I fell into the worst trap in the book this weekend and turned on my Xbox. It was a bad decision, and I ended up getting way too over-invested in NHL 18 franchise mode. My first team, who I built from the ground up as the 32nd franchise, fired me after two seasons. I’m in the midst of a Cup Run with my new club (the Buffalo Sabres), but I managed to get myself to drop the controller to do some work.
What does this have to do with the Mailbag? Nothing really, but I’ve never been good at writing intro paragraphs for them. I guess it’s saying that this is the first piece of mine for the day. Anyway…
please reassure me that you're all taking very good care of my large, awkward dad/boy patrick marleau
— Babs the Ghost Shark (@HockeyBabbler) October 16, 2017
Patty’s doing great. He seems to be having a real fun time with his new team, and he’s putting points on the board while skating at a speed that you’re very familiar with, but many Torontonians are surprised to see he still has in him.
He hasn’t been needed much for dad duty yet, but I’m sure that time will come.
Money is no object for the Leafs. So why not have 2 AHL teams instead of one to develop all the prospects. Is there a rule preventing this?
— steve clay (@steveclay) October 16, 2017
I’ve yet to go into any real depth on this, but I’ve passively suggested it a few times, as opposed to loaning out players or having to put them / keep them in other leagues.
It sounds better in theory than execution, though. You don’t want the AHL expanding beyond 32 teams, so Toronto would likely get to be the only one, which would be seen as favouritism. Plus, what happens when the pool is a bit more shallow? Does that second team suffer? Do they just become a vet squad? Does the league have to get involved in making sure the two teams are balanced?
A lot goes into a decision like that before you can even get to the stage of “is it fiscally worth it”. It sounds awesome right now (especially if they can bring back St. John’s, that’d be dope), but it’s more complicated than it seems on the surface.
what would the leafs line up look like if they didn't move up to pick AM34?
— steve kane (@steve27kane) October 16, 2017
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
Patrick Marleau – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov
James Van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
Matt Martin – Eric Fehr/Dominic Moore – Connor Brown
Is McDavid really that much better than Matthews? I mean yeah his speed and hands are ridiculous, but in terms of driving play so far…
— Osman Amjad (@OsmanAmjad7) October 16, 2017
Yes. Matthews is a sure-fire superstar, and probably a Top 5 player in the world making a bee-line for the 2nd seed at a scorching pace.
Connor McDavid has a Top-5 all-time points per game for any player in his age group, comparable only to Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, and Sidney Crosby.
Yes, Matthews can drive play in an outright dominant way and has an out of this world shot. He’s also helped by being on a line with dominant cycle teammates in William Nylander (who can score too) and Zach Hyman (who is definitely the third wheel, but still elite at displacement).
Not that Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl are slouches, but they don’t compliment a cycle game in the same way and also haven’t been as mindblowing when away from 97. Such is the life of, well, the entire Oilers roster.
As such, Connor gets thrown to the wolves for tougher minutes, and more minutes and has to play at top speed to set himself apart. I have no idea how he’s able to play his game for 22 minutes a night, but he does. Matthews gets a bit more rest (about 17:45 a game of ice time), and gets to be a bit pickier about his minutes; the Kadri line takes on the tough matchups, the Bozak line gets the easy ones, and Auston gets to feast on the middle.
Having the right teammates, the right deployment and the right systems go a long way in driving play, so he’s going to look more dominant on the cycle at all times.
Even still, McDavid’s currently got the higher single season and career numbers in CF% and relative CF%, so I’m not sure the gap is there in the way you think it is; it just looks more seamless visually when the Matthews line does it because it’s done as a unit.
Either way, we don’t need to have this debate every day. They’re both out of this world superstars. Celebrate the one you have, enjoy the other, hope that they find a way to give us a Stanley Cup Final for the age some day.
Will Mitch Marner ever move out on his own?
— Matt Lambert (@bigmatt93) October 15, 2017
Probably not. He gets to live close to his real-life parents and has approximately 86 hockey dads, including one superdad. Why would he ever give that up?
I’m mostly serious. Until he starts looking at marriage/kids, he’s probably the most prone to be spoiled of the group for a while. Which is probably good if you need to dial your life into being great at your job; the less surrounding hasssle, the better.
What's your line combos if Matthews is out for 6 months?
— Matt Wright (@mattwrightjokes) October 15, 2017
I’d never plan six months of lines at once. What I’d probably try first, though, is putting Leivo in the lineup, and moving Nylander to centre. The trio of Leivo, Nylander, and Hyman was the top line of the 2015/16 Toronto Marlies, and two of those players currently play together, so it’s the quickest fix that uses internal talent while still having high odds of chemistry.
If it doesn’t work, well, it’s blender time.
What's wrong with Freddy?
— Zach Scragg (@Scragg12) October 15, 2017
He’s healthy now! He played a game this weekend, and while he wasn’t particularly notable, it’s really great to have the Goat back with the Marlies.
oh, you mean Andersen. I dunno. Goalies are weird and it’s the start of the season. I thought he needed a breather when he started last year cold due to an injury, and as soon as I said that, he flipped a switch and went back to normal. My best guess is that Toronto needs to do a bit more to push away screens and let him see long-distance shots (where he’s struggling the most), but a five-game sample could just be weird noise.---
Thanks for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed this post. If you did, don't hesitate to share it on Twitter or Facebook; having more readers will help the site grow. As well, consider a subscription if you're interested in reading additional work that isn't available to guests.