Around the Atlantic: Nazem Kadri is a Stanley Cup champion, the Sens have a new home and Paul Maurice is back in the division

The NHL season has concluded and for the first time since 2019 the Tampa Bay Lightning are not Stanley Cup champions. Nazem Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Lightning 2-1 on Sunday night to win their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Along with Kadri, former Montreal Canadien Artturi Lehknonen and long-time Red Wing Darren Helm won the cup with Colorado. After disappointing seasons for the Leafs, Habs and Wings it was a nice consolation prize for fans to see former fan favourites raise the cup.
Maurice hired, Bruins and Wings still searching
Head coaching remains a major topic within the division. The President’s trophy winning Florida Panthers have hired former Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice to replace Andrew Brunette.
The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings are still in search for their next bench boss. Newly hired Vegas Golden Knights coach, Bruce Cassidy and Jeff Blashill were both relieved of their positions after the season.
Atlantic rookies lead the way
The Atlantic division headlined the NHL’s all-rookie team in 2022. Runaway Calder trophy winner Moritz Seider and Detroit Red Wings teammate Lucas Raymond joined the Leafs Michael Bunting and Boston Bruins goali …

Read More

Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

NHL’s salary cap rise gives Maple Leafs more wiggle room, adds hope to league

For the first time since 2019, the NHL’s salary cap is officially rising.
Prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly addressed the media. The two spoke on a number of topics, but never really mentioned how much the salary cap would rise.
That was, until Thursday evening when the NHL and NHLPA confirmed that the salary cap is rising to $82.5 million for the upcoming season.

The NHL and NHLPA have confirmed the 2022-23 salary cap range: $82.5M ceiling, with a $61M floor.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 16, 2022

This isn’t a significant jump by any means, nor were we expecting a huge rise. However, it’s one that gives the Maple Leafs a bit more room to move pieces around. As of right now, Toronto has a projected cap hit of $75,405,616, meaning they have $7,094,384 in projected space to use this summer.
Although it’s only a $1 million increase, it’s still a significant enough amount where it catapults you into a bit of comfortability with the Jack Campbell negotiations. I’m not sure how much it changes, really, but you’d think discussions could get a little warmer as we get closer to July.
Add that with the report that the Maple Leafs are just finishing their pro scouting meetings and this could end up being an interesting few weeks. Again, though, it’s only a million bucks and other players need to be added to Toronto’s roster too, so it’s not that big of a change.
But the salary cap rise isn’t just good for this season, but the future of a cap world in the NHL. Let’s be frank, players need to be paid a lot more for their work and it’s about time they did so. To get to that point, the salary cap needs to go up significantly.
And maybe it will.

Bettman stated HRR was just over $5.2b in 21-2 …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Pre-2022 Blue Jays Top Prospect Countdown – No. 6: Spencer Horwitz

In 2018 and 2019, the Jays found three prospects chosen in the 20th round or later who could impact the major league roster in a few years. Vinny Capra went 20th in 2018 and Nick Fraze went 22nd in 2019. Two rounds later, the Jays drafted their 6th best prospect, Spencer Horwitz

Other than Horwitz, name me a Blue Jays first baseman in the system who could potentially back up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Personally, I can’t come up with one. I’ve written about Spencer before, mainly focusing on his 2021 season. However, I’ll go further in depth about his career as a whole.
Background:
As mentioned earlier, Horwitz, a left handed batter, was drafted in the 24th round of the 2019 draft. This could be because his college stats didn’t jump off the page. He slashed .288/.387/.850 in three seasons with Radford University. However, through his three years at the school, you notice a trend starts to appear.
In his freshman season, he walked 23 times and struck out 32 times in his 206 plate appearances. He followed that up with 34 a piece in his sophomore season in 2018. In his last season, his junior season, he walked 45 times while only striking out 29 times.
In his first professional season, he slashed .330/.395/.866 with three home runs with the FCL team. His BB% sat at 9.9% wh …

Read More

Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

How Matt Chapman can get back to being a great hitter for the Blue Jays

From 2018 to 2019 Matt Chapman was one of the most valuable players in baseball. He hit a combined .263/.348/.507 good for a 132 wRC+. That batting line plus his outstanding defence at third made Chapman the sixth most valuable position player over those two seasons, worth 12.8 WAR.

Earlier this off-season I wrote about Chapman as a player who could be “the next Marcus Semien.” The reasoning behind this was Chapman was once an elite player who had taken a dip after a somewhat disappointing (by his standards) 2021 season. Chapman was still a good player last season; he hit 27 home runs, played his usual tremendous defence at third, and was worth 3.4 WAR.
However, this season had its warts. A 32.5% strikeout rate and a career-low .210 average. Outside of the home runs, he didn’t hit for much power, a .403 slugging percentage and .193 isolated slugging were both career lows. He did walk at a career-high 12.9% clip, but his OBP was still below average at .314.
His struggles at the plate really began in 2020. He had a hip injury that needed surgery in September that year. He had the torn labrum repaired and was able to play in 151 games in 2021 but as he explained to Shayna Rubin of The Mercury News, the injury forced him into some bad habits that season.
“I was in pain and not able to do the things I wanted to do,” he said. That led to Chapman creating some bad habits in the batter’s box as he tried to compensate for the pain in his back leg.
“Subconsciously I started using some of my bigger muscles and trying to muscle the ball to get bat speed instead of taking a direct, quick swing and use my back side,” C …

Read More

Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

3 Toronto Raptors players who exceeded expectations in 2020-21

3 Toronto Raptors players who exceeded expectations in 2020-21

On May 25th, 2019, the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals en route to winning the coveted Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. It was a stark contrast to May 10 of this season, just under 2 years late, when the Raptors found out that they were officially eliminated […]
3 Toronto Raptors players who exceeded expectations in 2020-21 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Shaun Suares / Raptors HQ

3 title winners from the last decade the 2019 Toronto Raptors are better than

3 title winners from the last decade the 2019 Toronto Raptors are better than

The Toronto Raptors’ 2-year anniversary of the 2019 title less than a month away, which prompted a little sentimental project. The Raps’ title run has always been regarded as a “fluke/asterisk/whatever-you-want-to-call-it” championship for most people south of the border who follow sports, citing the Golden State Warriors’ parade of injuries as the main reason. That’s […]
3 title winners from the last decade the 2019 Toronto Raptors are better than – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Eddie Huband / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors: Matt Thomas proving his worth with the Raptors

Toronto Raptors: Matt Thomas proving his worth with the Raptors

Matt Thomas was signed in 2019 by the Toronto Raptors to a three-year deal. Now in his sophomore season, the Raptors shooting guard is making it difficult to keep him out of the lineup. Saturday night’s preseason game was an affirmation of why the Toronto Raptors signed Matt Thomas to a three-year contract. He is […]
Toronto Raptors: Matt Thomas proving his worth with the Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Pontus Holmberg is the Leafs 19th ranked prospect

I wrote Holmberg’s 2019 Prospect Ranking, and one of my key points was how the Leafs traded for a pick to draft him. That’s a universal indicator that the team has intimate knowledge of a player, in this case it would be from Swedish scout Thommie Bergman. He is the same scout the Leafs had assigned to Sweden at the time they drafted Nylander, Johnsson, Engvall, and Liljegren, so it’s safe to say they trust his judgement.
Holmberg was selected in his second time eligible for the draft, 156th overall (2018). He played in 2 SHL games that season but didn’t record a point, playing mostly in lower level Swedish leagues. It was 2018-19 where he had a breakout season, recording 10 points in 47 SHL games for Vaxjo.
Pontus remains on Vaxjo this season, where he mostly plays Center. There are three other Cs with more draws taken though, and he does quite poorly in the faceoff circle. Despite that he’s 6th amongst Vaxjo forwards in TOI/G, so he clearly spends some time on the wing as well.
Rank – Grade – NHL Readiness
19th – C – 2-4 YEARS
Position: C
Age: 21
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 179 lbs
Shoots: Left
Drafted: 2018 6th round, 156th …

Read More

Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

In Rod the Leafs trust

After sitting out the first round of the 2019 draft, the Leafs had a chance on Tuesday night to make significant addition to their prospect pool thanks to a deal in which they acquired Pittsburgh’s 15th overall selection. There was plenty of speculation leading up to the draft that the Leafs would move the pick for immediate help, and it seems they may have been close to doing so after GM Kyle Dubas said they used the entire clock because they were in trade talks for the pick right down to the final second. He made sure to clarify the reasoning for them going down to the wire, stating there was no debate about who they were choosing if they kept the pick.

Kyle Dubas says Leafs went to time limit because trade discussions were ongoing. Leafs were not debating whom to pick at 15.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) October 7, 2020

Following an unusual scene where commissioner Gary Bettman stepped to the podium to announce that Toronto’s time had run out and they needed to call a timeout or make the pick, Mitch Marner stepped in front of the camera in the Leafs’ makeshift war room to welcome Russian winger Rodion Amirov …

Read More

Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Leafs prospect Kalle Loponen is headed back to Finland

The Maple Leafs’ 7th round selection in the 2019 draft is set to continue his career in Finland after making the jump across the pond to play for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves for the 2019-2020 season. It is expected that 19 year old defenceman Kalle Loponen will re-join Karpat in Finland’s top professional league whenever they begin play next season.

Sudbury Wolves have protected G Frederik Dichow ahead of Tuesday’s #CHLImportDraft, as well as F Matej Pekar on an overage list. D Kalle Loponen intends to play in Finland next season and Wolves have released his rights. They’ll make two picks on Tuesday. #ohl— Ben Leeson (@ben_leeson) June 25, 2020

The 5’11 right handed defenceman had a solid debut season in North America, registering 6 goals and 18 assists in 56 games for Sudbury. 17 of those points came on the power play where his heavy point shot became a consistent weapon over the course of the season.

ICYMI!! #25 Kalle Loponen Wolves lead 3-2 pic.twitter.com/PQMxxCHHWW— Sudbury Wolves (@Sudbury_Wolves) November 2, 2019

After a decent showing against his peers in the OHL, Loponen will look to continue his development playing against older and tougher competition. Opportunities will be harder …

Read More

Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation