William Nylander’s long road to dominance

“I look forward to dominating.”
Those were just a few of the words William Nylander had for the media ahead of Leafs training camp in 2019, following a disappointing season that was derailed by a contentious contract negotiation that lasted right up until the signing deadline on December 1st. He would end up missing the first two months of the 2018-19 season before coming to terms on a six-year deal with the Leafs and never really found his footing while playing catch-up with the rest of the league. Perhaps feeling the pressure of his new contract, Nylander managed just seven goals and 20 assists over 54 games that year – the lowest points per game mark of his career.
Even in the most difficult season of his career, there were signs that things would eventually turn for Nylander. He led the team with a 55.64 xGF% and put up an identical individual expected goals per 60 rate as the previous season when he scored 20 goals in 82 games, but he suffered from some poor shooting luck and just wasn’t as sharp with the puck on his stick …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Asking price for Terrence Ross should rule out Raptors reunion

Asking price for Terrence Ross should rule out Raptors reunion

The Toronto Raptors may need to look at some of the poorer teams in the NBA for reinforcements, as they are still in possession of the worst bench in the league. On paper, bringing back Orlando Magic swingman and former Raptors lottery selection Terrence Ross might not sound like the worst idea in the world. […]
Asking price for Terrence Ross should rule out Raptors reunion – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Jakob Chychrun is available and the Leafs should be interested

Look, I get it. Anytime a player is seemingly available we end up writing about whether or not they are a potential fit for the Leafs. It’s exhausting. That comes with having a number of different writers on this site with a number of different opinions on who would be a fit, and that comes with the fact that even when things are going great for the Leafs, the thought of upgrading the team shouldn’t leave our minds for a second.
It also doesn’t hurt that when we’re talking about a need for the Leafs, a top four defenseman is definitely something that is something that needs some attention. We’ve talked at length about how Justin Holl is a straight up liability this year, and even in a 5-1 win against Edmonton, you can probably credit Holl for most of the best opportunities for the Oilers to get in the game. There’s the fact that Muzzin, while still serviceable, has noticeably lost a step, and while the infusion of foot speed by giving him Liljegren as his partner has helped, it doesn’t change the fact that the Leafs aren’t getting what they …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays lose Tanner Kirwer and Curtis Taylor in Minor-League Rule 5 Draft, select Abdiel Mendoza from the Rangers

Look at that! Something to talk about!

The Minor League Rule 5 Draft went down on Wednesday and the Blue Jays have lost two prospects but gained another.
The Seattle Mariners selected outfielder Tanner Kirwer and the Washington Nationals took pitcher Curtis Taylor. The Blue Jays selected pitcher Abdiel Mendoza from the Texas Rangers.
The results from the whole draft can be found here…
Tanner Kirwer, a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, was a 20th round pick of the Blue Jays back in 2017. He had a strong season in High-A Vancouver, slashing a .285/.420/.474 line over 170 plate appearances. His numbers took a decent dip after getting called up to Double-A New Hampshire. Kirwer had 118 plate appearances for the Fisher Cats and slashed a .208/.370/.399 line. He also stole 43 bases across the two levels.
Curtis Taylor was one of the pitchers that the Blue Jays got from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Eric Sogard back in 2019. Taylor pitched 34 2/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A in 2021 and produced an 8.05 ERA. His strikeout numbers in Double-A (14.7 per nine) were impressive, but he also walked 4.4 per nine across both levels.
And then there’s Mendoza, who the Blue Jays selected. Mendoza tossed 36 1/3 innings (seven starts, 10 appearances) …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays lose Tanner Kirwer and Curtis Taylor in Rule 5 Draft, select Abdiel Mendoza from the Rangers

Look at that! Something to talk about!

The Rule 5 Draft went down on Wednesday and the Blue Jays have lost two prospects but gained another.
The Seattle Mariners selected outfielder Tanner Kirwer and the Washington Nationals took pitcher Curtis Taylor. The Blue Jays selected pitcher Abdiel Mendoza from the Texas Rangers.
The results from the whole draft can be found here…
Tanner Kirwer, a native of Sherwood Park, Alberta, was a 20th round pick of the Blue Jays back in 2017. He had a strong season in High-A Vancouver, slashing a .285/.420/.474 line over 170 plate appearances. His numbers took a decent dip after getting called up to Double-A New Hampshire. Kirwer had 118 plate appearances for the Fisher Cats and slashed a .208/.370/.399 line. He also stole 43 bases across the two levels.
Curtis Taylor was one of the pitchers that the Blue Jays got from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Eric Sogard back in 2019. Taylor pitched 34 2/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A in 2021 and produced an 8.05 ERA. His strikeout numbers in Double-A (14.7 per nine) were impressive, but he also walked 4.4 per nine across both levels.
The Blue Jays had a few prospects such as Samad Taylor, Miguel Hiraldo, and Eric Pardinho who appeared …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Jack Campbell may be playing his way onto the U.S. Olympic team

A quick look atop the NHL’s save percentage leaderboards is a trip down memory lane. In fourth is Danish prince Frederik Andersen, the long-time Maple Leafs starter from 2016-2021. In second is James Reimer, the affable homegrown talent who performed admirably behind some truly flawed Leafs teams in the early 2010s. Lastly, but also firstly, is Jack Campbell, the guy who stole both Andersen’s starting job last year and Reimer’s status as the nicest guy in the league.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ll know Campbell has been unbelievable for the Leafs this season, most especially during their current run of nine wins in ten games. Leading the league in save percentage and goals against average while placing second in shutouts, he is everything the Maple Leafs could have asked him to be this season. His spectacular start has some wondering if, come February, he may find himself sitting next to Auston Matthews on a plane to China as a member of the U.S. Olympic team.
It’s something that even Jack would have thought unfathomable a year ago, when he started the 2020-21 season as the backup to Andersen, but his chances …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Rumours: A look at Steve Greenley’s change of scenery candidates and if they are a fit for the Leafs

A few weeks back I took a look at a couple of players I deemed reclamation projects, Dylan Strome and Vitali Kravtsov. I am unapologetic in my love of this type of transaction because it is a low risk swing for the fences. This is basically a no outs runner on third, swing for the fences because you aren’t risking a whole lot and there’s a very good chance that even if it isn’t a home run, you’ll get a bit of help you need. The Leafs being a cap tight team without the resources to sink into bona fide stars at the moment, reclamation projects seem ideal.
Today in his article at DailyFaceOff.com, Steve Greenley put a bit more formal terminology to my reclamation projects by outlining his change of scenery candidates and the definition that GMs use to identify these players.
You can check out the details and full list of players at DFO, but here is the criteria for change of scenery candidates:

Lack of ice time

Road block in the current organizations depth chart that prevent player success

Not meeting expectations of where they were selected in draft

Minimal special teams …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Ideal depth chart and rotation for 2021 season

Toronto Raptors: Ideal depth chart and rotation for 2021 season

The Toronto Raptors have a whole new look this season, as they had to part ways with Kyle Lowry in the offseason as part of the beginning of a new era. Masai Ujiri once again has this team in prime position to make a run at the postseason despite some preseason doubters. The team is […]
Toronto Raptors: Ideal depth chart and rotation for 2021 season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Expect improved results from this year’s Leafs PK

A look at the standings table for last season shows the Maple Leafs tied for 23rd in penalty killing percentage (PK%), which would seem to indicate that Toronto was quite poor with a man in the box last season. But a quick peek under the hood shows a quite effective PK that was not as bad as it looks, and this offseason’s turnover may play a huge role in turning the team’s underlying success into actual results.
Last season
The Leafs’ penalty kill did an excellent job last season of suppressing shots (8th-best in Shots Against per 60), neutering shot attempts (3rd-best in Corsi Against per 60), and limiting scoring chances (9th-best Expected Goals Against per 60). So how does a team that finishes top-10 in all three of these categories finish bottom-10 in the NHL in PK%?
Goaltending. Specifically, Frederik Andersen’s shorthanded goaltending.
While it’s easy to point fingers at a guy who is no longer on the Leafs’ roster, there’s no denying that Andersen struggled on the penalty kill last season, torpedoing the efforts of the defending unit in front of him. Consider that Andersen played 48% of Toronto’s shorthanded minutes last season but allowed 62% of …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

The NHL and Black Lives Matter: A year later

The NHL and Black Lives Matter: A year later

Look at the NHL. Look at the athletes. Look at the training staff. Look at the front offices. What do you see? What changes around diversity and inclusion have happened in the past year that have actually made a difference and have been more than performative or for show?
Do you remember where you were on August 27th, 2020? Do you remember the statement the athletes and teams made that day? Less than a year ago, the NHL postponed playoff games after the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA) requested that the league do so following the unjust shooting of Jacob Blake and the ongoing efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and Canada.
The NHL released this statement to support the players and their decision:

Statement from the National Hockey League Players’ Association and National Hockey League. https://t.co/uV1F5iDeUS pic.twitter.com/JS2t0MvUij
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 27, 2020

The part that gets me the most is, “The NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices, and beyond.” It sounds hopeful, it sounds promising, it sounds like the NHL actually understands the …

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Author: Roxanne Khasow / The Leafs Nation