant. Otherwise you’re almost guaranteeing a goal against; even the best teams can’t hope to pin down the other team for an extended stretch.
I've been thinking about actor Skeet Ulrich's name. If it were a nickname that was a short form, what would it be short for? Skeetothy? Skeeterick? Something else?— sour establishment man fka Your Adorable Beast (@YRDRBLBST) April 30, 2019
Also, which Leafs nickname, past or present, most needs to be similarly expanded to a full proper name?
Skeet apparently was an abbreviation of Skeeter, which was a nickname Ulrich got from a Little League Coach because he was small. His birth name was Bryan. I elect to believe Skeet would be short for Skeetington-Smythe.
Most hockey nicknames are just the first syllable of the name they have, so expanding them doesn’t do much good. I like the idea of Red Kelly being named Redditor Kelly though.
What is life?— Oh Baby! (@Dad_Loop) April 30, 2019
A series of absurd tableaus.
Your cat has unearthed a magic lamp and you are granted 3 wishes, however this Genie is limited to only NHL related wishes (picture a blue Bettman). Basically anything is at your command but transactions must be 1 for 1, if you so choose. So Master, what are your wishes?— Richard Sutton (@BrownBearRick) April 30, 2019
-Replace the salary cap with a luxury tax
-Patrick Marleau for Connor McDavid
-Nikita Zaitsev for PK Subban
Send my Cup ring in the mail.
arrange in order of most to least likely for Marleau:— Benjamin Ries (@BRstreetlaw) April 30, 2019
1. Waives no-trade; plays for other team
2. Retires in late summer; Leafs trade his cap hit (35+ contract)
3. Goes on LTIR before December 1
4. Leafs top-9, >41 games
5. Plays on Leafs 4th line or scratched, >41 games
Most Likely: Plays in the Leafs top-9 for at least 41 games
Second-most likely: Plays on the fourth line or is scratched for at least 41 games
Not likely: Waives no-trade
Very not likely: Goes on LTIR
I don’t get the impression he’d even think about it: Retires
Keefes briefs!!— Chris Penney (@Chris_Penney) May 1, 2019
I have included Mr. Penney’s answer because frankly I’m not going to be able to top that.
These next two go together
What kind of return would you expect in a Marner trade?— leo spaceman (@spaceman_leo) May 1, 2019
Depends why he’s going. Is it because he wants $12M a season and we aren’t able to come to terms with him? If so, the value is lower and the team acquiring him has to think about whether they’d rather pursue an offer sheet; we probably don’t get a star player back. I don’t think this will happen.
If the question is just “what offer would you need to get to trade Mitch Marner”, the answer is “superstar defencemen who offers significant long-term team control”, which is not at all going to happen. There are maybe five defencemen in the league who meet that description and absolutely none of them are available. So basically this isn’t going to happen.
What realistic packages that include a RHD could the Leafs package Marner for assuming no deal?— Talking Donkey (@DestoLeafs) April 30, 2019
If the Leafs are over a barrel here the realistic packages are all going to be disappointing. Best-case I could see PK Subban, who is awesome and all, but we’re absolutely getting hosed on that trade due to team control. If Carolina puts Dougie Hamilton into discussions that gets interesting but I’m not sure we pull that off. We’re not getting equivalent value.
What’s your prediction for leafs defence? Sandin and lily ready?— Jim (@jim23484) April 30, 2019
I think they will get a long look in training camp but the question is just whether they can make it as third-pair defenders, don’t count on either of them playing top four minutes next season. Depending on Travis Dermott’s recovery, I would expect Sandin is back with the Marlies to start the year, while Liljegren I think has a solid shot at contending for a third-pair job right now given his handedness.
It’s legit to be very excited about Sandin, though. I think he’s going to be a player.
Is Vladimir Guerrero Jr's swing not a thing of resplendent beauty?— Brian Stewart (@brigstew86) April 30, 2019
Is who’s what now a thingamajig? I don’t speak baseball.
Do you think the timing of Dubas promotion ended up terrible. He’s been fleeced by his first 2 RFAs showing all the rest to stay patient? I realize waiting means you probably lose Kyle. But maybe it’s just timing of the younger push in the league?— Stumpy OT Winner (@theroadcrowd) April 30, 2019
I do not think Dubas got fleeced at all by Nylander and I don’t think Lou would have handled it much differently. You can argue (I did) that he overpaid Matthews but that pales in comparison to his achievements in landing Tavares and Jake Muzzin. I went through Dubas’ first year here. I think he’s done well and I am glad he runs our team.
If you could get rid of any one person that covers the Leafs or hockey who would it be?—ThickSkinnedAlive
Don Cherry. I legitimately think he’s a plague on the sport.
Should the Leafs fire Babcock? Will the Leafs fire Babcock? Where would you rank Babcock in the list of top coaches?—What Makes A Man Turn Neutral
This has been partly answered by events, but my answer would have been the same regardless:
c) It’s really hard to rank coaches. The best coach working right now, in my opinion, is Barry Trotz, and then after that you have a bunch of guys in the good-but-flawed tier, which I think Babcock is toward the lower end of. He’s probably in my top 10 of the coaches who were working at the end of the season.
Which Maple Leafs player would make the best captain – of a Klingon warship?—Species 1967
Jake Muzzin has both the physical strength and the steady hand that the Klingons would respect, at least to judge by the Wikipedia article I brought up to answer this question.
If you were to construct a starting lineup (1C, 2W, 2D, 1G, 1 coach, 1 GM) entirely out of television characters, who would make your team and why?—ExitSteveLeft
Is this a safe spot to admit I actually don’t watch that much television? After some thought, I’ve decided only to include characters from shows I have watched at least two episodes of.
Jessica Jones - Bob from Reboot - Chris Traeger
Marshall Erickson - Goku
Coach: Raymond Holt
GM: Sandy Cohen
Jessica Jones, from the program of the same name, is a classic power forward. Bob (Reboot) has all sorts of tools and whatnot, I figure he can provide creative playmaking. Chris Traeger (Parks and Recreation) is in peak physical condition and will provide a borderline-deranged level of optimism to help my team through the hard times.
I chose Marshall (How I Met Your Mother) on defence basically because he’s tall and Jason Siegel got randomly jacked for a movie a while back. This is a dubious way to choose players but I stand by it. To help cover for any issues, Goku (Dragonball Z) is there to blast people with energy beams ‘n’ shit.
Raymond Holt (Brooklyn 99) as a coach is self-explanatory, you couldn’t do better. Sandy Cohen (The O.C.) has a long track record of negotiating deals for young people, now he’s just doing it as a GM.
Why is Boston?—Bonny Lohonos
Basically a bunch of Puritans made a mistake and now we all have to live with it.
How much do you think Babcock’s quotes are a bluff? I think he purposely feeds the media randomness about good pro, pretends to be a simple prairie guy watching the hunting channel, yada yada, but all the while he’s really a sharp hockey mind.—Mike Brown’s Moustache
Babcock definitely leans into his persona when it suits him. I certainly think his player quotes tend to be calculated based on who needs encouragement, who needs a kick in the ass and so on, and they’re also sometimes designed to get the media off someone’s back—his or others. Short answer: you can think he’s wrong but he’s not an idiot.
Jon Snow is to military tactics as _____ is to NHL tactics.—clrkaitken
Is he Randy Carlyle bad? I don’t watch Game of Thrones. The impression I get is that Jon isn’t exactly a champ in the general-ing department, but then, he’s bound by his writers to win his way through required plot devices. Maybe he’s more like Todd McLellan a coach put in a losing position as much as anything.
What’s the best and worst case scenarios for the Leafs offseason this summer?—thehumourisironic
Best case: League finds Bruins cheated to win Round 1, allows playoffs to be re-played, Leafs win
Worst case: Whole team crushed by meteor
To get a bit more realistic: the best case is the Leafs make a successful trade to improve on defence and don’t overpay Marner. The worst case is them having to lose Marner, through trade or offer sheet.
Jam or jelly?—JaredFromLondon
I hate them both!
Thanks to everyone who contributed.