Breaking down the Toronto Marlies five NCAA free agent signings

Each spring, the Toronto Marlies begin their annual search for free agent players to bring into the organization to fill out their AHL depth and ECHL roster for the following season. Given the organizational stance on development and how to use the minor league affiliates, the Marlies bring in multiple NCAA and CHL free agents every year to fill the aforementioned needs while also bringing in players that have the potential to develop into something more.
Since 2018, three prospects that have signed with the Marlies have later been upgraded to NHL contracts in Kristians Rubins, Pavel Gogolev, and Curtis Douglas. Goaltender Keith Petruzzelli is making a strong case with the Newfoundland Growlers to earn an ELC too, while Bobby McMann remains on an AHL contract but has become a dependable top-nine forward for the Marlies this season.
Though we will have to wait a few more weeks to see what CHL free agents are brought into the organization, GM Ryan Hardy has already been active in the NCAA free agent market, inking five players to 2022/23 AHL contracts.
Marshall Rifai | LD | Harvard (ECAC)
The Marlies first signing for 2022/23 came when they announced the addition of Harvard defenceman Marshall Rifai.
A teammate of Tor …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Breaking down the evolution of Kevin Gausman’s elite splitter

After falling short in each of the last two off-seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays finally landed their prized possession earlier this winter when they acquired starter Kevin Gausman, who featured one of the top pitches in the sport during the 2021 campaign.
Coming off the best statistical performance of his career, where he posted career bests in innings pitched (192.0), ERA (2.81), xERA (3.55), FIP (3.00), OPP AVG (.208) and fWAR (4.8), Gausman – who accepted his qualifying offer last winter –  reached free agency and ultimately agreed to a five-year, $110-million contract with the Blue Jays.
Putting his all-star showing into perspective with the rest of the majors, though the 6’2″ hurler finished sixth in voting for the 2021 National League Cy Young Award, he still proved to be one of the top-performing starters amongst the competition. In turn, the 30-year-old’s 4.8 fWAR rating finished eighth highest among all qualified starting pitchers, according to FanGraphs.com.
One of the biggest factors that led to Gausman’s remarkable 2021 season was the success of his mid-80s splitter, which dominated opposing batters on both sides of the dish all year long.
It didn’t matter if a left-hander or right-hander was at the plate, his devasting off-speed offering was extremely effective …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Maple Leafs take on Rangers in a battle of surging hot teams

The Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers each find themselves on a four game winning streak, with both teams sitting only two points out of first place in their division. As the two franchise’s play each other tonight, each one will look to keep that momentum alive and make up some valuable ground on their division leaders as we approach the quarter mark of the season.
The Leafs recent winning ways go past these recent four games as well, with the team having won nine of their last ten, quickly changing the narrative from fans and media alike after a sluggish start to the season. It’s not just the fact the team is winning that’s changing the narrative either, but also how they’re doing it. Unlike previous seasons where Toronto seemed to only have one possible win condition (coming out on top in a high scoring affair), the 2021/2022 edition of the franchise seems to have added a few tricks to their playbooks, winning low scoring games, grinding out late comebacks for an OT win, and physically dominating an opponent as they did during Tuesday’s contest out-hitting the Nashville Predators 31-22 despite the Maple Leafs …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: Is Scottie Barnes better than Cleveland’s Evan Mobley?

Raptors: Is Scottie Barnes better than Cleveland’s Evan Mobley?

The Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers each had a top-four pick at the 2021 NBA Draft and while the season is still very young, both teams appear to have aced their top selections. The prizes were a defensive game-changer in Evan Mobley and a promising two-way star in Scottie Barnes. A quick look at the […]
Raptors: Is Scottie Barnes better than Cleveland’s Evan Mobley? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

BJN Radio – Ep. 52: The 2021 Blue Jays Eulogy

This one was a doozy!

Me, Tyler, and BK sat down and each came up with our own ‘three up, three down’ from this year as a way to look back on all of the good, bad, and everything in between from the 2021 Blue Jays season.
We talked about the good stuff, like Vladdy’s breakout season, the value of Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray’s one-year contracts, Alek Manoah becoming The Big Man out of the blue, the home run jacket being insanely cool, and the amazing homecoming to Toronto in July.
We also talked about the bad stuff, like the chaos that was the early-season bullpen, the ugly losses that ultimately cost the Blue Jays a playoff spot, Hyun Jin Ryu’s struggles, George Springer’s injuries, and the current MLB schedule and post-season format.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Welcome To Rock Bottom

At this point, each loss is becoming more and more laughable and not in a good way. The game on Sunday afternoon was no different.

This series along with the Washington series, really feels like how the Cubs series felt in 2017. Both teams were in a position to make a run for a wildcard position, yet both teams went on a road trip and weren’t successful in making ground. With around 40 games remaining, it’s looking less and less like our beloved Blue Jays can make up the 4.5 games remaining against the Oakland Athletics. Especially as they play the tough Chicago White Sox starting on Monday.
Losing 5-3 to the Detroit Tigers hurts, like a lot.  Let’s dive head first into pain, shall we?
Things worth mentioning:
Bats need heat to survive:
The Jays’ bats went cold in this series. This has actually been a problem all season, but according to most, they have a top offense because they occasionally smash teams into the ground. Peep this mid June tweet of mine.

The classic cold bat move of:
Pounce on the starter and potentially score a ton of runs, but don’t.
And then proceed to be bad for …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Shop Local: Marlies that will make an impact for the Leafs after the trade deadline

As the NHL’s trade deadline approaches each year, fans tend to look outside of the organization for new talent. At times though, some of the best players who can make that difference for a team are actually within their own system.
In terms of the Leafs and Marlies — there are a ton of players who are on the cusp of making a difference at the NHL level. For some, like Nick Robertson and Rasmus Sandin, it’ll come a lot faster since Kyle Dubas already said they’d be with the Leafs on the back-half of this season. Plus, they’re top-end talents.

On TSN’s pre-game show, Kyle Dubas says Rasmus Sandin will likely return to the #Marlies next week.
Dubas said him and Nick Robertson may be with the #Leafs in the later-half of the NHL season.
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) April 2, 2021

And even after this season, Dubas said he expects those two “to be big parts of our club for a long time.” But what about the other players within the Leafs system?
When looking at the Toronto Marlies there are so, so many players who could be listed as a depth option on any other NHL …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Zach Hyman returns to Maple Leafs practice

As the NHL’s return to play inches closer each day, the Toronto Maple Leafs are filling out their opening night lineup. One name that has been absent for the team’s last few practices is Zach Hyman, who went down after blocking a shot from Jason Spezza on Friday. Fortunately, Hyman rejoined the Leafs’ main practice on Tuesday, saying he felt great.

Zach Hyman on his return to the ice: “It feels great to back, felt like it was longer than a couple of days mentally. Took a shot there [on Friday] so it was just precautionary, but I’m feeling good.”
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) July 21, 2020

During his absence, Nick Robertson found himself filling Hyman’s spot alongside Auston Matthews and William Nylander. Although Robertson played very well during the team’s scrimmages, Hyman’s return is hugely beneficial to the Leafs.
Hyman already found himself back in his usual spot on the first line during practice, skating with Matthews and Mitch Marner. The fact that he felt it was longer than a couple of days just proves how eager he is to get these playoffs going. His return increases the Leafs …

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Author: Matthew Rodrigopulle / The Leafs Nation

CBA Update: Entry Level Contracts

Each season we see a new crop of rookies break into the National Hockey League, and each season it seems the group grows larger and more talented. Players like Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, and Jack Eichel sign their ELCs immediately after they are drafted, then immediately become top players in the league.
Those players are the exception though, every year there are 200 players drafted that take a different path in their first season after being drafted. Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin jumped to the American Hockey league, Nicolas Robertson and Mikhail Abramov returned to the CHL, Pontus Holmberg remained in Europe. For these players an ELC is something that must be worked towards and negotiated, the first step in a long process of making it to the NHL.
Regardless of which group a young player falls into, the upper limit on their contracts were virtually the same for a very long time. Any player drafted beginning in 2011 had a maximum ELC of $925,000, with Schedule A performance bonuses of $850,000. and Schedule B performance Bonuses of $2m. The minimum ELC would be equal to the minimum league salary, which has comparatively changed a lot over the same period. When the current CBA …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are the NBA’s New Emerging Duo

Some things are just meant for each other, like peanut butter and jam, s’ mores at campfires, and more importantly for the Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. The duo has taken the Toronto Raptors season by storm and has emerged as a top duo in the league, whether it’s on the court or in the […]
Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are the NBA’s New Emerging Duo – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ