Report: Maple Leafs willing to trade the rights to Ilya Mikheyev

While there was little speculation that Ilya Mikheyev might return to the Maple Leafs, it looks like the ship has officially sailed.
Reports surfaced late last summer that Mikheyev asked for a trade, but Toronto decided to keep him because they saw more in him. And while they did get more out of the 27-year-old, there was still the looming possibility he would leave.
It was a great season for Mikheyev, too, finishing the year with 32 points (21 goals and 11 assists) over a 53-game span. He played a key role on Toronto’s third line throughout, even getting some opportunity on the second line too.
Bringing back Mikheyev and Engvall vs. finding the next Mikheyev and Engvall
With yet another cap crunch, though, the Maple Leafs are left with having to let Mikheyev go elsewhere. But, they could send him off into the sunset via a trade for his signing rights.

Hearing TOR has notified teams the rights to Ilya Mikheyev are available if a team wishes to “jumpstart the process.”
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 30, 2022

The Maple Leafs did something similar with Zach Hyman last summer. It was evident that the two sides weren’t going to be able to strike a deal, so Toronto wanted to trade his rights. At that time, Edmonton was the clear frontrunner for him but they didn’t think it was worth it to trade for an extra year of Hyman.
So, Toronto got nothing for him and he walked right into free agency. The same could happen to the 27-year-old.
It’s not known what the Maple Leafs’ ask is for Mikheyev’s signing rights. I do believe, though, that it won’t be much of a haul if they do find a suitor. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the coming days.
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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Breaking down the Toronto Maple Leafs organizational depth chart heading into the offseason

After a few weeks with little of note going on in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, we’re nearly at the busiest part of the hockey calendar. In about three weeks, we’ll have qualifying offer deadlines, the entry draft, and free agency in quick succession to fill our appetite for Leafs news.
For now, though, we remain in a waiting period as the Stanley Cup Finals approach with not much to say regarding the Maple Leafs in terms of news. That means it’s the perfect time to get everyone up to date on where the organizational depth chart stands heading into the 2022 offseason, what areas still need to be addressed, and what to expect to come down over the next month and a half.

For starters, all unrestricted free agents have been already removed from the depth chart to give a proper view as to where things stand and what needs to be accomplished.
Beginning at the NHL level, there is a lineup that can be produced with in-house options already that would be NHL quality for the opening of the 2022-23 season. That being said, we can fully expect some pieces to shift around and additions to be made. While restricted free agents Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase are useful pieces that I’m sure the Maple Leafs would like to keep around, both are arbitration-eligible and could cause some hurdles depending on what they are asking for. Engvall is very likely to stick around, but Kase’s combination of injuries with his arbitration case could result in the Leafs looking to non-tender him as we near the qualifying offer deadline.
Elsewhere at forward, Pontus Holmberg temporarily fills in at 4C with a lack of other options currently under contract, but this is an area that will almost certainly be addressed. Holmberg is an intriguing prospect coming off of a strong year in Sweden but could use time in the AHL to adjust to North America prior to filling in a fourth-line role in the NHL.
On defence, the Leafs have a strong group already compiled. The Leafs have five NHL quality defencemen under contract, plus Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren who are RFAs. Though we could still see movement here if someone such as Justin Holl is traded, defence is the aspect of the roster where there is likely to be the least amount of change.
That brings us to the goaltending situation. Petr Mrazek remains on the depth chart for now, but with his poor play and injury troubles l …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Leaflets: Life after Spezza, a youth movement, and a signing target

The Leafs gave us a little bit of news to close out last week, so we’ll start this week’s Leaflets with the end of the Spezza era:
Spezza moving on means the opportunity to change direction
Jason Spezza was an absolute treat to have on the ice for the Leafs the past few seasons, and I wish the Leafs were sending him off in a fashion that included a legitimate playoff run and that they could have helped get him to 1,000 points. Those two reasons were my entire basis for being in favour of having Spezza on ice for Toronto next season. That reasoning wasn’t really the best thing for the Maple Leafs though, as Spezza, while still adding value in the bottom six, is a bit of a square peg being forced into a round hole with a Leafs bottom six that is becoming increasingly focused on playing a tight defensive game, and has a bit more speed to it.
Spezza was much more of a tertiary scorer and someone who could join the powerplay as needed. The Leafs should still be able to find that while finding players who fit their style of bottom six hockey. Perhaps the biggest hole left by Spezza is being an affordable center opt …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Round one recap: Who scored the goal of the year for Toronto?

I made a bracket a little over a week ago, including 16 of the best goals scored from this past Toronto Maple Leafs season, and in the bracket, there were eight matchups in the first round. On our Twitter page (@TLNdc) we posted a poll every afternoon with one matchup from round one where you had the chance to vote on the goal you thought was the best.
Now that round one is officially done, we have our results from that round, including who advanced, who got eliminated, what the total votes were, and of course, what the matchups are in round two. As seen below, you will see all eight first-round matchups and what the total votes were after the voting closed.
Matchup one:
Winner: Mitch Marner vs VGK (Nov. 2, 2021) – 96% of votes
Loser: Ondrej Kase vs SJ (Oct. 22, 2021) – 4% of votes
Matchup two:
Winner: Auston Matthews vs COL (Dec. 1, 2021) – 76% of votes
Loser: William Nylander vs SJ (Nov. 26, 2021) – 24% of votes
Matchup three:
Winner: Morgan Rielly vs PIT (Feb. 17, 2022) – 86% of votes
Loser: Alex Kerfoot vs BOS (Mar. 29, 2022) – 14% of votes
Matchup four:
Winner: Pierre Engvall vs NYI (Jan. 22, 2022) – 65% of votes
Loser: Morgan Rielly vs BUF (Nov. 13, 2021) – 35% of votes
Matchup five:
Winner: Auston Matthews vs SEA (Mar. 8, 2022) – 61% of votes
Loser: Wil …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Sorry Leafs fans, we’re going to start talking about the draft

It would be nice if this came a little later next year, especially when the Leafs are still going to drafting after at least one team that went further in the playoffs than they did, but hey, at least this year Toronto has a first round pick, it’s a good high end (and deep-ish) draft so it’s worth starting to care and start feverishly typing the names of draft eligible players into Elite Prospects and YouTube to get a better understanding of who we’re supposed to like. Or some of our writers, who are far more knowledgeable than me, can fill in some of the blanks over the next couple of months.
When will the Leafs pick? 
With the fourth best record in the NHL, the default position for the Leafs was 29th overall. Of course, they were never truly locked into that as the final four teams in the playoffs occupy the last four spots of the draft (Cup winner last, Cup finalist second last, and the two Conference Final teams based on their regular season points at 29th and 30th.) So given that the three teams ahead of the Leafs in the standings (Avalanche, Panthers, and Hurricanes) all advanced to …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Tonight, Jack Campbell has a unique chance at Game 7 redemption

A little over one year ago, an emotional Jack Campbell fielded questions from the media after yet another disappointing first-round exit for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“For it to end on a goal… worst goal of my career to happen in Game 7…”
An emotional Jack Campbell after the @MapleLeafs Game 7 loss.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 1, 2021

It was the kind of emotion and vulnerability we rarely see from professional athletes. Campbell, having allowed a soft opening goal that the Leafs ultimately could never come back from, felt he had let his teammates and the fanbase down with his performance, one he deemed “the worst goal of my career”.
Regardless of how much of the previous Game 7 loss can be put on the shoulders of Jack Campbell, there is one thing that is certain. Tonight against Tampa Bay, Campbell has a chance to redeem himself as he faces off against one of the best goaltenders in the world yet again.
If you told Leafs fans going into this first-round series against the Lightning that Jack Campbell would have a higher save percentage than Andrei Vasilevskiy, they probably would’ve been ecstatic and figured Toronto would have wrapped up the series before a Game 7 was even possible.
And yet here we are, with Campbell posting a .893 SV% compared to Vasilevskiy’s .885 SV%, and we’re still headed to the dreaded Game 7.
While Campbell hasn’t been spectacular in this series, he’s made important saves over and over again when the Leafs have been staging a comeback or trying to hold on to a lead. Sure, there are goals that you would’ve liked him to stop, but overall Campbell has been better than his counterpart across the ice, and that’s about all you can ask for when going up aga …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Fortnight on the Farm: Vol. 1

Let’s be honest, at this point in the season, a little more than two weeks on, we barely have a hint of anything and thus such a recap will necessarily be shallow.
So the format this time will be basically to note what the well-known top prospects are doing and then give you a little list of others who have started off hot and maybe bear keeping an eye on. As the season progresses we’ll see who actually “broke out” and who was just on a minor hot streak.

Triple-A Buffalo Bisons
One second to mourn the fact that I have no reason to write “Thunder Bisons” anymore. Okay, that’s done. The Buffalo roster features four pitchers that are on the 40-man roster plus another guy who’s on most of their Top Prospect lists.  But the latter, Adrian Hernandez, just arrived and there’s no story to tell there yet. Overall, 17 pitchers have logged an out here and nine of them have an ERA under 3.00 with perhaps the most interesting early results coming from non-prospect Jeremy Beasley.
Offensively, of course, it’s the Gabby Moreno show, what with Jordan Groshans and Otto Lopez rehabbing in Dunedin. But in 10 games he’s sitting on good-but-not-great offensive production so there’s not yet the pressure to call him up. The best oth …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

William Nylander shows self-awareness as Maple Leafs forward aims to improve as a player

TAMPA — There was little positive to draw from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ disappointing first-round playoff upset against the Montreal Canadiens last season, but William Nylander certainly wasn’t a reason for the outcome.
The forward led all players on his team with five goals and eight points in the seven-game series and found some chemistry with Alex Kerfoot, who finished second on the team in points with six (one goal, five assists).
Given the success the two had together last postseason, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has reunited them again with the playoffs just around the corner. The change came in the wake of some lineup adjustments after the team’s top star, Auston Matthews, missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury.
Last playoffs, the duo skated with Alex Galchenyuk. And if the last two games are any indication, it looks like Pierre Engvall is going to be targetted for that role in May.
“I want to see if something can spark there,” Keefe said on Wednesday morning. “Then you have three lines that can really score and be really confident.”
Of course, any success of that third line is going to depend on Nylander. The flashy forward is known for his offensive prowess and when he’s on his game he can pe …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Matthew Knies has told the Maple Leafs that he’s returning to college

It looks like we’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the Matthew Knies and Toronto Maple Leafs era to begin.
According to Elliotte Friedman, Knies has let the Maple Leafs know that he’s choosing to go back to school for another year to pursue the National Championship.

Matthew Knies has informed TOR he will return to Minnesota next season. Unfinished business, chance to win it all with the Gophers.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 14, 2022

Kyle Dubas and Knies reportedly met yesterday — a week after his season came to an unfortunate end in the Frozen Four. But don’t worry, he still wants to be a part of the Maple Leafs organization.

Knies’ advisor, Matt Federico, says that TOR has no reason to be concerned about his future with the organization
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 14, 2022

With the 19-year-old returning to school, we’ll have to wait until next year to see Knies in a Maple Leafs jersey.
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Leafs Prospect Roundup: Knies contract watch, Robertson running hot, Leafs sign Ellis & Rindell by Nick Richard

Kerfoot has had a more consistent role this year, but still remains the Leafs’ Swiss Army Knife by Jon Steitzer

Breaking down five of the best goals from Matthews’ historic season with the Maple Leafs by Nick Barden

POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIOPointsBet Canada has officially launched in Ontario! Get a $25 free bet just for signing up right here! …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 63: Matt Chapman is a Blue Jay

This has certainly been a fun few days!

Though it took a little while, the flurry of transactions following the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has finally arrived.
The Blue Jays rounded out their starting rotation on Saturday, signing Yusei Kikuchi to a three-year deal. Then, on Wednesday, they made a big splash by trading for three-time Gold Glover winner Matt Chapman.
So, all told, Robbie Ray, Marcus Semien, and Steven Matz are out, and Kevin Gausman, Chapman, and Kikuchi are in.
We talked about the Chapman trade, which is hilariously similar to the Josh Donaldson one a few years ago, and what he’ll bring to the team. We also looked at what might be next for the Blue Jays as the team is still in need of a left-handed bat and Jose Ramirez apparently remains a possibility.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation