Leafs sign Morgan Rielly to a team friendly deal

I guess I can quit my chicken little routine when it comes to the Morgan Rielly contract, as today the Leafs have announced that Morgan will be a Leaf for a very long time…

Eight. Mo. Years.#LeafForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 29, 2021

From the Leafs press release:
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has signed defenceman Morgan Rielly to an eight-year contract extension. The average annual value of the contract is $7.5 million.
In a summer that saw Seth Jones receive a $9.5M AAV until 2030, a summer that saw Dougie Hamilton sign as an UFA for seven years at $9M AAV, and even a world where Jacob Trouba is somehow an $8M/yr defenseman, there were plenty of reasons to be concerned about what Rielly was going to cost Toronto and while last season $7.5M AAV might not have felt like a team friendly deal, the new reality of the defensive market is that is a great contract to lock Rielly in for.
With the struggles of Jake Muzzin, and Justin Holl early this year, the Leafs can’t really afford to take a gamble on their defensive star and rely solely on the ability of …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Hyun Jin Ryu is headed to the 10-day Injured List

I guess this would explain what’s been going on with Hyun Jin Ryu lately?

After getting lit up in back-to-back starts, first by the Orioles and then by the Twins, the Blue Jays have placed Ryu on the 10-day Injured List with neck tightness.

ROSTER MOVES:
LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (neck tightness) placed on 10-day IL
LHP Tayler Saucedo recalled from Triple-A and will be active today pic.twitter.com/5obkH105uJ
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 19, 2021

I wrote yesterday about Ryu’s struggles and what the Blue Jays should do next. Ryu said after Friday’s outing that he didn’t feel he was dealing with an injury, which was sort of the assumption after word came out that he was dealing with forearm tightness after his start in New York a couple of weeks ago.
Regardless, Ryu will miss his next start, which was supposed to be on Wednesday in Tampa Bay against the Rays.
Jose Berrios goes Sunday, Robbie Ray kicks off the Tampa series on Monday, and then Alek Manoah, who was pushed back, starts Tuesday. The hole on Wednesday could be filled by Ross Stripling or possibly Thomas Hatch, who’s currently with the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Michael Bunting would be a dollar and a pound bargain for the Leafs

F#ck it, I guess we’re talking about free agents now. We could be talking about the Leafs match up against the Lightning, but nah, talking about free agents that can fit into the narrow bit of workable cap space for the Leafs is cool too. Though today we’ll hopefully get to have our post up for more than 20 minutes before the player we’re talking about announces they have no intention of playing for any team other than the one they are currently with.
So in the spirit of finding someone who is both affordable and would want to play in Toronto, we’ll dial things back from aging superstars, and refocus on a player that might have had his NHL breakout season last year. That player is Michael Bunting.
Michael Bunting checks a lot of boxes for things that the Leafs could use:

First of all, he’s 25, so he’s about as young as you can find when you’re talking unrestricted free agents. He hasn’t played in the NHL enough for the Coyotes to retain him as an unrestricted free agent, so their loss could very easily be the Leafs gain. Younger is …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

An open letter to Martin Marincin

So, I guess this is goodbye, huh? Obviously this isn’t the circumstances I wanted, but hopefully you’re happy with them.
You probably don’t know who I am — but I definitely know who you are. You’re great person. A mysterious man. An elite highlight-reel goal-scorer.
It all started back on February 29th, 2020 when you scored that goal. It was truly amazing.
The smile on your face after you scored it, the joy everyone had when you put it past Thatcher Demko — each and every moment you stepped onto the ice after that — I was looking for you.
A few days after the goal, I was pressed to buy your jersey. One of my tweets hit 500 retweets and I had to answer the bell, which for me meant purchasing a possible one-in-ten Martin Marincin Leafs home jersey.
Yep. I spent $280 on that thing.
The man making the jersey wondered if I was crazy when I asked for it, to which I said “no”. But honestly, I didn’t know what was to come in the future.
Because of you, I’ve met a lot of great people online. Great isn’t even the right word — they’re incredible. …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Habs vs. Jets series is a reminder of what could have been if the Leafs weren’t so committed to failing spectacularly

The Habs vs. Jets series is a reminder of what could have been if the Leafs weren’t so committed to failing spectacularly

I guess everyone needs a gimmick, and the Leafs have chosen finding interesting and exciting ways to fail as theirs. No longer satisfied with blowing Game 7s, the Leafs upped the ante this year and blew games 5, 6, and 7. That’s commitment. Setting the NHL record for longest Stanley Cup drought in history, well, 54 years of failure is commitment defined.
Yes, this series is doing wonders to keep the anger alive and well as we embark on week two of the offseason, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be any easier anytime soon.
So here’s the thing. We’ve just watched the Canadiens in a series. We saw the Leafs outscore them, and at times outplay them. For the Leafs playing to even 80% of what could reasonably be expected of them, they would have won that series.
Now enter the Winnipeg Jets. They seemed to be sending a message by sweeping Connor McDavid and the Oilers. They looked like they could potentially be a hard out. Apparently that is not the case at all. They are now on the verge of being swept, and it’s hard not to see Montreal waltzing neatly into the Semi-Final …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

George Springer is headed back to the Injured List

I guess it wasn’t about fatigue after all. Shocking!

According to the Blue Jays, the $150 million man will be headed back to the 10-day Injured List with the same right quad injury from before. It’s retroactive to May 3, so Springer will be able to come off the IL in just over a week.
Springer made his Blue Jays debut last Wednesday but appeared to re-aggravate his injury on Saturday. Despite that, Springer managed to smack two dingers in that huge comeback win, but was then removed mid-game on Sunday with what the team called “fatigue.”
Apparently, Monday was a “scheduled day off” for Springer after the team took a flight to the West Coast, but Springer was also kept out of the lineup on Tuesday and Wednesday, making it very, very clear something else was going on. After running an MRI on Wednesday, the team decided to put him back on the IL.
This truly is a weird situation. Why the Blue Jays felt compelled to pretend this was about fatigue is puzzling, given the fact that everyone paying any sort of attention could realize that wasn’t the case. It made the organization come across as disingenuous …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Canadian Federal Government close to approving reduction in quarantine time for NHL players

I guess there is no doubt that the NHL matters in Canada after this one, as it appears the league has successfully lobbied to reduce the quarantine time for players in advance of the April 12th trade deadline.

Federal government poised to approve a 7-day quarantine with extra testing for NHL players traded from American teams to Canadian teams before the April 12th trade deadline. Government source says all provinces with NHL teams have approved of the measures.
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) March 25, 2021

So first off, I can’t imagine anyone else on the other side of the border looking to come into Canada is particularly excited to see this news, but that’s without knowing any of the additional details. There are potentially additional testing requirements, and costs that are being absorbed by the team instead of the government that likely makes this move palatable for them to approve. Given that we’re not a political blog, none of us are epidemiologists, and the details are limited to the tweet above at this point, we’ll hold back any judgement on how this is playing out.
From a hockey perspective, there are numerous benefits to a team like the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs add Ian Scott to their taxi squad

I guess it won’t be a quiet few days in Leafs land, as the day has already seen the departure of Travis Boyd, but with every departure comes a new beginning, and that new beginning is the arrival of Ian Scott.

Goaltender Ian Scott has been reassigned to the @MapleLeafs taxi squad.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 22, 2021

So, the good news here is that Ian Scott is healthy enough that he can now practice and hang out in the Leafs pressbox. The other shoe that still needs to fall is what does Ian Scott being on the Leafs taxi squad mean besides the fact they want to keep Woll on the Marlies for the time being.
Well, it could mean that Andersen is hurt enough to be going on the injured reserve.
It could mean the Leafs want Hutchinson to go down to the Marlies and get in some games.
What it means is this year and taxi squads continue to be weird, but interesting and we’ll have to wait patiently to see why this happened.
 

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Sandin reportedly out several weeks after blocking a shot

I guess we can file this one under things that certainly aren’t ideal.

It sounds like Rasmus Sandin’s foot injury will sideline him for several weeks. He got hurt blocking a shot during the Toronto Marlies season opener in Winnipeg on Monday night.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 17, 2021

After Greg Moore had initially stated that Sandin would be listed as day to day, the diagnosis has taken a turn for the worse, and Sandin could miss a sizeable portion of this condensed AHL season. That would mean that since last March, one of the Leafs prospects has played five minutes in the NHL, and one game in AHL. Again, that’s not ideal for him or the Leafs.
As far as the Leafs depth situation, with Lehtonen, Marincin, Liljegren, and Rosen all capable of stepping up and the Marlies being deep enough on defense that they trade David Warsofsky and were dressing Joseph Duszak as a forward, the immediate team worries aren’t significant. It’s more the long term picture that needs to be considered, especially since it seemed that Rasmus Sandin was going to be a likely member of the Leafs defensive group next season.
The issues with …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Mikko Kokkonen is the Leafs 8th ranked prospect

I guess we’ll stick with the theme from yesterday and keep on talking about Finnish defensemen. A lot of the same things can be said about Niemela and Kokkonen, so excuse me if it looks like I plagiarized Nick Richard’s article, but that doesn’t change that like Niemela, Kokkonen is smooth skating defenseman with a good head on his shoulders that isn’t overly flashy and the Leafs were fortunate that he slid to the 3rd round of the draft.

RANK
GRADE
Time until NHL ready

8
C
2-4 YEARS

Position: Defense
Height: 5’11
Weight: 198lbs
Shoots: Left
Drafted: 2019 3rd Round, 84th Overall
What kind of player is he?
I’m going to jump straight to a player comparison. Player comparisons are generally terrible, and never accurate, but that’s not going to stop me from repeatedly going back to that well, and say the kind of player that the Leafs will get in Mikko Kokkonen is a player who plays a very Carl Gunnarsson style of hockey. That’s not to say he’ll be as good or as bad as Gunnarsson, depending on your opinion of Gunnarsson, but simply it speaks to Kokkonen being a steady kind …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation