Welcoming the distraction of Leafs hockey and looking at the roster by the numbers

Here we are, hours from the start of the new, shortened, and definitely weird NHL season. It’s kicking off with empty arenas, new divisional alignments, and already one team in the midst of a COVID outbreak that has sidelined 17 of their players, and led to an immediate postponement of games. Still, it’s hard to be anything other than excited about hockey right now, even if it is a selfish feeling, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that a nightly distraction of Auston Matthews chasing the Rocket Richard Award, seeing a legend like Joe Thornton in a Leafs uniform, or having Wayne Simmonds punch in the mouth is something that we need.
Of course sports are more than just a distraction, but it’s not unfair to say we missed the distracting part. Knowing that I’ll be able to sit on the phone with my father for three hours, trying to watch a game together, but largely just listening to him talk about how players get too cute with the puck, is comforting. Having this site fill up with pre and post game articles instead of offseason profiles and trade speculation will be nice too.


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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Tomoyuki Sugano will return to Japan for the 2021 season

When it rains, it pours.

Just a few hours after learning that Francisco Lindor was traded to the New York Mets, we also learned that Tomoyuki Sugano, a Blue Jays’ free-agent starting pitching target, won’t be signing with the team.
According to Jeff Passan, Sugano is going to return to Japan and give big-league free agency another try next winter…

Japanese star Tomoyuki Sugano did not come to an agreement on a contract with a major league team before his posting window expired and will return to Nippon Professional Baseball for 2021, sources tell ESPN. He will be eligible to come to MLB as a free agent before 2022 season.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 7, 2021

To be honest, this is a little surprising. Sugano is 31 years old and he’s coming off of the best season of his career, posting a 1.97 ERA over the course of 20 starts, a showing that was good enough to earn Central League Most Valuable Player.
Obviously the hope for Sugano is that there’s a better financial landscape in a year and that there more teams are in the mix next off-season because of it, but he’s also taking a decent risk not cashing in on …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Leafs have re-signed Ilya Mikheyev to a two-year, $3.29 million deal

Less than 24 hours removed from their scheduled arbitration hearing, Ilya Mikheyev and the Leafs agreed to an extension.

Soup’s back on the menu for two more years!
Ilya Mikheyev has signed a two-year contract extension. #LeafsForever
Details: https://t.co/awTa3TDZff pic.twitter.com/0QhV48B46p
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 20, 2020

His agent, Dan Milstein, first broke the news on Twitter with a photo of a young Mikheyev.
The terms of the deal were reflective of the arbitration rules, given that players heading for a hearing usually get no more than two-year contracts. It’s at a cap hit they are happy with and, most importantly, he will be exempt from the Seattle Kraken expansion draft next year.
More to come.

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Aaron Dell makes things interesting in net for the Leafs

It can’t be a coincidence that not 10 hours have gone by since The Leafs Nation posted an article on third string goalies and highlighting Aaron Dell as the superior option that the Leafs went out and signed Aaron Dell to a one year $800k contract.
Wait, I’m being told it can absolutely be considered a coincidence, or at the very least us stating the obvious doesn’t count as some brilliant insight that Kyle Dubas couldn’t do without.
Anyways, Aaron Dell was far and away the best free agent goaltender available. You could make a case that he was a better option than guys like Braden Holtby or Henrik Lundqvist (at this stage of their careers) and stating that he is better than Mike Smith again feels like stating the obvious, but nevertheless it’s enjoyable that the Leafs third string goaltender is better than the first string guy on the Oilers.
At a quick glance, this was excellent business by Kyle Dubas, and after years of having nowhere to look after Andersen, the Leafs find themselves three deep with quality NHL netminders. Dell is probably a cut above being a third string guy, and there in …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs sign Zach Bogosian to a 1-year, $1 million contract

Hours after Kyle Dubas said he was looking to add physicality on the blueline, he did just that by signing a recent Stanley Cup champion.

Welcome to Leafs Nation, Zach!
We’ve signed Zach Bogosian to a one-year contract. #LeafsForever
Details: https://t.co/DMGoBfo66E pic.twitter.com/5k5WCoSlV5
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 11, 2020

According to the Leafs, the deal has an average annual value of $1 million for the 2020-21 season.
More to come.

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Author: Michael Mazzei / 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

The Leafs re-sign Jason Spezza to a one-year extension

With the start of the 2020 NHL Draft mere hours away, the Leafs announced that another roster player will be sticking around for an additional season.

Back for another season!
Jason Spezza has signed a one-year contract extension. #LeafsForever
Details: https://t.co/USYwNk1kY5 pic.twitter.com/d7Zs4frIGN
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 5, 2020

According to the official release, this contract pays Spezza $700 K for the 2020-21 campaign, which is league minimum.
Spezza was brought in last year to provide secondary scoring and veteran leadership, which he has been able to do both in spades. He produced nine goals, 16 assists, and 25 points in 58 games with his hometown team.
While Spezza went scoreless in the playoffs, his biggest impact came from Game 4 where he fought Dean Kukan late in the second period to get his team fired up. His bought helped rally his teammates to go on the improbable comeback later that tied the series.
With today’s announcement, Spezza is the second Leaf to get a contract extension in the past week. A few days ago, Denis Malgin was re-signed to a one-year contract, which was also at the league minimum.
All stats unless otherwise noted are from Hockey-Reference. …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Trade Deadline Eve Notes: Andrelton Simmons, Lance Lynn, Freddy Galvis, and more!

Well, here we are. The trade deadline is under 24 hours away, and, just as we all expected at the beginning of the season, the Blue Jays are 18-14 with a playoff run on the horizon.

The team has already made a couple of additions, acquiring Daniel Vogelbach and Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners, but Ross Atkins has said that he expects to be active ahead of Monday’s deadline. So, who else could the team bring into the mix?
The obvious place to add would be the starting rotation. Bringing in Walker gives the rotation some more depth, but it’s still a pretty shaky group behind him and Ryu. Trent Thornton is done for the season, Matt Shoemaker’s return from injury will help, and we don’t know if Nate Pearson will be starting when he returns or if he’ll be used as a multi-inning guy out of the ‘pen as we’ve seen with Thomas Hatch and Anthony Kay.

My latest on the @MLB Trade Deadline. Great to join the @MLBNetwork Showcase Game and work with @scottbraun and Buck Showalter today! https://t.co/UX6KlG6mE5
— …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

From bad to worse: Toronto Maple Leafs to give 13th overall selection to Carolina Hurricanes

Less than 24 hours after the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the organization has taken another loss.

The club was one of eight with a chance to select first overall in this years entry draft but failed to get the right draw. With the New York Rangers winning the right to draft Alexis Lafreniere first overall, the Leafs were bumped down to the 13th overall spot.
However, as a condition on the first-round pick sent to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Patrick Marleau salary dump, the Leafs will forfeit the selection.
Due to the condition, the only way the Leafs would’ve held onto the pick was if they selected in the top 10. Nonetheless, the trade and loss to the Blue Jackets becomes an even tougher pill to swallow.
The Leafs first selection won’t be until the second round and the team holds 10 overall picks in the draft.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Muzzin is out for the rest of the play-in series

Following hours of uncertainty regarding the status of Jake Muzzin’s health, the Leafs confirmed that he is back at the Fairmount Royal York but will not play for the rest of the series.

An update on @MapleLeafs defenceman Jake Muzzin: pic.twitter.com/33WWtAJOD5
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) August 5, 2020

This is a good outcome to what looked to be a horrific injury sustained by the 31-year-old defender. Based on the NHL’s schedule for the first round commencing on August 11th, that means Muzzin will be out of commission for a week at minimum (assuming the Leafs advance past the Blue Jackets). He will be in quarantine at the hotel for the time being as he regains strength from his ailment.
Muzzin left Tuesday’s game late in the third period after being cross-checked by Pierre-Luc Dubois and had his neck and head collide with the back of Oliver Bjorkstrand’s leg as he fell to the ice. He was taken off on a stretcher following a 15-minute delay.
In the wake of his injury sidelining him for the rest of the series, the Leafs will likely slot in either Rasmus Sandin or Martin Marincin …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation