The ripple effects of the David Ayres game are becoming more clear

Hey, remember that time the Leafs lost to a 42-year-old Zamboni driver who worked for the team? The Carolina Hurricanes don’t want you to forget since they keep bringing it up on their social media pages once a month. While that was an inspiring story for David Ayres during his 15 minutes of fame, it’s a night that the Leafs would like to forget but can’t.
In the months that have followed that game, Martin Marincin scored a goal, a global pandemic started, some kid named Nicholas Robertson made his NHL debut, and the Leafs lost in the first round yet again. Judging by all of the moves made since the Blue Jackets forced them to travel fifteen minutes back to their real homes, it’s evident that Kyle Dubas and company were not pleased with the makeup of the roster and wanted to make some changes.
One of those new additions was Zach Bogosian, a guy who was bought out by the Sabres and went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Lightning. The last part almost did not happen because the Leafs had some interest in him around the time he was released from Buffalo. …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs have a strong case against Ilya Mikheyev in arbitration

One thing that may have been lost in the shuffle a busy Day 2 of free agency for the Leafs is that winger Ilya Mikheyev filed for salary arbitration after being unable to come to terms with the Leafs on a new contract prior to the arbitration filing deadline.
The Leafs had qualified Mikheyev earlier in the week so as to retain his negotiating rights. What is interesting is that the NHL’s qualifying offer rules dictate that the Leafs had to give Mikheyev a two-way offer with a 5% raise on his base salary of $832,500 from last season, meaning that if Mikheyev were to accept the QO his cap hit for next season would have been a few dollars short of $875,000.
That’s not going to happen, though. Considering his immediate contributions to the Maple Leafs this season it is understandable that Mikheyev and his camp may be expecting more than a 5% bump in base salary, especially when taking into account Mikheyev’s total compensation including his signing bonus was $925,000 last season. However, there are a few things that may be working against Ilya and his agent when it comes to his arbitration case, which may make settling beforehand the smartest …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: The top unrestricted free agents to sign

The Toronto Raptors recently lost in the second round in game seven to the Boston Celtics. With the off-season slowly approaching, the Raptors need to turn their focus towards adding to their already talented roster. Although this free-agent class is not nearly as star-studded as next year, the Toronto Raptors can build on their current […]
Toronto Raptors: The top unrestricted free agents to sign – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jeremy Wilks / Raptors HQ

Taijuan Walker brings a new and improved cutter to the Blue Jays

Having lost Nate Pearson, Matt Shoemaker and Trent Thornton to injury, the Blue Jays were desperately in need of some pitching. So they went out and got Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners. Walker will bring some stability to the back-end of the rotation.
Walker isn’t a game-changing arm. This isn’t David Price circa 2015, but he’s a solid pitcher who can help this team push towards the playoffs. Fangraphs currently has the Blue Jays playoff odds at 65.7%.
In 27.0 innings Walker has a 4.00 ERA, a 4.94 FIP and a 4.77 xFIP. He’s struck out close to a batter an inning keeps the walks mostly in check.
He attacks hitters with a five-pitch mix, four-seamer, cutter, spilt-finger, sinker and a curve. Per Baseball Savant he throws each pitch at least 10% of the time. He doesn’t throw overly hard, averaging 93 on the fastball. He fits into the exact mould of a Blue Jays starting pitcher: mid-range velocity and a large pitch mix.
Walker’s best pitch looks to be his cutter. He throws it 22% of the time and it averages 85.6 mph. It acts more like a slider than a true cutter (Fangraphs actually labels …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Are the Leafs headed in a new direction?

The team of speed and skill have lost their speediest player.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Kasperi Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was the first time the Leafs traded a roster player primarily for a draft pick since October 2018, when they traded Connor Carrick to the Stars for a 2019 7th, which they used to select Defenceman Kalle Loponen. Even then, it was because Carrick had lost his spot to Igor Ozhiganov.
You would have to go back to the Bernier trade or the 2016 trade deadline to find a similar trade on paper. Looking at it through that lens, it appears that the Leafs are headed in the wrong direction; subtracting from their roster instead of adding to it. Does this mean the Leafs are admitting their current approach isn’t working?
Around the time of the aforementioned Bernier trade, the Leafs went out and got Matt Martin in free agency to try and change the course of their team. It could mean that is what the Leafs are preparing to do now, acquire a player in free agency that changes the perception of their team and alters their course.
From another perspective, it’s more of …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

The Biggest Losers

You may remember the Maple Leafs lost a hockey game to a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and rent-a-goalie last month. You may remember the city of Toronto was rightfully embarrassed; shades of the dialogue in Moneyball where Billy Beane explains, “There are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then, there’s 50 feet of shit. Then, there’s us”. Replace “rich” with “good” and you have the Leafs dead to rights.
Now, there’s something to be said for pulling off a Chumbawamba, and what with recent playoff failures at the TD Garden, the eight goal loss to Florida only weeks earlier, and other terribly embarrassing current-iteration Leaf occurrences, you’d have been warranted in thinking the team might collapse. They didn’t. They got back up again and, three days later, the Leafs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. For those who’ve forgotten, the Lightning are the team that won a bunch of regular season games last year and then lost in a first-round playoff sweep to Columbus. If there were more Tampa fans around, I suppose that might be a more embarrassing defeat. But there aren’ …

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Author: Jakebeleafs / The Leafs Nation

Have injuries finally caught up to the Toronto Raptors?

The Toronto Raptors have lost three straight games for the first time since Dec. 8. With that in mind, do we believe injuries have finally caught up to the defending champs? Up to this point in the season, the Toronto Raptors have continually surprised not only their fans but also basketball fans in general with […]
Have injuries finally caught up to the Toronto Raptors? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jordan Skuse / Raptors HQ

Toronto Raptors: Can Marc Gasol be trusted to stay healthy?

Marc Gasol has lost significant time this season due to injury, but the Toronto Raptors can trust him to be healthy in the postseason. Marc Gasol can be trusted by the Toronto Raptors to stay healthy during the 2020 postseason. At the moment, Gasol is recuperating from a recurring hamstring injury that in total has […]
Toronto Raptors: Can Marc Gasol be trusted to stay healthy? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

News and Notes: The Leafs enter their break as a bubble team

Having lost five of their last six games, the Toronto Maple Leafs are limping into their off-week tied with the Florida Panthers for ninth in the Eastern Conference. Their most recent loss, a lopsided 6-2 defeat to the surging Chicago Blackhawks, represented the third time in six games the Leafs allowed at least six goals.

The Leafs exited the Mike Babcock era as a bubble team, featuring an uninspiring 9-10-4 record. Under Sheldon Keefe, things have gone pretty well, even considering this recent cold spell. The Leafs have a 16-7-3 record in the Keefe era. But where has it gotten them? Still on the bubble.
The issue for Toronto is that pretty much everyone else is playing well too. Since Nov. 20 when Keefe was hired…
The Bruins have gone 15-7-7 for 37 points.
The Lightning have gone 20-8-2 for 42 points.
The Panthers have gone 15-11-0 for 30 points.
The Blue Jackets have gone 18-8-4 for 40 points.
The Hurricanes have gone 15-11-2 for 32 points.
The Flyers have gone 16-10-2 for 34 points.
The Leafs, overall, have been better with Keefe around than Babcock. They’ve picked up 35 out of a possible 52 points. But that …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Andersen and Keefe discuss coach’s quick decision to pull goaltender

The Maple Leafs lost to the Oilers for the first time in the Auston Matthews era last night. The biggest talking point after the game was Sheldon Keefe’s decision to pull Frederik Andersen when the game was very much still in reach and the effect it might have had on a potential comeback.

The teams started off the game with a quick pace with a lot of back-and-forth action, though it was the Oilers who controlled play in the first frame. They fired 33 shot attempts at the Leafs’ net and managed to get 17 of them on the net in the first frame. A few minutes before the end of the first, Oscar Klefbom opened the scoring with a seeing-eye shot from the point that got past a screened Andersen…

Seeing-eye laser from Klef to kick things off. #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/Duw1YlN9xB
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 7, 2020

The Oilers kept their foot on the gas in the second frame, scoring two quick goals to make the score 3-0. First, Darnell Nurse took a pass in the offensive zone from Connor McDavid and roofed it over Andersen, who was screened in front of the net …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation