Jumbo Joe is a Toronto Maple Leaf

Joe Thornton is a Toronto Maple Leaf, at least, according to the Leafs.

We’ve got a JUMBO announcement
Joe Thornton has signed a one-year contract! #LeafsForever
Details: https://t.co/ZfHrvgA7FB pic.twitter.com/GLKDyXfvNb
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 16, 2020

According to Chris Johnston, he has taken the Jason Spezza route and signed for league minimum.

Joe Thornton’s contract with the #leafs includes no 35-plus performance bonuses. He signed just for the league minimum salary: $700,000.
Big help for Toronto’s cap situation.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 16, 2020

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Scott’s Thoughts: Game 1 vs. Columbus Edition

That’s right, everybody’s least favourite column is no longer weekly during the playoffs. Instead of every Friday, I’m now going to be doing it after every playoff game, so that you all know exactly what I’m thinking going into the next playoff game, because I know you all care about my opinion.
The Leafs had a fine showing in Game 1 of the playoffs, but unfortunately for them, one bounce went for Columbus, and it was basically over. It was certainly disappointing, but the series is far from over.
We made their worse goalie look good
While this may seem like a bad thing, because it means that the Blue Jackets worse goalie shut us out (which is bad), but on the bright side, it means he’s probably going to be playing for the rest of the series.
That bodes well for the rest of the series, as Elvis Merzlikins has been the better goalie of the two this year, and probably should have gotten the Game 1 start.

Player
Save %
5v5 dFSv%
GSAA
GAR

Merzlikins
0.923
0.2
10.56
11.8

Korpisalo
0.911
-0.23
4.76
6.9

Andersen
0.909
-0.59
-6.04
9.8

Merzlikins is significantly better than Korpisalo in every regard, and while …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Top Leafs Outside the NHL: #1 Timothy Liljegren

It’s be a lengthy countdown, at least from my perspective, but we’re finally at the number one spot. It’s probably not surprising that the #1 goes to a player that was Toronto’s last demotion before the season hit pause, and a player that seems to be written in ink on most rosters for the 2020-21 season, even if no one is certain who he’ll play with.
You could probably make a case that Timothy Liljegren is the most talent natural right side defenseman in the Leafs organization already. He might not be as far along as Tyson Barrie or even Justin Holl, but his skating, vision, and puck movement put him in the conversation, and given that it’s very likely that Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci won’t be returning to the Leafs next season, Liljegren looks ready to get his full time shot.


The familiarity of Sheldon Keefe with Timothy Liljegren will probably be a help. He knows he has a powerplay quarterback in him, and that’s going to be a big part of his future role. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Aaron Sanchez just had one of the worst months in Blue Jays history

2019 has been bad for the Blue Jays on the whole, but at least there have been some pockets of optimism within their dark and dreary first half.
In the case of Aaron Sanchez, it’s been mostly bad. The fact that he’s been mostly healthy this year is a positive, but at age 26, Sanchez has taken a step back in his development. A month ago, it seemed like he was turning the corner on his season; instead, it veered 90 degrees into an oak tree by the side of the road.
While his rotation counterpart Marcus Stroman was just named to the American League All-Star team and remains one of the most coveted arms on the trade market, Sanchez has next to no trade value and he’s nearly three years removed from his breakout campaign in 2016.
If you thought Sanchez’ 2019 thus far has been bad, you’d be right. With his laundry list of injuries over the last few years, the fact that he’s made 17 starts this season is somewhat of an accomplishment. But how sad is it that the bar has been lowered that far where “at least he’s healthy” is viewed as a win for …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to participate in Home Run Derby

At least one Blue Jay will have the All-Star spotlight shone on them. Phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will participate in this year’s Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Cleveland.

Source confirmed Vladdy Guerrero Jr. has agreed to participate at this year’s #AllStarGame #HRDerby in Cleveland.
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) June 21, 2019

The rookie 20-year-old has made a total of 188 plate appearances, slashing a .249/.319/.426, but has steadily grown to be one of the hardest hitters Toronto has ever seen.
Seven home runs so far this season, Guerrero Jr. has shown his power but is getting slightly unlucky when it comes to getting the ball to leave the park. Hitting a high number of his batted balls with a top exit velocity, Vlad will certainly be that power bat for an extremely long time.
The Derby has existed since 1985, highlighting the star hitters throughout modern baseball history. The reigning title holder, Bryce Harper, will be tough competition for Vlad to face.
The All-Star Game at Progressive Field will be on Tuesday, July 9th, with the Home Run Derby coming on Monday, July 8th.

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

William Nylander named to 2019 Worlds all-star team

At least he finished off his year on a high note.
After Finland upset Canada 3-1 in the 2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, William Nylander was named to the tournament’s all-star team.
Nylander, who won the tournament MVP two years ago leading Sweden to a gold medal, put on an even better show, putting up five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in just eight games, on route to a 5-4 overtime quarterfinal loss to the eventual champions in Finland.
Nylander did lose out on the two main awards, as Mark Stone was awarded tournament MVP and Nikita Kucherov won the best forward award. Nylander was one of three forwards named to the team, alone with Stone and Jakub Voracek.
This performance was a much needed confidence boost for Nylander, as he’s coming off a season that started with a lengthy holdout, and finished with just seven goals and 27 points in 54 games (although 24 of those came in his final 35 games, good for a 56 point pace over 82 games).
Going into the second year of his six year contract, this season was more likely an outlier due to the late start, and we’ll probably expect him to get back into …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Lourdes Gurriel was pulled from the game after making an ugly throwing error in today’s loss to Tampa Bay

That was a weird one, to the say the least. Neither Marcus Stroman or Charlie Morton made it beyond five innings but the Rays kicked the door down in the eighth inning and cruised to an 8-4 win.

Things worth mentioning…
As the title suggests, the most interesting development in today’s game was Lourdes Gurriel making a terrible throwing error at second base (his second game in a row with a throwing error) and subsequently getting pulled from the game the following inning. I don’t think Charlie Montoyo removed Gurriel from the game as a punishment. You could see Gurriel wearing the frustration after he made that error. His body language showed a player with lost confidence. I imagine the play here was to get him out of the game before he had a chance to dig himself further into the hole he’s in. You have to wonder if Gurriel could use some time at Triple-A Buffalo to regain confidence, especially given the Jays need to remove someone from the 25-man roster to make room for Vlad Jr. eventually.
That error by Gurriel resulted in Marcus Stroman having to throw 15 more pitches in the third inning, which …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation