1 stud and 1 dud as OG Anunoby, Raptors defeat Timberwolves

1 stud and 1 dud as OG Anunoby, Raptors defeat Timberwolves

Every game matters for OG Anunoby and the Toronto Raptors, as they need to continue feeling off some wins in order to make sure that they can make the postseason without getting swept into the play-in tournament. Everyone from stars like Scottie Barnes and role players like Chris Boucher must make an impact. Against Karl-Anthony […]
1 stud and 1 dud as OG Anunoby, Raptors defeat Timberwolves – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Evaluator Consensus: Blue Jays Top Prospects

Every year, once the highest-profile professional prospect sources drop their lists, I use a points system to arrive at a rough consensus by aggregating their rankings. This is always a rough process because list length varies by source. This year slightly more so due to a small inconsistency in method and the Chapman trade having fallen in the midst of prospect season. Still, I tackled it.

So let’s begin by discussing those considerations. First, my sources: Baseball America, Fangraphs, The Athletic (Keith Law), MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus, and Scotty Mitchell’s list for TSN to add a local observer with inside connections.
The problem here is obvious: Mitchell goes to 50, BA now goes to 40, Pipeline is 30, Fangraphs is basically ever how many they feel like discussing (in this case, 37), Law goes to 20, and BP a mere 10. Compounding this is that a few of the players traded to Oakland in the Matt Chapman deal come out of the rankings, so none of these lists are what they started out.
For example, I literally only have seven names from BP (for reasons I’ll get to in a moment). I address this by using a 30 point scale (i.e. #1 on the list gets 30 points, #2 gets 29, and so forth) This results in a list with tiers as the guy who might have been the 8th guy on a new BP list or the 21st guy in Law’s estimation gets no points and that might mean that as you go down the list the rankings get rougher – but that’s the nature of prospect rankings anyway. The one other complication has to do with Nate Pearson.
By the traditional method of evaluating rookie eligibility, written for the days when teams exploded their rosters in September (and thus doesn’t count September service towards the eligibility limits) means Pearson still qualifies. But if you hold that the “September doesn’t count” stuff rationally should no longer apply then Pearson no longer makes the cut. Three of my sources took the former approach, three took the latter. It really makes it impossible to include Pearson in …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Ranking the Maple Leafs’ alternate jerseys from worst to best

Every year, the Maple Leafs have a special event where they add a new jersey to their collection. Or they get us to add a new jersey to our collection.
This season, Toronto was more than happy to give us a few new jerseys, including one for the Stadium Series, and possibly two more?
We’ve all seen the one that Justin Bieber was wearing in a photo on Martha Stewarts Instagram page, which is rumoured to be the Maple Leafs’ Next Generation Game jersey.
But I want to pose this question to you — which one’s are the best?
Throughout this article, I’m going to look at the most recent special events jerseys (from 2014 to now) and I’m going to rank them from worst to best, plus why I think that.
7. 2021 Reverse Retro jersey

I really don’t need to say it since it’s been said thousands of times already, but the Maple Leafs swung big and missed on this one.
I’ll be honest, when I first saw it, I thought it looked like a jersey that you could buy from Wal-Mart. I’m not joking. The jersey has its flaws in two places for me — the grey, everywhere and the maple leaf itself.
For a majority of people, I’d say that if the grey was switched to white it would make this a much more likeable jersey. In terms of the maple leaf, I’m just not a fan of it. I think it’s way too big for the jersey. So big that the captain’s ‘C’ is all the way in the corner.
Now that I’m looking at it more, I do also want to mention that the numbers suck when they’re that close to the elbows.
My rating for this jersey is a 3/10, maybe …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Women’s hockey, unlike lazy sports journalism, belongs

Women’s hockey, unlike lazy sports journalism, belongs

It feels like every couple of days we are graced with the publishing of another out-of-touch sports article from a member of the old guard of Toronto’s sports media.
At this point, the lack of quality insight emanating from the sports pages of Toronto’s once-relevant newspapers comes as no surprise: it seems as though many veteran sportswriters in this town long abandoned trying to keep up with the rapidly-changing game of hockey. Instead, they have lingered well past their prime, unchallenged by their editors, skating by on name recognition from a readership that is 80% people who found the sports page on a vacant bus seat.
They use plus/minus as a measure of defensive skill, over-focus on intangibles, and assume the role of expert body language analysts. They ask boring, unimaginative questions in scrums then get outraged about the boring, unimaginative answers they receive. They use reductive terms like “nerds” and “geeks” to describe an analytics community whose concepts they cannot, or care not to, grasp. They stick around for the access, the camaraderie in the press box, and the after-game whiskies as they file low-effort, uninsightful columns that do nothing to elevate the reader’s understanding of the game.
Occupying one of the spots on the Mount Rushmore o …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Things might feel different about the Maple Leafs this year, but it felt that way last year too

Every now and then you see an article with a headline that requires a spit take, and that was essentially what happened Monday morning when I read “This year feels different for the Toronto Maple Leafs” by Travis Yost. After reading the article, there is undoubtedly solid points made about how the Leafs have continued to improve, and how Sheldon Keefe is getting the best out of his players, but there is very much a Groundhog Day feel to instilling confidence in the Leafs midway through the regular season. Nothing Travis is saying is wrong, and seemingly through the law of averages, eventually it has to be Toronto’s year, right? And why not this year?
I’m certainly not here to shit on anyone’s optimism about the Leafs either. This is a very good hockey team and the season so far has provided a ton of evidence supporting the Leafs being a team that could make Toronto happy.
Unfortunately, we’ve been through this before.
A couple of summers ago the Leafs found themselves in the fortunate position of playing the Columbus Blue Jackets to kick start the return to play. On paper this was a matchup that Leafs fans were rightfully thrilled about. Toronto was getting the opportunity to play in their home rink instead the NHL’s Eastern Conference bubble, and after going through Columbus the path was far less conv …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Know Your Enemy: Shesterkin and a few elite skaters the only real concern for the Maple Leafs tonight

Every season, there’s always a team that plays well above what they’re capable of. The most famous examples are the 2014-15 Calgary Flames, 2013-14 Colorado Avalanche, and of course, the 2012-13 Toronto Maple Leafs, and this year, that team is the New York Rangers. While they have some solid pieces in Adam Fox, Igor Shesterkin, Artemi Panarin, and Mika Zibanejad, they’re attempts to go a tougher route this season means that the team pretty much struggles when they aren’t on the ice. Shesterkin has masked a lot of that for them in net, bailing them out on many occasions to give them wins, but when he isn’t on his game, this team is usually in tough to get wins.
Note: This is based on projected lines and starters at the time of publishing. Coaches really love to surprise us right before game time, so there’s a solid chance that some of the matchups aren’t accurate for the actual game because of that.
Tale of the Tape (via Mark Norman)

Lineups
Toronto Maple Leafs

LW
C
RW
MICHAEL BUNTING
AUSTON MATTHEWS
MITCH MARNER
ALEXANDER KERFOOT
JOHN TAVARES
WILLIAM NYLANDER
ILYA MIKHEYEV
DAVID KAMPF
PIERRE ENGVALL
KYLE CLIFFORD
JASON SPEZZA
WAYNE SIMMONDS

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
MORGAN RIELLY
T.J. BRODIE
RASMUS SANDIN
TIMOTHY LILJEGREN
TRAVIS DERMOTT
ALEX BIEGA

New York Rangers

LW
C
RW
CHRIS KREIDER
MIKA ZIBANEJAD
KAAPO KAKKO
ARTEMI PANARIN
RYAN STROME
FILIP CHYTIL
DRYDEN HUNT
BARCLAY GOODROW
JULIEN GAUTHIER
GREG MCKEGG
KEVIN ROONEY
RYAN REAVES

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
RYAN LINDGREN
ADAM FOX
K’ANDRE MILLER
JACOB TROUBA
PATRIK NEMETH
BRADEN SCHNEIDER

Forwards
The first line of Chris Kreider, Kaapo Kakko, and Zibanejad is one of the few line combinations that actually work well together for the Rangers this year, generating a 52.61% CF% and a 56.08% xGF% in almost 250 minutes together this season. Kreider is having a resurgence this season on that line, living up to what was thought to be a very pricey contract up to this point, finding himself fourth in the NHL in goals, and aside from a lack of discipline, doing very well in most facets of the game. Zibanejad has established himself as a strong first line center from a points perspective for a few years now, but he struggles to drive play on a consistent basis at both ends of the ice. Kakko is in a similar boat, except he also doesn’t put up points, and just struggles to live up to his draft pedigree at any part of the game up to this point in his career. Kreider clearly carries the line from a possession standpoint, but between him and Zibanejad, it has the potential to burn you every now and then, so it’s still one to keep an eye on.
Filip Chytil isn’t the normal candidate on the second line next to Ryan Strome and Panarin, but with the current injuries, that seems to be the case, although it’s not a pretty one, as the combo finds themselves on the wrong end of the ice more often than not with a 44.74% CF% and a 27.95% xGF%. It speaks to Panarin’s skill then that the line has a 68.87% GF%. While his defense leaves much to be desired, he’s one of the best playmakers in the game, and his ability to create offense out of nothing more than makes up for his defensive game. Strome has found a home next to Panarin these past few seasons, and rediscovered his game after a disappointing stint with the Oilers, at least offensively. And going with Chytil on this line shows their going all in on offense, who while he doesn’t put up points on the scoreboard, he can somewhat drive offense, so he won’t hold back Panarin and Strome in that regard. Still, none of them can defend, so if you can put a strong offensive line that can defend up against them, you can take advantage of them.
The third line of Barclay Goodrow, Dryden Hunt, and Julien Gauthier is one that hasn’t got much time together, so their results are a little bit all over the place with a 33.57% CF%, but a 55% xGF%, so not much to go off of their. Goodrow was one of the Rangers big additions this offseason, as they wanted a piece of the infamous third line from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Cup runs. The problem is, they picked the wrong piece, as Goodrow was definitely the beneficiary of that line’s results. He’s okay defensively, but he can’t carry a shutdown line like the Rangers think he can. Hunt actually can, so he saves the line a little bit, but he lacks a bit in other aspects of his game, so overall he still isn’t quite as effective as the Rangers probably want in a third line shutdown role. Meanwhile Gauthier is here pretty much because of draft pedigree, as the former first round pick really hasn’t established much of an NHL game aside from hints of driving offense, and playmaking, but he really struggles elsewhere, making it for an investment that overall isn’t worth it. This all amounts to what the Rangers will probably want to use as their shutdown line, although the Leafs probably shouldn’t worry too much about actually getting shutdown by them.
While I think you could match up the Matthews and Kämpf lines against either of the top six for the Rangers, it might be an advantage to go Matthews vs. Panarin as I alluded to earlier. They’re good offensively, but really weak defensively, so it’s an opport …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

3 X-factors that will determine if Raptors can make a playoff push

3 X-factors that will determine if Raptors can make a playoff push

Every NBA team has issues that could plague their season, and the Toronto Raptors are no different. Picking up on certain trends that follow a team around regularly can provide glimpses and insight into what that team’s future may look like. In the Raptors case, a young team trying to find its way is struggling […]
3 X-factors that will determine if Raptors can make a playoff push – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Pros and cons of Raptors trading for Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis

Pros and cons of Raptors trading for Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis

The Toronto Raptors will likely pursue every avenue to improve their frontcourt depth at the trade deadline, as they have been losing some games due to their poor play on the glass. The Indiana Pacers may have just dropped a huge holiday present right in Masai Ujiri’s lap due to their desire to potentially move […]
Pros and cons of Raptors trading for Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Prospect Graham Spraker making strong push to crack the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster

Year after year, every off-season usually brings some very intriguing 40-man roster decisions ahead of the annual Rule 5 Draft, and for the Toronto Blue Jays, this winter shouldn’t be any different.

This time around, the deadline for all 30 teams to add Rule 5 eligible players to their respective 40-man rosters is scheduled for Nov. 19 (this Friday). As currently constructed, the Blue Jays feature seven open spots on their 40-man squad, although it’s unlikely they’d fill all of those openings so early in the off-season.
Among numerous quality candidates, pitcher Graham Spraker is someone who’s been generating plenty of buzz around himself over the last six months or so, likely inserting himself into this conversation. Though he isn’t a highly-touted prospect, at least, not at the moment, the 26-year-old has made considerable progress in the last year and is seemingly knocking on the door of the major leagues.
Originally drafted out of the 31st round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Spraker came out of college as a starter, however, he split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen through his first few seasons of professional baseball. Unfortunately, the right-hander battled through inconsistencies during that span, struggling to …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

News and Notes: Leafs make some cuts, waivers season is here, some new line combinations, and more

Reflect, learn & remember. Today & every day #EveryChildMatters
The Toronto Maple Leafs are committed to utilizing our platform to honour the lost children & survivors of Canadian Residential Schools, their families & communities.
To learn more » https://t.co/0W5KvDzjF1 pic.twitter.com/lDqqMIhyHN
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 30, 2021

 
It is nice to see the Leafs prepare a message for Truth and Reconciliation Day, something that I’m hopeful that settlers of Canada come to appreciate the importance of addressing the unspoken of genocide that has been going on for generations. Hopefully this is the start of the conversation, not just simply a day, and hopefully for the Leafs this means at the very least including land acknowledgements as part of their pregame.
Roster Changes
It’s been some time coming, but we’re starting to see the early cuts from Leafs camp. This morning it was William Villeneuve heading back to Saint John.
Leafs return William Villeneuve to the QMJHL

This afternoon we see a couple of players Marlies bound for the opening of their training camp.

Forwards Curtis Douglas and Rich Clune have been assigned to the Toronto Marlies (AHL)
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) September 30, 2021

Obviously with …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation