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Miscellaneous Leaf Thoughts: Finals and Prospects

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Don’t fall in love too easily, kids.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Here are some thoughts.

1. Words cannot express how little I care about this Stanley Cup Final. It doesn’t matter and I’m not going to watch any of it. Insofar as I have a preference it’s St. Louis, but let’s be honest, Boston is going to win because we live in hell. Donald Trump is President. Climate change is drowning us in a boiling cauldron of our own making. There hasn’t been a movie in theatres that wasn’t a sequel in 17 years. This is the worst of all possible worlds and everything in it is for the worst, and that means the Bruins are going to win. All we can do is hope the Barstool guy gets trampled by a marching band when they do the Stanley Cup Parade.

2. The Raps! And who cares, anyway? Hockey is bad. Basketball is where it’s at! I love my favourite players [checks notes] Norm Powell and [squinting] O.G. Anunoby and [turning over paper] Did Not Play Coach’s Decision. They’re the best. In all seriousness, Kawhi Leonard is a bad man in a good way, and it will make me sad when the Golden State Warriors bury him under a pile of three-pointers and he skips town for Los Angeles. It’s honestly been fun following along with a real good team. The city is jazzed and climbing on buses.

3. Prospects. All right, let’s get down to the real business we’re here for, which is Leafs prospect talk. I am not a prospect expert. Is that going to stop me from opining on them? No, it absolutely will not!

The most important thing with prospects is that, like your children, you have to assume they’re going to be disappointing until they prove otherwise. The Leafs have had three can’t-miss prospects in the last five years, and they are named Auston and William and Mitch. Once you get out of that tier of gold-plated top tenners, you have to assume a strong majority of prospects are never going to have a meaningful NHL impact with the team.

That doesn’t mean they all won’t. Some of them probably will! But when you look at the list of prospects, if you find yourself saying that more than a couple are above 50% to play a hundred NHL games, you are probably kidding yourself. Every now and then one of them will turn into Zach Hyman or Connor Brown. Most of them will turn into Brad Ross or Tyler Biggs or Matt Finn or Jesse Blacker or Spencer Abbott or Kenny Ryan or Tom Nilsson or Fabrice Herzog or Teemu Hartikanen or Jerry D’Amigo or Luca Caputi or Sondre Olden or Mark Owuya or Nicholas Deschamps or Brandon Kozun or Petter Granberg or Dominic Toninato or [dragged offstage by security.]

Every single name I listed there was at some point ranked on one of our Top 25 Under 25 Lists for the young prospects in the Leafs’ organization. I’m not dunking on anyone claiming I foresaw this, either—I honestly thought Spencer Abbott and Brandon Kozun were going to be decent NHL wingers. It’s just when you pay attention for a little while you start noticing that skepticism might make you wrong in the odd specific but it will make you right in general, and it should be your starting point.

4. Or as Katya says: Don’t name the piggies. Most of them aren’t going to make it.

5. That said: prospect season is fun. The draft is fun, and we will have a grand old time seeing what Kyle does with his picks, even granted he’s down a first. And we’ll get a chance to talk about how cool Rasmus Sandin is, and have what I can already tell is a protracted collective argument about Jeremy Bracco. Stay tuned for that.

6. European free agent signings. While I’m here being skeptical: someone asked Arvind and I to profile the new European signings, defender Teemu Kivihalme and Ilya Mikheyev. I have watched exactly one Youtube video on each and so my profile so far is “they look good in highlights sometimes.” But my starting attitude:

Just assume every European FA is going to be either a fringe roster player or play for the Marlies. The Leafs’ exception in recent years has been Nikita Zaitsev and in the KHL he’s a 1D. Almost nobody turns into Artemi Panarin (the other exceptional case, Evgeni Dadonov, actually was drafted and played in the NHL long before he came back over.) I assume everyone’s wise to this by now, but I wanted to share that.

7. Assistant coaches. The Leafs are going to have two new assistants next year, as both Jim Hiller and DJ Smith are departing. I didn’t think either of them was actually a major problem (the Leafs’ power play produced chances in droves even when its goal rate fell, and the Leafs’ PK was respectable in the regular season without much in the way of personnel) but sometimes fresh blood is good. So let’s see how they do. My one petty hope is that Paul MacFarland puts Nylander on PP1 so Willie gets some counting stats and the whole BUT HIS POINTS crowd has to shut the fuck up.

8. It’s quiet...too quiet. I mean, part of the reason it’s quiet is because the NHL doesn’t like news that might distract from the SCF, so the only story is the unheard-of possibility that rich young athletes might experiment with cocaine. But I can’t help the feeling Kyle Dubas might be rounding into position to make a real trade involving Kapanen or Johnsson, depending on how things shake out. If he wants to make a splash this year that’s pretty much how he has to do it. This might be the offseason stir-craziness talking...but I think we might be about to see Dubas take another step to put his stamp on the team.

Or maybe I’m just kidding myself.

Go Raps.

Poll

This summer, will Kyle Dubas trade a player who had 40+ points for the Leafs last year?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Yes, Kapanen
    (208 votes)
  • 32%
    Yes, Johnsson
    (253 votes)
  • 17%
    Yes, and I am a shit disturber, so Marner
    (138 votes)
  • 23%
    No
    (183 votes)
782 votes total Vote Now