The Maple Leafs should really trade for a top 6 forward

It’s no secret that the combination of John Tavares and William Nylander has been struggling recently at 5V5. Although, the duo did look better in the team’s last game against the Capitals. Alex Kerfoot has been the third member of that line most of this season. In fact, Kerfoot has been the most common third member of that line ever since he joined the Leafs in 2019/2020. It’s not that Kerfoot is bad, he’s a very versatile player. His ability to play the wing and middle of the ice up or down in the lineup is a huge asset. I just can’t help but look at his spot in the top six as an area the Maple Leafs could improve. Here are Tavares and Nylander’s numbers with and without Kerfoot the last three seasons.

With or without Kerfoot, it’s disappointing to see any combination of Tavares and Nylander only either tie or outscore opponents 33-31 at 5V5 over a three-year sample. Especially when you consider that line is mostly getting secondary matchups with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner drawing most of the attention. What stands out most to me is the on-ice shooting percentage without Kerfoot this season. As far as what the cause of that may be, it could be a number of factors. What I can say for sure is that Kerfoot is definitely not the best passer or shooter on that line.
Tavares may not be what he was in his first season with the Leafs when he scored 47 goals. But are we supposed to believe he’s faded as a goal scorer? Out of 275 forwards to play at least 500 minutes at 5V5 this season, Tavares ranks 11th in individual xG …

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Author: Stephen Brown / The Leafs Nation

Friedman: Maple Leafs trying to make a Nick Ritchie trade happen

It’s probably no secret that Nick Ritchie doesn’t want to be in the AHL. It’s also no secret that Ritchie has no place on the Leafs roster, nor does the team want to continue to have $1.375M of his cap hit still impacting their ability to add players. That’s why the report from Elliotte Friedman on the 32 Thoughts intermission segment shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
From Sportsnet:
“There’s no official trade request, but I think everybody here understands it might be better to find him somewhere else to play,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said during the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada, “and I think there has been some traction in the last few days around the league.”

“If, for argument’s sake the Maple Leafs were to buy him out, it would be $300,000 on next year’s cap,” Friedman said. “So, I don’t think Toronto wants to retain anything more than that (in a trade). But, depending on how this can all go and how that can be worked out, it is believed there is some traction being gained on Ritchie around the league in clearing some room and finding him some space.”
According to PuckPedia’s buyout calculator, Friedman is correct and it would be a $300k cap hit for the 2022-23 season. It would however be a more noticeable $1.1M cap hit in 2023-24. So while I can see the Leafs not wanting to retain, and think there has to be a p …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors could target athletic guard Max Christie in 2022 Draft

Raptors could target athletic guard Max Christie in 2022 Draft

It’s no secret that the Toronto Raptors‘ game plan in recent years has been to play hard defence and make plays in transition. Shooting tons of 3-point shots on the offensive end is a staple of their half-court attack. If they want to add a microwave scorer off the bench, they could use a draft […]
Raptors could target athletic guard Max Christie in 2022 Draft – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Matthew Eichhorn / Raptors HQ

Player Valuation and bargain hunting in the offseason

It’s probably no secret at this point that the Leafs don’t have a lot of cap space. I mean, they have the cap space to bring in maybe one significant player, but after that it’s going to be about bargain hunting some of the better, cheaper options in free agency. While the lesser known signings certainly aren’t as fun as big game hunting players like Dougie Hamilton or Taylor Hall, teams like Tampa Bay and Montreal certainly point to the importance of having a depth that contribute beyond their contract.
To some extent the Leafs did have that though. Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton certainly provided value beyond their contracts, it just may come down to utilization, miscasting of roles, or you could argue in Thornton’s case, that his opportunity to play a significant part of the year within the top six forward group propped up his numbers beyond his personal contributions, which is both a fair criticism, but also ignores the fact that a capable top six complimentary player at that price isn’t anything to scoff at and the Leafs failing to consider style of play into the roster construction isn’t his …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Seravalli: Darcy Kuemper a trade target for the Leafs

It’s no secret the Leafs need to add a goaltender heading into next season, and there is a certain preference towards that goaltender being able to either share the workload, or push Jack Campbell. Today Frank Seravalli is suggesting that fellow late bloomer, and product of Dusty Imoo/Bill Ranford could be their target.
Arizona Coyotes goaltender @Darcy Kuemper has emerged as a primary target for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche. Both teams remain in contact and conversation with their pending free agents in @Frederik Andersen and @Philipp Grubauer, respectively, but trade talks have been ongoing with Arizona as the Avs and Leafs consider the goaltending market at-large. The Seattle Kraken are also believed to have interest in Kuemper.
So this comes as a bit of a surprise as the Leafs were initially not interested in Kuemper due to only having one year remaining on his contract, and the wish to avoid rental situations as well as having all three goaltender contracts (Kuemper, Campbell, Hutchinson) coming up at the same time.
Some of the logic around Kuemper’s availability is connected to the fact that his salary is $5.5M this season on a cap hit of $4.5M, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs re-sign Spezza to a one year extension

The worst kept secret in hockey is finally revealed, as the Leafs extend Jason Spezza to another one year contract.

Spezza’s staying home!  Jason Spezza has signed a one-year contract extension. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) June 16, 2021

According to Chris Johnston, the deal is once again a league minimum contract, as he’ll be set to make $750,000 next year.
To anyone who follows the Leafs beyond just watching the games, this shouldn’t be a surprise. He’s made it very clear that at this point in his career, he wants to play with his hometown team and try and win a Cup, something that was very obvious when he said he’d retire if another team claimed him on waivers this season. He doesn’t care about the money, he doesn’t care about his role, he just wants to be a part of it.
And the Leafs have definitely found a way to make it work, planting him in a fourth line role for the last two years where he has excelled tremendously. In 112 games with the Leafs, he has 19 goals and 55 points, including a 10 goal, 30 point season this year, which would have been 45 points in a …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Reinforcement Options for the Struggling Bullpen

It’s no secret that, over the last week or ten days, the once strong Blue Jays bullpen has taken a turn for the worst.

It’s not entirely unexpected of course, given the injuries they’ve suffered and the total offensive numbers put up by all teams playing at TD Ball Park in Dunedin. With very few pitchers in The Jays bullpen overflowing with equity, it wouldn’t be shocking to see a number of developing arms in the high minors get their chance to shine as the team packs up and moves back to Buffalo. So, let’s have a look at some of the names you may not be familiar with who are likely to get consideration as the season progresses.
Tayler Saucedo – LHP
Saucedo was a 21st round pick of The Blue Jays in 2015. He’s a tall, slender lefty who’s pitched both out of the bullpen and as a starter over the course of his 142 appearances minor league career. It’s been an up and down road for him along the way, but after last year’s lost season, he appears to have discovered the strike-out in a meaningful way. Never having averaged more …

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Author: DeuceDoucette / Blue Jays Nation

Maple Leafs’ trade chips beyond the top prospects

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It is no secret that Kyle Dubas has been working the phones in an effort to upgrade the Leafs’ roster ahead of next Monday’s trade deadline and he made headlines just a few weeks ago when he confirmed that Toronto’s top prospects were on the table if it meant adding the right piece.
While the Leafs may lack true elite level prospects, players such as Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, and Rodion Amirov are just below that tier and would hold significant value in the trade market. Moving high end prospects comes with risk, however, as Dubas would be shipping out potentially valuable, cost controlled contributors that carry the potential to be key members of his squad well into the future.
As the deadline approaches and players like Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm are seemingly being taken off the market, a blockbuster deal that would warrant shipping out the organization’s top young talent appears less likely but things can change quickly at this time of year.
There is also the expansion draft and flat salary cap to consider and acquiring another player with term beyond this season could lead to the Leafs losing valuable …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Frederik Andersen’s reemergence as an elite goaltender and its impact on the Leafs

It’s no secret that Frederik Andersen’s last 18 or so months in a Leafs uniform have been suboptimal. Beyond the off-ice instability of a still ongoing pandemic that has the NHL scrambling for solutions, Frederik Andersen’s on-ice performance has similarly been unstable at best, and downright pitiful at worst. Outside of a brief November surge early in the ‘19-’20 campaign, Andersen’s save percentage has steadily been on the decline over the past two seasons, accentuated at one point this year by an early season .888 save percentage through his first nine games. As the calendar has turned from January to February, however, and following a somewhat typical “October Freddy” appearance in January, something seems to have clicked for Andersen. It is beginning to look like Frederik Andersen of old may be poking out his head after a long hibernation.
When Jack Campbell went down with an apparent leg injury, you would have been well within your rights to express concern about the Maple Leafs goaltending situation. In the blink of an eye, a group that was four goaltenders deep had evaporated, with Aaron Dell’s poaching by the New Jersey Devils coming less than a week prior. Andersen’ …

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Author: Jori Negin-Shecter / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri’s pursuit for Giannis Antetokounmpo begins (again)

Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri’s pursuit for Giannis Antetokounmpo begins (again)

It’s no secret that the Toronto Raptors have their eye on potential 2021 free agent Giannis Antetokounmpo. Behind-the-scenes footage of Masai Ujiri trying to trade up to draft the Greek Freak in 2013 was broadcast on the latest episode of Bell’s Open Gym. And the timing couldn’t be have been more perfect. With Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s […]
Toronto Raptors: Masai Ujiri’s pursuit for Giannis Antetokounmpo begins (again) – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jessica Aldos / Raptors HQ