Raptors showing interest in veteran Jazz wing Royce O’Neale

Raptors showing interest in veteran Jazz wing Royce O’Neale

The Toronto Raptors are finally ready to start making some big-name additions to the roster, as the annual free agent feeding frenzy will kick off properly over the next few days. Names like Royce O’Neale are expected to fly off the board to any number of worthy contenders. With the Utah Jazz potentially going in […]
Raptors showing interest in veteran Jazz wing Royce O’Neale – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors rumors: Thad Young likely back, Mo Bamba has interest

Raptors rumors: Thad Young likely back, Mo Bamba has interest

The Toronto Raptors can finally start to kick free agency into high gear now that the NBA Draft is officially in the past. Be it trying to retain veterans like Chris Boucher and Thad Young or trying to go outside the organization to find standouts like Mo Bamba, Masai Ujiri will have his hands full. […]
Raptors rumors: Thad Young likely back, Mo Bamba has interest – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors draft Christian Koloko: Instant grade and analysis

Raptors draft Christian Koloko: Instant grade and analysis

The Toronto Raptors finally made their long-awaiting first selection the 2022 NBA Draft. With Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster looking to stay strong on the defensive end by adding yet another robust player like Arizona’s Christian Koloko, getting someone who could protect the rim was at the top of the priority list. Koloko was taken […]
Raptors draft Christian Koloko: Instant grade and analysis – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

ESPN Raptors mock draft has Toronto adding versatile forward

ESPN Raptors mock draft has Toronto adding versatile forward

The Toronto Raptors are inching closer to finally making that all-important No. 33 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Where most teams would see a lottery ticket meant to be gambled with, Masai Ujiri and Toronto sees a unique opportunity to add some young talent to the roster. The Raptors are again looking for […]
ESPN Raptors mock draft has Toronto adding versatile forward – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Pre-Series Notes: Our first look at the Trash Birds

At long last, the Blue Jays are finally facing the Baltimore Orioles.

The Blue Jays beat the wheels off of the Orioles last season, going 14-5 against them over 19 games. That seems pretty impressive until you realize that the Tampa Bay Rays nearly had a season sweep of Baltimore, going 18-1 against them.
The Trash Birds are better this year than they were last year, as they’re on pace to go 69-73, which would be a massive upgrade from the 52-110 record they posted in 2021. Their offence has improved and they have a strong bullpen, but Baltimore’s rotation is still a mess, as they rank second last in baseball in terms of WAR among starting pitchers.
If the Blue Jays want to catch the Yankees, one of the things they’ll have to do is beat the Orioles a bunch. New York has already faced Baltimore 13 times and they went 9-4 in those games, so doing better than that would help Toronto chip away at the Yankees’ eight-and-a-half game lead in the AL East.
Of course, the real key to catching the Yanks is beating them head-to-head, but a four-game sweep of the O’s would help. Speaking of the Yanks, they’ll be going up against the Rays this week before facing Toronto on the weekend …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 77: Blue Jays beat Mariners despite quiet bats, digging into the Juan Soto stuff, and more!

The Blue Jays have finally won their first series of the month of May!

Despite taking two of three from the scuffling Seattle Mariners, this series felt a little limp because the bats went completely silent on Wednesday when the Blue Jays had a chance to sweep.
We talked about the good stuff from the Seattle series, such as Yusei Kikuchi clowning his old team and Jose Berrios weaving through seven scoreless frames, and also the bad stuff, such as the worrying injury to Tim Mayza and the fact the bats are still in January.
We also talked about the speculation from Buster Olney that Juan Soto could be moved and whether that makes any sense at all. Finally, we looked ahead to a series against the Cincinnati Reds, an awful team that features a handful of Blue Jays castoffs who are doing very well.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

‘This is the only place I would play’ Jason Spezza wants to return to Maple Leafs, but only if he can contribute

The clock may have finally stopped on Jason Spezza’s playing career, but there might be room for another battery in what would be one final spin.
As the Maple Leafs went through locker cleanout day, each of them shared the massive disappointment, and the thought that this team was different heading into this year’s playoffs.
“The group has lofty goals and when it ends in the first round like that, it’s jarring as an athlete because you want better results.” Said a distraught Spezza to the media on Tuesday.
A number of players have big decisions to make in the off-season. Jack Campbell needs to think about whether he wants to test the open market, Mark Giordano the same, and a few others have that decision too. Do they want to come back and push for a Stanley Cup with this group or try it with another team?
Spezza gave the same message he has in previous seasons. He wants to be a Maple Leafs until his time runs out.
“This is the only place I would play.” Spezza said.
The 38-year-old finished off the regular season with 12 goals and 13 assists over a 71-game span. While Spezza spent every minute of ice-time on the fourth line, his contributions in the locker room …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Marner beats Vasilevskiy to end 18-game playoff goalless drought

Mitch Marner’s playoff curse has finally been lifted.

The 24-year-old forward scored his first playoff goal since Game 1 against the Boston Bruins in 2019 to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4–0 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
Marner received a pass from Morgan Rielly coming through the slot and made a slick move to fool Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy before sliding the puck into the gaping cage.
Rielly and Auston Matthews picked up the helpers on Marner’s first playoff goal in 18 games, which put the Leafs up by four at the 16:39 mark of the second period of Game 1.

Magic Mitchpic.twitter.com/ldHoV32WCQ
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 3, 2022

Jake Muzzin, Matthews, David Kämpf, and Marner have the goals as the Leafs lead the Lightning 4–0 after two periods at Scotiabank Arena.
Game 1 of this Leafs/Lightning series marks the first time ever that Matthews and Marner have scored in the same playoff contest. Matthews and Marner each have two points through the first 40 minutes of play in Toronto.
More from TheLeafsNation.com
Getting Jack Campbell ready for the playoffs was top ‘priority’ for Maple Leafs, now he has to deliver by David Alter
Do we have the passion? Here are The Leafs Nation playoff prognostications by Jon Steitzer
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning: Who has the advantage on special teams? by Mark Norman
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PointsBet Canada has officially launched in Ontario! Get a $25 free bet just for signing up right here! …

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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

Game #1: The highly-anticipated Maple Leafs and Lightning series begins tonight

The playoffs are finally here.
After a few days with no games, the highly-anticipated series between the Maple Leafs and Lightning begins tonight.
This series is the most-anticipated of all the playoff matchups in the NHL right now and it’ll likely deliver as being one of the best (maybe) seven games that we’ve had in recent memory.
You’ve got players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander on one side. And on the other there’s Steve Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman.
It’s a head-to-head that’s likely going to be either a chess match or a firework show.
“It’s about time we met in the playoffs.” Said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper after their final practice ahead of Monday’s game.
Line Combinations
Ondrej Kase will return to the Maple Leafs lineup for game one of the playoffs. It will be his first game back since suffering a concussion on March 19th.

#Leafs lines during practice May 1/22
Kerfoot-Matthews-Marner Mikheyev-Tavares-KaseNylander-Kampf-EngvallClifford-Blackwell-SimmondsExtra: Bunting, Spezza https://t.co/C3li6dSGwx
— David Alter (@dalter) May 1, 2022

Michael Bunting will not return to the lineup for the first game of the series. He’s out with an undisclosed injury, but has been taking part in full practices with the Maple Leafs.
Another player that’s out will be Jason Spezza. He’ll be one of Toronto’s scratches for game one against the Lightning. Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe discussed the difficult conversation he had with Spezza after Monday’s morning skate.

Sheldon Keefe, on the decision to scratch Jason Spezza for Game 1. pic.twitter.com/UO0ZwVjozL
— David Alter (@dalter) May 2, 2022

Another player looking for a cup late in his career is Wayne Simmonds and he had some words on Toronto’s cup drought before Monday’s game.

Simmonds on Toronto Cup drought: “I th …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: Once more unto the breach

It’s playoff time. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!! We finally made it. I feel like I’m going to spend the next few hours running through walls in anticipation.
Leafs are the game one favourites at -125
Here we are living in a world where the Leafs are the favourites against the current two time defending Stanley Cup Champions. Something had to go right to get here, but it’s a close one with Tampa paying +105 if they win.
A look at the Leafs playoff futures:

Maple Leafs Playoff Futurespic.twitter.com/TrVnS229HO
— PointsBet Canada (@PointsBetCanada) May 2, 2022

These are some real tall orders and definitely getting ahead of ourselves, but personally, I don’t mind dipping my toes in the water on that Tavares bet with a small amount of coin. With the Matthews line drawing a lot of the tough pairings, and Tavares has proven himself to be a clutch performer in the past, I don’t mind trying hoping for the best on this one.
The Leafs and Lightning both at +1000 to win the cup
Where the Leafs show a slight advantage is in the Eastern Conference matchup. The Leafs are a +500 to win it, and the Lightning a +525. The Leafs are second to the Panthers (+200) in that regard, and are tied with the Lightning for 4th best odds to win the cup.
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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation