Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2018 draft

Over the course of this week, I’ve been looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we finish off the series by reviewing the 2018 draft class for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first draft overseen by Kyle Dubas as general manager. With a fairly shallow prospect pool having seen major pieces graduate to the NHL roster in the two years prior to this draft, Dubas and the rest of the Leafs staff needed to hit on at least some of the picks to begin to restock the cupboards.
1st Round, 29th Overall – Rasmus Sandin, LD, OHL
At the time
Firstly, Kyle Dubas traded down from the 25th overall slot, adding a third-round pick by moving down four positions in the draft order.
Then, upon selecting Rasmus Sandin, many were thinking “here we go again” as Dubas’ first draft pick came from non-other than Sault Ste. Marie, the very OHL team Dubas had been the general manager of prior to his time with the Maple Leafs.
It was a bold move for Dubas to put aside the optics o …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2019 draft

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue on by reviewing the 2019 draft class for the Toronto Maple Leafs. This was the first time in nine years that the Leafs did not have a first-round pick, so the pressure was on Toronto’s staff to find some gems with the later picks they did still hold.
Toronto had six picks during the 2019 draft, and while none have become full-time NHLers just yet, we will be getting to the first two prospects that have actually made their NHL debut in today’s article.
2nd Round, 53rd Overall – Nick Robertson, LW, OHL
At the time
Heading into the 2019 draft, Nicholas Robertson was an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. While he was consistently ranked inside the first round by public rankings, including those released by the likes of Craig Button, Sam Cosentino, Chris Peters, Corey Pronman, Cam Robinson, and Scott Wheeler, Robertson’s lack of size meant he was a prime target to fall down draft boards.
T …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2020 draft, Part 2

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue by taking a look at the rest of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft after reviewing the first six selections Toronto made in yesterday’s look back.
As mentioned in the first part of the 2020 draft look back, the Maple Leafs were active on the trade front during this draft. As such, they held three picks in both the sixth round and eventually the seventh round, which we will take a look at in today’s article.
6th Round, 168th Overall – Veeti Miettinen, RW, Finland U20
At the time
A record scorer at the Finnish U20 level, Veeti Miettinen’s path to eventually play in the NCAA meant he could not play professional games prior to coming over to North America to join St. Cloud State. This meant that despite Miettinen’s dominant performances at the U20 level in Finland leading up to his draft year, he would have to remain at that level if he was to maintain NCAA eligibility.
He aga …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2020 draft, Part 1

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue by taking a look back at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. As the Maple Leafs made a whopping 12 (!) selections in that draft, I’ll be splitting this one into two articles, beginning with the first six picks today.
Toronto was active during the 2020 draft, making three trades during Day 2 of the draft to trade up and down the board. Unlike yesterday’s look back at the 2021 draft, we do begin on Day 1 with the first round.
1st Round, 15th Overall – Rodion Amirov, RW, KHL
At the time
While the Leafs did trade their first-round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in order to shed Patrick Marleau’s cap hit the previous summer, Toronto was able to recoup a first-round pick when they traded Kasperi Kapanen back to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The highest pick the Leafs had held since drafting Auston Matthews first overall in 2016, there was a lot of pressure on Toronto’s staff to hit on the 15th overa …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs 2021 draft

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we begin with the Maple Leafs’ most recent class, taking a look back at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Toronto entered the 2021 draft with only three picks, in the second, fifth, and sixth rounds. Numerous picks had been traded at the deadline and with a lack of draft capital, many expected the Leafs to trade down once or even twice to recoup assets.
Instead, as the picks slowly ticked off the board on Day 2 of the draft leading up to the Maple Leafs’ first selection at 57th overall, they did not trade down. Rather, with a player their scouts were very high on still available, they made the pick.
2nd Round, 57th Overall – Matt Knies, LW, USHL
At the time
When the pick was made, many were surprised first that the Leafs did not trade down, but also that Matt Knies was the selection.
On paper, Knies didn’t fit the characteristics of a typical Toronto dr …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Gabriel Moreno tops Baseball America’s list of top Blue Jays prospects

Of course, as I’m doing my top 20 prospects, Baseball America releases their top 30 prospect list. In this article, we’ll be looking at all prospects on their list that didn’t make mine, as well as some interesting prospects in terms of their ranking.

Due to Baseball America being a paid subscription, I won’t reveal where each player ranks. However, I do recommend purchasing BA as it’s a fantastic resource if you love prospects…

Toronto Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects. With Gabriel Moreno at No. 1: https://t.co/3XPjdb69D4
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) March 8, 2022

The prospects that didn’t make my list…
Many of these prospects ranked in my article for both position players and pitchers that missed out. If you wish, you can click the link to see why some of the following prospects didn’t make my list.
Nate Pearson ranks in the top 5. While I don’t consider him a prospect anymore, he still has potential to the moon. They also included Thomas Hatch, a 27-year-old in the teens, and Josh Palacios, a 26-year-old at the back end of the list.
The first player (note due to age) that doesn’t rank on my list is Estiven Machado. The 19-year-old only had one plate appearance in 2021 due to injury, but he certainly is an enticing prospect as he’s great with the glove and makes contact.
The recently drafted pitcher, Irv Carter, ranks nearly in the middle of the list. The fifth rounder chosen out of high school will be making his professional debut come April. He currently projects as a reliever, but if the 19-year-old can work on his mechanics, his projection can change to that of a starter.
CJ Van Eyk is also featured on this list. I had mentioned in an article and on Twitter that CJ Van Eyk underwent Tommy John surgery to end 2021. He still has potential, but he likely won’t pitch until mid-2023.
Adam Kloffenstein ranks next and after a rough 2021, he has fallen down many prospect lists. 2022 will be a huge season for the 21-year-old, as it looks like he’ll start the season in Double A. He still has loads of potential, however, the results have to come as well.
Tanner Morris is a utility infielder worth watching, as the 23-year-old had a solid slash line in Vancouver while displ …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

If MLB’s lockout persists, Hyun Jin Ryu may benefit from a shorter 2022 season

The course of a 162-game season is a grueling marathon for any player, but if the 2022 campaign were to be shortened, a veteran starter like Hyun Jin Ryu might end up benefiting.

With no end in sight to Major League Baseball’s current lockout, the start of spring training will almost certainly be delayed at this point and pushing back Opening Day could be on the table very shortly, as well. Unless a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed soon, players will likely be forced to train by themselves without the use of team facilities this spring.
For one member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Ryu, the 34-year-old has already begun training in South Korea – his home country – working with his former team from the Korea Baseball Organization, the Hanwha Eagles. There, the 6’3″ hurler has completed a pair of bullpen sessions and will continue his throwing program until MLB’s lockout ends.

Hyun-jin Ryu tossed 2nd bullpen of the spring yesterday. Threw 34 total pitches and looked healthy/ready. Ryu is currently training w/ #HanwhaEagles and is expected to stay w/ his former team until #MLB lockout ends. #BlueJays pic.twitter.com/ujf9JLXtbF
— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) February 15, 2022

By rule, MLB players aren’t allowed to use their club’s facilities or training staff during a lockout, however, they’re permitted to train elsewhere and could even play in other leagues – like the KBO or NPB.
As of now, it appears Ryu only intends to train with the Eagles, although his stance may change if this season is drastically altered by the lockout. Since there’s a growing sense the regular season could potentially be shortened, perhaps he’d opt to briefly return to game action in Korea.
On that same note, would it be all that terrible if the season was reduce …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Other than losing to Montreal, what do-overs should the Leafs want?

Regrets, the Leafs have had a few. Of course the Montreal series is the big one, but no one here wants to talk about that yet. So if we skip the specifics of the playoff series, here are some of the things we’d change about the Leafs in 2021.
Nick Barden
I don’t really have anything that I think they need to change. They’re following the course and they seem like a different team than past years. More tough, bigger, more difficult to play against — each of these aspects will help them throughout the playoffs. I think they’ve done everything the right way up to this point.
Joseph Zita
I honestly can’t think of anything besides the playoff series because that season went pretty well for Toronto, it just fell apart in the playoffs.
Michael Mazzei
Giving Joe Thornton first line minutes was a mistake.
Dylan Murphy
Not kicking Manny Malhotra off the powerplay coaching duties earlier. That’s it, that’s all I’ve got, I don’t think that statement needs much justification.
Nick Richard
Hindsight is always 20-20, especially when you’re talking about contending teams cashing in future assets to make …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Burning Question: Will the Leafs make it beyond the first round this year?

Over the course of the past couple of weeks we’ve been running some Burning Questions posts on this site, trying to deal with some of the big questions surrounding the Leafs. The one big burning question that has always been left looming is the one that has a lot of fans willing to completely throwaway or ignore the regular season and focus entirely on the postseason, and that question is “Is this the year the Leafs finally make it out of the first round?”
We’ll start with the fact that it’s impossible to know for sure. Law of averages say that a team as good as the Leafs will eventually have something break their way instead of things going against them, and they’ll get there. I can appreciate that appeal to the math of it. The problem with math though is that it ignores the fact that it’s the Leafs we’re talking about. They’ve always been able to find new spectacular ways to have things fall apart on them. No other team blows a 4-1 lead in a game seven, no other team loses to an emergency backup goaltender that they employ, no …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Meet the Sellers: Arizona Diamondbacks

Over the course of May and June, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been one of the most putrid baseball teams in history. They had lost 23 straight games on the road at one point, an MLB all-time high. They finished the month of May with a record of 5-24. This also set a new MLB record for most losses in a calendar month. 

Despite the horrible record, the Diamondbacks have some effective pieces that would fit the Blue Jays’ needs. One player being analyzed in this article has a bit of term and has been a star player in the past. Moreover, the Blue Jays have also recently expressed interest in investing in bullpen help and a left-handed bat. Well Blue Jays fans, how about a couple of switch hitters that have played more than one position in the past. As mentioned in previous articles, the value in versatility is important for Toronto, as it could help keep the current outfield unit stay healthy with DH time. 
Here are some players that fill the Blue Jays’ needs…
Joakim Soria
Joakim Soria has had a tough season this year, however, he does have a lot of recent success in previous years. He is …

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Author: Eric Lightfoot / Blue Jays Nation