Leafs sign Brennan Menell to one year contract

The Leafs added to their defensive depth this morning, agreeing to a one year deal with RFA blueliner Brennan Menell on a one year, two way contract. The deal carries a $750,000 cap hit.

We’ve signed defenceman Brennan Menell to a one-year, two-way contract. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) August 1, 2021

The Leafs acquired Menell’s RFA rights from the Minnesota Wild on the opening day of free agency for a conditional seventh round pick in 2022, contingent on him playing in 30 games with the Maple Leafs in the 2021/2022 season.
While the Leafs top four of Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, TJ Brodie, and Justin Holl is seemingly set in stone for opening night, competition for a spot on the Leafs bottom pair is wide open. Menell will join a crowded field that primarily consists Travis Dermott, Rasmus Sandin, and Timothy Liljegren, but could be potentially extended to include recent free agent acquisitions Alex Biega and Carl Dahlström, all of whom will be vying for two spots in the opening night lineup.
Menell is coming off of a strong debut season in the KHL, where the right hander scored 38 points in 47 games for Dinamo Minsk, including 7 in 5 playoff games.

You know who’s …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation

Ondřej was the Kaše that they gave us: Leafs sign him to 1 year deal

It seems that this summer Kyle Dubas has decided that if he’s gonna be damned, he’s gonna be damned for doing things the way he wants to do things. He’s gone with Greyhounds. He’s gone with underappreciated or miscast players, and now he’s moved onto statistical darlings…

Ondrej Kase signs a one-year contract with #leafs worth $1.25M.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 31, 2021

Ondrej Kase, long adored for excelling at driving the play forward, Kaše has had his injury troubles throughout his career, and was limited to just three games last season, and hasn’t really played anywhere near a full season in his career. The right wing from the Czech Republic is 6’0 tall, and 190 lbs, and could line up with countryman David Kampf on the Leafs 3rd line this season, when healthy. When Kaše isn’t healthy, he creates an opportunity for players like Brooks, Robertson, and Anderson to dip their toes into the lineup as well, so he’s a reasonable risk to take, especially since he’s only 25.

As you can see from the chart above, Kase is pretty darn good in all situations, and if William Nylander is going to be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Jack Kopacka joins the Greyhounds South by signing an AHL deal with the Marlies

We’re probably beating a dead horse at this point, as you’ve all noticed that Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe are fond of bringing in former Soo Greyhounds. That’s cool, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They know these players, got a lot out of these players, and relying on first hand experience rather than scouting sounds like a win to me. So that’s why it’s funny but also good to see another Greyhound come into the organization today…

 News | We’ve signed forward Jack Kopacka to a one-year AHL contract.#ForeverStartsHere
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) July 29, 2021

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

A Fortnight On The Farm: Volume Six

This is a sort of fascinating time for a minor league check in, particularly with the major league squad considering themselves contenders. Five days remain in which there may be a flurry of trades which will potentially shuffle the situation of some of these teams. Those left standing a week from now may find that promotions are about to ensue (we’ve already seen a few) and the organization will be looking to see who needs a fresh challenge down the stretch.

Buffalo via Trenton (for the last time)
More and more Jays fans, quite rightly, are banging the drum for SS Kevin Smith to be promoted and while you have to give props to Santiago Espinal for his work at 3B, if the Jays are looking to add a bat (Ramirez, if I’m dreaming, or Bryant, Escobar, some such) and fail then a guy who can supplement 3B and had 18 homers in his 66 AAA games on the record already is hard to ignore. I’m assuming he won’t be added to the 40 before the trade deadline (if at all) but if he’s not part of a deal, there will be every reason to get him up …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

No matter how this series in Boston goes, it’s difficult to justify the Blue Jays being sellers

This weekend’s series against the New York Mets perfectly encapsulated the overarching experience of the 2021 Blue Jays thus far.

The team got shut down by a rookie starting pitcher on Friday and then they followed that up on Saturday by blowing up for 10 runs. Saturday’s game appeared to be a game-changer for Toronto’s momentum, as a new-look lineup injected life into the bats and George Springer fired up the team with arguably the best catch we’ve seen this season.
Then, on Sunday, they gave it right back. Ross Stripling had a solid start, the bats came through with a three-run rally in the sixth inning, and then the bullpen went ahead and did what it’s done so, so, so many times this season, melting down immediately after. To put a bow on top, the team flirted with a comeback late in the game but ultimately failed to do so.
One step forward, two steps back.
Since coming out of the All-Star break at full speed and kicking the shit out of the Texas Rangers in a three-game sweep, the Blue Jays have dropped four of five. They now sit 49-46, a distant nine-and-a-half games back …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Kyle Dubas’ tenure has been one of patience, loyalty, and vision, and that’s pissed a lot of people off

Kyle Dubas’ tenure has been one of patience, loyalty, and vision, and that’s pissed a lot of people off

This post is born of a somewhat regular conversation I seem to be having with other Leafs and with other hockey fans, and that’s how do you feel about Kyle Dubas? I don’t think it’s something that’s a straight forward answer for me, or a lot of Leafs fans at this point, so as we head into what could be the most critical days of his time as GM, I felt like rambling on the subject to the point my brain is exhausted.
When it comes to coaches and general managers it seems like there is a finite amount of time that you will be loved. There was a time when Leafs fans were over the moon about Brian Burke. He made big promises, he had recently won a Stanley Cup, and he presented himself as a straight shooter. That didn’t last. There was a time when Leafs fans thought that by bringing in Mike Babcock that we had landed the greatest coach in hockey. He had Stanley Cup and Olympic credentials. He was going to get the Leafs back on track, and to some extent that’s true, but then not much more and …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Kyle Lowry rumors: Surprise lottery team wants the Raptors legend

Kyle Lowry rumors: Surprise lottery team wants the Raptors legend

The Toronto Raptors are at a crossroads this offseason. While they are eyeing a quick retool as they try to get back to the postseason, they still might need to say goodbye to franchise legend Kyle Lowry, who is entering the uncertain waters of unrestricted free agency. The monsoon of Kyle Lowry rumors won’t be […]
Kyle Lowry rumors: Surprise lottery team wants the Raptors legend – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Top to Bottom: Thoughts on all of the Blue Jays pitchers at the All-Star break

I talked earlier this week about the 18 position players who have played for the Blue Jays this season, and, next up, we have the 31 (!!!) guys who have pitched for the team thus far.

The fact that the Blue Jays have used so many different pitchers perfectly sums up what the experience has been for the team in the first half of the season. The pitching staff has been decimated by injuries and the Blue Jays have had to dig deep to find guys to log innings and many of them have been ineffective, hence why Toronto ranks below average in the American League in terms of both starter and bullpen ERA.
Let’s talk about all 31 of these pitchers, how they’ve done, and what we can expect from them in the second half.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Robbie Ray (1.5 WAR)
I think a lot of people expected Robbie Ray to bounce back from the nightmarish season he had with Arizona in 2020 given his solid results after being traded to the Blue Jays, but I doubt that many predicted he would be the team’s ace coming out of the All-Star break. But here we are.
Ray has been excellent …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Player Valuation and bargain hunting in the offseason

It’s probably no secret at this point that the Leafs don’t have a lot of cap space. I mean, they have the cap space to bring in maybe one significant player, but after that it’s going to be about bargain hunting some of the better, cheaper options in free agency. While the lesser known signings certainly aren’t as fun as big game hunting players like Dougie Hamilton or Taylor Hall, teams like Tampa Bay and Montreal certainly point to the importance of having a depth that contribute beyond their contract.
To some extent the Leafs did have that though. Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton certainly provided value beyond their contracts, it just may come down to utilization, miscasting of roles, or you could argue in Thornton’s case, that his opportunity to play a significant part of the year within the top six forward group propped up his numbers beyond his personal contributions, which is both a fair criticism, but also ignores the fact that a capable top six complimentary player at that price isn’t anything to scoff at and the Leafs failing to consider style of play into the roster construction isn’t his …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

A Fortnight On The Farm: Mid-Season Edition (Part One, The Draft and Triple-A)

This is the unofficial midway point of the major league season but the literal halfway point for many minor league teams (the recent extension of the schedule and addition of playoffs notwithstanding). It’s a really good time to take a look at the progress so far and what sort of impact that could or should have on prospect rankings and valuations inside and outside the organization.

On Sunday the team added a new Top Prospect to the list in the form of University of Mississippi RHP Gunnar Hoglund, and made me look smart in the process.

I mean, I so seldom get to do this… pic.twitter.com/aDzaEBKElU
— Tammy Rainey WarrenDemocrat (@Tammy_Beth) July 12, 2021

Shi Davidi had this quote after the pick from the Blue Jays scouting director Shane Farrel:
“We saw a little pick up in fastball velocity this year. Combining that with his upper level ability to command the ball to both sides of the plate and throw the slider off the fastball is what really drove us to make the selection.”

Hoglund was originally thought to be in line to be the third college starter selected back before the season when everyone had the Vandy …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation