A week after bringing back the mailbag, I skipped the mailbag last week. Not the best look for a returning regular format, but given current events, it was hard to focus on anything else, or divert your focus away from what’s going on in streets around the world right now. As you’ve probably noticed, the only piece on this site since the Black Lives Matter protests started was my piece on the racism-related issues in the NHL video games, which became the site’s most-read article of all time and led to a response from EA SPORTS and the NHL wing specifically. (On that note: Thanks again to everyone who shared that article and helped impact change).
The protests haven’t stopped, and neither should the amplification of the message, but there’s a little more room this week to get back to talking about some other topics in parallel. My Twitter timeline will continue to promote resources and information I come across for the foreseeable future, but I also want to get back to talking some hockey, so we’ll try to balance both.
With that out of the way…
If Toronto knocks out Columbus, which of the 4 top seeds do you think is their best bet to defeat and see the second round?
And would you rather a second round exit, or top 3 draft pick?
— Dom Bru (@Thedombruce) June 7, 2020
I don’t think there’s an easy opponent in that top four. Boston speaks for itself, the Capitals have the experience, and the Flyers were in the midst of a stellar run of form when the league went on pause. Tampa Bay were building up momentum after a slow start to the season as well, and while I still think they’ll be an incredibly tough challenge, I like that Toronto’s playstyle feeds right into them and that they have their own mental roadblocks to unknot from the past few seasons, just like Toronto does.
As for the second question, in a vacuum you take the Top 3 pick; winning one round isn’t a prize, and a cost-controlled star would be a huge help, particularly if “Top 3” means 1 or 2. At the same time, I’m not sure I want to listen to months of media breakdowns of their failure to win a play-in. Tough call.
If the 3 lottery picks are won by the placeholders do you think any teams will tank in the play in round?
— Garbageovski (@MishaThompson7) June 8, 2020
Absolutely not. Front offices tank, not players, not coaching staffs. You don’t tank by telling your players to lose, you tank by not putting out a good enough roster. These players are going to battle to win the Stanley Cup until they can’t and no lottery will change that.
Who does the bracket setup favour most/least?
— Stay home and away from me! (@burkeman78) June 8, 2020
The system totally favours the teams in the middle, and hurts the teams at the top. The idea that clubs in the 9-24 bracket – most notably the ones from 17-24 – have chances at both the Stanley Cup and the Draft Lottery seems absurdly unfair to the teams that worked hard for their standings points, or consciously rebuilt this season.
Meanwhile, if you’re a top-seeded team, you might not even get to stay in place! Boston, for example, now has to succeed in a round-robin to keep it’s 1st seed, despite being 8-11 points up on the 2-4 seeds. If you like the system, that’s your call, but there’s no denying that the system is tailored to the middle.
Forgive me if you’ve addressed a similar question: how comfortable would you be letting Fred walk in UFA? Any tenders set to be UFA at the time you could see as a logical replacement to join Campbell? Alternatively, any young goalies you might target due to lack of opportunity?
— Chris Garagan (@cgaragan6) June 7, 2020
I think that’s a bridge that you face when you get there, but as it stands, I’m not horribly panicked about the idea of the Leafs losing Frederik Andersen. Goaltenders are so hard to read and project in today’s game – netminders who become elite and stay reliably elite are almost a thing of the past. Even the likes of Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky are starting to taper out in their veteran age. If Toronto gets five good years out Andersen they’ve already exceeded expectation – the team should already be exploring it’s options.
Bracco for Ho-Sang?
— Herm (@hoimburger) June 7, 2020
This is an interesting idea, though I’m not sure there’s any foundation for it besides geography. Ho-Sang isn’t without his flaws, but also doesn’t seem to have been put in a position to succeed in New York, while Bracco doesn’t seem like he’s going to fit the Leafs’ organizational plans. Bracco is a Long Island native, while Ho-Sang is from the Toronto area.
The question then becomes, though – are both organizations looking for those types of players? They’re not entirely dissimilar, in that they’re both right-shot playmakers who can sometimes leave you disappointed in their finishing ability and in their defensive play. If one isn’t a fit, why would the other one be?
My heart says I absolutely make this trade, and I bet on the change of scenery being a bet for both of them. If it works, great, if not, not a ton lost. But I also wonder if both organizations look to use that contract spot on a different player archetype instead of taking the “similar song, different dance” approach.
Can Kenny Agostino be a playoff secret weapon for the Leafs?
— Dantifa (@265Kilometres) June 7, 2020
Probably not. Agostino had a very good year for the Marlies, but it’s not like the Leafs are without talent down the lineup. It’s possible he makes the final expanded roster as a black ace, but given that they’ll be getting everyone except Andreas Johnsson back, it would take a dramatic turn of events for Agostino to actually play minutes.