Leafs by the Numbers: Jason Spezza

As Iron Maiden proclaims on Only the Good Die Young, the closing track of their 1988 album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, time, it waits for no man. The passage of time is inescapable (Eat Arby’s) and is especially noticeable in the field of sport. If you follow any professional sport for an extended period of time, you’re sure to notice that a player who was once so dominant suddenly just isn’t anymore. A player who once possessed a skillset so seemingly otherworldly is now a step behind. A guy once circled on the lineup card whenever his team came to town, now toiling away in a depth role.
Let’s talk about Jason Spezza.
Jason Spezza’s number is 37, which in terms of years, denotes his age when the Toronto Maple Leafs open the 2021 campaign on January 13th.

You: “I’m only 35, I have my whole life ahead of me.”
Sports Broadcaster: “Here comes the oldest player in the league. He’s 32. A miracle.”
— Troy Johnson (@_troyjohnson) December 6, 2016

After signing a one year, league minimum deal to join the Toronto Maple Leafs, Spezza found himself starting the 2019/2020 season as a healthy scratch. However, once Sheldon Keefe took over, …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation

Staturday Weekly Column #3: Getting to know the Maple Leafs’ Analytics Department

This week for Staturday, I thought it would be a good idea to profile the awesome people that make up the Toronto Maple Leafs’ analytics department. Technically, the department is called “Hockey Research and Development”, I suppose so that the name covers more than what we would call “analytics”, to include some more nebulous hockey research activities.
a title once held by salary cap and NHL collective bargaining agreement expert Brandon Pridham, who now sits as one of Dubas’ general managers. Metcalf was a member of the original three-person analytics department created by the Leafs in 2014. Now, having an analytics team of three people or more seems like the standard operating procedure for an NHL team, but in 2014 this was unprecedented stuff. Most teams had just one person, a token analytics guru on their staff; the Maple Leafs showed they were embracing it one step further by creating a department for analytics.
But who sits on that department today?
The Who’s Who of Leafs Analytics
The people in this department, I suppose, are the ones doing the number crunching for Kyle Dubas and the management team. But who are they?
Darryl Metcalf
While not technically a member of the …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam’s success will go as far as his shooting takes him

Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam’s success will go as far as his shooting takes him

Pascal Siakam is a player that is good in nearly every aspect of the game for the Toronto Raptors. Although shooting was never one of those fortes, Siakam has shown he can be one of the league’s best players when he shoots the three at an efficient rate. Pascal Siakam, to the surprise of many, […]
Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam’s success will go as far as his shooting takes him – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

What scares you the most about the Leafs?

There’s a good possibility that Kyle Dubas has a sense humour and thought that bringing back Michael Hutchinson the day before Halloween would scare Leafs fans. I think it did, only when we realized that when there’s three NHL goaltenders between him and the net that there was nothing to be afraid of.
Though that doesn’t mean there aren’t other frightening things about the Leafs at the moment, so we asked our panel of experts to share what scares them about the Leafs.
Nick Richard
The Leafs roster was decidedly not scary last season and while they’ve addressed that to some extent with additions like Wayne Simmonds and Zack Bogosian, I’m still still concerned about how much of that “dog” mentality can be developed by the core of this team. Having those guys will certainly add an element that this team was missing but it will be all for naught if the big guns can’t become tougher to play against as well. That doesn’t mean Nylander and Marner have to fight or throw big hits, but it does mean they need to have some more push back when teams lean on them …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Five scariest stats from the 2019-2020 season

Toronto Raptors: Five scariest stats from the 2019-2020 season

The Toronto Raptors had a very good season finishing with the second-best record in the league. But there are five stats that can leave every Raptors fan disappointed. It’s the season when nights are longer, colder, and scarier. Is there a better time to look over the scariest stats of the Toronto Raptors season from […]
Toronto Raptors: Five scariest stats from the 2019-2020 season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

What Toronto is getting in Wayne Simmonds

LOCAL BOY! GRIT! LEADERSHIP!
Those are all good things. All things that will serve the Leafs well, but should ultimately be considered the cherry on top with what Toronto has brought in by signing Wayne Simmonds to a one year deal @ $1.5M.
There’s still a matter of what the Leafs have in Simmonds.

Okay, so last year wasn’t a strong showing for Wayne.

Okay, so the last three years haven’t been strong ones for Simmonds. Maybe it’s time we acknowledge this really was about grit, leadership, and the excitement of a home town kid playing for the Maple Leafs. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as the Leafs are careful about where Simmonds slots into the lineup.

Season
Age
GP
G
A
PTS
PIM
EV G
PP G
S%
ATOI
HIT

2016-17
28
82
31
23
54
122
13
16
13.8
18:58
162

2017-18
29
75
24
22
46
57
12
11
13.6
18:05
129

2018-19
30
79
17
13
30
99
12
5
10.8
15:40
137

2019-20
31
68
8
17
25
66
3
5
6.7
14:55
145

data via hockey-reference.com

There’s the hit column, as pronounced as ever. The declining goal production isn’t ideal, but that shooting percentage in 2019-20 speaks to a player that was unlucky or in a poorly cast role. The time on ice is putting Simmonds in a third line situation, which is likely where he’ll start in …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What does a fully healthy 28-man Blue Jays’ roster look like?

The Blue Jays have a good problem on their hands.

A couple of key players, Bo Bichette and Ken Giles, are nearing returns from their respective injuries, and a few other pitchers, Matt Shoemaker, Nate Pearson and Jordan Romano, shouldn’t be too far behind them.
The team had a busy trade deadline, adding Taijuan Walker, Jonathan Villar, Robbie Ray, and Ross Stripling in order to add some much-needed depth to the roster. Now, with more reinforcements from the Injured List on the way, the Blue Jays will have to figure out how to squeeze everybody on the 28-man roster.
This is a good problem to have, of course, but there’ll be some difficult decisions involved.
Here’s how the roster looks right now…

Starting pitchers: Hyun Jin Ryu, Taijuan Walker, Tanner Roark, Ross Stripling, Chase Anderson.
Relief pitchers: Anthony Bass, A.J. Cole, Rafael Dolis, Thomas Hatch, Anthony Kay, Ryan Borucki, Julian Merryweather, Robbie Ray, Shun Yamaguchi, Wilmer Font.
Catchers: Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire.
Infielders: Vladimir Guererro Jr., Rowdy Tellez, Travis Shaw, Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, Joe Panik, Jonathan Villar.
Outfielders: Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher.



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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Andreas Johnsson is close to being a 100% healthy boy

Good news out of Leafs land…

Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson joined the special teams portion of practice today at Ford Performance Centre. #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) July 30, 2020

This is pretty great progress, especially considering there are still a few more days for him to get in full work before the playoffs start. Now that’s wishful thinking, but admittedly it now seems like a possibility we see Johnsson against the Blue Jackets and who doesn’t want to see more Johnsson?
What to expect from Andreas Johnsson this summer

As for the rest of the practice, well, the lines looked the same as they did yesterday and pretty much how they were used against Montreal:

July 30 @MapleLeafs practice lines and defensive pairings:
Nylander-Matthews-HymanMikheyev-Tavares-MarnerRobertson-Kerfoot-KapanenClifford-Gauthier-SpezzaEngvall
Muzzin-HollRielly-CeciDermott-BarrieSandin-Marincin
AndersenCampbell#LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) July 30, 2020

That begs the question of where will Johnsson slot in once he’s available.
I can’t see Clifford coming out. I don’t want to see Robertson come out unless things don’t work out in the first couple of games. Seeing Gauthier come out seems unlikely as well as I’m not sure Keefe wants to shift Spezza …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Were the Maple Leafs ever at full capacity this season?

Remember the good old days, when everyone was marvelling at how consistently healthy the Leafs were? It wouldn’t be unreasonable for some to believe the ever-competitive Leafs GM Kyle Dubas exploited another market inefficiency and invested in the NHL’s first Team Shaman, but in reality the Leafs’ injury fortunes were likely the result of a combination of luck, the team’s revered Sports Science & Performance division, and the team’s low-contact style of play. The numbers bear out this last point: Leafs have the third-lowest road hits-per-game since 2016-17 (road stats used here because some home arenas, like Scotiabank Arena, can sometimes be a little overzealous with their counting). Deep down Leafs fans knew that the Hockey Gods would rebalance the scales with a plague of injuries at some point. Enter the 2019-20 season, one of the most tumultuous this franchise has seen in over a decade, both due to off-ice distractions and on-ice performance issues.
The damage was early and often:

Zach Hyman and Travis Dermott missed the first 19 and 14 games of the season respectively following offseason surgeries.
John Tavares missed seven games with a broken finger, and it took months …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Accolades continue to roll in for Nick Robertson as he is named an OHL 1st Team All-Star

It’s been a good few weeks for Nick Robertson. He’s received OHL and CHL Sportsman of the Year honours. He’s been assured a spot on the Leafs training camp roster, and now this…

He led the league in goals with 55 before the season was cut short. He was named an OHL First All-Star team and @nickrob2001 is also the recipient of the Petes Executive Trophy which is awarded to the most valuable player voted on by the team. #GoPetesGo // #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/bIWg1xY0wv
— Peterborough Petes (@PetesOHLhockey) June 12, 2020
That’s right. Two, count him two more things to add to Nick Robertson’s list of achievements.
The 1st Team All-Star honours is probably one that we should have expected, and while the Petes MVP honour might also be one that seems a tad obvious, the fact that it’s his peers recognizing him drives a pleasant narrative about character in addition to talent. Of course this means that Semyon Der Arguchintsev didn’t win Team MVP honours, but we’ll just assume he was the runner up.
Assuming this trend continues, we’ll be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation