Leafs Prospect Roundup: Leafs at the Olympics, checking in with Niemelä and Tverberg

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Happy Monday! Especially if you happen to be a Rams fan, huh? Whether or not you’re basking in the glory of a Super Bowl win for your team, you’ve come to the right place to check in with a few potential future Leafs who are on their own pursuit of glory.
Even without NHL players participating in the Olympics, the Leafs have been well represented in the men’s hockey tournament. 2021 second-round pick Matthew Knies and 2019 fourth-round selection Nick Abruzzese have been key figures in Team USA’s strong start, 2018 sixth-rounder Pontus Holmberg is suiting up for Sweden, and Josh Ho-Sang, currently under contract with the Marlies in the AHL, is representing Canada as he continues to work his way back to the NHL.
There is plenty to chew on in this week’s edition of the Leafs Prospect Roundup, so let’s get to it.
Leafs at the Olympics
For many Leafs fans, the opening games of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament have been their first opportunity to see Matthew Knies and Nick Abruzzese play. Knies, in particular, entered the tournament with substantial hype and both players have delivered for Team USA early on.
Team USA went 3-0 during the preliminary round, earning a bye to the quarterfinals. Playing together on a line centered by 2021 second overall pick Matty Beniers, …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Page 6ix Wednesday February 3rd: Tony DeWaived – and other stuff, I guess

Did ANYTHING else happen in the hockey world this week besides Tone DeAngelo getting waived and the subsequent rumours and reports about the behind the scenes drama with the Rangers?
I mean I guess so but who can remember it when the Tony of it all is going on?
I’ll do my best to remind you of what else is happening, but don’t we all just want to know who really punched Tony D?
Leafs Lads
As always, we begin by focusing on our boys in blue, who have had a really great start to the season. They went on a 4 game winning streak and 5 game point streak, and Frederik Andersen is looking much more solid in net. Of course, we’re still dealing with some injuries, but Joe Thornton and Nicholas Robertson are back on the ice skating, which is a good sign!

#Leafs Ice Chips from @markhmasters: With the team not playing for a few days, Joe Thornton and Nick Robertson are skating and making progress in their recovery – https://t.co/qyLbP14xOO#TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/EgXj4MW1vE
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) February 1, 2021

Of course, it is NOT great that Alexander Kerfoot did not …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

TSN speculating that Toronto could be a hub city for summer hockey

Whether it happens, who knows. Whether it should happen is debatable. What it will look like, that remains to be seen, but what we do know is that if hockey happens there is a strong possibility it could be in Toronto.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli was looking at what some of the options could be for the NHL’s suggest four city approach where each division would play their games in one city. Seemingly Edmonton seems to be a front runner for the Pacific, but with Glendale also being considered. Winnipeg, Dallas, and Minneapolis have been suggest for the Central, and Pittsburgh and Raleigh for the Metro division. That just leaves the Atlantic, a division hope to a number of cities that have struggled to contain COVID-19.
The NHL’s suggested criteria for consideration is as follows:
– “The location could be anywhere besides a [COVID-19] hot spot.”
– “We need a lot of ice. There does need to be practice facilities.”
– “We need four NHL-calibre locker rooms. Because if you’re going to play three games in one day, you’ve got to be moving things around, and …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The pressure is on

Nobody expected this to happen. Well, I think many of us expected it to happen eventually, but not this early. If you told me back in the summer that Mike Babcock would be the first coach fired in 2019-20, I wouldn’t have believed you.

But here we are now. The Maple Leafs were off to such a shockingly bad start, there just wasn’t time to wait around any more. This team needs to get things together and it needs to happen fast. Thanks to a six-game losing streak, the Leafs are on the outside looking in. American Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and, generally, if you’re outside of the playoffs by that time of year, you aren’t in the dance come April.
There’s one key buck to that trend and the Leafs are hoping they can mirror what that team did. That’s the St. Louis Blues. On this day one year ago, the 7-9-1 Blues fired head coach Mike Yeo and replaced him with Craig Berube. It took the Berube-led Blues a little while to get going, but they did the impossible and went from dead last in the NHL at Christmas …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Series Preview: One last trip to the worst stadium in baseball

Getting swept is never a fun thing to have happen, but thankfully the Blue Jays only played a two-game mini-series against the Braves. Now, the Blue Jays will have to once again fly down to Tampa Bay and take on the Rays in the ugliest and worst stadium in the entire league.
Coming into this series, the Rays are currently on a bit of a hot-streak. They have won six of their last seven games and have also produced five runs or more in four of those seven games as well. The Rays have also done an excellent job at remaining disciplined at the plate since the start of August. Since then, the Rays have recorded the 2nd-fewest amount of strikeouts. So, the Blue Jays’ pitchers will have to find another way to get the Rays’ hitters out.
Thursday at 7:10 ET
Annoyingly, we’ll all have to watch Trent Thornton take on the Rays through Youtube during this game. At least the league moved on from broadcasting games through Facebook live this season. It also seems like Thornton has faced the Rays more times than any other pitcher this season.
Facing them for the fourth time this season, Thornton will …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays claim Beau Taylor off waivers, option him to Buffalo

One of the only transactions that can now happen in the month of August, the Toronto Blue Jays claimed catcher Beau Taylor off of waivers from the Oakland Athletics and have optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo.

#BlueJays add some minor-league catching depth, claiming Beau Taylor off waivers from Oakland & optioning him to Triple-A Buffalo per team
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) August 16, 2019

Taylor, 29, was drafted by the A’s in the fifth-round back in 2011 and made his first big-league appearance for the club last season. Through 2018 and 2019, he has amassed a total of 33 plate appearances for a slashline of .188/.333/.444 — fun! He was designated for assignment by Oakland on Tuesday.
He will be joining the Bisons for the last few weeks in the minor league season and unless there are resulting transactions, they will be carrying three catchers on the roster with both Michael De La Cruz and Patrick Cantwell currently active.
This season in Triple-A, Taylor is hitting for a .257 average, .869 OPS, and a 117 wRC+ — his highest rate of offensive production in the minors since 2017.
As some of the fastest risers in the prospect rankings for the Blue Jays are catchers Gabriel Moreno and Alejandro Kirk, Toronto will be bolstering their other …

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs should offersheet Jesse Puljujarvi

Fun fact: Offersheets just don’t happen. This will probably apply a lot to this post, but also remember it the next time you are out on a ledge about Mitch Marner as well. Committing to an offersheet is committing to a whole lot of uncertainty and it’s hard to find a more risk averse group than NHL GMs. You’re basically committing to an overpayment, you’ll have to wait a week to see if your offer will be matched or not, you’re giving up draft picks, and especially with 1st rounders involved, are you prepared for if your team underperforms and you give up a lottery pick? Are you prepared for that pick exceed the abilities of the player you signed? No. None of this sounds like anything that a GM is willing to put on themselves. Especially when the most recent “successful” offer sheet is to Dustin Penner, who was decidedly not very good and the action nearly led to a barn fight.
Since Penner (2007) there have been 5 failed offer sheet attempts. David Backes, Steve Bernier, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Shea Weber, and Ryan O’Reilly. You could argue the quality of player has been improving, but 5 …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Game 1 Analysis: What did the Raptors do wrong?

Is this really going to happen to Toronto again in the playoffs? We dive into some of the numbers to assess what exactly happened to the Raptors in their 104-101 loss to the Magic in Game 1. Are we really doing this again?
That’s the reaction from a lot of Raptors fans. Are we really losing Game 1 again?
But that’s not what I’m talking about. After the Raptors 104-101 loss to the Magic in Game 1, I have other reasons for asking this question. Let’s get into the analysis.

Is Nick Nurse Really Doing This Again?

So, does anyone remember early in the season, when the Raptors were running way too much offense through Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Norman Powell, and OG Anunoby? Even when playing with a star on the court, those guys would be given playmaking opportunities and it would usually end badly. That, along with playing those all bench units (where by necessity those guys were running the offense), led to a lot more close games than seemed necessary at the time, and a handful of losses.
At the time, it was concerning, but the sense was at least you could understand the idea: if …

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Author: Daniel Hackett / Raptors HQ