BJN Radio – Ep. 74: Looking at the 2022 Blue Jays after one month

It’s been one month and the Blue Jays own a 17-13 record. Though that seems a little limp because of how they’ve been playing lately, when you consider the strength of schedule they’ve had, it’s fine.

In this episode of BJN Radio, we did three up, three down for the first month of play. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah have both been aces thus far, the bullpen has helped the team steal a handful of games, and Santiago Espinal looks like a legit player. On the flip side, the bats have been much worse than expected as multiple players are ice cold at the same time and Jose Berrios has some worrying underlying numbers early on.
We then looked ahead at a very important stretch the Blue Jays have coming up, as they head to New York for two against the Yankees and then they go down to The Trop for three with the Rays.
You can listen to the episode here…


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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Kevin Gausman’s elite splitter is reaching new heights of success

Through the first month of the 2022 season, starter Kevin Gausman has been worth every cent for the Toronto Blue Jays thus far. And he’s only getting better.
Over the off-season, Gausman left the west coast to sign a five-year, $110-million contract with the Blue Jays. At the time, most fans were upset the team had replaced the 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner, Robbie Ray –  who later agreed to a similar five-year, $115-million contract with the Seattle Mariners.
But early on, it’s probably safe to say Toronto made the correct decision. It likely wasn’t easy to make, although it’s certainly benefited them this season.
Making an instant impact, Gausman has excelled across his first five starts, posting a 2.27 ERA and a 0.49 FIP through 31 2/3 innings. In addition, the 31-year-old has also recorded 41 strikeouts, earning him a career-best 33.6 per cent strikeout rate. A pretty strong start to his tenure north of the border.
Though, the most impressive aspect of his performance has been what he hasn’t allowed, which are any walks or home runs. He’s one of just two pitchers to accomplish this spectacular feat through the first five starts to open a season.

Pitchers since 1903 to begin a season with 5 straight starts of 0 BB and 0 HR allowed (min. 20 IP):
Cy Young (Yes, that …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Buck Martinez has been diagnosed with cancer

Just over a month ago, Jamie Campbell announced that he is being treated for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Sadly, more bad news was announced on Easter Sunday, as long time Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez has been diagnosed with cancer.

A message from Buck Martinez
— Sportsnet PR (@SportsnetPR) April 17, 2022

I’ve complained about Buck Martinez’s play by play before, perhaps even said some uncalled things. However, baseball is a game and when it comes to cancer, the health of a human being takes precedence over a silly game with sticks.
The game on Easter Sunday will be the last game Buck Martinez takes part in for awhile. No jokes, nothing about him being old school, everyone in the community is rooting for Buck Martinez to beat the absolute fuck out of cancer.
He is an integral part of the Blue Jays broadcast and a summer without Buck is unimaginable. When he’s doing colour commentary with Dan Shulman, he provides great insight on how the game has changed since he was behind the plate.
When paired with Pat Tabler, it’s two guys shooting shit about the good old times. While that isn’t my cup of tea, you can hear in Buck’s voice that he still loves the sport and he still loves the Blue Jays. To me, Buck Martinez is summer. Watching a whole bunch of games during summer and listening to Buck Martinez makes me happy.
Not just that, but the outpouring of love for Buck from the Blue Jays community it just a beautiful thing to see. While we may complain about his calls, we all know that Buck is a huge part of the Blue Jays community and his passion and love for the game will be sorely missed.
Buck, you got this. You’re one of the toughest dudes on the planet, you broke you leg and still recorded an out. You will kick cancers ass and we’ll hear you again as soon as possible.
From …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Jake Muzzin’s return means a tough lineup choice for the Maple Leafs

After missing the last month and a half with a concussion, it looks like Jake Muzzin will finally return to the Maple Leafs lineup when they take on the Florida Panthers.
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe pretty much confirmed it during Monday’s morning skate in Tampa. But with Muzzin entering the lineup, there’s obviously one player who has to come out. And at this point, it’s either Justin Holl or Timothy Liljegren.
Muzzin’s eventual return will likely push TJ Brodie, who’s playing on the left side, back to the right. That, in turn, will push one of Liljegren or Holl out of a spot.
There’s two scenarios that I can go through in this article — who I think deserves to stay in the lineup versus who I think Keefe keeps in the lineup.
I’ll start off with who I believe Keefe will take out of the lineup on Tuesday night, and that’s Liljegren.
During Keefe’s availability on Monday morning, the Maple Leafs’ head coach discussed Toronto’s depth on defence. Keefe went into detail and used Liljegren’s name, but never mentioned Holl.
“Having the ability to have someone like Giordano down in that third pair right now, I think that’s fair to say, that’s as comfortable as we’ve been there,” said Keefe on Mo …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Free agent departures: Zach Hyman sets career-high, Zach Bogosian returns from injury

The NHL regular season is almost coming to an end as the month of March just finished last night and we hockey fans get set to look forward to the month of April as some teams get set to play some important games down the stretch for their playoff positions, and even playoff hopes. With that said, it’s been another month on the schedule for some former Maple Leafs to play with their new teams, so let’s take a look at how they did.

1. Zach Hyman – EDM – 29 years old – LW/RW
March 2022 stats: 15 GP – 3 G – 7 A – 10 PTS – 20:11 TOI
2021-22 stats: 62 GP – 22 G – 23 A – 45 PTS – 19:33 TOI
Contract: 7 years x $5.5M 
When Zach Hyman left the Toronto Maple Leafs in the off-season, Leaf fans were sad, it’s no secret. However, the addition of Michael Bunting and the type of season he is currently having for Toronto, it’s something to cherish as fans, but let’s not take away the accomplishment from Hyman this season as he set a new career-high in both goals (22) and points (45) while being just two assists shy from tying his career-high in that department with 25.
It’s been an incredible y …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Free agent departures: Zach Hyman on pace for career year, Frederik Andersen continues to be in Vezina conversation

The month of February has come and gone in the NHL and that means that some former Maple Leafs have had yet another month under their belt with their new teams that they signed to this past off-season. From players like Zach Hyman to Nick Foligno to even a guy like Alex Galchenyuk and more, I go over the month they just had as well as the season they’re currently having with their new squad.

1. Zach Hyman – EDM – 29 years old – LW/RW
February 2022 stats: 12 GP – 6 G – 4 A – 10 PTS – 20:48 TOI
2021-22 stats: 47 GP – 19 G – 16 A – 35 PTS –  19:20 TOI
Contract: 7 years x $5.5M
It’s no secret that it stung when Zach Hyman left the Toronto Maple Leafs this past off-season and signed a seven-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers, and I’m pretty sure a lot of other Leaf fans can agree with me on that. However, it stings a little less now because Kyle Dubas and company went out and signed Michael Bunting to a two-year contract carrying an AAV of $950K and he has been producing at a great rate on the wing with Matthews and Marner. But just because Hyman left Toronto doesn’t mean …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Five Pressing Leafs Topics: February Edition- Breaking down the ARI trade, Toronto’s hidden problem, Keefe’s breakouts and more

The Leafs are 4-3 so far in the month of February and we are one month closer to the trade deadline.
…… And we got ourselves a trade! Without wasting any time, let’s get to it.
Here are the topics that will be covered:
Thoughts on the TOR-ARI trade 
The hidden problem with the Leafs right now
Rasmus Sandin’s giving the Leafs an edge every night 
The Leafs new breakouts 
A Michael Bunting Appreciation Section
Ilya Lyubushkin and Ryan Dzingel to the Leafs
Last night the Leafs made a trade.

TRADE: We’ve acquired forward Ryan Dzingel & defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin from Arizona in exchange for forward Nick Ritchie & choice of our third-round selection in ’23 or second-round selection in ’25. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 20, 2022

Ilya Lyubushkin
Ilya Lyubushkin is a player I’ve been keeping an eye on for some time now. He’s a defensively-oriented defenceman who plays a physical game. He blocks a ton of shots and loves to engage in battles in front of the net and along the boards. He’s not a standout puck mover but he also doesn’t commit many turnovers either. He’s not a large player but he’s quite strong and knows how to use his body to his advantage.

Defensively he adds a ton of value while contributing close to nothing offensively. At this point, it’s a safe bet pairing Lyubushkin on the third pair with Rasmus Sandin. This gives Lyubushkin a competent puck mover to defer to in his own end and someone that can carry the load offensively. The 1.35 million dollar question will be whether he can slot next to Jake Muzzin in the top four. It’s certainly worth a try. This season Lyubushkin played alongside Jacob Chychrun on a Coyotes team that has …

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Author: Nick DeSouza / The Leafs Nation

Luke Schenn could be a cheap option to bolster the defensive depth

Over the past month and change, the talk about the Leafs in need of an upgrade on defence. I have already written about some names being suggested as potential options, including Josh Manson who was recently reported to be a trade target of the team.
One of the players I mentioned was Luke Schenn, who Leafs fans have remembered fondly as “The Human Eraser” during his four years in Toronto. The fifth overall pick of the 2008 NHL Draft has been gone for a decade now and in the time since the trade that saw James van Riemsdyk become a Leaf, Schenn has evolved his game to become a dependable defensive option on the bottom-pair.
Nearly ten years after that transaction took place, it appears that the Leafs have some interest in bringing back their former first-round pick according to Rick Dhaliwal. During Monday’s recording of The Donnie and Dhaliwal Show, he mentioned that some people believe the Leafs have an interest in reacquiring him and that a lot of teams have asked the Canucks about his availability. 

The Leafs bringing back Luke Schenn to solidify the bottom pair makes so much sense
— Michael (@TheLeafsIMO) February 3, 2022

I wrote last summer about how bringing back Schenn could help address the departure of Zach Bogosian, whom the Leafs have missed throughout the season. This past season saw the two players post nearly identical underlying metrics and had a lot of other similarities that made the idea of replacing Bogosian with Schenn a tantalizing option. Since writing that piece, Schenn has continued to be a reliable option on the blueline and has found some success when paired beside Quinn Hughes.
In 32 games played, he has three goals, seven assists, and 10 points, marking the first time he has surpassed the double-digit mark since the 2015-16 campaign. In comparison to the other Leafs defenceman, Schenn stacks up fairly well regarding defensive metrics. He has a penalty plus/minus of zero, a hit plus/minus of 82, and has a combined 175 hits and blocks (which would top the team. The one downside is his turnover plus/minus is at -22 …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews named NHL’s first star of December 2021

In a month where it felt like very little hockey was played by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews was still able to shine.
Earlier today, the 24-year-old was named the NHL’s first star of December 2021.

Beyond the ordinary @AM34 | #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 2, 2022

In seven games during December, Matthews scored ten goals and added four assists for 14 points. Before Saturday night’s game, the 24-year-old was on a ten-game point streak, which saw him score 13 goals in that span.
“He’s in some pretty elite company in terms of his ability to score,” said Sheldon Keefe after the Maple Leafs’ 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on December 14th. “He’s going to score lots through his career. [Matthews] scores in different ways as we’ve talked about a number of times through the season.”
The 24-year-old currently finds himself five goals back of Leon Draisaitl’s league lead of 25 goals.
It’s mind-blowing that the Matthews finds himself as the NHL’s first star of December, when the Maple Leafs’ last game of the month was on the 14th.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

NHL officiating is only going to get worse come playoffs and Toronto needs to be prepared

After spending a month as the NHL’s hottest team, the Toronto Maple Leafs have lost two games in a row where questionable officiating played a major role in both outings. That being said, regardless of how you feel about certain calls or missed calls, it’s irresponsible to use the officiating in these games as an excuse for one simple reason… This is simply how NHL referees operate and we should expect it by now.
For whatever reason, referees across the NHL have decided to prioritize game management and balancing the amount of calls each team takes over simply calling penalties as they happen. On Saturday night, Toronto entered the game as the NHL’s least penalized team with Minnesota sitting on the opposite end of the spectrum as the league’s sixth most penalized team. Yet despite this massive discrepancy, the two teams were dead even in penalties taken during the game. On Sunday, the referees refusal to make certain calls lead to the game spiraling out of control leading to injury and a finish that closer resembled the WWE more than the NHL. Despite all the chaos, the two teams once again were virtually deadlocked in penalty …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation