BJN Radio – Ep. 120: Three BOLD off-season predictions, thoughts on MLB’s playoff format, and more!

Though the playoff run ended very quicky, there’s plenty to talk about in Blue Jays land.

We took a look back at Toronto’s two-game sweep to Seattle in the wild-card series with a different perspective now that the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers and 101-win Atlanta Braves also got dropped in five-game sets. Does it matter that the higher-seeded teams are losing if it adds more drama and excitement?
After that, we talked about off-season stuff, including whether Shohei Ohtani wants out of Anaheim, which Blue Jays could ink long-term contracts this winter, who the most realistic trade partners would be, and the arbitration projections MLBTR made for 13 players.
We also made three bold predictions for the off-season that we’ll be sticking to no matter what!
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

How can Auston Matthews score more than 60 goals for the Maple Leafs this season?

If there’s anyone who can break the Maple Leafs’ goal record in a season more than once in his career, it’s Auston Matthews.
The 24-year-old stepped into the unknown last October, not really knowing what could be possible in terms of his goal-scoring abilities. Although we witnessed his 41 goals in 52 games the season prior, not many knew if that was just easier competition or if it was going to be a continued reality.
As we know it now, and after his 50 goals in 50 games campaign during 2021, this will be a regular occurrence for a long time.
When looking at the season ahead, there’s always possible roadblocks holding him back from scoring more. It comes with every player — injuries, not being on your game all the time, and even playing with different players than the year prior.
With Matthews, though, we should all understand by now that he’s always on his game. Albeit, there are instances where he may not be playing well, like the 32 games last season in which he didn’t score a goal. But in the 41 games where Matthews did score, he put the puck into the net 60 times.
The 24-year-old scores a lot of goals, and in bunches too.
Matthews had 15 multi-goa …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

As free agency dwindles, try-outs come to the forefront: some good PTO fits for the Leafs

There’s a certain point each August where the well of news and excitement in the NHL offseason almost completely dries up. We are at that point. The well begins to refill as prospect camps and full team training camps approach, but we’re not quite there yet. We’re in this weird, quiet dead of the summer for hockey. Some resort to watching baseball or spending time outside with loved ones, but me, I choose to look at what remaining free agents could be good choices to bring to Leafs training camp on a Professional Try-Out (PTO) agreement.
It’s quite common for the Leafs to bring in PTO players. Last year, they brought notable forward Joshua Ho-Sang in on an AHL contract and a PTO for the NHL training camp, however he ended up remaining just with the Marlies without an NHL deal. They also brought in another small playmaking forward in Nikita Gusev, both of whom did sign with the Leafs or anywhere else. With their skill levels, if some chemistry or a really good fit developed in training camp, then a contract could easily have materialized for either of them. Over the last 3 years, over 40% of players who signed PTOs went on to …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Marlies sign Logan Shaw to three-year AHL contract

There’s been a few deals made by the Maple Leafs today and now the Toronto Marlies want to get in on free agency.

News | We’ve signed forward Logan Shaw to a three-year AHL contract. #ForeverStartsHere
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) July 13, 2022

Logan Shaw will join the Marlies on a three-year AHL contract, meaning he won’t be going up to the NHL unless signed to an NHL contract. He spent the last two seasons in Ottawa with the Senators and Belleville in the AHL.
Playing in the American Hockey League, Shaw finished last season with 35 (15G, 20A) points in 53 games. The 29-year-old was also the captain on Belleville last year.
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Goaltending is the number one priority heading into free agency by Nick Barden

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PointsBet is live in Ontario. Get started here.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Zach Aston-Reese potentially joining the Maple Leafs makes a lot of sense

There’s no shortage of rumours surrounding the Maple Leafs with less than 24 hours until NHL Free Agency begins.
Among reports on Tuesday was Elliotte Friedman discussing what Toronto might do when the gates open at noon on Wednesday. He talked about Rasmus Sandin re-signing, Denis Malgin (yes, you heard that right), and the potential of Zach Aston-Reese potentially joining the Maple Leafs.
Tuesday Rumour Report: Sandin and goaltending remain the priority, Aston-Reese looking like a lock, and “Malgin?”
Every ounce of these rumours continue to gain my interest, but I do want to dive into Aston-Reese a bit because, well, it’s always intriguing to see what a player outside of the organization might bring.
First of, let’s be clear that Aston-Reese isn’t a point-getter and won’t turn into that if he joins Toronto either. Instead of points, the 27-year-old will bring hits to the Maple Leafs.
Wayne Simmonds had the most hits on Toronto last season, laying the body 148 times across 72 games. Aston-Reese, who spent time with Pittsburgh and Anaheim last year, threw 231 hits (!!!) in just 69 games played. So, it’s safe to say he’s a heavy hitter.
There’s only been two seasons where the 27-year-old didn’t have over 100 hits — his rookie year and the 56-game season back in 2021 (he had 95 in 45 games that year).
Aside from his hitting capabilities, Aston-Reese is a defensive specialist who can neutralize play in his own team’s zone. He won’t give you the greatest offensive productio …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation