Why is this Mailbag being posted on Tuesday, rather than Monday? The answer is simple, my friends: It was 40 degrees Celsius yesterday with humidity factored in, and I didn’t want to add to that with hot takes!

…no?

Nah, I just got pre-occupied. But it’s here today! Here’s what I was up to this week, and what you all had on your mind:

Recent Posts

Possession, Usage, and the Calder Cup Final: I finally dug up all of my hand-tracked data from the Calder Cup Final (and some portions of previous rounds) to take a look at the Toronto Marlies’ performance in the Calder Cup Final. You’ll see some really interesting patterns in deployments as you go through this – as well, it gives some insight towards the tracking process and how I’d like to build on it moving forward.

On a no longer efficient inefficiency, and stacking the top pair: The NHL loves putting left and right-handed defencemen together. We know it’s a good thing to do. Do we think too highly of it now, though, and are the Leafs missing an opportunity by not foregoing it to create a true top pair for next year?

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The Mailbag

He is absolutely a liar.

Nah, this one’s contextual. When Dubas talked about not trading down, he was speaking directly to his reputation that he will always trade down, in any available instance. To stress that he isn’t “the trade down guy”, in his words, doesn’t mean that he can’t do it when the opportunity arises – and he’s gotten that reputation because the opportunity arose.

On the defence point, it does seem peculiar that this draft was defence heavy, but there were also a lot of play-driving defencemen available. The two players the Leafs selected off the bat were ones they were familiar with; Sandin through the team’s connections to the Greyhounds, and Durzi through his experience with them in development camp last year.

Sometimes you have to swallow the expectation and lean heavily into it, because once in a while, it’s truly the best pathway.

There are some possible routes, should the team not end up moving him (or waiving him) by opening night. People have been leaning pretty heavily into the three-centre idea for the sake of having specialists, and maybe that’s an avenue to go with nine wingers instead of seven defencemen. Alternatively, having a rotation of players on the fourth line to keep the group energized and dominant against other fourth lines could be a way to keep him, Ennis, and whoever the third piece might be in top shape.

I’d go with something along the lines of a 50/50. The lack of noise we’ve heard about any of them, especially the RFA-statused Nylander, seems like a good sign that they might be trying to negotiate with the three in tandem to leverage them not necessarily against each other, but with each other in mind.

On the other hand, it could mean absolutely nothing, especially if Marner and Matthews’ agents think they’d get more out of another big year.

Just about impossible to say. As you referenced, injuries are a factor that can play in. Matchups might matter too, depending on which of the two lines the opponents believe should face their top shutdown group – and that could yo-yo throughout the year depending on hot streaks. Powerplay time will matter, and if the groups are good at scoring quick off the first draw, that time could honestly come down to luck (aka: which unit is the most rested ahead of the powerplay, the most often). Shooting percentage luck could play a factor.

Realistically, it’ll be one of Matthews, Tavares, Marner, or Nylander, with my odds likely going in that order. But I don’t know if there is anyone I’d lean heavily into yet.

Bergman remains on the Leafs’ scouting staff as one of their longest-serving members. It’s hard to know for sure which players he’s been involved in scouting (especially under this management, who haven’t been terribly talkative until recently).

With that said, Toronto’s kept with the trend of drafting Swedish talent during the Shanaplan era (Bergman’s supposed expertise):

  • 2018: Rasmus Sandin (1/29), Pontus Holmberg (6/156)
  • 2017: Timothy Liljegren (1/17)
  • 2016: Carl Grundstrom (2/57)
  • 2015: Jesper Lindgren (4/95), Dmytro Timashov (5/125)
  • 2014: William Nylander (1/8), Pierre Engvall (7/188)

So I’d imagine his voice is still being heard considerably.

This would definitely be a good feature to add. I’m very open to the idea of getting some resource pages posted on here: we’ll see if I can string some time together in the summer to add this and few other items in a visible spot.

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