Happy Monday! The Mailbag returns from a week off. We’ve got a lot to cover today, between notes, posts, and questions, so we’re going to forgo a long intro and hop right into it:

Promo Reminder

To celebrate the site turning a year old on Saturday, I put up a promotion that runs until the end of tonight. If you use “BIRTHDAY” while signing up a membership, it will bring your first month of membership down to $1, or your first year of membership down to $20. This isn’t something I expect to do very often at all, there are no plans for the “it’s always 30% off!” model to come into play here, so if you want to support the work that’s being put up on here but would prefer a lower price point to give it a first try, I’d suggest joining by midnight tonight.

Recent Posts

One Year of The Faceoff Circle: Where we’re at, and where we’re going

Further to the above point, this article talks about what the past year or so has been like for the site and myself, and where I see things going moving forward. There are also nine articles from the May-June, pre-Happy Hour window that have been unlocked for you to read this week if you haven’t had the chance prior to now.

Why the three-centre, seven-defencemen idea makes no sense

Now that the Leafs have John Tavares, Auston Matthews, and Nazem Kadri, many fans are wondering what the point of having a fourth line centre is. Why not just run those three and add an extra defenceman?

As it turns out, there’s a pretty good argument against that idea, at least in my eyes. I make that argument in this post.

On Tom Wilson and why winning can be as paralyzing as losing

Tom Wilson is a better hockey player than given credit for by most, but I’m not sure he’s as good of a hockey player as his new contract reflects. I took a look at some career comparables here and made the case for why the Capitals felt the need to commit in the way that they did.

Some thoughts on Cody Ceci, and his arbitration numbers

Cody Ceci went to arbitration with the Ottawa Senators this week, eventually settling on a 1-year, $4.3 million contract. Before the case, I broke down the logic behind the number he asked for, the number the Senators gave, and also took a look at whether or not people were being a little too mean about his on-ice ability.

Why the Leafs can trust Travis Dermott to take on a bigger role in 2018

Our slow and steady look through the Toronto Maple Leafs’ defence corps continued this week with a deep dive into Travis Dermott, and just how excellent his 2017/18 half-season was. Even as everyone’s new favourite young player, his performance might still have been underrated.

How many free agents is too many free agents?

“This team has 25 free agents next year” sounds insane when it comes off the tongue, but once you sit down and think about the statement, it leaves you with an important question: How many does a normal team have? I tackled that in this post and came out both surprised and not.

How often do long-term deals for goaltenders work out?

I think the world of John Gibson, and fully understand why the Anaheim Ducks would like to commit to him as their long-term netminder.

The Mailbag

I actually touched on this one back in May, in one of the articles that was recently unlocked for the week! With that said, I expected one of McElhinney or Pickard to be departed at this point, so there’s some room for alteration.

I don’t see a scenario where Garret Sparks isn’t the backup goaltender of the Maple Leafs next year. As good as McElhinney’s numbers were last year, it’s an extremely small sample of minutes to work with, attached to a 35-year-old without much history of being a top or, if we’re being honest, good netminder in the NHL. Sparks, however, is entering his prime age and just had one of the best AHL seasons in recent memory.

Between the two, Sparks is by far the bigger risk to be claimed on waivers, and the one who is most likely to make you regret it in the long run. If you lose McElhinney and he succeeds, it stings for a few months; Sparks has the potential to make you regret it for a decade if all goes right with him.

Pickard will likely be put through the waiver process as well, with a lower chance of being claimed as a tweener in age and performance with an attached a one-way contract that not a lot of teams are willing to give to an AHL netminder if they re-waive him.

This could mean the Leafs go lose two goaltenders in early October, or it could mean that the Marlies’ goaltending duo will make nearly $2 million this year. It also makes you wonder what happens to Kasimir Kaskisuo, who might get numbers game’d out of a Marlies job again this year. Whether that means he heads to Newfoundland, gets loaned out again, or gets traded again remains to be seen.

I don’t know if the Jeff Skinner trade really says a lot about future trades for the Carolina Hurricanes. Some will point to it and say that it means that they’re willing to get fleeced, while others will point to their work in the Dougie Hamilton trade and say that the universe balances itself out.

There was a lot of shade thrown at Skinner, directly and indirectly, at the end of the Hurricanes’ season, which put them in a tough spot as far as taking their time to move him. They forced their own hands, Buffalo were interested, and it was a quick way out for them. The Faulk talk is largely based around “they have lots of defencemen and he’s not their guy of the future any more” rather than an actual need for him to be moved out, so I’d imagine there will be more patience there.

John Tavares. Did you see that signing bonus of his? That open bar had to be the stuff of legends.

Your beer league team. The Senators would forfeit the game the second they found out that they had to pay for their share of the ice time.

If I had access to perfectly-timed travel, I’d probably fly out to Timmins to bring it to the lake where my father’s ashes are scattered, fly back to Toronto, and have a big street hockey tournament with my friends and family who have played in the hundreds of games we’ve had over the years. I feel like the Stanley Cup would be a significant upgrade from the sharpie-signed City of Toronto pylon that was the biggest prize in the Keele and Wilson region from 2005 to 2011.

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