Michael Hutchinson 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Leafs certainly are making sure they don’t find themselves in the awkward situation of having Michael Hutchinson as their backup goaltender again. The way they are ensuring that is by bringing back Michael Hutchinson as their fourth string goaltender.
The press release:

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has signed goaltender Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract. The contract carries an NHL average annual value of $725,000.

Hutchinson, 30, split his 2019-20 season at the NHL level between the Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche and had a 5-9-1 record, posting a 3.47 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. In four appearances for the Avalanche during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he was 2-1 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Hutchinson also appeared in four games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) during the 2019-20 season and went 3-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. In 127 career NHL games between Winnipeg, Florida, Toronto and Colorado, the Barrie, Ontario, native is 51-52-14 and has a 2.80 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
Hutchinson was originally selected by the Boston Bruins in the third round (77th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft.
So, there’s …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Brandon Drury is back, Billy McKinney sent down to minor-league camp

After never making it to the Blue Jays’ Summer Camp in Toronto due to an unspecified injury, Brandon Drury has finally been added to the team’s active roster. Heading down to the team’s minor-league camp to make room for him will be Billy McKinney.

#BlueJays reinstate infielder Brandon Drury from the IL, option Billy McKinney (back to the Alternate Training Site)
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) July 26, 2020

It’s sink or swim time for Drury, you’d think. Since being acquired as part of the return for J.A. Happ back in 2018, Drury hasn’t been overly impressive in a Blue Jays uniform. While he adds a solid glove and positional versatility, hit bat simply hasn’t come around to the level you’d hope to see from him.
Drury will jump right into the lineup today in Tampa Bay, playing third base. I imagine that we’ll see Drury get quite a few reps against left-handed pitching (Blake Snell, a lefty, is going today) as the Jays juggle platoon-oriented lineups.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs Madness Bracket: Closing out Round Two

Not too many, if any surprises on day one of Round two. Mahovlich making easy work of George Armstrong is probably as close as we got to an upset. The complete dominance of Sittler’s win over Turnbull was impressive. Now we’re on to the two more recent eras, and some really tough decisions.
The Story so far…

Today’s Match-ups:

False Hope Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 24, 2020
Someone had to go up against Mats, and unfortunately for Mogilny, it’s him.

False Hope Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 24, 2020
For me, Potvin is a bit of a no brainer, but there is no doubt that Darcy Tucker holds a special place in some of your hearts.

False Hope Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 24, 2020
Again, I’m an Andreychuk fan, but I know he’s in tough against Curtis Joseph. The decisions today are the start of some really tough calls.

False Hope Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 24, 2020
As fun as a Kaberle upset would be, no one is holding their breath on that.

Recency Bias Region
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 24, 2020
Pretty much …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Anthony Kay, T.J. Zeuch will be part of September call-ups

Two young pitchers on the verge of making the big leagues and in talks to be part of the 2020 Blue Jays rotation are going to be part of the September call-ups with rosters expanding.

Pitchers Anthony Kay and T.J. Zeuch will be among the @BlueJays’ September call-ups, @ShiDavidi reports.https://t.co/4Y0HmWlnjj
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 2, 2019

Kay, 24, was part of the return for Marcus Stroman from the New York Mets and has been able to completely dominate for Triple-A Buffalo since coming over to the Toronto organization. Through seven starts and a total of 36 innings pitched, Kay has been able to keep a 2.50 ERA while striking-out 9.8 batters per nine.
He’s been struggling with the control since being promoted up to the highest minor-league level, averaging 5.5 walks per nine with Buffalo and 3.16 BB/9 while still in the Mets organization. All will be tested once he makes his major-league debut later this month.
Zeuch was a first-round selection by the Blue Jays back in 2016 and at 24-years-old, he should be nearing a big-league opportunity anyway and has certainly earned that. Highlighted by a no-hitter a couple weeks ago, his first season in Triple-A has featured a total of 13 starts …

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

Russell Martin and the Hall of Fame

With the Blue Jays making their once-in-a-decade trip to Dodger Stadium this week, we got the opportunity to be reacquainted with an old friend in Russell Martin.

Nearly a decade after leaving the club that drafted him in the 17th round in the 2002 draft, Martin is back in Los Angeles in what could be his final chance to win the World Series. Martin, now 36 years old, was dealt from the Jays to the Dodgers back in January as Los Angeles sought a veteran to help bring along young pitchers and to hold down the fort until top prospect Will Smith was ready to make the jump to the Major Leagues.
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet caught up with Martin prior to Tuesday’s series opener, in which the Montreal native discussed his future in baseball…
“I’m going to have to see how this one plays out. I really enjoy the game – but I enjoy playing the game. I really like competing. Being on a team like this is fun, but if I wasn’t on a winning team, I’d have to be really selective on where I would go. I’d have to have that perfect fit and who …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The new generation of Blue Jays is carrying on the tradition of clowning the Rangers

Death, taxes, and the Toronto Blue Jays making the Texas Rangers look like a bunch of chumps. This started all the way back in 2015, carried into 2016, and, hopefully, never ends.

The Rangers rolled into town today to kick off a three-game series in Toronto. Given that the two teams met for the first time this season all the way back in early May, this is Texas’ first first-hand look at the new generation of Blue Jays.
Did they enjoy it? *Narrator voice* They did not.

We are:
not enjoying this
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) August 13, 2019

Here’s what went down…
Bo Bichette went four-for-six with two doubles. He set a record in the process. 
Cavan Biggio went two-for-six with a couple of runs driven in.
Vlad Jr. went two-for-four.
Justin Smoak hit a two-run homer.
Randal Grichuk hit a solo homer, a double, and drove in four.
Teoscar Hernandez doubled.
Derek Fisher walked twice and had a single.
Brandon Drury hit a grand slam.
Danny Jansen had two hits and then he homered off of a position player.
All told, the Jays pounded Texas by a score of 19-4.
I’m thrilled to see the Baby Blue Jays carrying …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Marlies Shopping List Taking Shape As July 1 Nears

The Toronto Maple Leafs will not be making any roster transactions on July 1st if Mitch Marner’s contract situation drags on, but the organization’s front office will certainly still be hard at work as they look to stock up their AHL affiliate.

The #leafs have used the UFA window to speak with a number of players who may be willing to come in on minimum/near-minimum contracts. Kyle Dubas feels they’ll get some value shopping done.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 28, 2019

The Marlies are an integral part of the Leafs’ development operation in Kyle Dubas’ regime. The organization has made a concentrated effort to exploit the fact that the AHL doesn’t have a salary cap by signing marquee AHL talent to coincide with their young prospects and help maintain a winning culture.
According to one AHL source, the Marlies paid, on average, around $562,500 to each of their six veteran players – Chris Mueller (NHL one-way, $650,000), Vincent LoVerde (NHL one-way, $750,000), Steve Olesky (NHL one-way, $650,000), Josh Jooris (NHL one-way, $650,000), Colin Greening (AHL one-way, $425,000), Rich Clune (AHL one-way, $250,000) – last season.
As it stands right now, Clune (who likely won’t be a regular in the Marlies lineup anyway) is the only veteran …

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Author: Jacob Stoller / The Leafs Nation

On the Raptors making the NBA Finals, and closure

The Raptors making the Finals helped close up a decade-old wound. Sports, man. On April 4th, 2010, I could have done something else. It was weekend afternoon in high school — surely there was a Wii in a friend’s basement I would have been welcome to play, or a laid back set of parents opening up their house to a bunch of idiot 12th graders looking to be idiot 12th graders. To be 17 is to spread yourself thin socially. There were options that day.
The plan I landed on didn’t involve any of my high school pals. It involved my best friend, my Grandpa Jack.
A few months earlier, my family decided to go out for Christmas dinner. It was an executive decision from the higher-ups — mom and grandma — after they deemed cooking a turkey was too much of a damn chore, and it’d be worth transferring the group of 15 or so who’d come to our place every year to a restaurant up the street. It was an unremarkable meal, from what I recall. The turkey didn’t taste like grandma’s, the stuffing was a little soggy, there were sides, I’m sure, but I couldn’t …

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Author: Sean Woodley / Raptors HQ

Game 5 Analysis: Everything goes right for the Raptors

With Toronto’s rotations making more and more sense, it was only a matter of time before they started hitting shots. That happened in Game 5 against the Sixers, and then some. Finally.
That sentence fragment applies to a lot of stuff in the Raptors’ Game 5 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite heading into the contest tied 2-2, it felt like so much for Toronto had yet to happen. Was it frustrating to watch? You bet. Which made the outcome of Tuesday night’s game all the more satisfying.
Let’s touch on a couple key things.
Making Shots
Finally they made some shots. They, being Raptor players not named Kawhi Leonard.
Through the first four games of the series, the Raptors had taken 122 threes and hit on 30 percent of them. In the regular season, they hit on 37 percent of their three point attempts. Since the all star break, they hit on 42 percent of their threes.
Of those threes, 80 of 122 were of the catch-and-shoot variety, generally a better shot to take. They hit 27 percent of those. In the regular season, they hit on 39 percent of their catch-and-shoot threes. Since the All-Star break, they hit on 43 percent of their catch-and-shoot threes.
Furthermore, 70 …

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Author: Daniel Hackett / Raptors HQ

Tactical Issues: How will the Raptors and Magic adjust in Game 2?

Did the Magic steal the game by making the right adjustment, or was it a by-product of the Raptors’ moves? Let’s take a look at some of the strategies that the Magic and the Raptors executed in game 1. Death, taxes, and Toronto Raptors losing Game 1s. The Raptors are moving along according to their schedule, and while the fanbase might be panicking, there’s a lot of reason not to — even if Kyle Lowry doesn’t score a single point for this entire series. (Also, fun side note: the Raptors only Game 1 win in the “We The North” era was the Bebe Game.)
It’s easy to dismiss the Orlando Magic as just a bunch of long athletic players. Sure, they struggle to score at times, but coach Steve Clifford made a few high-risk strategic moves that got them past the Raptors in that first game.
The Raptors will not (and should not) have as bad a shooting night as they had in Game 1, but they have a few things to fix, mainly on the defensive end. There are also some minor things that they need to fix on the offensive end. Is getting Lowry a bucket one of …

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Author: JD Quirante / Raptors HQ