Bobby McMann: From the ECHL to a two-year contract with the Maple Leafs

Bobby McMann began this season with the Newfoundland Growlers in the ECHL, but after four games, everything changed.
His four points in four games was good enough to get a call-up to the Marlies after Nick Robertson went down with an injury. Once he was called up, the 25-year-old never looked back.
McMann’s first full AHL season started with him in the Marlies’ bottom-six, not really getting much opportunity. Slowly but surely, throughout an injury riddled season for Toronto, the 25-year-old got his chance higher in the lineup, and that’s where he stayed.
Although he found himself lower in the lineup, at times, it wasn’t due to a lack of good play. At one point back in February, the Marlies had a top-nine with Nick Ritchie, Brett Seney, Joey Anderson, Joseph Blandisi, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Nick Robertson, Kyle Clifford, Antti Suomela, and Nick Robertson.
But McMann stuck with his hard work and eventually found his opportunity back in the Marlies top-six, and he even secured a job on the first power play unit where he’s now a mainstay.
“I’m confident and happy with where I’m at right now, definitely not content.” Said the 25-year-old in a 1-on-1 interview earlier this season. “I always want to be better and obviously I think I’m showing th …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors must rediscover defensive identity for Game 2

Toronto Raptors must rediscover defensive identity for Game 2

The Toronto Raptors began their 2022 playoff run with a disappointing 131-111 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night. It was a strange start to the postseason for the Raptors, as they struggled in several areas where they normally have the advantage. First, the Raptors made a name for themselves on the road, winning 24 […]
Toronto Raptors must rediscover defensive identity for Game 2 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Should Matthew Knies turn pro and sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs?

The Matthew Knies hype train began in the fall when he arrived at the University of Minnesota for his freshman season, slowly building over the first half of the year leading into the World Juniors. Since then, the train has gone completely off the rails, gaining speed and picking up new passengers left and right.
It’s to be expected when looking at a player like Knies, really. The fact his freshman year has been so strong combined with his unique skill set and size in the Leafs organization has resulted in fans salivating at the thought of adding him to the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff roster.
What’s not to love? A 6-foot-3 left-winger who is strong on the forecheck, funnels the puck to the middle of the ice, has become an improved transitional player, and has an underrated shot to go with it all? No wonder some want to see him at 2LW with John Tavares and William Nylander.

Holy crap Matthew Knies pic.twitter.com/WMpRvI9Y0Z
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) December 5, 2021

I’m here to play the role of the fun police today, unfortunately. While Matthew Knies has been a joy to watch flourish this year with the Golden Gophers, the hype and expectations have become unrealistically high at this point of his young career. While some have made it seem like a slam dunk, easy decision for the 19-year-old to turn pro at the end of the NCAA season and join the Leafs roster prior to the playoffs, I don’t think it’s remotely as straightforward as it has been made out to be.
Before diving into the reasons Knies should spend another season in t …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs trade Brennan Menell to the Flyers for Future Considerations

As quickly as it began, the Brennan Menell era has ended in Toronto.

**Beeakjng News** @MapleLeafs trade @TheAHL D Brendan Mennell to @NHLFlyers for Future Considerations .@espn @NHLNetwork #HockeyTwitter pic.twitter.com/nFoZJnEuVd
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) March 23, 2022

Prior to the deadline, Steve Dangle reported that the Leafs were trying to move Menell, who wanted a shot at the NHL level that wasn’t given to him with a crowded blueline in Toronto. He will get said chance on a Flyers team that is closer to the basement than a playoff spot so he should be able to get some playing time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, hence why they acquired the defenceman.
The move opens up a roster spot that the Leafs could use to sign anyone of their choosing. There are reports that Kyle Dubas is looking to sign Nick Abruzzese and Matthew Knies, the latter of whom Dubas did not want to move in the infamous botched trade for Marc-Andre Fleury and Brandon Hagel.
In 20 AHL games, Menell produced one goal, four assists, and five points.
Stats from HockeyDB.

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

3 position battles Toronto Raptors must watch in the second half

3 position battles Toronto Raptors must watch in the second half

The Toronto Raptors began the second half of the 2021-22 season in a very concerning fashion thanks to defeats against the Hornets and Hawks by 32 and 27 points, respectively. The once-feared lineup that was taking down Eastern contenders doesn’t look as mighty. Not only is Fred VanVleet dealing with an injury that is making […]
3 position battles Toronto Raptors must watch in the second half – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Alex Kerfoot’s up and down season now points the Maple Leafs toward other options

When the season began, with the new addition David Kampf being clearly slotted into the 3rd line center role, the Leafs were left with a question about what to do with Alexander Kerfoot. The forward has played a mix of center and wing throughout his career, so there were options on the table, for sure. With the top 3 center jobs taken, obviously the left wing was where Kerfoot would fit in best this year.
Initially he started with the Kämpf line, but that didn’t quite work out. At the same time, the Leafs were trying to fit square peg Nick Ritchie into the round hole of the top 6. So, Kerfoot fell to the fourth line for a short time. However, when the Ritchie experiment started to come to an end, both Kerfoot and Michael Bunting rose to the occasion to fill roles on John Tavares and Auston Matthews’ left wings, respectively.
Now, after quite a slow streak the Leafs have started to rearrange things. 5 of Kerfoot’s worst 12 (25% of GP) games this season have come in the month of February, according to Dom Luszczyszyn‘s Game Score model, sourced from Hockey Stat Cards. Here is his 5-game rolling average in the same model from the same source:

That February flat line is what forced the demotion to the 3rd line. Many speculated that it would be the recently called up N …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs show their love for Rodion Amirov in his fight for his health

Maple Leafs show their love for Rodion Amirov in his fight for his health

Before the Toronto Maple Leafs began their morning skate to prepare for the Minnesota Wild, the club filmed a video tribute for prospect Rodion Amirov.
On Wednesday morning, Maple Leafs general manager announced their first-round draft selection from the 2020 NHL Draft was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“Rodion is currently undergoing treatment at a medical facility in Germany and will not return to play for the remainder of the season,” Dubas said as part of a longer statement about the news.
Amirov has played this season Salavat Ufa of the KHL but suffered an injury to open the season and other symptoms emerged during his recovery that eventually led to his current diagnosis.
The players on the Maple Leafs were made aware of Amirov’s news shortly after the team’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.
The result of that didn’t go our way and everything just kind of shifted and focused on hearing that news and hoping the best for him and thinking the world of him,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said on Thursday. “He’s deeply with us in our thoughts and wish him the best and know he’s fighting hard and doing a great job staying upbeat and positive and working toward that.”
In the v …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs 3 stars of the week: Auston Matthews makes franchise history, Michael Bunting bouncing back

The Toronto Maple Leafs began their six-game road trip last Saturday in Colorado to take on the Avalanche and I think we all know how that game ended up for Toronto. They took an early 3-0 lead and then a 4-1 lead but then proceeded to blow it and lose 5-4 in overtime. However, at least they grabbed a point on the road in a tough building against a very tough opponent. This week began in Vegas to take on the Golden Knights for the second and last time this season and, just like the game prior, the Maple Leafs grabbed an early lead and then proceeded to blow it. However, they managed to grab the win this time in a shootout and begin their road trip with three out of the possible four points.
They were on a back-to-back and were now on their way to Arizona to play the Coyotes for the first time since November of 2019 – which was Sheldon Keefe’s debut as Head Coach – but, unlike the two prior games, there wasn’t a lot of scoring going on and Toronto ran into Dominik Hasek himself in net as Karel Vajmelka made 4 …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

News and Notes: Tavares and Kaše miss practice, Holl back in Leafs lineup on Wednesday

The Leafs’ day began with Jack Campbell and Joseph Woll getting some work with goalie coach Steve Briere. Before and after, players such as Joey Anderson, Kirill Semyonov, Justin Holl, and a few others stepped onto the ice for extra work.
It was then time to shift over to the Leafs’ rink, which is where we got some news:

No sign of John Tavares at #leafs practice… Nick Ritchie wearing Top 6 blue (with Alex Kerfoot, Mitch Marner) … The rest, including Anderson and Semyonov, present and accounted for
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) November 9, 2021

John Tavares was one of two players missing from today’s practice. The other player absent was Ondřej Kaše.
It’s been a recent trend for Kaše to miss practices because of being banged up. What usually happens is, similar to Campbell, he’d be ready for the game. That’s all that matters.
In terms of Tavares, though, his absence could be some cause for concern. Sheldon Keefe says they’re both day-to-day and will be with the team on their road trip to Philadelphia.

Sheldon Keefe says both Tavares and Kase are banged up and day-to-day. Both will travel to Philly and will …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Down the Stretch They Come

As play began on August 13, Jays World was feeling pretty good about the prospect of watching our heroes make the playoffs in October. Toronto was 16-10 since the break, 29-17 over the previous (almost) eight weeks – the best record in the AL over that period – and George Springer had come back just as that turnaround was beginning and was as hot as any hitter in the game.

Looking ahead, it was easy to be excited about a schedule that promised as much as 10 wins in 15 even before you get to beat up on Baltimore. They were a mere 2 games out of the second Wild Card slot, and a half-game away from passing the Hated Yankees. It was a great time to make hay and a horrible time to go cold, and yet…here we are.
The Yankees went on a ridiculous 13 game win streak while the Jays stumbled to only six wins in that 15 with a barely-there offense most nights even though the starting pitching mostly delivered. Toronto lost EIGHT GAMES in the standings vs the Yankees in little more than two weeks. This little ill-time slumped has moved the Jays from the heart of the wild card race to …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation