Besides the big four, which Maple Leafs need to step up in the playoffs?

It’s always interesting when people discuss the Maple Leafs and the playoffs, together in the same sentence.
Each and every year, Toronto loses and fans say they’re done but by the time the next playoffs roll around, they’re back in. There’s so much to discuss around this time, like whether Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will keep their form, if Jack Campbell can have a strong showing consistently against top-tier teams, and whether or not Toronto’s defence can hold up.
This season feels a little bit different. Maple Leafs fans haven’t found themselves asking much of those questions — or any at all. Many are confident in this team, even if they have to play the defending Stanley Cup Champions in the first round.
But, here at The Leafs Nation decided, we’d still like to ask this question; Who needs to step up (besides the big four) in the playoffs?
Ryan Hobart:
Well, the title intentionally takes away the obvious answer. The main thing that’s gone wrong these last few playoff runs is that the main core wasn’t been what we’ve come to expect from their regular season dominance.
Secondary scoring is one way to mask that, so we could say that. Getting some production from the 3rd and 4th lines would go a long wa …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The hype for the 2022 Blue Jays is nothing like the hype before the 2013 debacle

I’ve seen a lot of people comparing the hype that the 2022 Blue Jays are getting to that of the 2013 Jays, worrying that this team might also fall flat and not live up to expectations. 

I have to disagree with that assessment.
Firstly, we’ll look at the trades that created the hype, then we’ll move on to what the 2013 Jays excelled at and what eventually sunk their season. Lastly, we’ll compare them to the 2022 Jays, and why you should buy into the hype.
The pre-2013 off-season, beginning of the hype:
I won’t lie, I only really started getting into baseball in 2014. Between 2008-2013, I would watch games somewhat often, but I didn’t really care about the results. In fact, I would have called myself a Phillies fan for quite some time before really attaching to the Jays.
I don’t really remember a lot about the Jays prior to 2014, but I know that they were immersed in a playoff drought that spanned over 20 years until this point. I do remember owning a Sportsnet magazine that mentioned the first blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins.

A twelve player blockbuster:
The Jays received:
Pitcher Mark Buehrle
Shortstop Jose Reyes
Pitcher Josh Johnson
Catcher John Buck
Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio.
The Marlins received:
Pitcher Henderson Alvarez
Utility infielder Adeiny Hechavarria
Shortstop Yunel Escobar
Outfielder Jake Marisnick
Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani
Pitcher Justin Nicolino
Catcher Jeff Mathis.
Looking at what the Jays gave up, Alvarez, Hechavarria, Escobar, Nicolino, and Mathis are all out of the league, with some even retiring. 
Marisnick is currently on the Pirates, but has only two seasons with at wRC+ of 100 or higher. Desclafani is currently on the Giants and registered a career year in 2021, posting a 317 ERA and 3.62 FIP.
As for the return, Mark Buehrle retired in 2015, but was a successful backend rotation pitcher with the Jays. He registered a 4.15 ERA in 2013, which was slightly above his career ERA of 3.81. The Jays got a backend of the rotation starter in Buehrle. If he were te …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The 2022 Blue Jays hype is nothing like the 2013 hype

I’ve seen a lot of people comparing the hype that the 2022 Blue Jays are getting to that of the 2013 Jays.

I have to disagree with that assessment. Firstly, we’ll look at the trades that created the hype, then we’ll move on to what the 2013 Jays excelled at and what eventually sunk their season. Lastly, we’ll compare them to the 2022 Jays, and why you should buy into the hype.
2012-2013 offseason, beginning of the hype:
I won’t lie, I only really started getting into baseball in 2014. Between 2008-2013, I would watch games somewhat often, but I didn’t really care about the results. In fact, I would have called myself a Phillies fan for quite sometime before really attaching to the Jays.
I don’t really remember a lot about the Jays prior to 2014, but I know that they were immersed in a playoff drought that spanned over 20 years until this point. I do remember owning a Sportsnet magazine that mentioned the first blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins.
A twelve player blockbuster:
The Jays received:
Pitcher Mark Buehrle
Shortstop Jose Reyes
Pitcher Josh Johnson
Catcher John Buck
Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio.
The Marlins received:
Pitcher Henderson Alvarez
Utility infielder Adeiny Hechavarria
Shortstop Yunel Escobar
Outfielder Jake Marisnick
Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani
Pitcher Justin Nicolino
Catcher Jeff Mathis.
Looking at what the Jays gave up, Alvarez, Hechavarria, Escobar, Nicolino, and Mathis are all out of the league, with some even retiring. 
Marisnick is currently on the Pirates, but has only two seasons with at wRC+ of 100 or higher. …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Ryan Dzingel to be put on waivers by the Maple Leafs

You gotta feel for all those people who preordered Ryan Dzingel jerseys last night, as it looks like his initial time with the Leafs will be short-lived…

Keefe says Dzingel will go on waivers today. Report to the Marlies if he clears.
— David Alter (@dalter) February 20, 2022

The move was expected by everyone, but maybe not one that Dzingel is excited about. It has the potential to add to the Leafs depth if he clears, but if he is claimed this isn’t exactly an end of the world situation either.

With Dzingel being waived today, the #Leafsforever still needed to send 1 player down today to be cap compliant before potentially swapping them with Dzingel tomorrow if he clears or is claimed.
Sandin was sent down today to be compliant. https://t.co/gG2oRp1PPs https://t.co/lDlPlvaUy8
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) February 20, 2022

While we play the waiting game on Dzingel, Rasmus Sandin has been sent down in a paperwork move until 2pm tomorrow when the Leafs find out what happens with Dzingel and they can either officially assign him and recall Sandin, or if Dzingel is claimed, simply recall Sandin.
David Alter will have more later today on The Leafs Nation from the Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe media availabilities, and you can read more about the Ritchie/Lyubushkin trade here:
Maple Leafs officially end the Nick Ritchie experiment, trade him to Arizona

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

The Leafs are a better team now and in the future thanks to the Nick Ritchie trade

Craig Morgan and Elliotte Friedman reporting Ilya Lyubushkin to be traded, Maple Leafs are a possible destination


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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Josh Ho-Sang was misunderstood. Now, he’s happy and playing the game he loves

Josh Ho-Sang has been misunderstood by many people for a long time.
Drafted 28th overall by the New York Islanders in the 2014 NHL Draft, there was a lot of potential for him. Ho-Sang played a total of 53 games in the NHL. For someone drafted that high, it’s abnormal.
But he’s not like every hockey player. He’s different.
Ho-Sang has played many games in the American Hockey League, most with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders’ farm team. In February of 2020, New York loaned Ho-Sang to the San Antonio Rampage, where he only played six games.
Then the pandemic happened.
In February of 2021, New York sent him on loan to Sweden. Ho-Sang played five games with Orebro HK before going their separate ways due to Ho-Sang being what the team said was “far behind in training compared to the rest of the group.” He joined Orebro more than halfway through their season while amid a global pandemic.
“Sweden was awesome. Sweden was just a strange situation because they were like, 45 games into their season, and I was playing catch up. I hadn’t really skated because rinks were shutdown here [in Toronto].” Ho-Sang said on Monday.
After agreeing …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Kurtis Gabriel, his fight with mental health, and why talking about it matters

Mental Health matters. Always.
It helps people get out of bed in the morning. More importantly, though, it helps people survive.
At some point in your life, you’ve had your battle with mental health. When you lose someone close to you, it can change everything. If you get bullied throughout school, it sometimes sticks with you for an incredibly long time. Whether it’s family or personal struggles, it’s impacted you in some way, shape or form.
In the game of hockey, it’s not spoken about enough.
We’re starting to see a shift in that, though. With players like Jonathan Drouin and Carey Price leaving the game of hockey to focus on themselves, it brings a new outlook. And with teammates, like Josh Anderson, who praise them for doing what’s right for them. It’s incredibly uplifting, and it looks like there’s change.
But at what rate?
It was the final practice before the Marlies left for their first road trip of the season. The bus was waiting outside Coca-Cola Coliseum, but Kurtis Gabriel still gave his time to speak with me about his life.
The 28-year-old’s story is powerful.
Growing up in …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Korean free agent Ha-seong Kim would be a great fit for the Blue Jays

If you were one of the people who tuned into the Korean Baseball Organization this year while Major League Baseball was shut down due to COVID-19, you’ll probably recognize the name Ha-Seong Kim.

Kim, an infielder for the Kiwoom Heroes, was one of the league’s best hitters during the 2020 season, slashing a .310./402/.530 line with 28 homers, 103 RBIs, and a 61-to-70 strikeout-to-walk rate.
Over at FanGraphs, Dan Szymborski wrote that Kim is planning to make the jump across the Pacific Ocean this winter to the Major Leagues. Kim expressed interest in coming over to the Majors last winter but ultimately decided to ride out the final year of his contract in the KBO.
Now, after a huge season at the plate, Kim should garner plenty of interest from Major League teams as a free agent.
The posting rules for Asian leagues are different as of 2018. Teams no longer bid on players, as you’d remember from situations like Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka. Instead, posting teams will get 20 percent of a player’s first guaranteed $25 million, 17.5 percent of the next $25 million, and 15 percent after that.
Circling back to Szymborski’s post at FanGraphs, Kim’s projected numbers according to ZiPS …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Which current Leafs could end up in the Hall of Fame?

Earlier this week, we saw a bunch of people not named Alexander Mogilny get inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and it got me thinking. This current era of the Toronto Maple Leafs have seen a surplus of extremely talented players play for this team, some so talented that one day they could find themselves in the same position as Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, and Kim St-Pierre when their careers are done.
So, let’s try and figure out who those players might be. I’ll be organizing this based on their likelihood that they end up in the Hall of Fame. Now it should be noted, this is going to be solely based on their play now and how it projects to play out over the course of their careers. With the number of young players on this team, there are a lot of things that could change that would probably affect their chances.
This stuff isn’t official, it’s just for fun.
The “Most Likely” Candidates
John Tavares
We’ll start with the player that has had enough tenure in the league to probably deem his chances as “ …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors dominant November key to season-long success

The Toronto Raptors had a great month of November and let people know that they still are a team to be reckoned with in the NBA. The Toronto Raptors weren’t given high expectations to start the season. After losing Kawhi Leonard, many expected the Raptors to be a middle of the pack team at best. […]
Toronto Raptors dominant November key to season-long success – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: William Ricks / Raptors HQ

On the eve of the season we’re reaching the end of the captaincy drama

The captaincy is something that seems to be important to a lot of people but isn’t something that is particularly important. Hockey teams have always had captains. The Leafs as a long time franchise have used the position as somewhat of an honour, and it has come to symbolize a level of prestige for that player making their tenure as a Leaf particularly standout. For the most part the names associated with the captaincy of the Leafs are associated with greatest, but the wheels seemed to come off that notion during the Phaneuf/Burke era, where Phaneuf was never particularly good, wasn’t a particularly standout player in the organization, and seemingly had the title handed to him for being a proud Burke acquisition who liked to turn the music up in the locker room.
The Sundin captaincy was different. Listening to Jeff O’Neill tell tales of his Leaf days, Sundin seemed to be the social committee, the big brother, the role model, and no one questioned that he was the leader on the team, even when the team had talent beyond just Mats. Sundin is probably one of those leaders, like George Armstrong that particularly standout as …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation