Two weeks in a row? What is this, consistency? Okay, maybe I won’t get ahead of myself there, but we’re back for another edition of the Mailbag. Let’s see what’s on everyone’s minds today!

Recent Posts

Why the Toronto Marlies / Frank Corrado reunion makes sense

The Leafs organizational signing we’ve all been waiting for, clearly.

Marlies cut Cumiskey, Sproul as defence corps begin to take form

The Marlies made a couple of tough decisions on a pair of one-game wonders this week. They still have a bevvy of defencemen to work with, but there’s a degree of permanence now.

With Auston Matthews out, what are Toronto’s options?

The Leafs’ superstar centre will be gone for a month or more. Something has to shift within the lineup, but what? I take a look at some potential solutions here.

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The Mailbag

The Marlies get their fair share of love (and then some) on this blog, so I’ll give a shout out to the Growlers’ first line from this weekend of Giorgio Estephan, Brady Ferguson, and Semyon Babintsev. Ferguson was one of Toronto’s college signings last spring, Estephan was added during the summer, and Babintsev is currently just under contract with the Growlers.

All three are pretty dynamic forwards from a minor-league perspective and I think all of them have a reasonable shot of, at the very least, becoming good AHL players under the Leafs’ developmental program. Estephan, in particular, was a guy I wanted the Marlies to target after the Sabres relinquished his draft rights a year ago, so I hope that they can turn him into a player. With eight points in nine games for Newfoundland so far, I’d say things are looking pretty good.

Right-handed defencemen will continue to carry a disproportionate amount of value in this league for a little while longer, and the old school guys still seem to believe that Time on Ice is a good measure of success. Whether it’s next year or a little bit further ahead, I don’t think that Zaitsev’s deal will be the negative value asset that his critics feel that it is.

The “good news”, if you could call it that, is that they’ll have lots of time to figure out whether or not those three still have magic together. If they’re clicking, we can definitely revisit this question. If they aren’t, then it’s likely that things return back to normal.

Three questions to ask yourself here:

  1. How many teams would have someone like John Tavares available to their top line if their top centre went down?
  2. How many teams would have someone like Nazem Kadri available to their second line if their first or second line centre went down?
  3. If we feel that Par Lindholm is not a sufficient third line centre (and, given that he’s been decent as a 3LW and has been a 1C at the SHL, it’s possible that he could fill in just fine), where does he rank in thi slist of current NHL 4Cs?
Isac Lundestrom Riley Nash Nick Bonino Robert Thomas
Nick Cousins Jason Dickinson Kevin Rooney Cedric Paquette
Sean Kuraly Michael Rasmussen Casey Cizikas Par Lindholm
Johan Larsson Kyle Brodziak Filip Chytil Markus Granlund
Derek Ryan Juho Lammikko Tommy Pyatt PE Bellemare
Nicolas Roy Nate Thompson Corban Knight Nic Dowd
Marcus Kruger Eric Fehr Derek Grant Jack Roslovic
Vladislav Kamanev Matthew Peca Rourke Chartier

The fact that Toronto still has an upper-end 1/2 punch and a survivable 3/4 after losing a superstar of Matthews’ calibre is all the proof you need that this is a true strength. No team can afford to lose an elite 1C while still looking “stacked” in that department.

I don’t see any reason why Matthews would accept a risk like this, especially now that he’s on his third injury in two seasons. He’ll absolutely be looking for a long-term deal this summer. Not to mention, the flip side of him coming back fully healthy next year and trophy chasing (Rocket Richard, Art Ross, Hart etc) would be much more of a threat than it would be with the other two.

I think the goal is still long-term on all three, but Matthews is definitely the least likely bridge.

It might delay things for a couple of days while the Nylander Camp attempts to use it as leverage. All the same, both parties know that a few weeks aren’t going to create urgency for a multi-year plan, so I doubt it has much of a lasting effect.

As far as I know, the Swedish Hockey Federation and the AHL have an agreement of sorts that forces the teams’ hands in a situation like this, but the Marlies have never seen much issue with their players going over. William Nylander had an unfortunate concussion in his WJC appearance while a Marlies member, but Liljegren went over and had a fantastic tournament last season and I’d assume both him and Sandin would do the same this year.

That’s a good question. You should ask anyone.

 

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