The Blue Jays are expected to sign one of the top international free agents from next year’s class

Despite the fact that the 2022 international free agent period is still open, it’s never too early to speak about potential 2023 International Free Agents that the Jays are connected to.

While the team’s big-league outfield is solidified with Geroge Springer, Teoscar Hernandez and a mix of Loudres Gurriel Jr and Randal Grichuk, there aren’t a ton of high ceiling prospects in the pipeline. Looking at MLB’s Pipeline, the first natural outfielder in the Jays’ top 30 is Dasan Brown, who is ranked 19th.
However, on the morning of January 27th, it was announced by Joe Doyle of Prospects Live that the Toronto Blue Jays are in a handshake deal with corner outfielder Emmanuel Bonilla. The 15-year-old from the Dominican Republic is already a whooping 6’3, 205 pounds. He’ll be turning 16 in February, meaning that by February 2023, the young outfielder will be able to officially sign with the Jays. He is estimated to sign with a bonus of 4 million, slightly more than what Vladimir Guerrero Jr signed for in 2015 (3.9 million).

There is quite clearly a “Big 4” in the 2022-2023 international free agent class. The Mariners, Padres, Yankees and Blue Jays are positioned to land one each.
Hear what international scouting directors have to say about the impressive next wave. https://t.co/NcgsetEy81
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) January 27, 2022

Bonilla is your prototype corner outfielder wit …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Things might feel different about the Maple Leafs this year, but it felt that way last year too

Every now and then you see an article with a headline that requires a spit take, and that was essentially what happened Monday morning when I read “This year feels different for the Toronto Maple Leafs” by Travis Yost. After reading the article, there is undoubtedly solid points made about how the Leafs have continued to improve, and how Sheldon Keefe is getting the best out of his players, but there is very much a Groundhog Day feel to instilling confidence in the Leafs midway through the regular season. Nothing Travis is saying is wrong, and seemingly through the law of averages, eventually it has to be Toronto’s year, right? And why not this year?
I’m certainly not here to shit on anyone’s optimism about the Leafs either. This is a very good hockey team and the season so far has provided a ton of evidence supporting the Leafs being a team that could make Toronto happy.
Unfortunately, we’ve been through this before.
A couple of summers ago the Leafs found themselves in the fortunate position of playing the Columbus Blue Jackets to kick start the return to play. On paper this was a matchup that Leafs fans were rightfully thrilled about. Toronto was getting the opportunity to play in their home rink instead the NHL’s Eastern Conference bubble, and after going through Columbus the path was far less conv …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs were once in on Ben Chiarot, but shouldn’t be this time around

The trade deadline is 54 days away and as far away as that seems, it’ll be here before you know it.
With that being said, we have to discuss one player who the Maple Leafs could be looking to trade for.
And that’s Ben Chiarot.
In the latest 32 Thoughts with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek, the two talked about a few players who could be moving teams ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline.
One name was Chiarot and where he might end up in the future.
“I do think Chiarot is probably the first because he’s the UFA, and I already think there’s teams jockeying here. I do think there are some teams here who are saying we would like to do this, and we would like to start this as soon as possible. I think St. Louis has been around there, I think Florida’s been around there. I think that’s a player that Calgary has interest in. And just the other team I do wonder about is Toronto.
“Again, I think that the Maple Leafs will be patient and not overreact to some of the things that have been happening lately. But the reason I mention Toronto specifically is that I believe that when [Ben] Chiarot was an unrestricted free agent, and he signed with Montreal, Toronto was in there. And they just couldn’t make it work. But they liked him, he was in …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs rolling seven game record throughout the season has been encouraging

It’s an absolute stretch to say that how a team performs over a seven game stretch is going to equate to playoff success. At no point are teams facing the same team for extended period, teams aren’t putting in the video research that they do for a playoff series, and it’s rare that teams are making roster decisions based on their opponent. Still, if you are looking for some encouraging numbers, here’s the Leafs rolling seven game record throughout the season so far…

If it wasn’t clear, the seven game sample is chosen because of best of seven series, and the hope is that over any seven game stretch your team is able to take at minimum 4 out of 7 games. The Leafs have been doing that aside from their miserable start. The fact that the Leafs overachieved for much of the season and are now just starting to near that warning sign area of losing more than they’ve won.
In contrast, here are both their 10 game rolling goal differentials and shot differentials.

Both also support the Leafs dominance throughout most of the season, with a recent decline, but the goal differential shows the Leafs tendency to trip over themselves a bit more and face the unfortunate wrath of the hockey gods.
Of course when it comes to playoff success it will also matter a little about who they face, and again, the Leafs generally have reasons for optimism about their opponents, although not much can really be taken away from opponents faced once, or really any of this really.
Opponent
Games Played
Win/Loss Dif
Anaheim Ducks
1
1
Arizona Coyotes
1
-1
Boston Bruins
1
1
Buffalo Sabres
1
1
Calgary Flames
1
1
Carolina Hurricanes
1
-1
Chicago Blackhawks
2
2
Colorado Avalanche
2
0
Columbus Blue Jackets
1
1
Detroit Red Wings
1
1
Edmonton Oilers
2
2
Los Angeles Kings
2
0
Minnesota Wild
1
-1
Montreal Canadiens
1
1
Nashville Predators
1
1
New York Islanders
1
1
New York Rangers
3
-1
Ottawa Senators
3
1
Philadelphia Flyers
1
1
Pittsburgh Penguins
2
-2
San Jose Sharks
2
0
St. Louis Blues
1
1
Tampa Bay Lightning
2
0
Vegas Golden Knights
2
2
Winnipeg Jets
1
-1
Still, the Leafs having their struggles against the Rangers and Hurricanes are notable, as is their split with Tampa Bay. The complete lack of Florida games will make for an interesting second half of the season where we’ll get a lot better understanding there.
Of course, it’s important to note the Leafs did pretty darn well against the Canadiens last year, and that didn’t go well. Toronto was 7-2-1 against the Habs, and that didn’t carry much weight once Leafs injuries hit, and the Habs could tailor their game to the Leafs.
The previous year the Leafs were 1-0-1 against the Blue Jackets, which probably tells you about as much as you’d expect it would.
The year before Toronto had a 1-3-0 record against the Bruins, and well…yeah, that did play out as expected, though you could make a case that Toronto stayed in it before than the regular season would have shown they …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Friedman: Maple Leafs looking to shed salary before the trade deadline

It’s probably a statement that many are greeting with a “duh” response, but there are a couple of ways to take the following statement from Elliotte Friedman’s 32 Thoughts article:
11. Toronto isn’t against clearing space to prepare for a deadline add.
The first way of taking it is that Elliotte was sitting on 31 Thoughts, and needed to add another and thought that the Leafs are good for business, so he added a low risk statement that would wet some appetites for Leafs content. If that’s the case, kudos, the bait has been taken because here I am doing a deep dive on something that is an absolute requirement for the Leafs if they are looking to add a significant piece at the trade deadline.
The second way to take it is much more earnestly, and that is that Elliotte is reporting on the Leafs more actively engaging in conversations around the league to clear out some salary, but likely in the early stages of it where they are trying to get close to reasonable value for who they are putting out there, instead of having decent players being treated as salary cap grenades.
Of course that leads to the question of who are the salaries that the Leafs could be looking to move in order to free up space for a decadent deadline. It’s probably better to start with who is immune to this process, and that’s going to be the usual crew of Matthew …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Know Your Enemy: Shesterkin and a few elite skaters the only real concern for the Maple Leafs tonight

Every season, there’s always a team that plays well above what they’re capable of. The most famous examples are the 2014-15 Calgary Flames, 2013-14 Colorado Avalanche, and of course, the 2012-13 Toronto Maple Leafs, and this year, that team is the New York Rangers. While they have some solid pieces in Adam Fox, Igor Shesterkin, Artemi Panarin, and Mika Zibanejad, they’re attempts to go a tougher route this season means that the team pretty much struggles when they aren’t on the ice. Shesterkin has masked a lot of that for them in net, bailing them out on many occasions to give them wins, but when he isn’t on his game, this team is usually in tough to get wins.
Note: This is based on projected lines and starters at the time of publishing. Coaches really love to surprise us right before game time, so there’s a solid chance that some of the matchups aren’t accurate for the actual game because of that.
Tale of the Tape (via Mark Norman)

Lineups
Toronto Maple Leafs

LW
C
RW
MICHAEL BUNTING
AUSTON MATTHEWS
MITCH MARNER
ALEXANDER KERFOOT
JOHN TAVARES
WILLIAM NYLANDER
ILYA MIKHEYEV
DAVID KAMPF
PIERRE ENGVALL
KYLE CLIFFORD
JASON SPEZZA
WAYNE SIMMONDS

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
MORGAN RIELLY
T.J. BRODIE
RASMUS SANDIN
TIMOTHY LILJEGREN
TRAVIS DERMOTT
ALEX BIEGA

New York Rangers

LW
C
RW
CHRIS KREIDER
MIKA ZIBANEJAD
KAAPO KAKKO
ARTEMI PANARIN
RYAN STROME
FILIP CHYTIL
DRYDEN HUNT
BARCLAY GOODROW
JULIEN GAUTHIER
GREG MCKEGG
KEVIN ROONEY
RYAN REAVES

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
RYAN LINDGREN
ADAM FOX
K’ANDRE MILLER
JACOB TROUBA
PATRIK NEMETH
BRADEN SCHNEIDER

Forwards
The first line of Chris Kreider, Kaapo Kakko, and Zibanejad is one of the few line combinations that actually work well together for the Rangers this year, generating a 52.61% CF% and a 56.08% xGF% in almost 250 minutes together this season. Kreider is having a resurgence this season on that line, living up to what was thought to be a very pricey contract up to this point, finding himself fourth in the NHL in goals, and aside from a lack of discipline, doing very well in most facets of the game. Zibanejad has established himself as a strong first line center from a points perspective for a few years now, but he struggles to drive play on a consistent basis at both ends of the ice. Kakko is in a similar boat, except he also doesn’t put up points, and just struggles to live up to his draft pedigree at any part of the game up to this point in his career. Kreider clearly carries the line from a possession standpoint, but between him and Zibanejad, it has the potential to burn you every now and then, so it’s still one to keep an eye on.
Filip Chytil isn’t the normal candidate on the second line next to Ryan Strome and Panarin, but with the current injuries, that seems to be the case, although it’s not a pretty one, as the combo finds themselves on the wrong end of the ice more often than not with a 44.74% CF% and a 27.95% xGF%. It speaks to Panarin’s skill then that the line has a 68.87% GF%. While his defense leaves much to be desired, he’s one of the best playmakers in the game, and his ability to create offense out of nothing more than makes up for his defensive game. Strome has found a home next to Panarin these past few seasons, and rediscovered his game after a disappointing stint with the Oilers, at least offensively. And going with Chytil on this line shows their going all in on offense, who while he doesn’t put up points on the scoreboard, he can somewhat drive offense, so he won’t hold back Panarin and Strome in that regard. Still, none of them can defend, so if you can put a strong offensive line that can defend up against them, you can take advantage of them.
The third line of Barclay Goodrow, Dryden Hunt, and Julien Gauthier is one that hasn’t got much time together, so their results are a little bit all over the place with a 33.57% CF%, but a 55% xGF%, so not much to go off of their. Goodrow was one of the Rangers big additions this offseason, as they wanted a piece of the infamous third line from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Cup runs. The problem is, they picked the wrong piece, as Goodrow was definitely the beneficiary of that line’s results. He’s okay defensively, but he can’t carry a shutdown line like the Rangers think he can. Hunt actually can, so he saves the line a little bit, but he lacks a bit in other aspects of his game, so overall he still isn’t quite as effective as the Rangers probably want in a third line shutdown role. Meanwhile Gauthier is here pretty much because of draft pedigree, as the former first round pick really hasn’t established much of an NHL game aside from hints of driving offense, and playmaking, but he really struggles elsewhere, making it for an investment that overall isn’t worth it. This all amounts to what the Rangers will probably want to use as their shutdown line, although the Leafs probably shouldn’t worry too much about actually getting shutdown by them.
While I think you could match up the Matthews and Kämpf lines against either of the top six for the Rangers, it might be an advantage to go Matthews vs. Panarin as I alluded to earlier. They’re good offensively, but really weak defensively, so it’s an opport …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Raptors star Scottie Barnes’ take on ROY is refreshing to hear

Raptors star Scottie Barnes’ take on ROY is refreshing to hear

The Toronto Raptors went from a team that few expected to make a ton of noise this season to a firm playoff contender that currently holds the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. The play of Scottie Barnes directly correlates to Toronto’s sudden rise back to relevancy. Despite being in a bit of a […]
Raptors star Scottie Barnes’ take on ROY is refreshing to hear – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Toronto Six re-sign forward Natalie Marcuzzi for the remainder of Season 7

Today, the PHF’s Toronto Six announced that one of their forwards from Season 6, the NWHL bubble season, Natalie Marcuzzi:

Guess who’s back, back again
The Toronto Six are proud to announce the signing of forward Natalie Marcuzzi for the remainder of Season 7!
https://t.co/RYxbVGCPb7 pic.twitter.com/Bs0gQ6AbZF
— Toronto Six (@TheTorontoSix) January 12, 2022

With 9 games remaining in the schedule, plus the 2 games (so far) that were postponed that may or may not get rescheduled, Marcuzzi joins an already deep and exciting forward group for Toronto.
Here’s what Natalie had to say about her re-upping, from Toronto’s announcement of the signing:
“I’m certainly super excited. I think Toronto and the Six both have a close spot in my heart, and we’re definitely a team that I think can compete, and is ready to win a championship. I’m excited to join the group. Obviously a great group of women, slightly different, but definitely a good core from last year, and also a phenomenal group of coaches all the way up to the ownership. I’m so happy to be back with the organization, playing and joining their mission to win that Isobel Cup.”
As the Six sit atop the PHF standings, adding Marcuzzi only strengthens their push for an Isobel Cup that felt within reach in their inaugural season last year, but ultimately fell out of their grasp.
“The most exciting thing about being back here [with the Six at Canlan Sports – York] is literally having the privilege of being back on the ice every week,” she said. “I think that really does mean a lot, just to be able to play everyday. I think the second most exciting thing that’s perhaps a result of being on the ice everyday is winning the Isobel Cup, so I’m really excited to have that opportunity and hopefully to succeed.”
Primarily playing in a 3rd line role last season, along with Breanne Wilson-Bennett and Mackenzie MacNeil, both who did not return for Season 7, Marcuzzi was able to get 2 points across the regular season and playoffs in 7 games played. Marcuzzi was one of the players who, as Season 6 went on into the playoffs, was unable to continue competing for reasons that are not known publicly. We also don’t know why Marcuzzi was only signed now, part-way through the season.
It’s possible that, with a full-time job RBC, her non-hockey career had to take precedence over hockey. That’s one of the unique wrinkles about the PHF, almost all of these women playing professional hockey …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Know Your Enemy: The Maple Leafs and Golden Knights match up well despite injuries

Despite the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs just about got the result you could expect from a game against the Colorado Avalanche while dealing with injuries, the way they got to that result was a disappointing one. They’ll be looking to rebound against the other big contender in the Western Conference in the Vegas Golden Knights, who are also dealing with injuries from important players, with Max Pacioretty and Jack Eichel still on the shelf for a while (although Eichel looks closer to returning). Despite that, they’ve seen a rise in the standings from a slow start to the season, although they’re on a bit of a cold streak losing three of their last four. It’ll make for an interesting matchup regardless of both teams, and is a potential Stanley Cup Final preview with how strong both teams can be.
Note: This is based on projected lines and starters at the time of publishing. Coaches really love to surprise us right before game time, so there’s a solid chance that some of the matchups aren’t accurate for the actual game because of that.
Tale of the Tape (via Mark Norman)

Lineups
Toronto Maple Leafs

LW
C
RW
MICHAEL BUNTING
AUSTON MATTHEWS
ONDREJ KASE
ALEXANDER KERFOOT
JOHN TAVARES
WILLIAM NYLANDER
ILYA MIKHEYEV
DAVID KAMPF
WAYNE SIMMONDS
KYLE CLIFFORD
JASON SPEZZA
NICK RITCHIE

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
MORGAN RIELLY
T.J. BRODIE
JAKE MUZZIN
JUSTIN HOLL
RASMUS SANDIN
TRAVIS DERMOTT

Vegas Golden Knights

LW
C
RW
JONATHAN MARCHESSAULT
WILL …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Ondrej Kaše probable for re-joining the Maple Leafs tonight, Campbell starts tonight and Mrazek tomorrow

The Leafs are back at it tonight in Las Vegas. A locale that the red hot Auston Matthews has thrived in…

After a long series of NHL/World Junior postponements, @rayferrarotsn and I are back with Toronto/VGK tonight on TSN4 for viewers in the Maple Leafs region. Toronto won the 1st meeting 4-0 at home Nov 2, Auston Matthews @AM34 scored twice, has 7 goals in 6 GP vs Vegas.
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) January 11, 2022

With seven goals in six games in Vegas, and with Matthews just four goals off the Rocket Richard lead it would be great to see him take a run at Draisaitl’s spot while the Oilers play just once in the next couple of weeks.

Keefe says Kase felt good through the night that he didn’t feel he had to skate this morning. One of those injuries that can flare up at any moment so he is still a game-time decision. Team will have an extra forward at warmup in case.
— David Alter (@dalter) January 11, 2022

The return of Kase is a good sign for the Leafs as he was taking line rushes with Auston Matthews’ line in yesterday’s practice. If he’s unable to go, I’d assume we’ll see the lines revert to what worked for the early part of the game against Colorado on Saturday. Tomorrow is a different situation as Marner and Engvall could potentially leave COVID Protocol, and it’s likely we see something more typical for the Leafs with Marner on the top line and Kase reunited with Kampf.
(Full Leafs lines can be found below.)

Holl on being one of the few #Leafs who has not had COVID: “It’s one of those deals where you’re pretty much powerless. If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it … I really don’t think about it day to day, but long term, I would hate to get it at a bad time.”
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) January 11, 2022

As Engvall and Marner prepare to leave the COVID protocol it’s important to note who still hasn’t been in it. Auston Matthews just dodged it, and there’s also Justin Holl. Consid …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation