Auston Matthews might not set a career high in goals, but nothing about his pace should worry Leafs fans

Yesterday there was a strong reaction to Frank Seravalli and Jason Gregor’s take on Auston Matthews goal output for 2022-23 and how they found the lack of concern from Leafs fans a little strange.

I dunno b’ys, probably because he’s still on pace for 95 points and is the best two-way center in hockey pic.twitter.com/InU6ocbwS0
— Ryan (@ryanfancey) January 5, 2023

Ryan did a solid breakdown of why Leafs fans shouldn’t be bothered by that here, and the argument boils down to a few facts, the first and most obvious one being that the Leafs are winning games at a solid clip without requiring Matthews to score at a historic rate. There is also the fact that Matthews is still on pace for a 95-point season, he has been playing a more physical/playoff-style game to add to his ever-improving defensive game, and the Leafs are making up the difference on the strength of William Nylander on track for a career year. So yeah, the Leafs shouldn’t be too concerned and I don’t think individual stats have ever been a driving concern in Toronto like they’ve been in other markets like say Edmonton. We are living that “just win a round” life. It becomes a concern if production completely dries up, which hasn’t happened with Auston. So no worries.
That being said, the topic has been raised so let’s look at Auston’s production.

Matthews is definitely down from the rate that only three players in the past 22 years have hit, and that’s the 60-goal mark. You can blame a slow start with the first ten games not being overly electric for Auston, but he has certainly picked …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors news: Chris Boucher update, Gary Trent Jr. makes history

Raptors news: Chris Boucher update, Gary Trent Jr. makes history

There was almost nothing positive to take away from the Toronto Raptors’ dismantling at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans, as Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes combining for six points show just how bad things got. Gary Trent Jr. was the one player who really stood out. Trent put up 35 points, the most […]
Raptors news: Chris Boucher update, Gary Trent Jr. makes history – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Hot starts for Horvat and Robertson, Blues lose eight straight: NHL Notebook

Hot starts for Horvat and Robertson, Blues lose eight straight: NHL Notebook

We are just over a month into the NHL season and there are a couple players that have been exceeding expectations and a team that’s playing its way into the Bedard sweepstakes.
Bo Horvat and Jason Robertson have been single handily winning games for the Canucks and Stars. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues are in the midst of their longest regulation losing streak in franchise history.
Bo Horvat
A few months ago Canucks fans were saying this guy isn’t even worth 6M per year. Well, now he’s second in the NHL in goals. With four multi-goal games in his last five he’s now at 12 on the year in just 13 games.
It’s a contract year for the Canucks captain and he’s playing his way out of their price range. His 16 points in 13 games have him on pace to shatter his career high of 61 set back in 2018-19. They chose to lock up JT Miller for seven more years instead of their captain whose two years younger and it looks like they’re going to regret it.
Unless they buy out Oliver Ekman-Larsson or trade one of Tyler Myers or Conor Garland it’s looking like Horvat will be play …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

Useless Trade Speculation: Vol.1

Will there be other volumes? MAYBE!

So this has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks and I figured, if Hot Stove speculation is kicking off, throw another log in the fire. This concept comes with a lot of caveats (as all such speculation does) and I’ll start with those. First, I’m pretending Ohtani (and Judge) are off the table as too expensive. If they surprise us and blow through the tax threshold, great…wonderful…dance in the streets. But I’ve no reason to assume any such future so when I say something like “my favorite target” know that I’m setting those two aside.
Second, if I’m being honest I wouldn’t bat an eye if the only thing they did to the lineup was re-purpose Tapia’s money and roster spot to someone else (I wouldn’t be shocked at all if JBJ ends up back here to handle the defensive tasks). Say, for example, Joc Pederson. Likewise, I’d be copasetic if next year’s opening day bullpen was manned entirely by players already in the organization. I’m not unaware of the “get some swing and miss” narrative nor do I specifically object to shopping in that aisle (Joe Jiminez looks mighty appealing) albeit such a move would require making room by, say, trad …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Zach Aston-Reese points to the Leafs going with quality over quantity in their bottom six

There doesn’t seem to be much of a battle left for spots in the Leafs top six forward group come training camp time. Though the lines might not be a traditional top six and instead we might see the six most utilized forwards spread out across the top three lines, it seems pretty clear that Matthews, Tavares, Marner, Nylander, Bunting, and Kerfoot represent the top six group (unless Kerfoot ends up being a salary cap casualty.)
Now the Leafs’ bottom six is wide open. We can assume that the Leafs’ big summer acquisition of Calle Jarnkrok will have a spot there, as well staples of the bottom six Pierre Engvall and David Kampf (it also seems possible that one of Engvall or Jarnkrok could get some looks at center.) Nicholas Aube-Kubel seems like he was certainly brought in to play, while Adam Gaudette is a bit more of a “let’s see what he can do” guy, Wayne Simmonds seems to be back as the enforcer, and Joey Anderson, Nick Robertson, Nick Abruzzese, Alex Steeves, Kyle Clifford, and Pontus Holmberg are fighting for whatever positions they can. All that is before asking where Denis Malgin fits in (I can feel your rage from the mentio …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The long road to a Sandin contract seems necessary for both the player and the Leafs

There is one significant piece of business that seemingly needs to be taken care of before training camp and that’s the signing of Rasmus Sandin. Potentially there will be fallout requiring some salary to be moved as well, but expecting the Leafs to move salary prior to having a contract in place is unlikely. For all the trade Kerfoot and Holl takes we’ve produced over the summer, we are clearly at the point where they are staying put until Sandin is under contract. We’ll start with that.
If we look at when the Sandin saga truly began, it started back on June 27th with the signing of Timothy Liljegren to a 2 year deal at $1.4M AAV. A very fair deal considering how Liljegren performed, but one specifically inline with how he performed and with the bridge deal there was an assumption that the Leafs aren’t paying for potential, the true payday has that two years from now timestamp on it. Given that Sandin’s numbers are very much in the same ballpark as Liljegren’s it was assumed that the plan was similar for both players. Sandin doing what he did at a slightly younger age and having a perceived higher upside than Liljegren …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Similarities Between Kevin Gausman and Pedro Martinez, and thoughts on the Blue Jays’ Ace Righty

Since the turn of the century, there have only been four full seasons in which an American League starter has posted a FIP of less than 2.25…

Pedro Martinez, 2002 (2.24 FIP)
Pedro Martinez, 2003 (2.21 FIP)
Pedro Martinez, 2000 (2.17 FIP)
Kevin Gausman, 2022 (2.01 FIP)
The side note to this is that Shane Bieber technically did it too, with a 2.07 FIP in 2020. The reason that’s easily excludable though, is that Bieber only pitched 77.0 innings, and all of them were against statistically weaker Central division teams.
So, since 2000, the only American League pitchers that have been this good are Pedro Martinez and Kevin Gausman. But the similarities between the righties don’t stop there. Let’s take a closer look.

The extent to which Martinez and Gausman are similar does not start early.
Pedro spent his first two years as a Dodger, where he didn’t often make starts, but was a great impact pitcher out of the bullpen. He only pitched 115 innings in L.A. but had a sub-3.00 ERA and FIP. After the 1993 season, the Dodgers made what has to be considered one of the worst trades in franchise history. Manager Tommy Lasorda, in need of a second baseman and not believing Pedro to be a starting pitcher, dealt the young right-hander to Montreal for the original Delino DeShields. DeShields was a very good Expo, he had recorded 11.6 fWAR and a 111 wRC+ in the four seasons prior to making his move to the City of Angels. He was, however, an okay Dodger at best. He only spent three seasons there, was a 20 percent below-average hitter, and averaged 0.9 fWAR per season.
Pedro Martinez was just a little bit better as an Expo. He averaged 5.0 fWAR per season, including a whopping 8.5 in 1997, the year in which he won his first …

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Author: Tate Kispech / Blue Jays Nation

Around the Atlantic: Zadina, Myers sign new deals, Sandin headlines list of remaining RFA’s

Around the Atlantic: Zadina, Myers sign new deals, Sandin headlines list of remaining RFA’s

It has been a quiet week in the Atlantic division. There haven’t been any new acquisitions but two RFA’s have signed. It appears most of the teams in the Atlantic have their rosters set for the upcoming season. There are however still four unsigned restricted free agents.
Zadina, Myers sign new contracts
Since being selected sixth overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2018 draft Zadina has struggled to produce at the NHL level. Many thought he could be on his way out of Detroit this offseason. Instead they signed him to a three-year deal at an average annual value (AAV) of 1.825M.
Last season he scored ten goals and 24 points in 74 games (all career highs). While he improved his output, this still doesn’t match the expectations the team had for him when using a top ten selection.
Even though he has been unable to score consistently this contract could be a win for the Wings. At this point he is a low-end depth player but if his development gets back on track he could be underpaid by next season. If he doesn’t improve it’s a not much of a loss as the cap hit won’t hurt the Wings.
Philippe Myers was sent to Tampa Bay from Nashville in the Ryan McDonagh trade …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

With the 128th overall pick, the Blue Jays could select…

While this isn’t a top 100 pick, there could be some interesting prospects available with this pick

Of course I had to feature a hard-throwing college player that everyone knows about, but there are some interesting starters available with this pick.
This will be the last article in the series, but there are still  plenty more players that will be picked in the 20-round draft. Let’s get into this group of prospects.
Ben Joyce: 
Joyce is a right-handed reliever that will likely be picked higher than 128th. You’ve probably heard the name for good reason. He’s only pitched one season for the University of Tennessee, but boy did he ever leave an impression.
The 6’5 righty had an ERA of 2.23 with a K/9 of 14.8 and a BB/9 of 3.9 in 32.1 innings pitched. While the righty is strictly a reliever, his stats aren’t the reason everyone and their mothers want him drafted for their bullpen.

Ben Joyce throws the fastest pitch in college baseball history at 105.5 MPH (via @PitchingNinja) pic.twitter.com/TPgsCwyNrb
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) May 1, 2022

Yup, you read that right. According to the velocity reading at the arena, Ben Joyce threw 105.5 mph. While there are questions about whether or not this was the actual velocity, it’s definitely possible as he often hit 103 mph and hit 104 mph a few times.

Tennessee junior Ben Joyce is hitting 103.5 MPH pic.twitter.com/KXWQdlDWuv
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) February 24, 2022

There are causes for concern, however. The 21-year-old missed all of 2019, pitched at a community college in 2020, and missed all of 2021 due to Tommy John. While the Jays have shown they aren’t afraid of drafting pitchers with arm issues (Gunnar Hoglund, Nate Pearson), it’s to be seen if Joyce’s arm can hold up.
This leads into the second issue, which is the fact that he hasn’t ever worked in back to back days for his University. In fact, he works on 3+ days of work, according to MLB Pipeline.
Furthermore, some Jays fans believe he would immediately help this bullpen, which is just not true. While at this point, his floor is a major league reliever, Joyce needs to work on command, as his BB/9 of 3.9 is on the high side. His secondary pitches also need work.


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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Is Malachi Flynn officially out of the Toronto Raptors’ rotation?

Is Malachi Flynn officially out of the Toronto Raptors’ rotation?

It does not seem like that long ago there was hope and expectation that Toronto Raptors draft pick Malachi Flynn would be the backup to Kyle Lowry’s heir apparent Fred VanVleet Drafted 29th overall at the 2020 NBA Draft, Flynn was hailed as a pick and roll specialist with the ability to fill up the […]
Is Malachi Flynn officially out of the Toronto Raptors’ rotation? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ