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

Why the Leafs should sign development camp invites way more often

Why the Leafs should sign development camp invites way more often

Every year, a large group of undrafted free agents attend development camps and rookie tournaments around the league. Teams bring these players that they have varying degrees of interest in to get a closer look at them, before sending them back to their junior leagues in the hopes of being drafted the next time around.
And with that, every year we see “overage” prospects drafted relatively high. No matter the draft class, you can find numerous prospects that had been passed over in previous drafts selected as high as the top 100. Most just accept this as a reality of the draft, that once the draft is over you have to wait another year to have a crack at bringing these prospects into your organization. This isn’t exactly the case, however.
For NCAA bound prospects and those based in Europe, there isn’t much an NHL franchise can do. NCAA players cannot be signed to NHL contracts, so any NCAA prospect would have to forgo their collegiate career in order to turn pro. It is highly unlikely that an invite would forgo their collegiate career in order to join an organization, especially when these invites are often entering their first …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Evaluating the Leafs’ 2021 free agent signings by projected contract value

The Leafs, like every other team in the NHL, went into the 2021 offseason hoping to improve their team. There are many ways to evaluate if they acheived their goal: one of those is by regular counting stats; another way would be by Wins Above Replacement.
Another way is to build a model to project what a player should be getting paid on their contract, and see if the Leafs’ new signings are underpaid or overpaid. Of course, I’m not smart enough to do that, so we’ll use the contract projection models of others, specifically Evolving Hockey and Dobber Hockey.
Toronto did make a number of changes this offseason, but instead of comparing the additions (players who joined) to the subtractions (players who aren’t returning) like in the previous posts I linked above, today is only about the the contracts that the Leafs signed. Specifically, it’s about whether those new additions, and the other players Toronto re-signed, have contracts that are a positive value.
As we well know, in the salary cap era, it’s as important to identify good players as it is to manage their cap hit. We also know that while Dubas and company …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Trading for Dejounte Murray or Derrick White will be hard

Toronto Raptors: Trading for Dejounte Murray or Derrick White will be hard

Bobby Webster and the Toronto Raptors are looking for any and every potential option at point guard considering that Kyle Lowry appears to potentially be laying the groundwork for an exit. Did the San Antonio Spurs accidentally throw them a lifeline due to some rumors surrounding Dejounte Murray and Derrick White? Zach Harper of The […]
Toronto Raptors: Trading for Dejounte Murray or Derrick White will be hard – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Contract trends to watch in NHL Free Agency

Every year I spend countless hours collecting data, identifying changes, and making spreadsheets for NHL contracts. Without giving too much away, these spreadsheets are my window into the gradual, large-scale change in the NHL landscape. Last year it helped me understand why so many talented depth players headed for Europe, and why RFAs who went without a qualifying offer were available for so cheap:
Analyzing the State of NHL Contracts in 2021 – TheLeafsNation
In hindsight it’s clear that teams were willing to cut ties with guys on 2-way deals, leading to more open SPC slots. Still, the indication that the UFA market for middle 6 forwards would be suppressed was accurate. Similarly, I used those spreadsheets to explain why an increase in the maximum ELC was long overdue:
CBA Update: Entry Level Contracts – TheLeafsNation
I’ll be revisiting ELCs when the bonus and salary increases kick in beginning 2022.
Spent Money
What I want to examine in the lead up to this year’s Free Agency, is the outside pressures influencing the FA class. It begins with where money is already allocated, relative to the past couple seasons. The chart below shows contracts in ‘bins’ of $500k increments. Over the past two …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Leafs look to snap their losing streak with another game against the Canucks

It seems like every time I tell someone (or write in a pre-game) that I’m not too bothered by a couple Leafs losses, the team decides to pull a “hold my beer” and double down. So yeah, the Leafs are in a bit of a slump – to put it mildly. But the bright side, I guess, is that they’ve managed to steal a few points out of these losses.
It was only a matter of time before Jack Campbell regressed a bit. His start this season was ridiculously impressive, and completely unsustainable. He’s also been bearing a heavy burden, suddenly a starter after coming off injury. Now, Sunday’s game was weird. There was that late Leafs goal that was definitely a goal but wasn’t counted as a goal, so the game went to OT where the Leafs lost. While the team could have played better, Campbell included, it wasn’t exactly some blowout loss, either.
Putting that aside, Sunday’s game also saw this hit on Zach Hyman:

Breaking News: #Canucks Alex Edler has been suspended 2 games for kneeing #LeafsForever Zach Hyman. pic.twitter.com/vwvHlI92wh
— Hockey Hound (@HockeyHoundShow) April 19, 2021

Alex Edler was ejected …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs look to rebound from Habs loss against the Flames – with David Rittich in net?

Listen, Jack Campbell was not going to win every game he started this season. A loss was bound to happen sooner or later, and I don’t know about you, but Leafs losses just don’t faze me as much this season. They’re good, their record is good, they have what it takes to pull out wins even when they might not deserve it. Yes, last night’s game was not exactly a great example of what they can do, but I can’t be too mad at a stinker every 9 or 10 games.
Onward. The Leafs play again tonight against the Flames – and on Sunday evening they traded for former Flames goalie David Rittich  (who has historically played very well against the Leafs) – it’s like a soap opera and I love it. Will he start tonight? If so, is that a good thing? Obviously having some extra goalie insurance is a plus, because with Frederik Andersen sidelined indefinitely the Leafs goalie options are Campbell, who is clearly not yet used to handling the starter’s workload, and Michael Hutchinson, who is Michael Hutchinson. It’ll be interesting to see what Rittich can do behind this Leafs team.
The …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

A Who’s Who of 2021 NCAA Free Agency

Every year the NCAA season begins to wind down and the players who have earned some NHL attention begin to have their names bubble to the surface. Not every player that garners interest signs a contract and many never result in much more than quality AHL depth but the NCAA market always seems to be a hotly contested one. This season’s crop of college free agents may face some barriers because of the COVID-19 pandemic as teams are strapped for cash and have been hesitant to spend in some cases. This could give teams like the Leafs, Rangers, and Bruins a bit more of an advantage as they are not held to the same monetary restrictions as others.
The drop, in general, is fairly average in terms of talent and there may not be a Tyler Bozak but you could get a Zach Whitecloud or a Zach Aston-Reese from this group. Bottom of the roster players need to be contributors and they need to be on good, cheap deals. NCAA free agents are a good way to give yourself extra options to fill those roles with cheap talent. If they don’t work out, the only asset that has …

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Author: Tony Ferrari / The Leafs Nation

Scott’s Thoughts: So, you want to trade William Nylander again?

If I had a nickel for every time William Nylander’s name was thrown around in trade rumours for something the other core players would just get a stern finger wagging for, I’d probably be the richest man in the world.
Look, Nylander isn’t a perfect player. His defense can be a bit lacking, he’s prone to make those big mistakes that scream bad to the eye test, and he can look like he isn’t always putting in 100% effort, sometimes because he isn’t, and sometimes because his skill and skating are well above most of his competition that he just doesn’t look like he’s working as hard as Grinder McGritface on the fourth line.
But, trading Nylander would be a mistake. A big one. The kind of mistake that you think looks great now, but in two or three years, he’s torching the Leafs in a playoff series on route to a Stanley Cup, while all those “valuable” depth pieces we got for him turned out to be just that: depth pieces that could never replace the value that Nylander brought.
Look, I get it. You’re still not over the fact …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation