I got a lot of Leafs questions this week, for obvious reasons, I guess.
But I can’t sit here and talk about the Mitch Marner stuff every day for the rest of my life. You people seem to have a ceaseless appetite for saying why it’s wrong and bad for him to be able to demand whatever money he wants and wait for someone to give him that money. I do not have such an appetite.
So my vow to you: You will get one Marner question every week until this whole thing is over and that’s it.
Sean asks: “Obviously I need your take on Marner turning down Tavares money.”
Well first of all this isn’t a question.
But what people don’t seem to understand about all this is that Marner is correct in one aspect of his argument for a huge AAV: He would be more valuable over the life of a seven-year deal than Tavares will.
Why? He’s 22, won’t be 23 until next May, and thus has two or three more seasons in which he will improve, then two or three more in which he will be at his peak, then one or two in which he’ll be on the downswing. Tavares started his new contract at age 28, and likely has one more year (if that) of being his best self before age starts to catch up with him.
So while we can acknowledge that Marner is not quite at Tavares’s level as an all-around player, we also have to say they’re relatively close. So if Tavares is pulling $11 million for his decline years (up to age 34), why shouldn’t Marner want more than that — even before we consider the revenue infusion from a new American TV deal and a 32nd franchise that will likely print money — for the entirety of his prime? Which, by the way, he’s still growing into.
But now we’re getting into an argument that RFAs in general should be getting more money than they would as UFAs, which is an argument that the NHL’s CBA and specifically the way it treats young players needs to change. Which it does.
Put another way, someone was always going to be the guy who reset the RFA market, so why not someone who’s created more goals above replacement than Tavares since he came into the league?
Kevin asks: “When’s Taylor Hall going to re-sign, or when’s he going to break all of our hearts?”
Not that I have any inside info on this, obviously, because it seems like Hall is playing this one real tight. However, I’d expect him to hit the open market or at least get to the free agent discussion period. Why wouldn’t he?
Even if he loves the Devils, even if he sees a bright future with Jack Hughes, he should be telling the organization, “Unless you absolutely knock my socks off with an eight-year offer, I’m going to market.” There aren’t many forwards in the league better than Hall and guys like that — especially those who are going to be on the wrong side of 30 for the bulk of such a deal — should 10000000 per cent have one goal in mind: Secure the bag, by any means necessary.
I would be shocked if Hall re-signs mid-season or shortly thereafter, no matter how well it goes.
Sam asks: “Will Hank ever see another deep playoff run?”
This is not the question to ask. The question to ask is, “Will Hank ever see another playoff appearance?”
I know people love the Rangers’ summer and for the most part they should, but this team missed the playoffs by a mile last year, and the bottom of its roster and almost its entire defence isn’t good enough to be meaningfully competitive. I have the Rangers missing the playoffs — and doing so comfortably — next season.
In 2020-21, if they don’t have a work stoppage, Lundqvist will be 38 and in the last year of his contract on a team that should be better. Who knows how good he’ll be or if the improvement needed to be a legit playoff contender will arrive?
Of course, hockey’s so random that Lundqvist could go .925 this season and drag an otherwise not-great Ranger team to the playoffs. That kinda sounds familiar.
A different guy named Sean asks: “Do you think the Red Wings’ prospect tourney win is a sign of hope that they can pull up sooner rather than later?”
I cannot impress upon you enough how little stock you should put into things like AHL team success, prospect tournament success and so on when it comes to determining whether a team will be good in the near future.
They’ve been doing the Traverse City tournament for almost two decades now and just to give you an idea of how little winning it means, let’s go back to 2011: The Sabres won it on the back of big-time games from guys like Luke Adam, Zack Kassian, Corey Tropp and Daniel Catenacci.
The leading scorer of that year’s tournament? Philip McRae, who played 15 NHL games in his career, and scored 12 points in a full season of Germany’s DEL last year. The best save percentage belonged to Paul Dainton, whose career topped out in the AHL and ended after a rough year in the Italian league in 2013-14.
Not to say you can’t be encouraged by Joe Veleno going off for 100 goals or whatever, but just keep in mind he has as much of a chance to be the next Kris Foucault as he does Ryan Johansen.
Hannah asks: “What do you think should be more concerning for the Bruins: McAvoy and Carlo’s potential holdout over RFA stuff this year, or the stalling of Krug negotiations for next year?”
With the Werenski thing getting sorted out in a way that made sense for both sides, I’d be a lot more optimistic that Don Sweeney gets a deal done with his two RFA defenders sooner than later.
They might miss some time in camp but Carlo in particular has to come into the fold on a cheap deal now unless he goes super long-term. Even then, he’s a clear middle-pair guy who’s never going to command big money. McAvoy has to see Werenski as a comparable even if he’s (clearly) better, and that kind of lower-middle-term deal at a higher AAV makes sense for him, given his relatively low number of games played in the NHL.
Which means Krug, who’s a really good defenceman, is the bigger concern. The good news for Boston is that he’s already kind of expensive but they’re losing some expensive players on that D corps and not much else of note next summer. Matt Grzelcyk and Jake DeBrusk will need RFA extensions but they likely won’t break the bank. Meanwhile, only Zdeno Chara and maybe Charlie Coyle are notable players they’ll need to replace and at least Coyle will probably be replaced internally if he wants a ton of cash.
I’d be wary of throwing Krug, who will be 29, a huge long-term deal, and if someone else wants to give it to him, that’s fine. But if he wants to go upper-middle-term (five years, say) at a decent but not overwhelming raise, I give that to him without much reservation.
James asks: “How many goals do you think Jumbo Joe scores this year?”
Let’s go with 14ish. He barely shoots anymore, he’s another year older, and all that sort of thing. As long as he stays healthy, his selectivity and hockey sense all but ensure he’ll keep hitting the back of the net at least that much.
What a player. I love him.
JR asks: “Aside from just firing everyone (duh), how would you improve NBC’s hockey coverage?”
More variety of teams to promote the sport and not the teams immediately in the I-95 corridor on the East Coast would probably be my No. 1 thing. You also have to bring in some people under 40 who don’t openly hate talking about “advanced” statistics.
The other thing I think is really important is to maybe try to have a little sense of humour. Everything on that show is so dour when it’s not, “Let’s throw it to Jeremy Roenick, who’s doing some wacky BS over here.”
I’ve said it a million times, but just replicate the atmosphere on “Inside the NBA” and call it a day. That means you can’t have dour, self-serious bores like Milbury and Jones on there, and you’d actually have to find someone with charisma, but Liam McHugh seems to Get It, and he’s fine with me.
Some questions in the mailbag are edited for clarity or to remove swear words, which are illegal to use.
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