MAIL CALL: Let’s assign some blame and start fixing things

Welcome to the off-season. Nothing says “Welcome to the Offseason” quite like a blog mailbag, so here we are, doing just that.
We’ve decided to change up our mailbag format a little. Instead of getting answers from just one writer, you will now here from a few different TLN contributors in each mailbag. Now when you see my name at the top, you don’t have to worry you’re just suffering through my opinions, we have a whole crew dropping hot takes on you.
Here we go…

This was going to be a question regardless of how the Leafs did, but now that the cap is going to stay flat for at least the next 2-3 years, do the Leafs seriously explore trading one of their big 4? If so, who will it be and what do you expect a potential return to be?
— Adam Karoly (@adamkaroly) August 10, 2020

Earl Schwartz: If they’re going to do it, now is the time. I don’t think they do it, but moving one of the big 4 when the cap starts going up again and their efficiency starts to peak is a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Goal Analysis – Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets Play-In Game #4

This team man.
For 55 minutes, the Leafs had nothing going for them. Then they decided to turn it on in the final five minutes of the game.
That’s what is most frustrating with this team. Far too often this season the Leafs loved to pick and choose when they wanted to show up and play hard.
Post-game highlights can be found here.
Blue Jackets 1st Goal – Cam Atkinson (Assist Dubois, Merzlikins)

Dubois shoots for the rebound
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) August 8, 2020

John Tavares skates into the Blue Jackets zone and fires a low shot on net. Merzlikins kicks the puck out to Robertson on the right side of the ice. As Robertson goes to corral the loose puck, he blows a tire. Dubois grabs the loose puck instead and is off to the races. He blows by Holl before finding Atkinson in-front of the net for the easy goal.
Tough break for Robertson on this goal as he falls moments before grabbing the rebound. Not really sure what Justin Holl was doing on this goal. He gets caught flat-footed as Dubois picks up the puck.
Dubois and Atkinson come down two-on-one on Marincin …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs stood still at the trade deadline. What did the rest of the division do?

Nothing really changed for the Leafs at the trade deadline as Kyle Dubas stood still save for some minor deals. Did anything else change around them? Honestly, not really. Boston and Tampa got better and Florida doesn’t seem to be trying to make the playoffs. It looks like falling into third place in the Atlantic Division is destiny.

Boston Bruins
What they did: The Bruins’ big splash came a few days before deadline day itself. The Anaheim Ducks did them a massive favour for whatever reason, handing over the underrated and underachieving Ondrej Kase while also taking on David Backes’ albatross contract just as a kind gesture. Boston gave up a middling prospect and what’ll ultimately be a late first-round pick in the deal, which is pretty much what you’d expect the cost to be to take on Backes’ deal alone. Boston also made another smaller move with Anaheim, sending Danton Heinen out west in exchange for Nick Ritchie, giving the team a coke machine to skate around and throw hits.
Kase is injured right now, but, when he returns, he’ll fill the hole on the team’s …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Leafs recall Sandin, we rejoice

Nothing like letting in eight goals in a game to remind you that your defense could use a little upgrade. Thankfully the Leafs have a couple of pretty good internal upgrade options kicking around the AHL and one of them was recalled today…

The @MapleLeafs have recalled defenceman Rasmus Sandin from the @TorontoMarlies (AHL). #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) January 13, 2020
Thank goodness.
Now there are plenty of good reasons to recall Rasmus Sandin, most of them being based on the fact that he’s very good, but it seems that being the top defenseman at the World Juniors tournament was a nice exclamation point on the need to see him with the Leafs again.
It should be worth noting that the Leafs still have three games of Sandin remaining before the first year of his entry level deal would kick in, so this is a bit of a try before you buy situation, and it’s also the first look at Sandin on the Sheldon Keefe Leafs.
Here’s how the first six games under Babcock went…
Game #
CF Rel
xGF Rel

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Good insider, Chris Johnston is reporting that Marner contract is a little closer

With the usual caveat that nothing is done until it’s done, it sounds like there’s been some progress in contract talks between the #leafs and RFA Mitch Marner.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 13, 2019
Folks, we’ll take what we can get around these parts and any progress is a good sign.

We are now sitting at a guarded risk of a Marner contract, and that’s worth celebrating depending on if you love 90 point wingers or if you love cap flexibility.
The fact that this movement is coming on the heels of various public negotiating tactics on both sides is probably no surprise. They’ve trying their cases for free in the court of public opinion and the verdict seems to be that an inflated year three in a Marner contract is insane. It’s insane that Marner continues to compare himself to Auston Matthews, and the only people who seem to still not be convinced on that are Paul Marner and those who believe holding an Ontario birth certificate is vital to future success.
On the Leafs side there seems to be pressure to avoid what was regarded as a failed negotiation with William Nylander, and to demonstrate …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

We’re a week away from one of the least important days on the hockey calendar

If that title doesn’t pull you in, nothing will.
So let’s say you actually clicked on this, well you will be excited to learn that we are one week away from teams having their negotiating rights expire with NCAA players who have left or graduated from their schools. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
It’s this excitement that led to the exciting Dakota Joshua to St. Louis for Future Considerations deal a while back, and now here we are with the chance to pooper scoop the rest of the list.
By it’s nature this list is bound to be pretty underwhelming, but if you have a strong passion about potential stars on the Newfoundland Growlers next season, this could be the list for you. Here’s the breakdown of who is presently available (some of these players may be on AHL deals with their current organization and require an ELC to move on).
NHL Team
Draft Year
Draft Round
Brent Gates
Steven Ruggiero
Lake Superior State
Christopher Brown
Boston College
Ivan Chukarov
U.Mass Amherst
Max Willman
Boston University
Fredrik Olofsson

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Series Preview: A key series for the Tank Effort

Currently, nothing feels worse right now for the city of Toronto. As they just missed out on their opportunity to win a championship in sport that has never been won north of the border before. But, the news gets even worse for the Toronto sports world.
The Blue Jays have been the worst-team in the entire league since May 27. Since that date, this team has been swept in three of their last four series. The Blue Jays have also lost ten of their last twelve games, and currently sit just three wins above the Orioles, or as we call them here,”The Trash Birds”.
Now it’s also not like the Orioles are coming into this three-game series doing much better than the Blue Jays. They have lost eight of their last eleven games, and this team has been held to two runs or fewer in seven of their last eleven games as well. While their isn’t much to get excited about for this series, at least these two teams will be able to battle it out for the worse record in the entire league.
Tuesday at 7:05 ET
This will be Trent Thornton’s first-opportunity to face the Trash …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Jacob Waguespack, Justin Shafer called up to Toronto

Nothing like more young players getting to make their MLB debut with the Blue Jays. Pitchers Jacob Waguespack and Justin Shafer have been called up to the big leagues.

Justin Shafer and Jacob Waguespack were told mid-game yesterday against the IronPigs to pack up and go, they drove to Newark and hopped on the first flight to Toronto this morning to join #Bluejays. Still waiting on the counter moves.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) May 26, 2019

Waguespack was acquired from the Phillies in exchange for Aaron Loup at last season’s deadline. With the Bisons this year the 25-year-old starter has pitched a total of 43 innings, earning a 5.86 ERA with a 9.21 K/9 rate.
On the other hand, Shafer, 26, has a miniscule 0.96 ERA in 18.2 innings pitched. He does have a lower strikeout rate of 7.71 K/9, but he can still provide some injection of youth in the bullpen.
More to come…

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors squeak by Bucks in double OT, and it doesn’t matter how they did it

Nothing about Toronto’s Game 3 win over the Bucks was pretty except the final score. For now, that’s enough. None of the bad stuff from Game 3 matters.
It doesn’t matter that whatever flow the Raptors had in Sunday’s first half was reduced to a pathetic drip in the second half. Toronto posted 58 first-half points, tallying 18 assists on 21 buckets in the first 24 minutes. They followed it up with 38 points on putrid shooting in the second half. Oh well.
It doesn’t matter that Kyle Lowry, who put up 11 critical points on 4-of-7 shooting while masterfully running Toronto’s offense, fouled out with 6:12 remaining in regulation. Fouls reset once the final buzzer goes. He’ll be back on the floor for Game 4, and his body of work through three games has been totally Lowry-like. Good enough.
It doesn’t matter that Danny Green and Fred VanVleet were borderline unplayable for the first 41 minutes at 48 seconds of the game. Their two combined buckets (on 20 total shots) both came from long range, at crucial moments, in the minutes after Lowry was sidelined. Their defense was essential, too. Milwaukee doesn’t finish 38-of-102 from the floor without those two popping in for …

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Author: Sean Woodley / Raptors HQ

Raptors come unraveled in Philly, lose 116-95 in Game 3

The Raptors failed to adjust and got nothing from their bench and supporting cast, leaving themselves in hot water, down 2-to-1 to the Sixers. The margin for error in the playoffs is extremely small. In the regular season you can blow the one game where you miss all your free throws, the one game where you don’t make the adjustment you need to make, the game where you went cold in the minutes you needed to win. You just need to be ready to bounce back. The Raptors had myriad games like this throughout the regular season. They inexplicably lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, they dropped a game by 30 to the Orlando Magic. Sometimes your opponent shoots 50 percent from three. Sometimes you struggle in a matchup you normally win. In the regular season you just move on.
In the playoffs, that one game is potentially a fourth of your season. Everything that you let slide in the regular season becomes amplified. You can’t afford to make needless mistakes.
The Toronto Raptors needed to do a couple things in tonight’s game. They needed more from their bench. They needed to match Marc Gasol’s minutes to Joel Embiid. …

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Author: Jacob M. Mack / Raptors HQ