I don’t know why I’m writing this, to be honest. I’ve been informed today that every single reader of this website, and of my words, is, indeed, a bot created by me or me hiding behind an alter ego. What will I think of me? Some days, I don’t like me, and I don’t want to read me. Days where I like me, I’ve got better things to do than to read me.

Not sure where I’m going with this, but boy do I hate opening paragraphs for mailbags.

https://twitter.com/XZ_FM/status/937469435983441920

I’m not 100% sold there’s a rhyme or reason to it. Usually, you can track trends in how players represented by specific agencies sign and get an idea of the motive. Don Meehan is a good example; his star players all sign deals where every year is almost entirely built upon a signing bonus, with a low in-season salary, and are almost always front-loaded in total salary.

Zaitsev is represented by Dan Milstein, who is relatively new to the NHL scene but has build up a long roster list of mostly-European talent. Many of those players are still playing on contracts worked out by their prior agents, but there really isn’t a pattern for the ones that do.

Zaitsev’s Year 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 salaries are signing bonus loaded, with the first block carrying a bigger bonus, and all years hitting the same $4.5 million total. Interestingly, the “lockout protection” year (2020/21) comes with no bonus. To be honest, I have no idea what the motive would be here; a big signing bonus in year one makes sense for a player establishing their roots on another continent, but there isn’t anything else that makes particularly obvious sense. Maybe the bonuses in the last two years, to make him more enticing to budget teams after July 1st., but that’s about it.

That’s a tough question. If these two keep playing the way they are, Toronto will absolutely have to make a decision on them before training camp next year; neither is waiver exempt and if they’re elite AHLers in their mid-20s, they’ll get claimed. Certainly, if you look at the trade market over the past few years, getting a second round pick for a non-starter would be an incredible haul; even a third would be impressive.

But I also think Toronto is aware of the value that a stretch run would provide to their younger prospects, and don’t want to have the situation they’ve had in their last two AHL playoff runs, where they get smothered in between the pipes and barely lose a meaningful series because of it. Is that worth a mid-round pick to them? It very well might be, especially if they think they can sell one of them at the draft.

I think he is, but the idea of what a #1 defenceman seems to change from person to person. Is it simply a defenceman that is among the top 31 in the league? Is it someone higher (10-15), to remove all doubt? Is it a player that plays specific roles?

Rielly is getting close to that open-and-shut level. He’s been much improved at 5 on 5 this year, has shown capability over the past few seasons to play against top competition and with weaker opponents, and he’s adept at both sides of special teams. He wasn’t incredibly brilliant last year, but also was worked into the ground, even after his leg injury.

He might not be a Norris candidate, but I think he’s a 1.

There are certainly a few players on that team who can be capable NHL defencemen. In fact, you can argue that the Marlies dress at least one or two NHL third pairs every night; the depth that they have their is insane.

Is there anybody worth calling up, though? I’m not so sure. Timothy Liljegren is probably already an NHLer, but as an 18-year-old, it absolutely makes more sense to play him in big minutes in the AHL. Travis Dermott might already be a 4, but would be in the same predicament. Justin Holl can be an offensively-oriented six and Martin Marincin’s confidence has come a long way, but I don’t see either of those two getting minutes with the Leafs.

I’d rather get Connor Carrick back into the lineup before forcing anyone upward.

I can definitely see an NHL future in Timashov. He’s a slippery skater, he’s not afraid to carry the puck, and he’s very good at distributing it. His confidence and pro familiarity have come a long way since last year, and he’s quickly become a legitimate AHL Top 6er.

Is there room with the Leafs down the line? It’s hard to say, if only because of how stacked the lineup is. He’ll have to navigate through that, Andreas Johnsson will have to navigate through that, and even Kasperi Kapanen might have that same struggle down the line. Timashov’s fate is probably at least a year away from having to be decided, though.

Probably not. Great teams find ways to win games that they’re outplayed in at times. If Toronto was in a situation where they were getting outplayed more often than not and had a record that didn’t reflect that, then there’d be cause for concern, but on most nights they seem to still be the better team for the bulk of the clock time. You can take a lucky win every so often to balance out the unlucky losses.

Arizona’s first-round pick. Dahlin and Liljegren would be recklessly fun, eventually dominant, and temporarily cost effective. If I have to pick an already present defenceman, I’d try to aim for an age-bang-buck balance still and go with Hampus Lindholm or Dougie Hamilton.

---
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.