What’s changed in the year since Babcock’s been fired?

It’s the first year anniversary of the Mike Babcock firing. It’s a special day, and we owe much thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury for it, but also Mike Babcock for being such an uncompromising prick that he refused to change even when all signs pointed to him failing in his role.
Not coincidentally this also marks the one year anniversary since Sheldon Keefe took over the Leafs, and I decided to have the TLN writers weigh in on what has changed the most in the past twelve months for the Leafs.
Mark Norman
The Leafs played 47 games under Keefe this season. Comparing Keefe’s first 47 games to Babcock’s last 47 games shows us that Keefe’s teams slightly outshot (+0.7 SF%) and out-attempted (+0.9 FF%) Babcock’s teams, while Keefe received better 5v5 shooting (8.9% to Babcock’s 8.0%) and basically the same 5v5 goaltending (0.913 vs Babcock’s 0.914). Where things greatly diverged is in expected goals (a shot quality metric): the Keefe-coached Leafs had 53.6% of the expected share of goals while Babcock’s Leafs had 49.8% of that share. The eye test bears this out: under Keefe the Leafs were encouraged to be creative with the puck (within reason) rather than playing scared of …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays have re-signed Robbie Ray

The Blue Jays have made their first signing of the off-season.

According to Jeff Passan, the team has re-signed lefty pitcher Robbie Ray to a one-year deal worth $8,000,000.

First free agent deal of the offseason is done. Left-hander Robbie Ray and the Toronto Blue Jays are in agreement on a one-year, $8 million deal, a source familiar with the contract tells ESPN. Good start to the hot stove for Toronto, which will use Ray as a starter, and for Ray.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 7, 2020

Ray, of course, was acquired by the Blue Jays ahead of the trade deadline from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Travis Bergen.
His 2020 season had been a complete disaster but Ray’s performance improved after joining the Blue Jays. In 31 innings with the Diamondbacks, Ray had a 7.84 ERA but he improved to a respectable 4.79 ERA over 20 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays. He also had an impressive three-inning showing in relief against Tampa Bay in Game 1 of the wild-card round.
It wasn’t that long ago that Ray was an ace starter in Arizona. Back in 2017, he posted a 2.89 ERA and had the most strikeouts per nine in baseball at 12.1. He finished seventh in Cy Young voting …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Arbitration filings between Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs off by $1.6-million

The first arbitration filings between Ilya Mikheyev and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been filed showing a $1.6-million discrepancy between what the player and club want.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Leafs offered two-years at $1-million while Mikheyev asked for one-year at $2.7-million.

Arbitration filings on Mikheyev (TOR): Team is 2 years at $1M. Player is one year at $2.7M. Remember: team goes in low, player goes in high
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 19, 2020

This year was his first in the NHL where he played in 39 regular season games scoring eight goals and 23 points. In the playoffs, he appeared in five games scoring no points.
The 26-year-old joined the Leafs after playing the last four season with Avangard Omsk in the KHL.
As TLN writer Mark Norman wrote last week, the Leafs have a strong case against Mikheyev in arbitration largely due to the limited number of games played. His 39 games played are the least by any of the 14 players to have their cases heard by an arbitrator since 2014.
His rookie campaign was shortened after sustaining a laceration to his wrist.
On Twitter: @zjlaing
 

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

In Rod the Leafs trust

After sitting out the first round of the 2019 draft, the Leafs had a chance on Tuesday night to make significant addition to their prospect pool thanks to a deal in which they acquired Pittsburgh’s 15th overall selection. There was plenty of speculation leading up to the draft that the Leafs would move the pick for immediate help, and it seems they may have been close to doing so after GM Kyle Dubas said they used the entire clock because they were in trade talks for the pick right down to the final second. He made sure to clarify the reasoning for them going down to the wire, stating there was no debate about who they were choosing if they kept the pick.

Kyle Dubas says Leafs went to time limit because trade discussions were ongoing. Leafs were not debating whom to pick at 15.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) October 7, 2020

Following an unusual scene where commissioner Gary Bettman stepped to the podium to announce that Toronto’s time had run out and they needed to call a timeout or make the pick, Mitch Marner stepped in front of the camera in the Leafs’ makeshift war room to welcome Russian winger Rodion Amirov …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev have received qualifying offers from the Leafs

Less than 24 hours after the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft ended, the Leafs made the expected move of retaining two key players that were RFAs.

Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott have received qualifying offers from the #leafs ahead of today’s 5 p.m. ET deadline, as expected.
Mikheyev’s camp expects to resume contract talks after the draft.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 7, 2020

This is a decision that I’m sure a lot of you expected to see but it is still relieving nonetheless. Mikheyev’s party has confirmed they will resume negotiations after the draft is finished and while Dermott’s camp hasn’t mentioned their plans, my best guess is that they will likely do the same thing.
Prior to a wrist injury that kept him out of the lineup for months, Mikheyev scored eight goals, 15 assists, and 23 points in 39 games. Dermott missed the first part of the season and managed to produce four goals, seven assists, and 11 points in 56 games played.
The number of Leafs RFAs the team has to deal with was shortened following today’s announcement. Denis Malgin was given a one-year extension less than a week ago and Kyle Dubas revealed yesterday that the team has …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

With the 15th overall pick, the Leafs are proud to select…Connor Zary?

One of the older first time eligibles in the draft Connor Zary is one of many centers who the Leafs could consider to address their lack of depth in that position organizationally. (I mean the one/two spots in the depth chart are fine, but after that.)
Zary is an interest case, as older first timers tend to carry a bit of a stigma because they are expected to significantly outproduce the younger draft eligibles, and Zary certainly did that by putting up 86 points in 57 games last season, but when you see that Zary was also a 67 point player in 63 games in the year he missed the draft cut off by 10 days, it looks more like a solid first rounder following up his year with a solid draft plus one year, and Zary potentially being more NHL ready than a lot of other options available in the mid first round.
At 6’0 and 181 lbs, Zary isn’t a giant, but is big enough that he escapes the undersized stigma unfairly thrown on players like Jarvis. He was a 2nd round pick in the WHL bantam draft, so he’s been consistent in his success throughout his hockey career, and is considered …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Prospect Roundup: Lehtonen on fire, Leafs earn letters

Welcome to the first installment of TLN’s newest feature, Prospect Roundup, where we will be keeping tabs on Leafs prospects throughout the year. With the NHL draft just around the corner, the Leafs are set to add a fresh new crop of prospects to their system but there are already a handful of potential future Leafs playing meaningful hockey games as several European leagues have gotten their seasons underway. So, without further ado…
 
Egor Korshkov – RW – Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
With uncertainty surrounding the status of the next NHL season, never mind the next AHL season, the Leafs loaned Korshkov back to his former KHL squad to get him into some games as he prepares for his next NHL training camp. The former second round pick is off to a hot start with his old team, racking up three goals and three assists through eight contests thus far.

My goodness… YEGOR KORSHKOV! pic.twitter.com/y9NAR2EnLP
— KHL (@khl_eng) September 29, 2020

After a bit of an up and down first season in North America, it can only be good for Korshkov’s confidence that he’s producing at the KHL level. He provides a different element than most of …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Despite the post-season letdown, the 2020 Blue Jays should be remembered fondly

For the first time in months, there’s no longer that feeling of baseball-related anticipation. Instead, in its place, is a feeling of melancholy.

It’s October now and it feels like summer is over. Tuesday’s post-season opener was a tight, stressful, nail-biter, while Wednesday’s must-win was a flop. This team that had been loaded with magic all season — all 60 games of it — didn’t have anything left.
The young Jays sprinted headfirst into a wall known as the Tampa Bay Rays — a veteran team in which every player seems to be a perfectly placed piece to a puzzle — and got sent back home after a two-game sweep.
Maybe things would have gone been better if the Jays hadn’t tried to be so clever with their starting pitching strategy. Maybe losing to the Rays was an inevitability and we were just blind with undeserved optimism heading into the series. Who knows.
What I do know, though, is that as disappointing as bowing out of the playoffs in two games may seem now, the 2020 Blue Jays were a blessing, and they deserve to be remembered fondly.
Had I told you back in April that the Blue Jays were …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: 3 ways landing Antetokounmpo would change franchise

The Giannis to Toronto Raptors rumors first circulated a few weeks ago. Now it’s time to look at the impact he’ll bring to the organization if he does sign here in 2021. The Toronto Raptors have the perfect system and the perfect army. What they don’t have is the one deadly artillery/firepower that takes them […]
Toronto Raptors: 3 ways landing Antetokounmpo would change franchise – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

How Do Nick Nurse’s First Two Seasons Stack Up Against the All-Time Greats?

In his first two years, Nick Nurse won his first coach of the year award and led the Toronto Raptors to a championship. Now who else has done that? On Tuesday, news broke of the Toronto Raptors re-signing Nick Nurse to a new multi-year contract. The contract was universally praised after a strong 2019-20 season […]
How Do Nick Nurse’s First Two Seasons Stack Up Against the All-Time Greats? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Thomas Waind / Raptors HQ