Q: Hey Damien, I believe that the Leafs have completely overvalued Nik Antropov as a top line player. He has never justified the ice time he is given. 16 goals as a career high for a $1 million player? Injuries aside, are they grossly mistaken in their evaluation of his potential, considering the length of time he has been in the league?
Greg Robb, Toronto
A: I really think by now the Leafs are very realistic about Antropov. Fact is, while he makes a lot compared to you or I, $1 million is well below the NHL average ($1.7 million). On the Leafs, with the talent they have, he can play in their top six forwards. That makes him a relative bargain. Whether he's not as good as they hoped he'd be, or whether Leafs fans expect more from a first round draft pick, he is what he is. And since he's returned from injury this latest time, he's played pretty effectively.
Q: Hey Damien, Why do you think Samsonov didn't get picked up anyone on waivers? Is it a money thing or is he too disruptive in the locker room or not producing anymore or what?
Dave Russell, Holmes Beach, Fla
A: He hasn't produced for several years now, really. The Habs made a big mistake with his contract and nobody else wants to take it on. I don't think he's seen as disruptive; just unproductive.
Q: What can we Leaf fans expect from Jeremy Williams?
Nick H., Ottawa
A: He's been hampered by injuries all season. He can shoot the puck, and the Leafs would love to think he could be a third line player for them down the line.
Q: Hi Damien, I heard on one Sports show that the Senators were thinking of picking up Gary Roberts. Roberts could help the Leafs right now with his style of play (if it still is the same style during his days with the Leafs) to help them make the playoffs. Secondly,the Leafs could face the Senators in the playoffs and I would not want him facing the Leafs in a Sens uniform that could be the tipping point for the Sens to get past Toronto. What have you heard and what is your opinion?
Colin McCue, Kingston, Ont.
A: Be careful with all the rumours you're going to hear over the next 10 days. Roberts could be on the move and any number of teams would be interested in him as a depth player. Injuries and age, however, would make it unlikely he would be an impact playoff performer. To Ottawa, he might represent emotional backup as they plunge into the postseason; for the Leafs, they could have had him last summer and weren't interested.
Q: Damien, With all the obvious problems with the current NHL schedule, why hasnt' anyone looked at the idea of modelling it after the English Premier Leagues' schedule? You could have a 58 game NHL season where ever team plays ever other team home and away during the season. This way nobody could complain about tougher divisions, longer roadtrips, etc. Plus, having season tickets for your team means you can actually see every other team in person every season. People want to see Crosby and Ovechkin, this way everyone can. That is how they can sell the league better.
For the playoffs, just take the top 16 teams, #1 plays #16, #2 plays #15 and so on down the list. This would also shorten the season so they arent' playing games into June. As much as the league tries, you just cant' force a rivalry. ... They evolve over time.
Jonn Martin, Collingwood, Ont.
A: I understand your points. English league travel, of course, is far less of an issue for obvious geographical reasons, so a balanced schedule is easier to put into place. A 58-game NHL schedule, while aesthetically desireable, would never fly because it wouldn't produce enough revenue. I agree that rivalries evolve over time. So the NHL needs to give its current schedule more time.
Q: My opinion is that the Leafs brain trust and Peddie in particular have learned a very valuable lesson from the Raptors. That lesson being hire a first-rate G.M. (Colangelo) step away and let him run things. Let him do what he is being paid to do, and bring in the people HE sees fit. Do you see if and when JFJ goes the Leafs need to hire a first rate guy, and let him make the decisions not a board of directors. Give him a budget like the Blue Jays do and Raptors and let him spend it as he sees fit.
Doug Burt, Toronto
A: Whether its JFJ or whoever, the Leaf GM needs to have the ability to act autonomously. Few believe that's the case right now, another reason why the Leafs struggle to get on a track to serious winning. The board just won't give up the necessary authority.
Click here to send Damien a question and he'll answer a selection every Thursday in this space.