Timelines and expectations for Matthew Knies as a Maple Leaf

Timelines and expectations for Matthew Knies as a Maple Leaf

Matthew Knies could very well be in his last couple of months of college hockey. The Leafs very much wanted to add him last spring after his breakout freshman season and Olympic appearance, but with the Minnesota Golden Gophers coming up short on the national title there was some unfinished business Knies wanted to attend to and with the Gophers having some additional high profile returning players and even more significant freshman additions in Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud, the desire to return to the NCAA was strong.
Since that time, Knies has continued to be a top prospect for the Leafs. Some flaws with Knies might have been acknowledged at the Leafs summer prospect camp where he failed to stand out, and in the summer World Juniors, Knies couldn’t buy a goal even if he was useful in creating space for his linemates Logan Cooley and Matthew Coronato. There might have been concerns, but those are largely gone now that Knies is sitting on a new career best 17 goals (in 5 fewer games than last season) which are good enough for the 3rd best in the country. He also finds himself in the top 20 in the country in scoring and 30t …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

How much grit does the backline have?

How much grit does the backline have?

Last week we examined how much grit the Maple Leafs had up front. A day later, Dryden Hunt was placed on waivers (went unclaimed and has since played games with the Marlies), while Pontus Holmberg and Joey Anderson were called up. Both of them made positive contributions to the forward group last week. With just over a month to go before the trade deadline, the musical chairs in the bottom 6 will continue.
As the Leafs d-core nears full health (Brodie returned from injury last game, and Victor Mete is back skating), let’s take a look at the grit (or perhaps lack thereof) the Leafs currently have compared with what they had in the playoffs last season. There are many familiar faces this season, and some have continued to develop at impressive rates.
Morgan Rielly, Mark Giordano, and TJ Brodie each played 7 games last spring against Tampa Bay, while Justin Holl played 5. Combined, the four defencemen averaged 2 hits per game. Barring any injuries or trades (Holl is the only one that could possibly move), the four veterans of the group are each firmly part of Sheldon Keefe’s top 6 and they’ll be in the lineup for game 1 of the playoffs. We shou …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: #3 Brandon Barriera

Our last 2022 draftee also ranks as Blue Jays Nation’s third best prospect.

Brandon Barriera may not have any statistics yet, but his stuff has been described as “the nastiest” in the 2022 class.
Before we jump into the profile, let’s look at the criteria!
Brennan’s criteria:
Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that they are relative to the league in which they play. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible to have that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll be reviewing their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and giving a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!
Brandon Barriera‘s career so far:
The 18-year-old left-handed pitcher was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft.
Unlike the majority of the players on this list, Barriera hasn’t made his professional debut, …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Joseph Woll has played his way into being next goaltender called up to Maple Leafs

Joseph Woll has played his way into being next goaltender called up to Maple Leafs

Joseph Woll last played in the NHL 419 days ago and it’s time for him to return there, again, with the Maple Leafs.
It was a strange Friday night for the team, to say the least. Matt Murray was supposed to start against Ottawa. That was until he suffered an injury in warmups, according to Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe.
“He’s been dealing with something that flared up on him tonight,” Keefe told reporters on Friday night, “so he wasn’t available to play.”
That meant Ilya Samsonov — who’s played in Toronto’s previous four games — was getting the start.
Murray remained on the bench for the entire game, though Keefe did say that he wouldn’t have been able to play had Samsonov got injured.
“We would’ve been EBUG in that situation I believe.” The head coach added.
It’s not known whether Murray will be available to play, or even be the backup for Toronto on Sunday against Washington . And when Keefe was asked if the team would have another goaltender for Saturday’s practice, he really didn’t have an answer.
“We’ll see,” Keefe said to reporters Friday night. “The Marlies are away and we’ll get a better idea of exactly where everything’s at — it obviously happened pretty quickly and right before game time. (We) haven’t had a lot of time to get organized on it, bu …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Winter League wrap-up, final edition: Rainer Núñez’s team falls in the finals, Bowden Francis dominated in the semi-finals, and more!

This will be the last edition of the Winter League wrap-up… This means that we’re getting closer to the start of the 2023 season!

While most of the leagues haven’t finished, there are no more Blue Jay prospects playing, so it’s time to wrap up the wrap-ups.
In this article, we’ll look at prospects who played in their team’s playoff rounds. In a two-part series, I looked at how all the Jays prospects did in LIDOM (you can read that here), as well as in the other three winter leagues (which you can read here).
Let’s start by focusing on the Dominican Winter League.
Licey del Tigres win the Dominican Winter League:
On Wednesday night, Licey won their 23rd title in LIDOM, beating Rainer Núñez’s Estrellas 2-1 in the final game to win the series 4-1.

Nate Pearson is emerging as that high leverage, swing and miss the 2023 Jays are lacking.
11 IP0 ER5 H15 K (36.59 K%)4 BB (9.76 BB%)34 swinging strikes (43.59 whiff%)36.75 CSW%
Here is every whiff & strikeout this season.#BlueJays #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/YCmlr3Ypo7
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) November 13, 2022

As you may know, Nate Pearson was a big part of Licey’s early success, pitching in relief and doing so quite well. Finishing in mid-November, the 26-year-old posted a 36.6 K%, a 9.8 BB%, and a 43.6 whiff %. Moreover, he didn’t allow an earned run in the 12 innings he pitched in. I wrote more about his adventure in the Dominican Republic here, but he’s emerged as a potential bullpen piece for the Blue Jays next season.
Sadly for Núñez, he didn’t quite perform as he did during the regular season, which saw him win LIDOM’s Rookie of The Year award. In the four-team round-robin, he slashed .167/.219/.167 with 11 strikeouts in 32 plate appearances for a 34.4 K%.

¡DOBLETE de Rainer Núñez que remolca la primera de las @EOBASEBALLCLUB! 🐘🌟#LIDOM #CopaBanreservas ⚾️🏆 pic.twitter.com/Mnx8FYvZwT
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) December 8, 2022

It’s possible that the 22-year-old first baseman was dealing with exhaustion, as he had been playing since April 2022. Either way, Núñez certainly made an impression and ranked as Blue Jays Nation’s 16th-best prospect heading into 2023.
Criollos de Caguas bow out in the semi-final:
Although Blue Jays p …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Ryan O’Reilly gets the top spot on the TLN Leafs Trade Target List

Ryan O’Reilly gets the top spot on the TLN Leafs Trade Target List

Last week we ran a number of posts with the TLN contributors weighing in on what they thought of the Leafs season so far. It was probably a good thing to ask before the Leafs dropped a couple to Detroit and Boston, but that’s not really the point. The point is that while we would pool our thoughts on the Leafs season, I also asked everyone to put forth a list of five names that were their top trade targets for the Leafs. The end result is this, the TLN Leafs Trade Target list. There was no priority put towards the first name on everyone’s list, this is just a count of the top 15 players list and a look at how much sense they make for the Leafs.
T-8: Sean Monahan
Sean Monahan is a pure rental option that checks a few boxes for the Leafs. He’s a capable top six player that is having a better than expected season on a poor team, and has shown that he can achieve even more when he’s given better players to work with. The fact that Monahan is a center means that the Leafs can either roll three lines with some offensive capa …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors’ win vs. Hornets proved Precious Achiuwa is the biggest X-factor

Raptors’ win vs. Hornets proved Precious Achiuwa is the biggest X-factor

The Toronto Raptors are getting prepared to make one last earnest charge at a postseason spot with this roster, as key names like Precious Achiuwa haven’t always been available due to injuries. With one of the easiest remaining schedules in the second half, they had a golden opportunity to start hot against the Charlotte Hornets. […]
Raptors’ win vs. Hornets proved Precious Achiuwa is the biggest X-factor – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: Prospects #30-26

The last of the multi-prospect articles, today we have prospects ranked 30th to 26th!

If you missed the article for prospects 50-46, 45-41, 40-36, or 35-31 you can read the articles in the link below.
Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: Prospects # 50-46
Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: Prospects # 45-41
Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: Prospects # 40-36
Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: Prospects # 35-31
Let’s look at my criteria for ranking and scouting before we look at prospects 30-26.
Brennan’s criteria:
Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that these grades are relative to the league in which they play at. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible to have that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll be reviewing their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and giving a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!
#30 Alan Roden:
The 23-year-old left-handed outfielder/first baseman was selected in the third round of the 2022 draft, and spent his first half-season with the Low-A Dunedin Blue Jays.

Here’s @alanster28 (Alan Roden)’s hit thread. 88.1 mph off the bat on this single#BlueJays #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/hDcLV9PkbF
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) August 28, 2022

In 115 plate appearances, he posted a .233/.374/.311 slash line with a homer and an incredible 14.8 BB%/11.3 K% split. …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Deal that Toronto Needs to Get Done Before Opening Day

I was already thinking about this column for the last couple of weeks before Scott & Adam brought it up last week but I’m going to write it anyway.

With the “other shoe” having dropped in major fashion on Friday, the shape of the 2023 Blue Jays’ roster has largely come into focus, whether or not one feels the need to add a 4th outfielder (ironically, the guy who’s an ideal fit for that role is one Randal Grichuk – we’re paying him anyway! – wonder if they’d send him back for Trent Thornton or Trevor Richards?) or just let Merrifield and Biggio take up that slack. But that doesn’t mean there’s not some housekeeping to see to.
It’s true that everyone is jonesing for the Jays to work out long-term deals for Vlad and Bo, and some even suggest Alek Manoah (which seems a little premature to me) but there’s another player closing in on free agency, the one remaining key player who has just one season of control left, that needs attention first: Matt Chapman. I’m prepared to argue that if they can by any reasonable means avoid letting him hit the market, it should be as of now their top focus for the rest of this off-season. Of course, this discussion immediately provokes the question – at what cost? Well, that’s a tricky question – let’ …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors rumors: Toronto still showing interest in Myles Turner

Raptors rumors: Toronto still showing interest in Myles Turner

For the last few seasons, every team in need of rim protection, the Toronto Raptors included, have tried to get the Indiana Pacers to give up on Myles Turnehasith the Pacers projected to be in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes at the beginning of the season, Turner appeared to be as good as gone. Things changed […]
Raptors rumors: Toronto still showing interest in Myles Turner – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ