Leafs Prospect Roundup: Kressler’s Game 7 heroics, Marlies end of season recap

One more, folks! With most leagues around the world wrapped up or in the midst of their playoffs, just about every Toronto Maple Leafs prospect has finished their 2021/22 season. As such, rather than give you the same update every Monday morning on the three Maple Leafs prospects that are playing in their respective playoffs, this will be the last prospect roundup for the season.
Don’t worry, though, as we’ll still have lots of prospect coverage here at TLN as we look back on various prospects’ seasons in the coming weeks and look ahead to the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
But before we get to all of that, I’ve got one more prospect roundup in store for you! And we’ve got quite a bit to get to.
Braeden Kressler | C | Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Undrafted free agent signing Braeden Kressler had a tough 2021/22 campaign, interrupted with injury and a move down the Flint Firebirds’ lineup after a strong development camp and rookie tournament performance with the Maple Leafs that saw him earn a contract.
A huge showing that helped Flint prevail in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Owen Sound Attack made that disappointment and frustration go away.
Lining up as the fourth line centre, Kressler was instrumental in Flint surviving a fi …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

There are plenty of lineup card battles on the Leafs in the remaining six games

Folks, it’s hard to get excited about lame-duck hockey. This year’s post playoff spot clinch the Leafs have done their best to keep us entertained with milestones. We’ve got Matthews chasing 60 goals, Marner chasing 100 points, each win brings a new best season for the Leafs, each goal or point brings a new best for William Nylander, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that John Tavares can pick up seven points in the next six games to hit 900 points in his career. There’s a lot happening to care about, and there’s also that whole locking down second place in the Atlantic thing too.
While the Leafs are sitting quite pretty and have the potential to be largely drama-free for the next couple of weeks, the reality is there is still a lot to sort out on the lineup card. There is plenty up for grabs, and while there are roster locks (see below) their spot on the lineup card isn’t established and there are still some players who could play their way into an opening night of the playoffs spot in the final few days.
Roster Spot Locks
Auston Matthews
Morgan Rielly
Jack Campbell
John Tavares
TJ Brodie

David Kampf
Mark Giordano

Mitch Marner
Jake Muzzin

William Nylander

Michael Bunting

Alex Kerfoot

Ilya Mikheyev

Pierre Engvall

Things are certainly made a bit more complicated by the fact that the Leafs have Ondrej Kase, Rasmus Sandin, and Petr Mrazek on the LTIR at the moment. None of …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Check out the Daily Faceoff 2022 Trade Deadline show

Hey folks, it’s going to be another busy day around the NHL, and the Nation Network has you covered with a DFO Live Show starting at noon ET.
The show will overlap the close of waivers and as such Nation Network insider extraordinaire Frank Seravalli will be there to tell you what comes next for the Leafs as Mrazek, Clifford, and Sateri have their fates decided.
The show features other experts like DFO’s Chris Gear, Chris Peters, Mike McKenna, and Scott Burnside who will help breakdown important areas like what could be going on in the war room, the state of the prospects, and of course, what is happening in net.
The Daily Faceoff live show is the perfect accompaniment to the coverage you’ll receive here on TLN, which includes the up-to-the-minute deadline tracker from Nick Richard.
You can find the Daily Faceoff live show on their youtube channel, facebook, and twitter pages.

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Author: TLN Staff / The Leafs Nation

Yusei Kikuchi has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays

Well there you have it folks, the Toronto Blue Jays rotation is set. Per Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays have signed the 30-year-old left handed pitcher, Yusei Kikuchi from Seattle.

Breaking: Yusei Kikuchi to the Jays.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 12, 2022

In his three seasons in the majors, he has a 4.97 ERA and 4.93 FIP in 365.2 innings pitched. This past season was his best to date, as he had a 4.41 ERA and 4.61 FIP. His xFIP sat at 3.85, but this was due to a HR/FB ratio of 20.6%. The only worry I have is the fact he allowed 11 of his 27 home runs at T-Mobile Park, a pitcher’s ballpark
His 9.34 K/9 in 2021 was also the highest of his career, which he paired with a 3.55 BB/9. Kikuchi also induces quite a lot of ground balls, as he has a 46.6 GB%, including a 48.4% in 2021. 

Kikuchi gets $36M, 3 years from Jays
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 12, 2022

The deal is a 3-year $36 million contract, which isn’t the worst deal that could have been. It’s also front loaded, meaning if things go side ways in 2022 for Kikuchi, the Jays would owe him less. This signing will also allow Ross Stripling to move to a long man role (which the Jays didn’t have last season). This also officially moves Nate Pearson into the bullpen, likely in a high leverage role.

Yusei Kikuchi’s 3-year, $36 million contract with the #Bluejays is front-loaded:$16 million in 2022$10 million in 2023$10 million in 2024
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 12, 2022

The Blue Jays estimated payroll now sits at $153,132,143, meaning they have an estimated $58,617,857 before reaching the 2022 tax threshold, plenty of room to sign (or trade for) a third baseman.
Here are some of his pitches:

#Mariners LHP Yusei Kikuchi with a 92mph SLIDER. Frontdoor’s #Astros Michael Brantey for the strikeout.
After sitting 92FB/86SL most of …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Bold Take: Zach Hyman’s next contract isn’t going to be $7M a year

How’s it going folks? Feeling alright? I just wanted to pop by and remind you that just because someone throws out a ridiculous number for Zach Hyman’s next contract doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be paid that number. I get that some of you were hurt by the Nylander contract, and some of us were certainly hurt by the Marner contract, and a lucky few are mad about every contract paid to the Leafs big four forwards, but the Hyman situation is likely going to be different, and we may have the pandemic and the resulting flat cap to thank for that.

JD Bunkis is suggesting $7M per for Zach Hyman. What in the fuck?!
— Jesse Turner (@Jessturr) March 10, 2021

So there’s the tweet that seems to be getting legs. I think it’s largely based off the fact that there is a large portion of the Leafs fan population that believes that Hyman’s contributions are equal to or greater than William Nylander’s. While I’ve got plenty of time for hearing about the merits of Hyman, I think we can begin with pumping the breaks on the idea that they are …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Page 6ix Wednesday, January 20th: Inaugural Week

We’re a week into the hockey season, folks, and what a week it has been! It’s been exciting, it’s been nerve-wracking, it’s been strange, but it’s been hockey! There’s lots to look at this week, especially with our Leafs boys and their families. Let’s dive in.
Leafs Lads (and Ladies)
New dad Zach Hyman is having himself a season, with 10 SOG in the most recent Leafs game alone. That new dad strength is really pushing him, eh? Check out these adorable Hymen men:

I’m fine. This is fine. Zach Hyman is a dad and I’m fine.
Narrator: she was not fine. pic.twitter.com/F0iFQbvbRN
— robo fem mer (@MerOutLoud) January 14, 2021

Zach is enjoying being a dad, and definitely credits his new arrival with some of his on-ice success:

New dad Hyman: “It’s hard to describe. It’s the best feeling in the world. I feel re-energized playing for not just myself, my family, but I have a little one now, so it’s awesome. It’s always the best going home and seeing him after a game.” #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) January 19, 2021

Meanwhile, captain John Tavares is also dominating …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

The Matt Murray to the Leafs rumours aren’t going anywhere

Folks, sooner or later the Leafs will be Soo Greyhounds alumni team and Auston Matthews. It appears to be inevitable, and after adding one former Greyhound in goal last season by bringing in Jack Campbell, it is entirely possible that Dubas and Keefe are primed to bring in another, and in this instance I’m not talking about Robin Lehner.
From Pierre LeBrun:
My guess is the Leafs wouldn’t want to trade for a goalie without knowing if they could move Andersen. I did have an executive from a rival NHL team tell me this week that Dubas does have interest in Murray. So perhaps there’s a deal to be made there after all but later on.

Frank Seravalli: “The Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to have one standing offer on the table for Matt Murray. The Maple Leafs, Oilers, Flames, Senators, Sabres and Avalanche are among the potential suitors for Murray’s services – a list that may soon grow.” #LetsGoPens
— NHL News (@puck_report2) September 3, 2020

So there the Leafs are at the top of the list for Matt Murray. Cool. Of course there’s also this…

Friedman said …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Nate Pearson’s debut was incredible (until the 10th inning, unfortunately)

Nate Pearson has arrived, folks. And boy oh boy, he certainly lived up to the hype. The Blue Jays ended up taking another frustrating loss, but we’ll look back on this one as the first of many, many great starts by Pearson.

Things worth mentioning…

Today was all about Nate Pearson making his big-league debut. The Blue Jays’ top prospect went up against Max Scherzer, one of the best arms in baseball, so this had all of the makings of a student vs teacher pitcher’s duel. And that’s exactly what it was. Pearson went five strong innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while picking up five strikeouts.
Pearson’s best moment came in the fourth inning. Eric Thames led off the inning with a double and then Pearson got Kurt Suzuki to ground out, putting Thames on third with one away. After that, Pearson got Starlin Castro to line out to Cavan Biggio for the second out of the inning, and then he worked his way out of the jam by striking out Carter Keiboom with an unhittable 99 mile-per-hour fastball at the knees. That was ace-level stuff from Pearson.

99 …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Newly-signed Leaf Mikko Lehtonen named KHL Top Defenceman

All aboard the Mikko Lehtonen hype train, folks. The Leafs’ newest KHL addition has been named the league’s top defenceman for the 2019-20 season.

#KHL has named Mikko Lehtonen as the league’s top defenseman in 2019-20. Big congrats, Bobi! #Jokerit pic.twitter.com/ovDqITfJmv
— Jokerit Helsinki (@Jokerit_EN) May 18, 2020

Lehtonen scored 49 points in 60 games this season, which led Jokerit Helsinki in team scoring and was good forth sixth overall in league scoring and tops among defencemen. He finished eight points clear of the next highest scoring defenceman, Slava Voynov, so Lehtonen winning this award isn’t really much of a surprise.
Signed to a one-year, entry-level deal a few weeks ago, Lehtonen could be a nice bargain addition to the Leafs next season. If he’s anywhere near as effective as Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto’s KHL addition from last off-season, that would be a nice boost to the team’s blueline.

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Willie Nylander: The Comeback Kid

Folks, I don’t need to tell any of you how great William Nylander is. You’re smart. You’ve been watching the games. You’ve looked at the stats. You’ve seen that Nylander is well on pace to exceed 30 goals this season, you’ve seen that he’s regularly elevated the game of both Matthews and Tavares, and you’ve seen how effortlessly he makes it look to move the puck from zone to zone without being impeded by defenders. Yes, William Nylander is pretty great and as hard as it may be to accept that an Albertan isn’t awful, William Nylander is pretty darn good.
That’s why it’s really not surprising that with their mid-season awards, the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) voted Nylander as their comeback player of the year.
Comeback Player of the Year Award – to the player who returned to a previous high level of performance that was interrupted by subpar play, long-term injury or major illness.
1. William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs
2. Anthony Duclair, Ottawa Senators
3. Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights
So, with great recognition comes great …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation