MAIL CALL: McDavid vs. Matthews, Nylander feelings, goaltenders of the future, and taking a mulligan

It’s time to answer some more questions, from you, our valued readers. I have to say I’m extra appreciate this week as we’ve received four great questions that allow us to take a deep dive into our Leafs feelings. So let’s get at it.

Why is Matthews better than McDavid and Draisaitl?
— Bandwagon Leafs Fan (@hockeyphreak) February 21, 2021

Michael Mazzei: He is not better than McDavid, actually no player is better than McDavid. When it comes to Draisaitl, then I think you have a legitimate argument to make because the two players are pretty comparable. I will say that it’s been a lot of fun watching the Canadian Divisions top dogs put on a show.
Mark Norman: Matthews is for sure a more complete player than either of McDavid or Draisaitl, but he hasn’t touched McDavid or Draisaitl’s career highs in points yet. Let’s see what he can do this year, although it looks like McDavid has an entirely new gear this season. If Matthews were as prolific as McDavid or Draisaitl on the powerplay, this would be a tougher discussion. McDavid > Matthews > Draisaitl.
Scott Maxwell: Going into this season, I …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Who is going to give the Leafs the toughest time this season?

The short answer is probably the Leafs. No one undoes the expectations of the Leafs quite like the Leafs, but we’ll try and answer this question a bit more seriously. After the first three games of the season it’s clear that there’s no such thing as a cake walk for Toronto, and if since they insist on doing things the hard way, it’s worth looking at who will be the toughest opponent for Toronto. Here’s what the TLN crew had to say about who will be the toughest of the Scotia North Division opponents.
Michael Mazzei
While this may be an overreaction to the first game, the Montreal Canadiens proved they will be a very tough opponent for the Leafs all season long. Never mind the fact that these two teams will face off nine more times, the Habs are a well built team that gave Toronto fits all game long. There’s no doubt the other teams will each present their own challenges, beating Montreal will be an accomplishment because they are not going to be an easy outing. Turns out the preseason hype surrounding that team was right all along.
Mark Norman
I …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Do the Leafs need to consider anyone for a Pro Tryout?

The short answer is no. The Leafs have a ton of prospects they want to take a look at and give shots to. They have brought in a number of players already on league minimum deals to help build out depth at every position, there really isn’t a reason to think they need to add anyone else to their roster.
Still, there are plenty of unsigned free agents, not a lot of positions available around the NHL, and frankly, there’s nothing else going on right now, so let’s take a look at who is available.
A few weeks back I would have assumed that we wouldn’t see the likes of players like Mike Hoffman entertaining Pro Tryout offers prior to the start of the season, but here we are, and the reality is that there are some players available who might make it worth the Leafs doing some of their depth players dirty.
It should be noted that the Leafs are sitting at 46 standard player contracts, so they do have the opportunity to add 4 additional players, or 5 if Nick Robertson is sent to the Ontario Hockey League (or AHL assuming there isn’t an OHL season) …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Where will Nick Robertson play?

The answer to this question varies greatly based on who you ask. Some have Robertson playing with Matthews or Tavares. Others have Nick Robertson returning to the OHL for one more season of overripening. And pretty much everywhere in between. The landing spot for Robertson is incredibly difficult to predict, but there are two competing forces that make it harder.
Leafs wing Depth
The Leafs have no shortage of NHL capable wingers.

Wingers excluding Robertson

Wingers
Centers that also play wing

Marner
Kerfoot

Nylander
Spezza

Hyman
Engvall

Mikheyev
Boyd

Vesey
Malgin

Simmonds

Barabanov

Anderson

So assuming that Matthews, Tavares, and Thornton will occupy three of the four center positions, that leaves nine spaces for 13 forwards, excluding Robertson.
Of course, based on his abilities there’s more than a strong case for Robertson being ahead of some of those players. He might not have any sort of NHL resume to speak of, but the reality is his OHL resume, combined with a strong training camp might make him hard to ignore as an option for the top nine group. I can’t imagine the Leafs have much interest in bringing him along if he’s going to be a 4th liner, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What to expect from Cody Ceci this summer

Let’s get the obvious joke out of the way first, and answer the post title with “not much.” Good we’ve covered that off. It’s not going to stop the hilarious replies on social media, but we’ve officially acknowledged you and we can move on.
The reality of the year for Cody Ceci is that is was always doomed to failure. He was the necessary return for the Leafs unloading the Nikita Zaitsev contract and at best people accepted him as a necessity of that. Of course Ceci didn’t win any new fans when Mike Babcock insisted on using him on the top pairing with Morgan Rielly and played him in situations beyond his ability with a partner who didn’t really give him much defensive zone support.
Under Keefe is was a different story for Ceci, and playing roles and situations more fitting of his abilities with partners that made sense for him resulted in a bit of a rebound. And now heading into the playoffs were the defensive defenseman legend takes shape, perhaps we can now expect more from Ceci. I’m kidding, this is …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Will Freddie Gauthier be a Leaf this season?

This is another in my questions you’ll automatically answer “no” to series. Having also written about Matt Read and Ben Harpur earlier, I feel I’m embarking on an unfortunate trend of writing about replacement level players who barely fit into the Leafs plans going forward. This seems like a ridiculous endeavour, but unfortunately it’s what training camp is all about. At the end of the day we know the star players are going to play with the other star players, and not much matters there until regular season. If you want to maximize the interest level in training camp, unfortunately you have to start caring about what happens with players like Freddie Gauthier.
The Situation
Here’s why I’m talking to you about Freddie Gauthier. While Gauthier can pull off being a limited ice time 4th line center that you occasionally don’t mind seeing healthy scratched for a more intriguing option, clinging to a spot at the bottom of the roster isn’t much of a guarantee of his continued work in that role continuing much longer, and when the Leafs brought in Jason Spezza, Nick Shore, and potentially have Marlies like Pierre Engvall and …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation