Holmberg earns praise, man-advantage Minten, Niemelä’s numbers: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Holmberg earns praise, man-advantage Minten, Niemelä’s numbers: Leafs Prospect Roundup

In last week’s Prospect Roundup, we took stock of a number of Leafs prospects and how they have performed through the first couple of months of the season. One of those players was Pontus Holmberg, focusing on his rapid ascension to becoming an NHL regular. Fast forward a week, and his case for staying put in the Leafs’ lineup has only gotten stronger.
Holmberg scored his first NHL goal in last Wednesday’s win over the scorching hot New Jersey Devils, a goal which stood as the game winner. He found the back of the net once again in Saturday’s victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins – a great shot into the top corner over the glove of Casey DeSmith – and established a new career-high with 12:01 of ice time.

GOALBERG. pic.twitter.com/rB4A9bGcdf
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 27, 2022

Holmberg now has two goals and an assist through his first eight NHL contests, but it is his play away from the puck that has really endeared him to head coach Sheldon Keefe. He was even trusted with a couple of shifts on the penalty kill this past week as he continues to grow into a regular role on the team.

Sheldon Keefe on the play of Pontus Holmberg, says as a rookie they always try to go through tape about what they can show players to improve …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Raptors’ OG Anunoby becoming an All-Star lock due to hot start

Raptors’ OG Anunoby becoming an All-Star lock due to hot start

The Toronto Raptors have been on the receiving end of some pretty tough injuries this season, as Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa have both missed time. With Gary Trent Jr. having struggled offensively and Scottie Barnes in and out of the lineup, OG Anunoby has saved this team’s backside. Anunoby was one of the main […]
Raptors’ OG Anunoby becoming an All-Star lock due to hot start – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Maple Leafs dominate Penguins on Hockey Night: Leafs Rundown

Maple Leafs dominate Penguins on Hockey Night: Leafs Rundown

It feels like games against the Penguins are always slightly cursed, but this one worked out pretty well. The Leafs kept the pressure on the Penguins, earning a 4-1 win.
From that first early goal on, the Leafs were healthily in charge of this game. Here are some thoughts on the game.
Behind The Net
No, not the ancient, now defunct stats website. This is to do with the success Toronto had tonight forcing the Penguins defenders to face the wrong way. Twice they capitalized with a pass behind them that scored on Casey DeSmith. First on goal #2 by Pontus Holmberg, and again on goal #3 by William Nylander:

PONTUS HOLMBERG 🚨
WHAT A SHOT! TOP CORNER! pic.twitter.com/T3x8A8IOAQ
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 27, 2022

WILLIAM NYLANDER 🚨
IT’S 3-0! pic.twitter.com/UP2bygPzcb
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 27, 2022

Källgren performance
The Swedish 3rd string goalie has been filling in with the Leafs a lot this season, with injuries to both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. It’s not often that the 3rd stringer has the most starts, 2 months into the season, but with his 9th start for the Maple Leafs tonight, Källgren has that strange honour.
The netminder has only had 2 “quality starts”, plus a third excellent performance in relief against Boston; the remainder have been well below average. This 1-goal-against performance Pittsburgh is definitely a boon to his season stats. He did only face [SHOTS HOW MANY???] in this one, but this is an undeniable success.
No defenders, no problem
With 3 of the Leafs’ apparent top 4 defenders out on injured reserve at the moment, it would be expected that the team would struggle defensively. And certainly, the team’s shooting stats have taken a hit in that regard. In the last 2 games, the Leafs allowed a lot more even strength shot attempts against than normal, ~63 per 60 minutes, versus ~53 per 60 minutes for the previous 20 games. That’s a small sample to be sure …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

2 key takeaways as Chris Boucher, Raptors take down Mavericks

2 key takeaways as Chris Boucher, Raptors take down Mavericks

Fred VanVleet, Chris Boucher, and the Toronto Raptors started off their matchup against the Dallas Mavericks so poorly that it looked like they were about to be run out of the gym. While big names like Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes didn’t play, the first few minutes Toronto put on display were not NBA basketball. […]
2 key takeaways as Chris Boucher, Raptors take down Mavericks – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Digging into eight proposed trades involving Blue Jays catchers!

It’s the time of year when we all make hypothetical trade suggestions. It doesn’t help that this off-season has felt incredibly slow. Grab a snack and get curled up, this article is going to be a long one.

A few days ago, Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic wrote an article pitching eight trades involving Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk. She spoke with the other team’s beat writers of The Athletic to compile these trades, while former general manager Jim Bowden gave his assessment.
As a somewhat rational Jay fan, I also wanted to take a look at these trades and give my opinion. The fact of the matter is that some of these trades actually make sense, and I want to dig into those ones in particular.
We’ll start by looking at Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk by the numbers and attempt to gauge their value.
Danny Jansen:
The 2022 season was a career year for the 27-year-old catcher, at least with the bat. He slashed .260/.339/.516 in 248 plate appearances and had a 10.1 K% and 17.7 BB% during that time.
Where he really impressed though, was the fact that he hit a career-high 15 homers in such a short span, which was good enough for a 140 wRC+ and 2.6 fWAR.

FREE TIP: To shift Danny Jansen, place your outfielders BEHIND the wall pic.twitter.com/N7y35YnNoG
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 27, 2022

Defensively, he just hasn’t been the same as his 2019, whe …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Conor Timmins is “ready” whenever the Maple Leafs call his name, and tonight might be the night

Conor Timmins is “ready” whenever the Maple Leafs call his name, and tonight might be the night

“Whenever they put me in, I’m ready.”
Conor Timmins joined the Maple Leafs on Thursday in Minnesota, practicing with the team before they took on the Wild Friday afternoon. Although he didn’t play on the day after American Thanksgiving, it wasn’t because lack of readiness.
The 24-year-old just finished up a conditioning stint with the Tucson Roadrunners, Arizona’s AHL affiliate. He’s played six games since November 11th with the AHL club, and when he joined the Maple Leafs on Thursday, he noted he was “ready.”
However, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe had other plans.
“Our approach with him is to get him in, get him comfortable.” Keefe said in Minnesota on Thursday. “Obviously we have a great need and there’s great opportunity on our defence right now with the injuries that we’re going through. Yet, we want to make sure we put him in a good spot to succeed.
“Both in coming into a new team and the fact that he hasn’t skated, we give him today (in Minnesota) and get another skate (Friday)… But we’ll take it a day at a time from there.”
Saturday night will likely be Timmins’ first game in a Maple Leafs uniform. The team is coming off playing a game the day before and could use a body without many kilometr …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors injury report: Luka Doncic, Mavericks could feast on beat-up roster

Raptors injury report: Luka Doncic, Mavericks could feast on beat-up roster

The Toronto Raptors were not only unable to take down Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks during their tango a few weeks ago in Texas despite a Scottie Barnes triple-double, but they suffered a few injuries that have completely killed whatever momentum they had going. Losing Pascal Siakam has been destabilizing for this squad. In […]
Raptors injury report: Luka Doncic, Mavericks could feast on beat-up roster – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

The Leafs season has reached the quarter mark, and it’s been quintessentially Leafy. The Leafs stunk up October, reminded us that they are for real in November, and along the way have had five of their key defensemen and both of their NHL goaltenders miss a significant amount of time. In the spirit of the season being 1/4 over, I’ve asked the TLN crew what is their biggest positive and negative of the season so far. Here are their answers.
Scott Ony
The biggest positive for me has been the play of John Tavares. I expected him to be a massive disappointment this season but he has been a pleasant surprise and is on pace for his most points since his first season in Toronto. I thought the speed of the game would pass him by but he just does all the little things right and continues to rack up the points.
Although he has played fairly well in his four games the biggest disappointment is Matt Murray. Who would have thought a goalie who hasn’t made more than 30 starts since 2019-20 would run into injury issues? If he can somehow manage to stay healthy the move to acquire him might look okay but at this point, it’s a huge miss.
Bennett Jull
The b …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays have some interesting homegrown talent who could help the bullpen in 2023 and beyond

The Blue Jays bullpen has become incredibly deep over the past few seasons.

Remember the 17 pitchers on the Blue Jays staff/taxi squad to start the 2021 season? If not, it featured pitchers such as Tanner Roark, T.J. Zeuch, Ryan Borucki, Tyler Chatwood, Rafael Dolis, Julian Merryweather, Joel Payamps, and Trent Thornton (who may start 2023 in Buffalo). The Jays also had Tommy Milone, A.J Cole, and Travis Bergen on the now-defunct Taxi Squad. Here’s an article for Blue Jays Nation’s Cam Lewis if you want to see how far the team has come.
Of course, the 2021 opening day roster still featured Tim Mayza, David Phelps, and Jordan Romano. However, they were the only three mainstays in the bullpen out of the fourteen names I listed.
The state of the present-day bullpen:
Fast-forward to the present day, and the Jays have added Anthony Bass (1.54 ERA, 3 FIP in 2022), Yimi García (3.10 ERA, 3.47 FIP), Adam Cimber (2.80 ERA, 3.47 FIP), Erik Swanson (1.68 ERA, 1.85 FIP) as mainstays. 
This doesn’t even mention adding Trevor Richards, who had a good 2021 and a pretty good second half to 2022, or Zach Pop, who may not be on the 2023 roster because he has options.
The bullpen is incredibly deep with players that have produced great results. Yes, they did trade Rowdy Tellez, Joe Panik, Jordan Groshans, and Tesocar Hernández to acquire many of these relievers, but as a whole, these were all pretty good trades.
One of the few aspects the front office has failed at in the eyes of some is that they haven’t developed any homegrown relievers. While that may be true for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, the …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors add perfect Masai Ujiri guard in 2023 NBA Mock Draft

Raptors add perfect Masai Ujiri guard in 2023 NBA Mock Draft

Even as the Toronto Raptors figure out ways to stay in the postseason hunt despite the injury gods giving them some comical bad luck, Masai Ujiri is likely getting his 2023 big board set up. Raptors mock draft time is not just a seasonal event, especially for this front office. After fixing their height issue […]
Raptors add perfect Masai Ujiri guard in 2023 NBA Mock Draft – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ