Young players offer up exciting future following a grim few weeks inside Maple Leafs organization

Young players offer up exciting future following a grim few weeks inside Maple Leafs organization

It’s been a wild last few weeks within the Maple Leafs organization, though as we move forward, the future looks as enticing as ever.

This might not have been the way fans — and now former GM Kyle Dubas — wanted the season finale to play out. However, one aspect remains certain: Whoever Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan hires will have a nice crop of players to sort through.
There’s obviously the big four, and according to reports, their future looks to be locked in with Toronto. There’s the soon-to-be UFAs, like Noel Acciari, Michael Bunting, David Kampf, Alex Kerfoot, Ryan O’Reilly, Erik Gustafsson, and Luke Schenn.
Also in the fold, though, are some of the younger players who haven’t quite gotten a chance to find their footing at the NHL level. And to me, those are the players I’m most keen on seeing once the next season gets underway.
The future isn’t all that grim after all.
Bobby McMann’s strength is his strength
The 26-year-old was an exciting addition when he joined the Maple Leafs this past season. We all remember the call-up he received, and the whirlwind that it was for McMann as he got to bring his father on Toronto’s ‘Dad’s trip’ after making his NHL debut.
“That’ll be a nice surprise for him off the plane,” McMann said back in January, while grinning ear to ear.
His debut was everything you’d expect fr …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Taking a deep dive into CJ Van Eyk’s first outing in 619 days

619 days.

The last time CJ Van Eyk pitched in a professional baseball game was 619 days before Sunday’s return to action with the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays.
The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher threw his last baseball on August 26th, before receiving Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, as he stated in an interview with CsPlusBaseball’s Niall O’Donohoe.

The 2020 second-round pick made his return with the Dunedin Blue Jays on Sunday. Let’s take a look at the play-by-play of that game.
Taking a deep dive on Van Eyk’s first game of 2023:
He generated a swing and miss against the first batter he faced. On the fourth pitch, the batter lined out to right field. Van Eyk walked the next batter on six pitches, before getting the next batter to flyout. Up next was Carlos Aguiar, who singled to Jaden Rudd. Danny De Andrade, who had walked, made a foolish decision to run on Jaden Rudd, who threw him out at third.
In the second inning, he got Minnesota prospect Ricardo Olivar to ground out. The next batter struck out looking on a 92.6 mph pitch which Savant considers a curveball, but it was likely the fastball with a ton of sink. The next batter reached on an error, before Van Eyk generated his second ground out of the inning.
In the third inning, Van Eyk got a flyout, before Jorel Ortega had the only extra-base hit of the inning. A wild pitch and a walk put runners on the corners with one out, before the 24-year-old got a timely ground ball to end the third inning and his first outing in 619 days.
The metrics:
Anytime you can confuse Baseball Savant into thinking you are throwing a 93.9 mph curveball, you’re doing something right.
Van Eyk threw 25 fastballs, which averaged 92 mph. Moreover, the hardest fastball he threw was 94.4 mph, which also had the highest spin rate of 2292 RPM. The slo …

Read More

Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Panthers push Toronto Maple Leafs to the brink with overtime win: Game Highlights

Entering last night’s contest down 2-0 in the series, last night was about as much of a must-win as it could get for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Reverse sweeps are incredibly rare in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so bringing this series to 2-1 was of the utmost importance for the Leafs.
Unfortunately, they fell in overtime to the Panthers and find themselves down 3-0 in the series and on the brink of elimination. Here are the highlights from last night’s game.
Sam Lafferty opened the scoring just over two minutes into the first. David Kampf and Morgan Reilly picked up the assists on the goal.

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 7, 2023

Lafferty’s goal would be the only tally of the first period. That means we’re headed for the second, where bad news struck for the Leafs. Less than a minute into the second frame, goaltender Ilya Samsonov went down in a heap after Luke Schenn crashed into him on the backcheck…

Ilya Samsonov is heading to the dressing room after a pile-up during the second period.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 7, 2023

Samsonov exited the game, with Joseph Woll taking over and Matt Murray coming down from the press box to serve as the EBUG.
The Leafs wasted little time busting out their pedestrian defence coverage, allowing Anthony Duclair to walk in all alone on Woll almost before the goaltender even had a chance to stretch.

— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 7, 2023

Erik Gustafsson tied things up roughly five minutes later, with William Nylander and Jake McCabe picking up the helpers.

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 7, 2023 …

Read More

Author: David Quadrelli / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays win rematch with Mariners in Teoscar Hernández’s return to Toronto

Two likely contenders in the AL, a pitching rematch from last year’s playoffs, and the return of Teoscar Hernandez were among the handful of storylines in tonight’s Blue Jays-Mariners game. The two teams kicked off a weekend series north of the border tonight with better than 41,000 people in attendance.

George Springer had a clutch two-out RBI single in the 6th inning to give Toronto the lead for good as the Blue Jays downed Seattle 3-2 on Friday night. It’s no secret that Springer has been struggling at the plate, but he came through when it mattered tonight, something we’re accustomed to seeing from Toronto’s leadoff man.
The Blue Jays also got a stellar outing from their bullpen, who locked up the back half of the game to secure the win.
Blue Jays Nation’s Player of the Game: Alejandro Kirk
The broadcast tonight mentioned how Kirk felt like he was still in Spring Training mode once the regular season started due to him arriving to Dunedin late because of the birth of his first child. He told reporters that it wasn’t until the series in Houston last week that he felt like he was caught up to speed, per se.
Tonight was certainly Kirk’s best night of the season, going 3-fo …

Read More

Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs erase 4-1 deficit in the final 11 minutes, win 5-4 in overtime: Game Highlights

The Leafs had one of their most clutch performances of the last decade on Monday night. They found themselves down 4-1 with just over ten minutes remaining and somehow managed to tie it up. Alex Kerfoot scored the game winner in overtime to give Toronto a 3-1 series lead.
Ilya Samsonov stood tall early on. After Brandon Hagel drew a penalty shot shorthanded, Samsonov calmly denied the Lightning winger…

Samsonov denies Hagel on the penalty shot 🙅‍♂️
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 24, 2023

A couple minutes later Alex Killorn got off the schneid. The two time cup champ hadn’t scored in 29 consecutive playoff games before this tally. He finished a beautiful touch pass from Nikita Kucherov to put the Bolts up 1-0…

Killorn converts on the power play to open the scoring! 🚨
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 24, 2023

Late in the first Mikhail Sergachev double Tampa Bay’s lead. Kucherov with another primary assist moving the puck across the seam…

Sergachev rips one past Samsonov to put Tampa up two! ✌️
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 25, 2023

Noel Acciari got things going for the Leafs in the second period. Ryan O’Reilly stripped Kucherov to keep the play alive. He found Justin Holl at the point and the Toronto defender threw the puck on net. Acciari tipped it past Andrei Vasilevskiy to bring the game within one…

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 25, 2023

The Lightning kept pressing for an insurance goal and nearly got it. Anthony Cirelli pushed the puck towards the net but Matthew Knies was there to prevent the goal…

Knies save Matthew 👀
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 25, 2023

A few minutes later Steven Stamkos scored his first goal of the series. Just after his penalty expired Victor Hedman shot the puck off the foot of Stamkos to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead…

Stammer gets his first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs! ⚡️
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 25, 2023

With 1:11 remaining in the second period Killorn scored his second of the game. Sergachev hit Hagel with a beauty stretch pass and he droppe …

Read More

Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays bats fall silent as the Tigers avoid the sweep with a 3-1 win

Last night, the Blue Jays waited until the 9th inning to rally past the Tigers. Tonight, they had an opportunity to do the same thing, but they didn’t have the same luck. The Blue Jays went 1-for-12 with RISP as they failed to complete a sweep of the Tigers with a 3-1 loss on Thursday night.

Toronto outhit Detroit 8-7, but only had one extra-base hit, a double by Brandon Belt. They were neutralized by Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull, who effectively used his fastball-slider mix to keep the Blue Jays off of the scoreboard for most of his outing.
Blue Jays Nation’s Player of the Game: Chris Bassitt
After getting obliterated by the Cardinals in his first start, Bassitt has put up two consecutive solid outings. Tonight, he tossed six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. While his ERA is still high at 7.63, he’s only allowed four runs in his last twelve innings pitched. I’d say he’s instilling more and more confidence from the fans as the outings go on.
We know that Bassitt throws a multitude of pitches, but he had them working tonight, striking out batters with the sinker, s …

Read More

Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Aggregated Top Prospects: Part 2

As described last time, I sorted my sources into “Pro” and “Fan” lists, even though I’m sure those in the latter set might rightfully object to being described as “just” fan blog sources.

My intention, in part, is to allow a comparison between what the major presumable well-resourced publications concluded and what well-equipped sources say. This list is aggregated from eight such sources (I actually had nine but 11-30 were behind a paywall and I’ve already paid for one list for last week’s column so I dropped it). Even so, these sources range from 15 to 50 so I choose to use the same 30-point system. Which provokes the previously noted inadvertent tiers in the point totals. Still, I’d rather have this than a too-short list.
There are two different writer’s lists from Fantrax, as well as Pitcher’s List (a fantasy source), Prospects1500, P361, the Batter’s Box list, the just finished Bluebird Banter list, and Brennan’s Top 50 here at BJN. The commentary on these will be much more brief, if at all, because 17 of the 20 names overlap.

Rickey Tiedemann – LHP – 240 points
You thought it would be someone else?
Addison Barger – SS/3B – 227
He landed at #2 on six of the eight lists involved here. My guess is that he plays at least 2/3 of the time at SS as long as Martinez is in AA, and when Orelvis gets promoted (theoretically) the two of them will split SS and 3B more or less evenly. He’ll also get enough run in the OF to see if he’s competent out there.
Orelvis Martinez – SS/3B – 223
You can note the closeness of the point totals in this tier, the top four here were the top four, in various orders, on six of the eight lists surveyed. The organization would LOVE for him to establish that he’d learned from and corrected his failings last year in the first 6-8 …

Read More

Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Making sense of the Leafs defensive pairings

Making sense of the Leafs defensive pairings

Coming out of the last playoff loss to Tampa, and honestly the years before it as well, some of the criticism around Sheldon Keefe was that he wasn’t quick enough to adapt and was too insistent on sticking with his lines and his defensive pairings whether they were working at the moment or not. That’s where the objections to the rest line/pairing blender seem a bit strange, especially when Toronto is trying to find a fit for a number of new faces in the lineup. Complaining is kinda what we do and when it comes to the Leafs forward group it seems like everything is in a holding pattern until Ryan O’Reilly returns and the Leafs have an opportunity to make some sense of things. That said, the Leafs could truly benefit from some consistent defensive pairings, and it’s time to start building those so the partners understand what the other defenseman on the ice is going to do coverage wise and players like McCabe, who are …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Turning over Leafs: The March (post deadline) Leafs Player Power Rankings

I’m back for the second last trip through the roster of the season. Next up will be the playoff preview player power rankings. Can you feel the excitement? No. I get it. You’re sitting around reading a blog. Let’s keep things in perspective.
Anyways, here are last month’s rankings for a bit of perspective and with that out of the way, let’s dive into some power rankings that feature some new Leafs but a very familiar top three.
1. William Nylander (steady at #1)
Welcome back to the number one spot, Bill from ‘berta. It really says a lot that not only has Nylander been the best Leaf for much of this season, he’s consistently been one of the best. He’s also done it while doing a lot of the heavylifting, either centering lines, playing on lines centered by Pontus Holmberg or Sam Lafferty, and generally doing a bit of everything. Over the past month Nylander again has been the Leafs top scorer, but if we are going to find some criticism of him it’s that he’s so much more dominant at home than on the road. I wonder if we’ll see Nylander playing with Matthews at home in the playoffs and see Marner replace him on the road.
2. Mitch Marner (steady at #2)
This really …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Sem Robberse dazzles, Orelvis Martinez has a good day at the plate, and more as the Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 2-0

Last season, the Blue Jays had a 16-3 record against the trash Boston Red Sox. On Friday afternoon, their dominance continued.

Coming into the game, the Red Sox had a perfect 9-0 record, but that was promptly ended with a 2-0 defeat to the beloved Blue Jays.
Blue Jays Nation’s player of the game: Sem Robberse
In only his second appearance of the spring, the 21-year-old Dutchman showed us why he’s one of Toronto’s best pitching prospects.
He struck out Christian Koss, Triston Casas, and Adam Duvall in his first inning of work (with a single to Christian Arroyo). In his second inning of work, he generated two ground balls, walked an MLB batter in Bobby Dalbec, and got Stephen Scott to flyout.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Robberse has the floor of a back-end of the rotation starter. He’s also added muscle this off-season, which has seen his average velocity jump to 93-95 mph. On top of that, he’s a pitcher with great command and nasty stuff. So yeah, keep an eye out for Robberse next season.

Here’s Sem “The Pitching Dutchman” Robberse (@SemRobberse)’s strikeout and whiff edit from this afternoon.
A Double-A start is probable, but it’s not out of the question that we see the 21-year-old pitch in Triple-A in 2023.#BlueJays
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) March 10, 2023

Things worth mentioning:
Orelvis Martinez had a good day at the plate. In his first plate appearance, he drew a walk on a 3-2 count (embedded at the end of the article). In his seco …

Read More

Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation