3 trade targets Raptors must avoid pursuing in offseason

3 trade targets Raptors must avoid pursuing in offseason

Even if the Toronto Raptors don’t go big-game hunting and try to acquire Rudy Gobert this offseason, Masai Ujiri will likely try to extend his feelers out into the NBA rumor mill to see who is available. The holes on this Raptors roster are evident, and Ujiri will need to get to work on fixing […]
3 trade targets Raptors must avoid pursuing in offseason – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Maple Leafs say Michael Bunting ‘feeling better’, will know more about his injury when they return home

WASHINGTON — The Toronto Maple Leafs still don’t know the severity of Michael Bunting’s injury, but head coach Sheldon Keefe said the forward woke up on Sunday feeling better than the team had expected.
“It’s a really good sign for us,” Keefe said. “But we won’t know more until we get home and a chance to get it looked at.”
Bunting’s injury is undisclosed but the Scarborough native left the in the first period of the Maple Leafs’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday shaking out his right leg. Following the game, Keefe said they expected the player to “miss some time.”
“He was playing really good hockey for us, so hopefully he’ll be ok,” teammate David Kampf said on Sunday.
The Leafs finish off a their three-game road trip in Washington on Sunday. It’s their last road game of the regular season before finishing out the season with two games at home against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday and Boston Bruins on Friday.
Bunting has been a good find for the Maple Leafs. Signed to a two-year, $1.9 million contract this past summer, the forward found a home on the team’s top line alongside stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
The 26-year-old has 23 goals and 40 assists in 79 game …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Kerfoot has had a more consistent role this year, but still remains the Leafs’ Swiss Army Knife

When it comes to Alex Kerfoot, you don’t really think of him as having a set place in the Leafs lineup. He can be on Tavares’ wing one game, centering the fourth line the next, and he’s even had significant stints flanking Kampf and Spezza. His ability to move throughout the Leafs lineup is a critical need for the Leafs, but at the same time, more so than any other year Kerfoot has found himself on a consistent line with John Tavares, and to a slightly lesser extent as of late, William Nylander. As a result Kerfoot finds himself with 5 more points than his previous career best season, with 10 games remaining. What he is doing seems to be working for him, and the Leafs, but is his current situation the best role for him come playoff time?

A lot of Kerfoot’s success comes from a January PDO bender. His 15 points in 11 games is simply something we haven’t seen from him before in a Leafs uniform, and his numbers certainly normalized quickly after that.
5v5 Stats
20-21
21-22
P/60
1.64
2.59
TOI
11:47
12:51
CF%
48.82
50.68
GF%
51.11
56.31
xGF%
49.66
51.43
HDCF%
46.88
52.92
On Ice Sh%
7.93
11.6
On Ice Sv%
92.57
90.64
PDO
1.005
102.2
Kerfoot has taken noticeable leaps in pretty much every category, and while attributing that to who he plays with could be part of it, the whole idea behind Kerfoot is that he plays with absolutely everyone.
One of the interesting phenomenons of the season is that while Kerfoot is having a better year, from a corsi perspective, every forward (except Auston Matthews) that plays with Kerfoot is a little worse when they are on the ice with Alex.
On Ice With
TOI With
CF% With
CF% Without Kerfoot
John Tavares
587.78
51.47
54.23
William Nylander
489.63
51.52
55.06
David Kampf
141.82
43.69
51.73
Mitchell Marner
115.65
49.58
58.61
Ilya Mikheyev
113.15
53.55
58.07
Ondrej Kase
71.17
47.66
51.23
Wayne Simmonds
64.00
44.25
50.26
Michael Bunting
62.85
52.68
57.68
Jason Spezza
55.77
44.44
50.99
Auston Matthews
51.60
67.71
59.43
Pierre Engvall
47.78
49.38
55.55
Most of the time it doesn’t even seem to be particularly close either. This kind of speaks to Kerfoot as the “Plan …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Scoreboard Watching: Tonight presents an opportunity for the Leafs to clinch

I don’t have fond memories of the Leafs fate being in the hands of Lou Lamoriello, but at least for tonight, we’re back to old times. Well, not really, but the Leafs are in a situation where they can clinch a playoff spot if the Islanders lose tonight. And the Islanders have been pretty good at losing. Playing the Hurricanes will also likely help that along to some extent, even if the Hurricanes can certainly take their foot off the gas for the rest of the month as well.

If the Islanders lose in regulation against the Canes, the best they can do on the season is reach 97 points. If they lose in overtime or in a shootout, the Islanders cannot match the Maple Leafs on wins in regulation and overtime, and Toronto would be in. So considering the Islanders tend to lose more than they win, tonight could be a very nice night for the Leafs, even if we could pretty much punch that ticket to the playoffs anyway.
Perhaps even more important for the Leafs is the fact that they’ve built a comfortable five point buffer over the Bruins and Lightning, even if both of those teams have a game at hand on the Leafs. And while the Bruins and Lightning playing each other means that one team has closed that gap to three points, that also means the other is even further in the hole with being 4, or 5 points back without the game at hand. Over an 11 game stretch, it isn’t exactly easy to pick up two more wins than your competitors. T …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Pre-2022 Blue Jays Top Prospects Countdown – No. 10: Yhoangel Aponte

The Blue Jays don’t have a lot of high ceiling outfielders. 

Chavez Young is on the cusp of breaking into the majors as his defense is the best in the organization. The Jays are apparently going to sign 16-year-old Emmanuel Bonilla, but he’s incredibly far away. After that, it’s hard to think of another highly rated outfield prospect.
That is until you look at the 2021 Dominican Summer League (DOSL)’s roster and see Yhoangel Aponte.
Background:
Like many prospects that played on the DOSL in 2021, little is known about Aponte’s life prior to being signed by the Jays. The now 18-year-old outfielder was signed out of Venezuela for $360,000 in the 2021 International Free Agency. 
Thus far, he only ranks in Baseball America’s Top 30 list, and they make a note that his talent is comparable to other top talent in this class. That begs the question, how did the then 17-year-old do in the 2021 DOSL season?
Aponte’s 2021:
In his age 17 season, the outfielder slashed .240/.393/.749 with no home runs and a wRC+ of 122 in 163 plate appearances. He also stole five of his nine stolen base attempts. He had a rather impressive walk rate of 15.3%, but that came with a high strikeout rate of 27%.
During the minor league season, I made note of standouts from each level every single day. One name that continued to pop up, especially early in the DOSL season, was Aponte. At one point in the season, he had nearly the same amount of walks (12) as strikeouts (15). After that point, he walked only 10 times compared to 29 strike outs.

He’s played 61 innings at center and 9 innings in right.
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) August 3, …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

This Maple Leafs team is built different

The term ‘built different’ is one I don’t particularly like to use personally. The origins of the saying are unclear, but it has gained traction in recent years as a meme used to describe how someone is uniquely different. And it is most often overused by people who frequent the gym or create TikToks, sometimes both.
One story that has been bubbling under the surface of this Leafs season is becoming clear: this Toronto Maple Leafs team is built different from those we’ve seen in years past.
Recent slide and disturbing trend of blowing leads aside, the Leafs have been playing at a near-historic pace this entire season. They have found ways to win games despite missing many key players at various points of the year. More so than in any season in this current era of Leafs hockey, the team appears to have 100% bought in to the vision of management and coaching. There are no spare parts on this team taking up space, even players that have been highly criticized in past seasons like Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev have adapted and become key contributors.
Beyond strict on-ice performance, the attitudes of the players on the team have clearly shifted. The first time I really noticed t …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Should the Raptors prioritize Dalano Banton over Malachi Flynn?

Should the Raptors prioritize Dalano Banton over Malachi Flynn?

The Toronto Raptors currently don’t have a traditional backup point guard, as Nick Nurse is willing to leave Fred VanVleet on the court for as long as possible rather than lean on either Dalano Banton or Malachi Flynn. After promising starts to their Raptors tenure, both of them are in a bit of a rut. […]
Should the Raptors prioritize Dalano Banton over Malachi Flynn? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Finding the next Robbie Ray

We don’t have any idea how the off-season is going shake out but it is entirely possible the Blue Jays enter next season without their ace Robbie Ray.
Ray, the likely American League Cy Young Award winner, is in line for a big payday, potentially as high as the 6-year, $140 million deal Patrick Corbin signed with the Washington Nationals. If the Blue Jays are unable to bring Ray back (and even if they are), they need to find the next version of Robbie Ray.

This is easier said than done of course. Nobody expected Ray to have the season that he did. He was coming off his worst season, and one of the worst seasons in baseball. His 2017 success was well in the rear-view mirror. However, he was only 28 and still had that good strikeout stuff. The Blue Jays took a chance, got Ray’s mechanics sorted out, got him throwing harder, got him throwing strikes, and the rest as they say is history.
What follows, is three pitchers in their late 20’s who have had some success in the past, but who struggled majorly in 2021. All three are free agents and given the seasons they had are likely …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Has Yuta Watanabe locked up a roster spot?

Toronto Raptors: Has Yuta Watanabe locked up a roster spot?

The Toronto Raptors don’t have a ton of 100% known quantities on this young roster at the moment, meaning that the preseason could be a perfect opportunity for some younger players or those without a ton of NBA experience to make their mark. Yuta Watanabe took full advantage on Monday Night. Not only was Watanabe […]
Toronto Raptors: Has Yuta Watanabe locked up a roster spot? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Mike Commito talks to TLN about his new book, Hockey 365, The Second Period: More Daily Stories from the Ice

If you follow Mike Commito on Twitter (and if you don’t, why not?) you probably know him as the hockey history guy. Every day he shares really cool, sometimes well known and sometimes lesser known, “on this day” moments from the history of hockey. And if you follow him on Twitter, you probably know that he turned some of those moments into an incredible book – Hockey 365: Daily Stories from the Ice.  
And maybe you also know that tomorrow, September 28th, the second volume, Hockey 365, The Second Period: More Daily Stories from the Ice, will be available for purchase (and if you didn’t, now you do.)
But what you might not know is that Mike has TLN to thank for launching his hockey writing career!
…Okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit. But Mike does have a bit of history (pun intended) with TLN, and I was lucky enough to speak with him about how he got started writing about hockey, how he brought his two passions together, the books, and his hopes for future projects.
I first asked Mike to tell me and our TLN readers about how he got started writing, and tweeting, hockey history. It was …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation