Auston Matthews turned 26 yesterday. In checking that I'd remembered the date correctly, I found this hilarious automagical bit of "knowledge" on Google:
Yes, indeed it is technically true that Matthews' salary is $750,000 – it doesn't go up to $775,000 until October. So that's fine, isn't it? Let the bots produce our facts for us.
Today is draft day in the PWHL! I am excited and also ready to be bored silly by delays and also frantic with updating and looking up players I've never heard of.
We'll have a GDT type of post up later this morning and it will include our tracker spreadsheets for the draft and we'll do some quick profiles on the players. A more nuanced look is going to come – not in a pagerank chasing instant reaction (that's the job of that other site) – but once the whole picture makes sense.
TSN did a mock draft with some genuine experts weighing in on these players for the top two rounds:
(I made a loud noise when Cheryl Pounder took Emma Maltais for Toronto.)
What's next for the PWHL after the draft today? Good question. The second free agent signing period opens, so teams will add some more players. But with a long time before training camp, the action should switch to the branding of teams with names and logos and all that fun stuff. Note that while they talked about trades in the mock linked above, no trading is allowed until the season begins for this first year of the PWHL.
Training camp opens in November, so our attention will turn strongly back then. In the meantime, and speaking of training camp...
The prospects are coming back from Michigan and the rest of the team will already be in Toronto. We should see the schedule for Leafs training camp today. A post briefly outlining how this all works is going up later today.
Something about Mike Babcock? Don't know what that's about. Maybe you've heard about this?
But in all seriousness, I looked for any detail on what the NHLPA found that contradicted Boone Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau and the answers are vague statements about "younger players". I think that leaves the door wide open to speculation and gossip and they should be more clear. But I can only assume silence on the details was part of the exit deal.
There are things the NHL, and hockey more broadly, can examine about this whole business – they won't – but Mike Babcock has always had something like an obsession with character (not in the tough guy hits hard sense, but in a bad influence on the young guys sense) and it's a valid question, considering that most people know what the term "hockey culture" refers to, to ask why he was so obsessed, even while he clearly didn't act on that concern in an appropriate way with Marner, or now it seems, with the Blue Jackets.
It's valid to ask how much Paul Bissonnette avoided confronting that fact by pretending the only concern players might have was sexually explicit private photos they don't want seen.
I see a straight line between Babcock's motivating fear with Mitch Marner and the fears motivating him in this instance. Babcock destroyed any chance to be taken seriously on this issue, but how many other NHL executives are relieved they don't have to go looking for what Babcock was on the hunt for?
The only bright light here is Marty Walsh, Ron Hainsey and the NHLPA who took their jobs seriously.
More fun stuff:
Brandon Lisowsky helped the Leafs prospects out yesterday. They played the first half with a lot of speed and were met with a very good goalie, and weren't wowing anyone with dangerous chances. The second half was much better:
HAT TRICK FOR LISOWSKY 🧢 pic.twitter.com/ozRYlrNh8g— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 17, 2023
Feelin' Frasca 🔥 pic.twitter.com/tVdsCoMSqR— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 17, 2023
Frasca is a free agent invite, and I would not be surprised to see him join the Marlies out of this tournament. He has a very odd history with 25 points in his first 81 OHL games and then an age 19 season last year of 69 points in 68 games. He's undrafted, a big centre who showed he could skate at Leafs prospect speed.
Worth a shot, as a free agent.
Meanwhile the final period of the Leafs vs Detroit was not a festival of goalie excellence, and the final score was 6-5 Leafs.
More on prospects and the draft to come today! Happy Monday, everyone.