Erik Kallgren hasn’t been stellar lately, but he’s the best backup option currently available

Erik Kallgren is now 11 games into his NHL career and to say it has been quite the adventure would be putting it mildly.
When he was called upon to make his NHL debut against the Coyotes on March 10th with his team down big, few could have envisioned the positive impact he would bring to a team that was desperate for some stability in the crease. Surrendering a combined three goals in his first three appearances (including a shutout in his debut start), he made good on the chance he earned through a strong showing with the Marlies this season.
Kallgren wasn’t supposed to take over the crease for good since it’s not often a rookie netminder can maintain strong play through his first stint in the NHL. He was given an extended look because of Petr Mrazek’s inconsistent play and subsequent injury, and because there aren’t many other options available once Jack Campbell was cleared to return.
But since his start against the Hurricanes on March 17th, there has only been one appearance where Kallgren posted a save percentage above .900 (April 9th against the Canadiens). Six of those appearances have resulted in a SV% of .870 or lower, and all but one of those games saw him concede at least three goals.
This has been a rough eight-game stretch that has culminated in an uninspiring stat line of 3.70 GAA, a .867 SV%, and a 4-3-1 record. Is Kallgren simply going through a funk or is this who he is?

Scotiabank Arena loves Erik Kallgren pic.twitter.com/TloxQPxZDZ
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 16, 2022

For every Jordan Binnington, Matt Murray, and Andrew Hammond who made an immediate impact that carried their team to great heights, there are countless other examples of other rookie goalies who take some time to adj …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

‘I personally feel the most comfortable I’ve felt in an NHL locker room’: Simmonds has the Maple Leafs’ back, and they have his

Wayne Simmonds has been through a lot in his NHL career, but in Toronto, he’s as comfortable as ever.
Entering an NHL locker room is never easy. Coming in as a brand new player, you want to fit in with as many players as possible.
You don’t want to rock the boat.
On Monday, though, we witnessed how tight-knit this Maple Leafs group really is.
After the recent racist events that transpired in the last week to both Boko Imama and Jordan Subban, Maple Leafs captain, John Tavares addressed it after practice on Monday.
“Before I take any questions, I just want to say a few things just on the few racial incidents that have happened in our game over the last little while,” said Tavares before any reporter asked a question. “I think it’s really important to acknowledge the I think the recognition steps that have been taken over the last little while to improve eliminating racism in our game.
“But obviously, we have a lot of work to do with learning and discussion and understanding and how we can continue to apply that and make a difference. Just continue to make our game better and that much more inclusive, so I just thought it was important to acknowledge that today — somethin …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: 3-point shooting will be key for OG Anunoby’s MIP chances

Raptors: 3-point shooting will be key for OG Anunoby’s MIP chances

So far, it’s been a career year for OG Anunoby. He is averaging 20.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Anunoby is one of the key reasons why the Toronto Raptors are currently riding a five-game winning streak after such a sluggish start. His stats this season are good enough to be in […]
Raptors: 3-point shooting will be key for OG Anunoby’s MIP chances – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

Undrafted and on a quest: Jeremy McKenna’s first pro season with the Toronto Marlies

Jeremy McKenna’s career was right in front of him. Signing a one-year contract with the Stockton Heat in 2019 after not getting drafted, the then 20-year-old was ready to start his pro career.
But it wasn’t everything he imagined.
Two days prior to the Heat’s season starting, the team assigned McKenna to the Kansas City Mavericks, the Calgary Flames’ ECHL affiliate. After being sent down, the 20-year-old decided it was best for him go back to the QMJHL and play his fourth and final year with the Moncton Wildcats.
Moncton had the second-best record in the league, and two of the top eight point-getters in the 2019-20 season. McKenna had finished his final season in Moncton leading the team in goals with 40, along with 42 assists in 57 games. He also spent three of his four seasons as an assistant captain of the Wildcats. Then, three days before the end of the QMHJL’s regular season, the remainder of the season and playoffs was cancelled.
Everything went on pause. There was no hockey, and really, there was nothing.
That was the case, until a year later, when McKenna signed a two-year AHL contract with the Toronto Marlies. There was still …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The return of Rich Clune is a strong sign the Marlies will continue doing the right things

Admittedly the NHL career of Rich Clune wasn’t one that I particularly paid much attention to. And when Clune landed with the Marlies, I fell into the mindset of “oh another veteran that is supposedly here to help the kids, but really just isn’t ready to walk away from hockey.”
I didn’t take too long for me to realize I was wrong and Rich Clune is the real deal when it comes to supporting his young teammates, and preparing them for a life in pro hockey. The decision to make Clune the captain last year was a sound one and one that speaks to the organization continuing to do things the right way by not only avoiding putting prospects in leadership positions when they should be focusing on developing towards the NHL, but putting the right type of person in as the captain, one who cares about his teammates, one who has a commitment to putting in the work and will push others to do the same, and one who knows the game and is smart enough to transition into a power development or coaching role the second he no longer feels he wishes to wear the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

William Nylander might finally be getting the respect he deserves

For the first time in probably his entire career, William Nylander isn’t the poster boy for trade talks. Sure, you still have the occasional uncle that still thinks he’s overpaid, but for the most part, people seem to think it’s crazy to see him go.
Now, he partially has Mitch Marner to thank for that, who has taken the mantle of trade hot takes after another underwhelming playoff performance, especially since signing his high priced second deal, but Nylander has also put up the performance to back up his own contract.
He also helped himself by his playoff performance, scoring goals in the first four games and scoring the lone goal in Game 7, as well as three assists for eight points in seven games. Now, that Game 7 goal came in garbage time when the game was already over, but we probably would have said the same thing last year about his 3-1 goal in Game 4 against Columbus if that was the Leafs lone goal of that game.
On a Leafs team with top end talent that couldn’t produce in the playoffs, Nylander did, and he shouldn’t be the first player in the core that comes …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Good Ross Stripling Has Arrived

Ross Stripling’s Blue Jays career did not start as expected after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2020 Trade Deadline.
In 15.2 innings in 2020, Stripling had a 6.32 ERA. The underlying numbers were better, a 3.70 FIP and 4.10 xFIP, but, given the cost of acquisition, this left a sour taste in people’s mouths. It didn’t help when to start 2021 Stripling was even worse with a 7.20 ERA in six starts, which had many believing the Blue Jays would be better off just cutting him loose.

Things change! After getting lit up by Boston on May 19, Stripling made some changes to his delivery, trying to hide the ball more, as you can see in this great video from Chris Black…

On the left: Ross Stripling’s start on May 19 vs BOS (he got shelled)
On the right: His last appearance (7 scoreless IP)
A bit more of a delivery…
But also, hands tucked closer to his body for majority of delivery, which hides the ball, especially when hands separate. pic.twitter.com/XA9FZZQ6YJ
— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) May 30, 2021

To say the changes had worked would be an understatement…

Innings
ERA
FIP
xFIP
BABIP
HR/FB

Before May 19
25.0
7.20
5.44
4.34
.392
19.4

After May 19
35.1
2.29
3.53
3.95
.202
10.5

*Stats …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Why trading Norman Powell was the right move

Toronto Raptors: Why trading Norman Powell was the right move

After spending six seasons with one team in his career, Norman Powell saw his time with the Toronto Raptors is over, as the team traded Powell to the Portland Trail Blazers for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood during the NBA trade deadline. Powell has some memorable moments during his time in Toronto, like the […]
Toronto Raptors: Why trading Norman Powell was the right move – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors: Is Victor Oladipo a better long-term play than Norman Powell?

Toronto Raptors: Is Victor Oladipo a better long-term play than Norman Powell?

Norman Powell had a career year with the Toronto Raptors, he is currently averaging 19.6 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game. Powell became a key player for the Raptors, but they decided to trade him to the Portland Trail Blazers. On a day where stars like Nikola Vucevic and […]
Toronto Raptors: Is Victor Oladipo a better long-term play than Norman Powell? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

Leafs by the Numbers: Jimmy Vesey

Jimmy Vesey’s number is 17, which represents his career high in goals, a mark he hit twice while playing with the New York Rangers.
Now, 17 is not an eye-popping number, but it is a respectable number of goals. 17 goals would have been good enough for fifth on last year’s Maple Leafs team. It would have been good enough for eighth on the 2018/2019 Leafs, ahead of Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau. Last year, it would have edged out the likes of Brock Boeser, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Mitch Marner to name a few. So, no, while 17 goals the kind of production that can, say, make a player like William Nylander expendable, it’s still a more than acceptable contribution coming from one of your middle six wingers.

More @DarrenDreger on @Leafs_Lunch: “Had Toronto landed Jimmy Vesey, I would think Nylander probably would have been gone by now.”
— Leafs Lunch (@LeafsLunch1050) November 29, 2016

Herein, however, lies the issue. Jimmy Vesey did not score 17 goals in 2019/2020. He didn’t even come particularly close. As a member of the Buffalo Sabres, Jimmy Vesey finished his season with a total of 9 goals, failing to reach double digits for the first time in his …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation