Raptors must make everyone available in Kevin Durant trade talks

Raptors must make everyone available in Kevin Durant trade talks

The Toronto Raptors can take solace in the fact that the Brooklyn Nets‘ grand experiment featuring a collection of superstars has imploded before it really ever began. After the drama surrounding Kyrie Irving, it appears as though Kevin Durant is calling time on his time in New York. Durant asked Nets owner Joe Tsai for […]
Raptors must make everyone available in Kevin Durant trade talks – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Report: Maple Leafs willing to trade the rights to Ilya Mikheyev

While there was little speculation that Ilya Mikheyev might return to the Maple Leafs, it looks like the ship has officially sailed.
Reports surfaced late last summer that Mikheyev asked for a trade, but Toronto decided to keep him because they saw more in him. And while they did get more out of the 27-year-old, there was still the looming possibility he would leave.
It was a great season for Mikheyev, too, finishing the year with 32 points (21 goals and 11 assists) over a 53-game span. He played a key role on Toronto’s third line throughout, even getting some opportunity on the second line too.
Bringing back Mikheyev and Engvall vs. finding the next Mikheyev and Engvall
With yet another cap crunch, though, the Maple Leafs are left with having to let Mikheyev go elsewhere. But, they could send him off into the sunset via a trade for his signing rights.

Hearing TOR has notified teams the rights to Ilya Mikheyev are available if a team wishes to “jumpstart the process.”
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 30, 2022

The Maple Leafs did something similar with Zach Hyman last summer. It was evident that the two sides weren’t going to be able to strike a deal, so Toronto wanted to trade his rights. At that time, Edmonton was the clear frontrunner for him but they didn’t think it was worth it to trade for an extra year of Hyman.
So, Toronto got nothing for him and he walked right into free agency. The same could happen to the 27-year-old.
It’s not known what the Maple Leafs’ ask is for Mikheyev’s signing rights. I do believe, though, that it won’t be much of a haul if they do find a suitor. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the coming days.
More From TheLeafsNation.com:
Rumours: …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Two-run ninth inning gives Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 comeback win

Well, that was eventful, now wasn’t it?

In terms of important series’ in the season, this one for the Toronto Blue Jays against the Boston Red Sox is about as important as they come.
And on Tuesday night, it took a full nine innings and every dang hit for the Toronto Blue Jays to come from behind after blowing a 4-1 lead to win. The comeback was in thanks to Jordan Romano shutting the door in the top of the ninth, Alejandro Kirk doing the thing, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walking it off.

H I M #WALKOFF pic.twitter.com/ST4MZzPble
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 29, 2022

While the win was ever-so-sweet, it also highlighted the ongoing issues the Jays have had with their bullpen this season. Trent Thornton and Tim Mayza, who combined for 1.1 IP, allowed three earned runs after the Jays took a 4-1 lead.
The Jays got a good start out of Ross Stripling who went 5.0 innings allowing two earn runs while fanning three batters but uh… things didn’t go too great from there. Toronto put Adam Cimber into the game who went one inning allowing just one hit, which was a good sign.
Charlie Montoyo went with Trent Thornton to open the eighth and uh, it didn’t go great. He walked Franchy Cordero, then forced Christian Arroyo into a ground out taking the former off the field. The lineup flipped back to the top and Red Sox lead-off man Rob Refsnyder juiced a 425-footer over the wall.
After 0.2 IP, Tim Mayza came into the game allowing a single to Rafael Devers, before striking out J.D. Martinez. But in the top of the eighth, he allowed an RBI single against Christian Vazquez extending Boston’s lead to 5-4. Matt Gage came in and closed out the inning setting up a tense ninth.
Jordan Romano did his thing in the top of the inning, and in th …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

Two-run ninth inning gives Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 comeback win

Well, that was eventful, now wasn’t it?

In terms of important series’ in the season, this one for the Toronto Blue Jays against the Boston Red Sox is about as important as they come.
And on Tuesday night, it took a full nine innings and every dang hit for the Toronto Blue Jays to come from behind after blowing a 4-1 lead to win. The comeback was in thanks to Jordan Romano shutting the door in the top of the ninth, Alejandro Kirk doing the thing, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walking it off.

H I M #WALKOFF pic.twitter.com/ST4MZzPble
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 29, 2022

While the win was ever-so-sweet, it also highlighted the ongoing issues the Jays have had with their bullpen this season. Trent Thornton and Tim Mayza, who combined for 1.1 IP, allowed three earned runs after the Jays took a 4-1 lead.
The Jays got a good start out of Ross Stripling who went 5.0 innings allowing two earn runs while fanning three batters but uh… things didn’t go too great from there. Toronto put Adam Cimber into the game who went one inning allowing just one hit, which was a good sign.
Charlie Montoyo went with Trent Thornton to open the eighth and uh, it didn’t go great. He walked Franchy Cordero, then forced Christian Arroyo into a ground out taking the former off the field. The lineup flipped back to the top and Red Sox lead-off man Rob Refsnyder juiced a 425-footer over the wall.
After 0.2 IP, Tim Mayza came into the game allowing a single to Rafael Devers, before striking out J.D. Martinez. But in the top of the eighth, he allowed an RBI single against Christian Vazquez extending Boston’s lead to 5-4. Matt Gage came in and closed out the inning setting up a tense ninth.
Jordan Romano did his thing in the top of the inning, and in th …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs need to put Tavares in a position for success

While there is virtually no chance that John Tavares will be on the move this offseason he is going to be a significant part of what the Leafs address this summer. Over the course of last season, the Leafs seemed to move away from the idea of Nylander and Tavares as linemates. Additionally, another frequent Tavares linemate, Ilya Mikheyev, looks to be on his way out, and with Alex Kerfoot being more valuable as trade bait than occupying a spot on the roster, John Tavares could be looking at centering (or playing wing) on an entirely new line come September.
Kyle Dubas addressed a lot of this in his end of season press conference:
As players age, we have the resources here to be able to help them as much as possible in every regard on and off the ice. We need to continue to do that.
In regards to roster construction, players are going to change as they age inevitably. As a management team, we need to support them with pieces that are going to best allow them to maintain their primes as long as possible.
Whether it is John or anybody else on our team that you view as over… Whatever people view the prime as — some say it is 24, some say it is 27, and some would say it is 30.  Whatever it is, we want people who can come in and maintain that level as long as possible. That fal …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

One day is today and Nazem Kadri is finally a Stanley Cup Champion

“For everyone that thought I was a liability in the playoffs, you can kiss my ass.” —Nazem Kadri, Stanley Cup Champion.
This quote will be remembered for a long time after Sunday night’s celebrations in Tampa Bay, and for good reason. But Kadri’s story begins much earlier than his NHL career.
Born in London, Ontario, he was the second-born of five in his family. His grandparents originated from Lebanon but moved to Ontario when Kadri’s father, Sam, was five. When Sam was young, he wanted to play hockey, but his family couldn’t afford it at the time.
So, he did the next best thing — when his son Nazem was born, he wanted him to have the opportunity to play. And he did.
At two, Kadri began skating, and at 16 he was drafted by the Kitchener Rangers at 16th overall in the OHL Draft. He would go on to have an incredible junior career, even winning a medal at the World Junior Championship.
On June 26th, 2009, his life changed forever, getting drafted seventh overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“We did it, we did it,” Kadri said as he hugged his father after hearing his name announced by then Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke.
He spent nine seasons in Toronto — becoming one of the city’s most beloved players — he was homegrown, he was everything you could ever want from a player …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leaflets: Hooray for Kadri, what’s going on in Winnipeg and the market for Muzzin

We’re officially in the NHL offseason and it feels good to say that. It’s been a long season. It’s July 1st on Friday, we need some time off from games and we need to get our rosterbation on. First, I feel like we need to start with celebrating one of my favourite former Leafs, Nazem Kadri.

“For everyone that thought I was a liability in the playoffs you can kiss my ass.”
Nazem Kadri says it all after hoisting the #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/8FAIFhT9Bq
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) June 27, 2022

Kadri was the scapegoat for first round playoff losses back when the Leafs scapegoated instead of just saying they believe in everyone. He has always been a favourite target of the Department of Player Safety, and for whatever reason, the Leafs decided they didn’t need a star player on a $4.25M contract, away he went. (Reminder: you can still like Kyle Dubas and acknowledge this was a bad trade.)
Fast forward to last night and a player who was a fan favourite for many of us got his moment, got his celebration, and also got his chance to throw all the playoff liability talk back in the faces of so many people who doubted him. He deserved that moment and I’m glad he got it. Hopefully, now that he came back to finish out the Cup Finals with a broken thumb Kadri won’t have to suffer through people questioning his work ethic or whether he cares about his team.
Now that Kadri has his win and he’s off to free agency, is it too much to hope the Leafs bring him back? Well, the quote above probably makes that a hard thing to do, but I want to remain optimistic. I won’t look at the salary cap situation that will 100% remind me of how difficult that would be to happen, but so much of what has been missing from the Leafs in the past few seasons is exactly what Kadri brings and there’s a reason why h …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The recent history of 25th overall draft picks

Let’s start with the fact that whether you pick 25th overall or 20th overall, or 30th overall the story is going to be somewhat the same and teams that scout well, draft well, and those who don’t will select Stuart Percy. The 25th overall pick is just the card the Leafs have been dealt and in the grand tradition of finding filler content in June before teams actually start doing things, let’s take a walk down memory lane to see who has been drafted 25th overall in the previous drafts of this century.
Year
Player
POS
Drafting Team
Drafted from
GP
G
A
P
2021
Corson Ceulemans
D
Columbus
Brooks Bandits [AJHL]

2020
Justin Barron
D
Colorado
Halifax Mooseheads [QMJHL]
7
1
1
2
2019
Connor McMichael
C
Washington
London Knights [OHL]
69
9
9
18
2018
Dominik Bokk
L
St. Louis
Vaxjo HC [SweHL]

2017
Ryan Poehling
C
Montreal
St. Cloud State [NCHC]
85
13
9
22
2016
Riley Tufte
L
Dallas
Fargo Force [USHL]
10
1
0
1
2015
Jack Roslovic
C
Winnipeg
U.S. National Development Team [USHL]
309
60
86
146
2014
David Pastrnak
R
Boston
Sodertalje SK [Swe-1]
510
240
264
504
2013
Michael McCarron
R
Montreal
U.S. National Development Team [USHL]
126
9
13
22
2012
Jordan Schmaltz
D
St. Louis
Green Bay Gamblers [USHL]
42
0
5
5
2011
Stuart Percy
D
Toronto
Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors [OHL]
12
0
3
3
2010
Quinton Howden
C
Florida
Moose Jaw Warriors [WHL]
97
10
7
17
2009
Jordan Caron
R
Boston
Rimouski Oceanic [QMJHL]
157
12
16
28
2008
Greg Nemisz
C
Calgary
Windsor Spitfires [OHL]
15
0
1
1
2007
Patrick White
C
Vancouver
Tri-City Storm [USHL]

2006
Patrik Berglund
C
St. Louis
Vasteras IK [Swe-1]
717
170
156
326
2005
Andrew Cogliano
C
Edmonton
St. Michael’s Buzzers [OPJHL]
1140
174
252
42
2004
Rob Schremp
C
Edmonton
London Knights [OHL]
114
20
34
54
2003
Anthony Stewart
R
Florida
Kingston Frontenacs [OHL]
262
27
44
71
2002
Cam Ward
G
Carolina
Red Deer Rebels [WHL]
701
1
12
13
2001
Alexander Perezhogin
R
Montreal
Omsk Avangard [Russia]
128
15
19
3
2000
Steve Ott
C
Dallas
Windsor Spitfires [OHL]
848
109
179
288
Sigh. Stuart Percy. Do yourself a favour and don’t look at the list of players selected after Biggs and Percy and in the first and second rounds. It seemed like the Leafs went out of their way to mess up this draft.
So as much as there are some interesting names to talk about on there, let’s start with the most recent five year history of the pick. The fact that 2 of the last 3 years have already yielded players that have made their NHL teams is a very good sign, and the idea of finding someone like Connor McMichael at 25th overall is exciting.
The past five years are generally positive, but admittedly I’m shocked by Dominik Bokk being a player that bottomed out. Interestingly enough the Leafs owned the 25th overall pick that year and one of the players many Leafs fans (including myself to some degree) wanted to see picked was Bokk. I think Dubas earned some credibility by not taking the 6’2 winger in this case and both Sandin and Der-Arguchintsev (the player selected with the 3rd round pick acquired in the trade) have more promising pro careers than Bokk.
Looking at the ten most recent years of the draft the pick has a few iffier picks with Tufte and Schmaltz not really hitting the mark, and McCarron maxing out as serviceable depth. It did also provide the biggest home run on this list with the selection of David Pastrnak and a worthwhile middle six forward in Jack Roslovic. Finding the next Pastrnak is the dream, but given the recent success of the Leafs scouting department, it seems that expecting a Roslovic-type option is reasonable.
Excluding the five most recent years, where it seems unreasonable to expect a player to hit the 200 game mark, 7 of the 16 players selected have reached the 200 game mark. Another 4 hit the 100 game mark, and only one, Patrick White, never played a game in the NHL.  Finding players like Steve Ott, Patrik Berglund, Andrew Cogliano, and Cam Ward along with Roslovic and Pastrnak should generate some excitement, especially in what is being regarded as a deep draft.
Perhaps the point that we should takeaway from this and one that didn’t require trivial references to past 25th overall picks is that if the Leafs use their pick at 25th overall it’s very likely the player selected could immediately be debated as the top organizational prospect. The pick is that worthwhile. It’s also worth noting that Kyle Dubas isn’t overly attached to picking when he’s supposed to, so maybe my time would have been be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Prospect Profile: Samad Taylor

If there’s one player in the Jays organization that I think could immediately help the Blue Jays this season, it’d be Samad Taylor.

The 23-year-old position player is quite an intriguing prospect. He blends speed, power, hitting with versatility to boot. The Jays could definitely use him on their team.
The basics:
This season, Taylor is slashing .262/.344/.421 with five homers in 248 plate appearances for a wRC+ over 100. He’s followed up an impressive 2021 (which I wrote about here) with another impressive season against more advanced pitchers. He also leads the Bisons with 43 RBIs.

@SamadTaylor7 AGAIN. The @BuffaloBisons have the lead!!!!!!!#BlueJays #NextLevel #CallHimUp pic.twitter.com/GrNTkSoOfS
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) June 22, 2022

Taylor hit 16 homers in 374 plate appearances last season, but his seven homers rank tops for the Bisons. It’s also notable that the jump between Double A and Triple A is one of the toughest jumps in the minors. He’s also hit for a solid average, as that’s sitting at .262 (down from .294).
Most impressively however, is what he does once he reaches base. This season, he has attempted 27 steals and has been successful 23 times. In fact, that number leads the International League and would be second in all of Triple A once you include the Pacific Coast League.
How has Taylor improved:
Although his home run totals and average have dropped, there are signs that the 23-year-old speedster has certainly improved. Here’s a quote from Fangraphs’ preseason bio regarding Taylor:
“[Taylor] isn’t strong enough at present to replicate his 2021 [home run] numbers. In that context, his swing decisions loom as a big concern. He’s both passive and prone to swinging and missing.”
That begs the question, why was Fangraphs so harsh on Taylor?
Last season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, he posted a .294/.385/.503 slash line with 16 homers for a wRC+ of 141. Pretty great, right? However, Fangraphs was hinting at Taylor’s rather high K% of 29.4%. Even in 2019, it was still at a rather high 27.9%.

Just a daily reminder that the #BlueJays need to: CALL. TAYLOR. UP.
8-6 @BuffaloBisons #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/nYsW9HSyjb
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) April 30, 2022

While his offensive stats have taken a little bit of a dip, his K% has dropped to 20.97%. This is a huge drop against much tougher opponents, some of which have MLB experience.

Wrote an article about @SamadT …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

At least in theory the next contracts for Sandin and Liljegren will be decent

It doesn’t seem like we are that far removed from Travis Dermott’s post entry level contract and his somewhat inflated 2-year, $1.5M AAV contract. That was a pretty solid bridge deal and one that certainly worked for the Leafs as Dermott failed to take that next step and left them with a moveable dollar amount and a figure that wasn’t hurting the team when he was there. The Dermott deal is just one of the many comparisons that should have us pumping our brakes on anything being out of hand for Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren now that they are up for renewal, but nothing is ever easy with the Leafs, and there is still plenty to consider here.
While we’re being generally positive about these contracts, let’s look at Evolving Hockey’s projected contracts for Sandin and Liljegren:
Sandin projects as receiving a 2-year deal at $1.6M AAV and Liljegren would receive 2 years at $1.25M AAV. Both are a lot better than I’d expect to see and remarkably team friendly. Now that’s just the start of it, and it’s probably worth exploring the entire range of their contracts here.
Sandin’s range goes from $1.016M (on a 1yr deal) to $3.69M (on an 8yr deal) with an average contract of 2.9 years and AAV of $2.025M. That certainly reflects the dramatic shift between going long-term with an RFA vs. a bridge deal.
Liljegren very much mirrors Sandin’s range, but on a micro-level. His range is $1.094 (1-year deal) to $3.142 (8 years) with an average of $1.847M AAV and 2.8 years. The average AAVs for both Liljegren and Sandin seem to be much more likely than the mode selections.
The thing with the Evolving Hockey …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation