What to expect from Morgan Rielly this summer?

Morgan Rielly entered the 2019-20 season at an all-time high. Fresh off a career high 20-goal, 72-point season that saw Rielly finish fifth in Norris Trophy voting, I for one was very excited to see what kind of encore performance Rielly would give us this year. Unfortunately, Rielly failed to improve upon or even replicate his performance from last season. Injuries to himself and others on the team, ice-time allocation, a coaching change and more all contributed to Rielly have a down year. Fortunately for Rielly, this extended lay-off has presumably provided Rielly (and others) with ample time to get healthy in time for the NHL’s return to play plan.
By the Numbers

One of the biggest reasons for Rielly’s production nosediving this season is the powerplay. Rielly recorded a pedestrian seven powerplay points this year, compared to 21 the year before. The decrease in powerplay production can be chalked up to Keefe flipping Rielly and Barrie on the powerplay. With the powerplay struggling late into Mike Babcock’s final games as head coach and continuing once Sheldon Keefe took over, something had to be changed and Rielly got the short end of the stick. On …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

Worst Leafs Trades Since 1967 Countdown – No. 1: Rask for Raycroft

Tuukka Rask is the all-time leader in wins among goaltenders drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Every single one of those wins has been with the Boston Bruins.

After the 2005-06 season, it was clear that the Leafs needed a new starting goaltender. Despite boasting a strong offence, poor goaltending was a key reason why the Leafs came up just short of making the playoffs in the first season after the lockout.
Father Time had clearly caught up with Ed Belfour, as the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer posted a .892 save percentage in 49 starts. Former top prospect Mikael Tellqvist clearly wasn’t the solution, as he had put together a .895 save percentage over 40 career starts. The de facto best option was journeyman J-S Aubin, who came in and put up a .924 save percentage in an 11-game heater down the stretch. But Aubin was a career backup, so buying into a small sample size like that obviously wouldn’t have been prudent.
Toronto had goaltenders in their system, but none of them were close to being ready to take over an NHL net.
There was Justin Pogge, Toronto’s third-round pick from the 2004 draft. Pogge was coming off …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

ESPN picks their All-Time Starting Five for the Toronto Raptors

ESPN has ranked the Toronto Raptors All-Time starting five, and they surprisingly got it right. ESPN and hot takes, or ESPN and lists, ESPN and… actually you get the point. ESPN has released a brand new All-Time Starting Five for every team in the NBA, including the Toronto Raptors. These are usually always controversial or […]
ESPN picks their All-Time Starting Five for the Toronto Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors: ESPN ranks Kawhi Leonard 25th All-Time

ESPN released their All-time list and ranked Kawhi Leonard 25th. Much of the reason he ranks so highly is because of his time with the Toronto Raptors and what the has done for the city. Every year there is a new list determining who the best NBA players are. Whether it is all time or […]
Toronto Raptors: ESPN ranks Kawhi Leonard 25th All-Time – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

How NHL superstar Sidney Crosby almost ended up in Toronto

Sidney Crosby is one of the most storied NHL players of all-time. He’s a part of the storied Triple Gold club, he’s got three Stanley Cup rings, and all the accolades in the NHL to show he’s one of the best to ever do it.

But his NHL career almost didn’t happen in thanks to an attempt to revive a long lost hockey league.
It started in 2003 when two men — Allan Howell and Dr. Nick Vaccaro — decided to revive the World Hockey Association that got snuffed out by the NHL in 1979. The pair brought on Bobby Hull to commission the league, and off they went their first attempt at running the league.
Howell and Vaccaro had plans to have 12 teams play in the inaugural 2004-05 season with each team having a $10-million salary cap, with an exception for one marquee player.
The plan was to capitalize on an impending lockout and bring more hockey to the table.
“Right now, the number of (NHL) players that are under contract past 2004 you can probably count on your hands and feet,” Howell told The Canadian Press’ Pierre LeBrun in July 2003. & …

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Is it time to take the leap?

Animosity towards the Cleveland Boys is at an all-time high right now. Given how turbulent Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins’ relationship with the fanbase has been since their arrival back in late-2015, that’s really saying something.

Despite performances from the organization’s future core in Vlad Jr, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Lourdes Gurriel, fans were pushed over the edge by this year’s fire sale at the trade deadline. Firing off Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, the final major connections to the 2015 and 2016 runs, gave the impression that the Blue Jays are nowhere near even trying to be competitive.
Atkins preached the importance of those trades for helping to add to a massive pile of depth the organization has in the minor leagues. Unsurprisingly, fans didn’t echo Atkins’ glee over the advent of turning 12 years of control into 42 years of control.
On Thursday, Mark Shapiro made an hour-long availability to media in order to do some damage control and remind the fanbase of the front office’s long-term vision. There are plenty of breakdowns to read about what Shapiro said (here, here, here, and here), but the major thing to take away from this talk was around …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Temperature: The equation for the Raptors always equals KL squared

After a disappointing Game 1, Kawhi turned in an all-time Raptors playoff performance and Lowry bounced back. After Game 2, the temperature is much hotter in Toronto Noting that Kawhi Leonard is a Raptor feels like an appropriate way to start off because he was spectacular in Game 2. Against the Magic, he scored 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting, to go along with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He was awesome, playing with a verve that went above all of his other Raptors’ playoff performances.
Still, this isn’t a Leonard appreciation post — at least not entirely. In the Raptors 1-1 week, some things were “Hot,” like Pascal Siakam’s athleticism and Kyle Lowry’s bounce back performance, and some things were “Not,” like Fred VanVleet’s play and Orlando’s Game 1 three-point outbreak.
That’s right, it’s time to take the Toronto Temperature.
Who’s Hot

Kyle Lowry Bounce Back
Lowry’s Game 1 performance has been well documented. He was good around the edges — playing to a +11 — but was both passive and ineffective shooting the ball, finishing the game with zero points on 0-of-7 shooting from the field.
A poor shooting night can happen to any player, of course, but …

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Author: Ben_Scott / Raptors HQ