How has free agency gone so far for the Leafs?

Week one of free agency is coming to a close. The money is gone, but so are the most critical holes in the roster. The path to cap compliance is there, and there generally seems to be a sense of excitement around the Leafs to traditionally comes with the luxury of just looking at the team on paper, but how do we really feel about them? Some of our writers have weighed in on how free agency has gone so far for the Leafs…
Michael Mazzei (@theleafsimo)
Overall, I’m pleased with how the Leafs have done so far in free agency. After Alex Pietrangelo, TJ Brodie was the best defenceman available and adding him was critical in solidifying the depth on the blue line. Kyle Dubas talked about wanting to  make the Leafs tougher to play against, and the additions of both Wayne Simmonds and Zach Bogosian should provide just that and add some valuable veteran leadership in the locker room. I also thought the Leafs did well on their depth signings, with Jimmy Vesey being the most intriguing of the bunch. And the addition of Aaron Dell will help improve the goaltending depth. I still believe they need …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The 2020/21 Schedules could lead to opportunities sooner for Leafs prospects

Now that the NHL is close to finalizing it’s return to play and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement some timelines are beginning to become a bit more apparent. We know the intention is that we see hockey start being played in August and that it will run to mid-October. We know the intention is that November 1st is the start of free agency, and as a result of that we’re probably looking at early January as the start of training camps. We also know a few things more prospect centric.

August 10th will be the second draft lottery
Mid October is the target for the draft itself

What we don’t know is a lot. All of the prospect laden leagues completely shutdown. There is no return to play to finish up their years, it will be a fresh start, and presumably that fresh start could come as soon as September/October, although if the NHL isn’t playing hockey in Hub cities until August, it seems like a stretch to believe buses of teenagers will be driving from town to town to play in empty arenas.
If the junior hockey season were continuing …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Decision looming on the 24 team playoff format

It seems like the NHL is very close to finalizing what the format for a return to play on 2019-20 season would look like.

Things continue to inch closer on a Return to Play format. Still not done, however. My sense is the league now waiting to hear back from the NHLPA on latest 24-team format tweaks. Expectation is both sides will chat again on this today or tomorrow…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 21, 2020
Now that doesn’t do anything to address where the games will be played, when they would start, what a return of the players would look like, and the thousand other important logistical questions that need to be considered, but it’s a start.
Some of the key details that are know are as follows (via Sportsnet):
The top four seeds (based on points percentage) in the East would be Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia. Top four in the West would be St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas. They would receive byes through the play-in, but participate in a three-game tournament to get some action.
The rest of the playoffs would be “bracketed.” That means, in both conferences 5 vs. 12, 6 vs. 11, 7 …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Absolutely, the Leafs Madness: Final first round matchups

It’s the end of week one and we’ll close out the final two regions of our first round today. We’ve got Your Grandpa’s Leafs (the Leafs that won cups) and the False Hope Leafs (the Leafs that regularly lost in the Conference Finals). Arguably this makes up the best 75% of the franchise’s history.
Here’s are the tournament results so far…

And now your matchups…

Your Grandpa’s Leafs Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 20, 2020
Seems like a tall order for Ace Bailey to go up against probably the most universally loved Leaf, but we’ll see how this plays out.

Your Grandpa’s Leafs Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 20, 2020
Barilko is a big part of the Leafs history, but on the other hand there’s a picture of Turk Broda eating pancakes in his crease.

Your Grandpa’s Leafs Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 20, 2020
This is a very personal matchup for me. As it’s my Dad’s favourite player (Mahovlich) up against his favourite hockey story to tell me growing up (the legend …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Takeaways from Toronto Raptors devastating loss to San Antonio Spurs

The Toronto Raptors blew yet another close game at home against the San Antonio Spurs. What did we learn from the game? For the first time in a while, the Toronto Raptors entered a game nearing full health. Nick Nurse welcomed back Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell to the lineup, while the city of Toronto […]
Takeaways from Toronto Raptors devastating loss to San Antonio Spurs – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Thomas Valentine / Raptors HQ

2020 World Series Odds: Opening Betting Futures

by OddsShark (@OddsShark)
Coming close to a championship helps shape World Series futures for the following autumn, but it is not necessarily a predictor of success.
One week after the Washington Nationals raised the Commissioner’s Trophy, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees have opened as +600 co-favorites on the 2020 World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Los Angeles Dodgers (+800), Atlanta Braves (+1200), Boston Red Sox (+1200), Cleveland Indians (+1500), the aforementioned Nationals (+1500), Philadelphia Phillies (+2000) and St. Louis Cardinals (+2200) are also high on the board at online betting sites.
Most casual fans are probably aware that no team has gone back-to-back since the 1998-2000 Yankees won three championships in a row. Something that might be lesser known is that recent World Series champions have not necessarily come off gangbuster seasons. The last eight champions averaged 84.5 wins in the season prior. Only the 2016 Chicago Cubs were coming off a season with 95-plus wins, while the 2018 Boston Red Sox are the only one who came into the season defending a division title.
With that said, the Astros have at least reached the ALCS round in three consecutive seasons and will, give or take Gerrit Cole, retain a nucleus that includes pitchers Justin …

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Author: Nation World HQ / Blue Jays Nation

2019 Leafs Prospect Rankings – The Fence Sitters: Jesper Lindgren

I feel like we’re getting very close to the end of where we have to annually write about “Leafs prospect Jesper Lindgren.” I think I said that last year too, and writing about him always feels like drawing the short straw. It feels like he’s been a part of the organization a lot longer than 2015 and my brain keeps associating him with being a Burke or Nonis pick. That being said, here’s the same Jesper Lindgren scouting report you’ve been reading every year. If you want to skip it, assume I just said we’ll see what he does in North America before deciding what he is, and then hope we have a more interesting prospect tomorrow, no one will blame you. If you want to trust that last season was a special one for Lindgren (it kinda was) then you can keep on reading.
Position: RDTLN Ranking from 2018: 16thDrafted: 2015 4th round (95th overall) 
Why is Lindgren in this tier?
The most obvious reason is that at no point over his time as a Leafs prospect has he been particularly bad. There’s just the opposing issue of that fact that he hasn’t stood out …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Report: Leafs Working on Zaitsev Trade to Ottawa

It appears as if the Toronto Maple Leafs could be close to shedding Nikita Zaitsev’s $4.5M AAV salary off of their payroll.

Hearing OTT/TOR are working on a Zaitsev deal. Might not happen for a couple of days, but it’s in the process.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 29, 2019

Moments after Elliotte Friedman came out with his report that the Leafs and Ottawa were discussing a deal, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston tweeted that it’s believed that RFA defenceman Cody Ceci would be coming back the other way.
What Does This Mean?
Ceci’s perceived value in Ottawa, like Zaitsev’s in Toronto, is a point of contention within the fan base and, with that in mind, many in Leafs Nation could be scared away by this potential trade. The thing is, however, it’s more likely than not that the Leafs will flip Ceci to another team immediately upon acquiring him. Right-handed defencemen are a hot commodity these days, and surely the Leafs would have no shortage of suitors for Ceci.
In fact, Ceci probably has a higher trade value than Zaitsev at the moment, given how he’s a pending restricted free agent and two years younger, …

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Author: Jacob Stoller / The Leafs Nation

Report: Leafs and Kapanen Close to a Contract Extension

The Leafs may be close to knocking one RFA off of their list this offseason.
According to Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston, the Leafs and Kasperi Kapanen are close to a contract extension.

It sounds like Kasperi Kapanen and the #leafs are getting closer on an extension.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 21, 2019

Kapanen is one of three big RFAs that the Leafs need to sign this offseason, along with Andreas Johnsson and Mitch Marner.
While Marner’s talks have been well publicized, and we’ve seen some talk about what Johnsson has been offered, Kappy’s contract talks have been relatively quiet, so there isn’t a lot to go off of in terms of what this contract may look like.
Kapanen is technically in his fourth season with the Leafs, even though this was his first full season, and also his first in a prominent role with the team.
He broke out this year playing alongside Auston Matthews with a 20 goal, 44 point season. He had shown flashes of it in his 2017-18 season in a limited fourth line role, and on the penalty kill, which has evolved into one of his specialities with the team, along with his speed.
Kapanen was …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

On the Raptors making the NBA Finals, and closure

The Raptors making the Finals helped close up a decade-old wound. Sports, man. On April 4th, 2010, I could have done something else. It was weekend afternoon in high school — surely there was a Wii in a friend’s basement I would have been welcome to play, or a laid back set of parents opening up their house to a bunch of idiot 12th graders looking to be idiot 12th graders. To be 17 is to spread yourself thin socially. There were options that day.
The plan I landed on didn’t involve any of my high school pals. It involved my best friend, my Grandpa Jack.
***
A few months earlier, my family decided to go out for Christmas dinner. It was an executive decision from the higher-ups — mom and grandma — after they deemed cooking a turkey was too much of a damn chore, and it’d be worth transferring the group of 15 or so who’d come to our place every year to a restaurant up the street. It was an unremarkable meal, from what I recall. The turkey didn’t taste like grandma’s, the stuffing was a little soggy, there were sides, I’m sure, but I couldn’t …

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Author: Sean Woodley / Raptors HQ