Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully, you all are going to be spending your Monday with family, or at least doing more important things than reading the mailbag section of a small hockey blog. If not, I can’t really smack talk; I’m using my time to write said mailbag, after all.
Here’s what was on everybody’s minds this week:
Are Babcock's current forward lines optimized? How would you organize the top 3 lines?
— George Worthen (@GeorgeWLaurence) October 8, 2017
My hot take? I don’t mind the current arrangement of the Top 9. Having a balanced line, a shutdown line, and a sheltered line, all with at least two legitimate offensive players on them is the way to go; it keeps opponents on their toes, means you’re a threat for as many minutes as possible, and you can send players out situationally beyond “we either need to score, or don’t”.
I wouldn’t change them yet. People want to tinker for the sake of tinkering, but I’d rather worry about getting to 12 producing forwards before worrying about how I’d arrange them.
When do you think liljegren can make the leafs and what would you say his potential is points wise?
— mo C (@Moe19C) October 9, 2017
I genuinely think we can see him as early as next year. It’s rare to see a kid like him play regular pro minutes in his teens, and I’m willing to accept last season as a mono-induced anomaly. It makes sense to maximize his ice time this year and slide the first year of his entry-level deal, but I wonder if a fully-adjusted, low-cost Liljegren looks enticing to the team in 2018/19, rather than going all out to acquire another defenceman.
Let's bring gear talk into these mailbags eh?
When you're struggling, what's your go-to piece of gear you switch to?
— Face=Face (@ItsPronotRetail) October 8, 2017
If we’re being honest, I’m always struggling on ice. No piece of gear is going to help me there, so I just try my best to not embarrass myself at all times.
Playing ball hockey, I’ll often switch to a wood stick for a few shifts if I find that I’m not getting timing down correctly, just so I feel a little lighter in my step/hands the next time I go back to a composite.
What type of season would Matt Martin need to have to be considered 'adequate' by the analytics community?
— Hunter Crowther (@HunterCrowther) October 8, 2017
He’d need to be better than the player(s) that he’s getting in the way of. The conversation isn’t “Matt Martin is bad”; Matt Martin is better than many, if not most fourth-line wingers in the league. He is a fine, checking displacement forward that is probably better than the nine points he scored last year.
It’s just that Toronto has historically good depth in his position and could have one of the most potent fourth lines in the modern era, and decides to dress for the role instead. That is the issue. He’s not bad; they can just do better.
Marlies – deep, or under-the-radar deeper than I’d realized until this weekend?
— Sean Boulton (@sboulton) October 8, 2017
The latter. I don’t think this team has the top-end upside of the 2015/16 team, who had multiple AHL-elite forwards and defencemen, but they’ve got a lot of AHL great players and more call-up options than any other team in the league by a considerable margin.
Toronto’s lineup yesterday:
Kerby Rychel – Miro Aaltonen – Kasperi Kapanen
Andreas Johnsson – Chris Mueller – Nikita Soshnikov
Colin Greening – Adam Brooks – Trevor Moore
Rich Clune – Ben Smith – Dmytro Timashov
Travis Dermott – Vincent LoVerde
Andrew Nielsen – Justin Holl
Rinat Valiev – Timothy Liljegren
Features at least 14 or so players that could get called up to the Leafs tomorrow without instilling panic, and you can probably still make cases for the others. Add Martin Marincin to the mix and a goalie tandem of Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard, and it’s tough to say that they aren’t one of the deepest teams the American Hockey League has seen in a long time.
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