ESPN lists the Blue Jays as one of the teams who would make sense for a Juan Soto trade

The Washington Nationals might soon have another superstar heading out the door in free agency.

Back in 2019, Bryce Harper inked a 13-year, $330 million deal to join the Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals wound up winning the World Series the following season while Harper has won an MVP award in Philadelphia.
Next up, Juan Soto is eligible to become a free agent following the 2024 season. The Nationals, who are 12-26 so far this season, tried to ink Soto to a 13-year, $350 million deal, but he declined it and reportedly didn’t find the offer all too impressive.
Over at ESPN, Buster Onley speculated that the Nationals could start to think about the idea of trading Soto this summer. He’s still two full seasons away from hitting free agency but will be due for a big raise this winter as he’s eligible for arbitration for the second time…
At 23 years old, Soto is already a superstar, and there aren’t any comparable examples of hitters of his stature being dealt at such a young age. But rival execs say the Nationals might well be compelled — and motivated — to move Soto this summer.
“If they’re not going to sign him [to a long-term deal], then they’ll need to trade him,” one evaluator said. “The question is: When?”
Olney also noted that the front-office types, which is obviously an incredible vague label, believe that two teams could make sense fo …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Bluelines: The final regular season road game

We’re in the home stretch and soon the regular season will be in the rearview mirror. That feels more bittersweet now that it would be nice to give Michael Bunting some recovery time before the playoffs start, but nevertheless, we’ll soon be stepping away from lame-duck hockey and into the most meaningful games of the year. That’s exciting.
Leafs at +105
It stands to reason the Leafs are the underdogs heading into the game tonight. They played last night, they lost Bunting in the process, and they are likely heading back to Erik Kallgren in the net. It’s also up for debate that someone like Matthews should even be playing tonight given that he’s probably not at 100%. It’s a tough one to see the Leafs winning tonight, and maybe the Capitals with a +205 spread is the best option.
Panthers at -125 to win over the Lightning
Since the Panthers beating the Lightning is an important one to watch in order for the Leafs to clinch 2nd in the Atlantic, I’m including the odds there too. Any kind of win helps, but a win in regulation means the Leafs just need to push the Caps to overtime in their game.
Matthews hitting 60 at +400
It’s not a certainty that Matthews will even be in tonight, but if he is and he score …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors must resist Ben Simmons deal despite declining value

Toronto Raptors must resist Ben Simmons deal despite declining value

As soon as the trade buzz surrounding Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons started to pick up, Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors were mentioned as a potential landing spot. With their desire to get younger and more versatile paired with their disappointing 2020-21 season, the move made some sense in a vacuum. However, both Simmons […]
Toronto Raptors must resist Ben Simmons deal despite declining value – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

On Roberto Alomar And The True Sadness

As soon as I saw the Roberto Alomar news on Friday – that he was placed on baseball’s ineligible list and banned from baseball essentially after an outside investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct against him – I knew I needed to write something on the topic. I didn’t want to rush to something though, because it’s a complicated topic, one that is likely more complicated if you are older than I am and actually have an emotional connection to Alomar thanks to his play for the club in their championship years in the early 1990’s. Now, two days later, I am glad I waited, because it has allowed me to see what others have said (Thanks to BlueJaysAggr) and formulate my own words in a different way. Our reactions to these things can have a big impact, unbeknownst to us, and thus it is important to get it right.

One approach was from Rosie Dimanno of the Toronto Star, who chose to shame the victims of sexual misconduct, by listing the awful behavior directed her way from baseball men while she was doing her job, and saying that she did not report those incidents because she is “not …

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Author: Gideon Turk / Blue Jays Nation

What Not To Wear: Hockey Edition

With the NHL moving soon to their Bubbles, there is lots of conversation in the hockey sphere around the relaxation of the Suits on Game Days mandate. From players, to reporters, to fans on Twitter, everyone seems to have an opinion on whether or not suits should be a requirement. For context, since 2005, the CBA has outlined that “Players are required to wear jackets, ties and dress pants to all Club games and while travelling to and from such games unless otherwise specified by the Head Coach or General Manager.” Players wearing suits on game day is a time honoured tradition that the team social media accounts often highlight to hype up fans for the game. 
However, the rules will be different inside the Hockey Hunger Game Bubbles, where suits will no longer be required. Players seem excited by this change:

Auston Matthews on a relaxed dress code in the bubble: “I’m really looking forward to it, honestly. It’ll be a pretty cool opportunity for guys to express themselves like other leagues are able to. At times, hockey can kind of fall behind as far as that stuff kind of goes.”
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) July 19, 2020



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Author: MerOutLoud / The Leafs Nation

NHL considering North Dakota as a neutral location for 2019-20 games

The prospect of watching professional sports any time soon seems like a massive stretch as the world has virtually come to a halt due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In the grand scheme on things, sports are a fairly trivial issue, but leagues are still working on ideas to get their operations rolling again, even if it means playing in front of empty stadiums in random locations. Take Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota, home of the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Hawks, for example.
According to Elliotte Friedman, the NHL and the NHLPA have been spitballing scenarios as to where the rest of the 2019-20 season can be played out, and North Dakota is a popular destination.
The Ralph Englestad Area is one of the best non-NHL hockey facilities in the United States. Actually, it’s even been regarded as superior to many NHL rinks. Known as the “Taj Mahal of Hockey,” it can fit 11,643 spectators, though that doesn’t really matter much in this situation.
The logistics are obviously challenging (finding accommodations for everyone, getting everybody on flights, and so on) but if hockey is going to return any time …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

KHL players will be able to sign with NHL teams as of May 1st

Games may not be played anytime soon, but we’re just over a month away from KHL signing season, and if recent history has taught us anything, that’s a significant time for the Leafs.
From TSN:
With the KHL season officially being cancelled Wednesday, players with expiring KHL contracts are free to sign with NHL teams as of May 1.
However, as TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports, the NHL has instructed teams that they can only sign players to deals that begin next season while this year’s campaign remains suspended. Whether or not that changes if the NHL resumes play is unclear.
So as far as Leafs reserve list players they’d possibly consider bringing over, there isn’t much over there, no Egor Korshkov in waiting. Vladislav Kara is an intriguing option, but he’s still got some development time, and I can’t see the Leafs rushing this Russian.
Now if the Leafs are wanting to consider their tradition of bringing over KHLers like Soshnikov, Zaitsev, Ozhiganov, or Mikheyev, the Leafs have had rumoured interest in a number of KHLers this season…
Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Kerfoot suspended for 2 games

Well, pretty much as soon as the hit happened it seemed like this was inevitable, but now it’s official:

Toronto’s Alexander Kerfoot has been suspended for two games for Boarding Colorado’s Erik Johnson. https://t.co/Q1i23tNvVr
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) November 25, 2019
It’s not too hard to see why that’s a suspension, and any arguments against it being a suspension are just through looking at the countless similar hits that regularly slip through the cracks. Sometimes players get away with things they should, that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t a justifiable suspension on Kerfoot, it absolutely is.

Bad hit from Alexander Kerfoot. Looked concerned for Erik Johnson afterwards #Leafs x #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/MjXPeoPm6P
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 24, 2019
See? Not ideal, and two games keeps Kerfoot out of Wednesday (@DET) & Friday’s (@BUF) games, returning on Saturday night when the Leafs return home to play against Buffalo.
As for how the Leafs backfill Kerfoot, well, they already have the bodies on the team to do so, and it likely means that Timashov or Shore play in on the 4th line with either Petan or Engvall moving up in the lineup, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

We built the most average team in hockey

The summer boredom is soon coming to an end and with that, the opportunity to drop in non-newsy posts about hockey is coming to an end as well. That probably serves you the readers well, but we’re not quite there yet. Instead I give you an idea stolen from 538…

Who is baseball’s most average player? https://t.co/dfhCjtbm6Y
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) August 27, 2019
Interesting, right?
Well, it’s a bit easier to do that with baseball than it is to do with hockey, but screw it, I’m going to try anyways using 6 equally weighted measures for forwards, 6 equally weighted measures for defensemen, and ditto for the goaltenders. The end result, you guessed it, a completely average team.
The Forward Criteria
This isn’t an attempt a truly profound analytical model. This is just some fun to have in late August, so that being said the categories are time on ice, points, expected goals for %, corsi for %, penalty minutes, and hits. I can sense a lot of you cringing and others shrugging in acceptance.
Here’s where the title of the post becomes quite misleading. I’m not looking at averages, I’m looking at percentiles for each …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays acquire Derek Fisher for Sanchez, Biagini

Around the MLB, as soon as 4:00 pm ET hit, there was a flurry of trades that were finalized with mere seconds left until the deadline — in one of the many, the Blue Jays acquired outfielder Derek Fisher from the Houston Astros fo Aaron Sanchez, Joe Biagini, and Cal Stevenson.

Cal Stevenson, Biagini, Sanchez all going to Houston per source #BlueJays
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 31, 2019

Just Fisher coming back to #blueJays per source
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) July 31, 2019

Sanchez, arguably the biggest piece going to Houston, has had his fair share of big moments in Toronto, but since the memorable playoff games he has been stuck in a gutter that he just can’t get out of. With his free agency eligibility looming in 2021, the Jays decided to move on from the pitcher and try to get some value out of him instead of potentially non-tendering the pitcher this winter.
The 27-year-old starter leads the entire MLB in walks, so getting anything back for him should be considered somewhat a blessing. If anyone can fix him and return him to the ERA-title winning 2016 Sanchez, it’s the Astros — perhaps he’s more valuable to Houston than he would ever become in Toronto.


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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation