21 Takes on the first quarter of the Leafs season

It’s the quarter mark of the season. Or technically half a game past the quarter mark. Sometime between Tavares’ 9th goal of the season and Auston Matthews’ 8th of the year, we hit the quarter mark, and after a sluggish start to the year, the Leafs have easily been one of the hottest teams in the league. And before getting into the takes for real, I’ll drop one for you here. The Leafs were never as bad as their start, but we shouldn’t be buying into them as the 12-2 darlings they’ve been since either. Sorry if that take is too hot. Here’s a healthy mix of hot and cold takes on the start of the year for the Leafs.
In hindsight, signing Campbell in the offseason could have saved the Leafs a ton of money and given them the option to maintain a very deep crease. Assuming Toronto could have locked Campbell in at the rate they gave Petr Mrazek, Toronto would have dodged the bullet that now seems to have the Leafs paying at an absolute minimum, $5M/yr going forward.If they can get that rate still, I think you take it …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Weighing rolling four lines vs. three lines plus specialists for the Leafs

We’ve just passed the quarter of the season mark, there is a lot of hockey left, why are you making a case for a shorter bench?
One of the better parts of the season has been what Spezza and Simmonds have done on the fourth line, why would you take that away?
These are my primary arguments for no matter what seems like the better approach in the long run, in the short term the idea of sticking with rolling four lines at 5v5 makes a lot of sense. That being said, the season is long, and eventually playoff races will heat up, and there will come a time when the Leafs need to be a bit more focused about how they deploy their players, and under Sheldon Keefe, the fourth line does still find around 10 minutes of icetime a night at 5v5.
When it comes to 5v5, the Leafs peak usage is with Auston Matthews playing 16:37 a night since the beginning of last season. Marner is the only other player averaging over 15 minutes, and regular fourth liners like Simmonds and Spezza are at the other end of the scale still playing around 9 minutes a night of 5v5. The …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What does the future hold for young Leafs? Will Tavares head to China? Is it time for the Leafs to get a dog?

Here we are just past the quarter mark of the season for the Leafs. It was a rough start, but they’ve truly followed it up with something wonderful, and now that we’re in a good place where the Leafs and playing well and we’re not yet to the point where we think about how that will look in the playoffs, we thought we’d take advantage of a happier Leafs audience and answer some questions…

Is it fair to assume that Josh Ho-Sang will be an NHL regular for the Leafs next season?
— Daniel Tiller (@DanielJTiller) November 22, 2021

Nick DeSouza: It might be a bit early to pencil Ho-Sang into next season’s lineup. Of course, lots can change by then but the forward roster should look pretty similar next year. Toronto currently has nine NHL forwards signed for next season; Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Nylander, Kerfoot, Ritchie, Kampf, Bunting, and Simmonds. To add to this, both Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase are RFA’s this offseason and are having pretty good starts to the season so far. Finally, a healthy Nick Robertson, Joey Anderson should also compete for a spot. Ho-Sang has been really good with the Marlies …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Apparently Steven Matz is going to make a decision on where he’s signing on Wednesday

The Decision: Steven Matz edition.

According to MLB dot com insider Mark Feinsand, Steven Matz will be making a decision about where he’s signing on Wednesday, right before American Thanksgiving.
We know that the Blue Jays have been in the mix with Matz all along. While the team didn’t issue him a qualifying offer, which would have featured a one-year contract worth $18,400,000 if he had accepted, the Blue Jays reportedly offered Matz a multi-year deal, presumably at a much lower annual value, and that bringing him back remains a “priority.”
The Blue Jays originally acquired Matz in January in exchange for pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and two 40-man roster arms, Sean Reid-Foley and Yennsy Diaz. Matz was coming off a horrendous season in which he put up a 9.68 ERA over 30 2/3 innings with the New York Mets in 2020.
Matz rebounded nicely pitching with Pete Walker and the Blue Jays. In 29 starts, he posted a 3.82 ERA with 2.6 walks per nine and 8.6 strikeouts per nine, a thoroughly solid run in his first season in the American League East. His season can be pretty much broken down into three categories: a strong start, a poor stretch in the middle following a stint …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leaflets: 10 Games, 10 Takes

Here we are at the magical 10 game mark that allows us to begin having opinions on how the season is going. The last three games have done wonders in bringing the Leafs back around to the okayish mark, and we’re no longer panicking about a 2-4-1 team. Now they are the definition of average with a 5-4-1 record that is trending upwards. Of course there hasn’t been a lot to be afraid of in the first 10 games when it comes to competition. The Habs team they played was missing Carey Price and others. The Penguins team (that blew them out) was missing Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Carter. The Blackhawks didn’t start Fleury, and Kane was out. The Golden Knights were without Stone, Karlsson, Pacioretty, Whitecloud, Patrick, and Tuch. Even the Red Wings had to leave Bertuzzi at the border because he values Facebook science over his teammates. Throw in the Tkachuk-less Senators, and it is painfully clear that the 5-4-1 isn’t so much average as it is the bare minimum.
Since we’re at the 10 game mark I feel it’s about time to drop some takes based on the team this season …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Six name new head coach – Mark Joslin

The Toronto Six have a new head coach! Mark Joslin will succeed Digit Murphy, who will remain in her role as President of the Toronto Six organization.
From the team’s press release:
“Joslin has been involved at elite levels of the game for over 20 years and most recently spent four seasons with the Toronto Patriots of the Ontario Junior Hockey League between 2016-20. The first two seasons were in the general manager’s role before adding head coach to his title. Now after over a decade in men’s junior hockey, Joslin says making a difference is what led him to the Toronto Six.”
Joslin himself had the following to say about the appointment:
“I just love where women’s hockey is right now and the direction it’s going,” said the new bench boss. “It’s been a dream of mine to always coach pro hockey. Signing on with the Toronto Six after talking to Digit and getting this opportunity with the only (NWHL) franchise in Canada is special. I think timing-wise and where I am in my career, it’s a great opportunity for me to come in and educate to hopefully make a difference for this …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

Mark Shapiro talks about Spring Training broadcasts, Blue Jays home games, and more!

Mark Shapiro appeared on The Bob McCown Podcast on Wednesday and spoke about a handful of interesting things, including the ongoing broadcast drama of Blue Jays Spring Training games and where the team will be playing its home games come the regular season.

On the Spring Training broadcasts, or lack thereof…
A big storyline so far this year is the fact that Blue Jays baseball is back and nobody is able to watch it. Even more abnormal, we aren’t able to hear most of the Grapefruit games on the radio because Sportsnet has axed that part of its production.
As we learned last week, Sportsnet will only be producing three Grapefruit games this spring and they’ll all come in late-March. Otherwise, we’re relying on Toronto’s opponents to have either a television or radio stream to be able to consume these games. And then, come regular season time, the Blue Jays will have a TV broadcast featuring Dan Shulman, Buck Martinez, and Pat Tabler simulcast on the radio, leaving Ben Wagner somewhere in limbo.
When asked about the broadcast situation, Shapiro remained fairly tight-lipped, and ultimately reiterated what he said a couple of weeks ago about how …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays acquire Steven Matz from the Mets for three prospects (Reid-Foley, Diaz, and Winckowski)

Remember earlier today when Mark Shapiro said that the Blue Jays’ front office still had some “opportunities to be creative?” Well, here’s what he meant.

The Blue Jays have apparently traded three prospects (Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz, and Josh Winckowski) to the New York Mets for pitcher Steven Matz…

Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz and Josh Winckowski to Mets for Matz per source
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 28, 2021

 

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Liam Hendriks is off the market after signing with the White Sox

A big-name free agents has finally signed.

According to Mark Feinsand, closer Liam Hendriks has reached a four-year deal with the Chicago White Sox worth a whopping $54 million.

The $54 million for Hendriks includes the buyout for the fourth-year option, per source.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 12, 2021

Hendriks, who had played for the Blue Jays on two separate occasions before breaking out as one of baseball’s better relievers, visited the team’s new complex in Dunedin last week, sparking intrigue that he was going to join the team for a third go-around.
Instead, Hendriks and the White Sox agreed to one of the biggest deals in baseball history among relief pitchers, so maybe teams aren’t as down in the dumps financially as we had previously anticipated.
Anyway, as nice as it would have been to add Hendriks to the back of the ‘pen, that’s an absolutely massive financial commitment to make to a reliever, especially one like Hendriks who doesn’t boast a huge track record of success. Hendriks’ last two seasons have been amazing, but he’s just a couple of years removed from clearing the waivers wire after being designated for assignment by the A’s.
That $10 …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Rapid COVID-19 testing could help bring the Blue Jays back to Toronto

Earlier this week, Mark Shapiro hosted a media availability and mentioned that he’s optimistic that the Blue Jays can play home games in Toronto come 2021.

It was sort of a puzzling statement given the fact there’s no end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic and things down south are getting worse and worse by the day. The Canadian government opted to not allow the Blue Jays to play at home in 2020 because of issues with players crossing the Canada-U.S. border. Why would this be different come April?
But, on Thursday, news came out that the federal government is testing a pilot project for rapid COVID-19 testing in Alberta beginning in November.
Currently, travellers returning to Canada from outside the country are legally required to quarantine for 14 days upon entry. Beginning on Nov. 2 at the Coutts land border crossing and the Calgary International Airport, travellers will be offered a COVID-19 test upon arrival before proceeding into the required quarantine. If the test comes back negative, they will be able to leave their place of quarantine as long as they commit to getting a second test on Day 6 or 7 after arrival.
If the trial is successful, we would likely …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation