Meet Brennan Menell, Toronto’s newest RD

Thirty minutes before the opening of free agency, the Maple Leafs announced a trade:

TRADE: We’ve acquired the rights to defenceman Brennan Menell from Minnesota in exchange for a conditional seventh-round selection in 2022. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 28, 2021

The 7th rounder is conditional on Menell playing 30 games for the Leafs this season. The 5’11” RD played last season in the KHL, and will compete with Timothy Liljegren for the bottom pair RD role.
Menell’s first season in the WHL was also his NHL draft year, making him a bit of a late bloomer. In his age 18 and 19 OHL seasons, he then put up 53 and 71 points, respectively. It’s extremely rare for undrafted D to put up over a point per game in the WHL, and Menell was quickly snapped up by hometown Minnesota on a 3 year ELC.
In his first two AHL seasons Menell recorded 69 points in 142 games, establishing himself as an up and coming offensive defenseman. Unfortunately for him, Minnesota was stacked on D at the time. When a spot finally opened up in 19-20, it was Carson Soucy who got the opportunity to step up to the NHL, and Menell needed to find another route.

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Deadline Primer: The Rotation

Before we get started, it’s important to point out that the starting rotation options for this trade deadline are bleak at best. The likely strategy for most teams looking for pitching help will be to add to the bullpen, and The Blue Jays should be no different. But let’s have a look at some of the potential targets if Ross Atkins and the front office do decide to venture into a heavy seller’s market.

In 2020, the team added Taijuan Walker who had barely pitched in the two and a half years before becoming a Blue Jay. The acquisition cost was next to nothing, and the additions of starters-turned-relievers Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling were likely in the same vein. Walker went on to make six starts in a Blue Jays uniform and performed extremely well, exceeding all expectations. A similar, low-risk-high-reward move could be in the cards for The Jays this trade deadline, however, The Jays rotation is much more solidified this season than it was last.
Robbie Ray has emerged as the clear-cut ace of the staff, and despite a rough patch, Hyun-Jin Ryu appears to be getting back on track. A top of the rotation …

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Author: DeuceDoucette / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs preseason starts September 25th

It’s the day before the NHL schedule comes out, there’s an expansion draft going on, and you are probably more interested in the entry draft, free agency, and whatever trades Kyle Dubas might have up his sleeve. Still, a preseason schedule is still news, so here we are joyfully dumping it on our website for you to reference.

Preseason dates are set #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 21, 2021

Following a year that saw the Leafs only play against Canadian teams, I can’t think of anything I’m less enthused about than seeing that continue, but I assume there’s some recognition of the ease of limiting border crossings when possible, and that’s what drove this situation.
It also gives us a time frame for when we’ll start watching actual hockey again, which is nice and I can’t wait to read way too much into how the Leafs will do from these games.
The regular season will be released tomorrow, and we’ll take a much more meaningful look at that. I promise.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs acquire Jared McCann ahead of expansion draft roster freeze

Kyle Dubas managed to complete a deal before the NHL’s expansion draft trade/waiver freeze took effect, acquiring center Jared McCann in exchange for Filip Hållander and a seventh round draft pick. McCann is under contract for one more season with a cap hit of $2.94 million and he will be a restricted free agent next offseason.

The #leafs send prospect Filip Hallander back to the #pens — he was acquired in the Kasperi Kapanen trade last fall.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 17, 2021

McCann, 25, is a former first round pick of the Vancouver Canucks who put up 14 goals and 18 assists in 43 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2020-21. The Stratford, Ontario native also spent three seasons with the Soo Greyhounds so he is something of a known commodity for Dubas and the Leafs’ front office.
It was no secret that the Leafs had to improve their forward depth and McCann will provide versatility while driving play and adding some secondary scoring. He has the ability to play both wing and center, and can play a solid two-way game up and down the Leafs’ lineup.

Jared McCann, acquired by TOR, is a very good two-way middle …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Dreger reporting that Zach Hyman has permission to speak to other teams

Before the crack of 9am Darren Dreger had new news that many Leafs fans didn’t want to hear…

Sources say the Maple Leafs have granted Zach Hyman’s agent, Todd Reynolds permission to speak with other NHL clubs to investigate trading his rights.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 15, 2021

This isn’t surprising given that yesterday Pierre LeBrun was reporting a significant gap between the Leafs and Zach Hyman in their negotiations, and that it was almost certain he would be testing the waters of free agency.
This decision by the Leafs to allow the discussions allows for two things. The first being the slight possibility, as Dreger mentions, that the Leafs will be able to trade his rights. In that case the Leafs would likely be adding a mid to late round pick in a draft where any draft pick helps them.
The other thing is that when the Hyman camp explores their options they might not find a deal significantly better from what they will receive from the Leafs, and the preference might still be towards staying in Toronto. This is also unlikely, but hey, who am I to completely takeaway your hope?
The reality of this is this …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Tarasenko and Hall are certainly a couple of interesting names loosely connected to the Leafs

Before the Stanley Cup had even been lifted there were a couple of new rumours with connections to the Leafs involving a couple of big name players that seem to have equally big question marks attached to them and given the Leafs salary cap restraints, could be difficult acquisitions to pull off.
Still, hope is good, and talking about the Leafs improving will keep us afloat until an actual transaction, so let’s dive in.
Vladimir Tarasenko requests a trade
So we’ll start with the one that doesn’t have as strong a specific connection the Leafs, but the one that might be the higher reward opportunity. Tarasenko has been a solid perform the Blues, and one of the top offensive threats in the league for a number of years leading up to his third shoulder surgery that kept him out the lineup last season for all but 24 games, and prior to that he was limited to just 10 games in 2019-20. So there are some injury red flags here, but that’s what is bringing about the trade request. Tarasenko is unhappy with how the Blues managed his injuries and treatment as reported by Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic. 

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Let’s talk about Reese McGuire

So how about Reese McGuire? Before the season, he was designated for assignment and taken off the 40-man roster as the Blue Jays wanted to move forward with a Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk tandem. Unfortunately, Kirk got injured just over a month into the season meaning that Reese had a second chance with the team.

As he was out of options, he was placed on waivers. No one took him due to a terrible 2020 season and an off-field incident. Speaking of which, there will be no jokes in this blog, if you want to know my thoughts, read my pinned tweet.
The Jays rolled with Jansen and Reese for about two months before Jansen injured himself on the basepath in early June. 
In this blog, I will be discussing why Reese has hit so well, whether or not he can maintain it, his defensive abilities, and what they’ll do once Kirk and Jansen return.
Reese’s stats…
After platooning with #16 prospect Riley Adams, Reese eventually caught fire and has become their starting catcher. So far in June, Reese has 48 PA. In those PA’s, he has a .370 average, .396 OBP. He also has a wRC+ of 162 which is well …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs sign a new (future Vezina winning?) goaltender

Why not put pressure on the guy before the ink is even dry on his contract? We’ll spend the rest of this post walking back the title to something reasonable, but the we’ll start off by noting the organization’s shift towards bringing in as many goaltending prospects as possible in past few years. Now we’ll tell you who the new guy is…

We’ve signed goaltender Erik Källgren to a two-year, two-way contract. #LeafsForever
Details »
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 19, 2021

So that’s the guy. What we know about him comes largely from his eliteprospects page. He’s 24, 25 at the start of next season. He’s 6’3 and 198 lbs, so he’s sized like your prototypical goaltender, he’s Swedish, he’s a former pick of the Coyotes, but was buried behind a couple of their goaltending prospects who are now establishing themselves, and he was a teammate of Leafs prospect Pontus Holmberg this year, which means he was part of that championship team. Fun fact there, he had a .930 save percentage in the playoffs.


 Nacka HK U16
U16 …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Ross Atkins talks about Nate Pearson, Thomas Hatch, Alek Manoah, Gabe Moreno, and more!

Before Sunday’s rubber match against the Phillies, general manager Ross Atkins had a media availability in which he provided injury updates on George Springer, Thomas Hatch, and Nate Pearson while also talking about a handful of prospects in the system who are on the team’s radar.

Here’s everything in note form…

The team doesn’t expect Nate Pearson to miss “too much time at all” with the shoulder injury he’s currently dealing with (Uh oh! When have we heard this one before??????). Pearson made one start for the Blue Jays last Sunday, struggled, and was sent back down to Triple-A. Once Pearson is healthy, it seems the plan this time around will be to keep him down for a little longer so he can get his command and rhythm under control.
The Blue Jays are apparently very encouraged by Alek Manoah’s showing thus far in Triple-A (duh) and his MLB readiness is something the team is discussing currently. Atkins wouldn’t put a timeline on when Manoah will get called up but he did say there wasn’t a major concern about any kind of innings limit for the 2019 first-round pick this year. Manoah only …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Why did the Leafs trade for David Rittich?

So, Kyle Dubas decided to try and slip one by us before we all went to bed and it didn’t work. The Leafs acquired David Rittich from Calgary in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022 just after 10PM.
This could mean a lot of things (that you’ll have to find out by watching the video)!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation