Raptors: Masai Ujiri should absolutely go after Zach LaVine in a trade

Raptors: Masai Ujiri should absolutely go after Zach LaVine in a trade

The Toronto Raptors are in a weird position through 20 games. They’re not good enough to compete for an NBA title, but they’re not bad enough to tank for a high draft pick. Being stuck in no man’s land is the most frustrating position in professional sports, especially when you’re a franchise like Toronto that has […]
Raptors: Masai Ujiri should absolutely go after Zach LaVine in a trade – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Stephen Nixon / Raptors HQ

What does this season mean to the Maple Leafs?

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been through almost everything.
It has been an interesting last few years to say the least. I’d like to say it started with the Nikita Zaitsev signing in May of 2017 — a questionable choice. A year later, Lou Lamiorello, the Maple Leafs GM at the time was let go and Kyle Dubas was named the new GM.
There was a new head honcho for the Toronto Maple Leafs — someone younger, who can present new ideas and create a new team. That year was the hardest for Dubas and most Maple Leafs fans because 2018 was the year that William Nylander was an RFA, until December 1st.
A few months later, Auston Matthews signed his five-year, $58.17 million contract and it felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders. Yet again though, we didn’t know what was upon us going into that summer. The Maple Leafs and Mitch Marner couldn’t agree on a contract, and later that summer his agent, Darren Ferris, said that the then 22-year-old would soon leave for Europe if there was no solid contract offer.
Fast forward to September 13th, Marner signs a six-year, $65.3 million contract and flies out St. Johns, …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: A Christmas Wishlist of what needs to be done in 2021

Toronto Raptors: A Christmas Wishlist of what needs to be done in 2021

2020 has been a rough year for everyone, but through it all the Toronto Raptors have consistently performed well. From being second place in the Eastern Conference last season to reaching the semifinals in the playoffs last season with the recent departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Although it doesn’t feel as Christmas day […]
Toronto Raptors: A Christmas Wishlist of what needs to be done in 2021 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Ben Zelniker / Raptors HQ

Leafs darkhorse prospects

As we continue to march our way through the TLN prospect rankings, I thought I’d take a moment to ask some of the contributors on the site, who their darkhorse prospect is for being a solid NHL player. As we head into a week with the top five prospects being showcased, I figured now would be as good a time as any to look back at some of the favourites we’ve covered (or haven’t covered.)
Earl Schwartz: Kristians Rubins
After we ranked him 18th in the TLN prospect rankings I’m not sure Kristians Rubins is considered a dark horse, but I will take any opportunity to stan Rubins. There was a time where the Leafs had an abundance of large D prospects, I remember the picture of Rasanen, Gordeev, and Middleton towering over Barb Underhill. Then it turned out they were actually not very good, and the Leafs best D prospects were undersized. At 6’4″ and 220 lbs Rubins diversified the Marlies blue line, but he also makes plays with the puck. He did figure skating as a kid and it shows, he’s such a smooth skater for a big man. When you see a 6’4″ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Who’s the New Guy? Getting to Know the Toronto Raptors’ New Faces

Who’s the New Guy? Getting to Know the Toronto Raptors’ New Faces

Through the draft and free agency, the Toronto Raptors have brought five new faces into the fold. Just as quickly as it began, the NBA’s free agency period is winding down. With the re-signing of Fred VanVleet and the shuffling of key big men standing as the Toronto Raptors‘ most significant changes. Barring any unforeseen […]
Who’s the New Guy? Getting to Know the Toronto Raptors’ New Faces – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Ben Fisher / Raptors HQ

Recapping the first half of the Leafs Prospect Rankings and the Rankings from our readers

We’re halfway through ranking and reviewing the Leafs prospects, and we’ve come to the point I’d consider my favourite part. The part where we get to criticize the rankings from our readers. I mean celebrate them. Yes. That’s it.
In fact, it’s hard to criticize the rankings because they are pretty close to what we put together, and to some extent you’ve all had the luxury of getting another month of looking at some of the players. I’m not going to spoil anything yet, but there’s definitely one player I think with the extra month we’d all have warmed up to as well, maybe not as much as our readers did, but what can I say? Recency bias is a mother.
Let’s start with the rankings of the TLN contributors:
You can find a summary of 16-20 and the honourable mentions here:
The Leafs Prospect Rankings so far

And here’s who was ranked this week:
Ian Scott is the Leafs 15th ranked prospect

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev is the Leafs 14th ranked prospect

Mac Hollowell is the Leafs 13th ranked prospect

Roni Hirvonen is the Leafs 12th ranked prospect

Joseph Woll …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs select Topi Niemela with the 64th overall pick

Through a well calculated move to trade down from the 44th pick, Kyle Dubas added an early third round pick which he used to select Finnish defenceman Topi Niemela. The right handed defender was ranked in the middle of the second round by most major scouting outlets, with some listing him at the back end of the first round. Niemela played 43 games for Karpat in Liiga last season, picking up one goal and six assists as a 17 year old blue liner in Finland’s top professional league.

Solid hit from Topi Niemela.. Hugo Styf was not styf enough.
*I still like Hugo Styf. He had a few very solid games when I was watching Wallinder. One of the youngest player in the draft too. Could be a decent late 3rd, 4th round pick. pic.twitter.com/jHxEBpH6gp
— Yannick St-Pierre (@DraftDynasty1) February 8, 2020

Niemela is an outstanding skater who plays a very mature defensive game for his age and makes smart plays with the puck on his stick. He has good edges, as well as top speed, allowing him to maintain tight gaps and attack opposing puck carriers. Niemela isn’t a flashy player but he does a great job of …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays grind out an extra-innings win despite Nate Pearson’ struggles

We’re one-third of the way through the 2020 season and the Blue Jays have finally won a series. Better late than never! Thank you, Trash Birds.

Things worth mentioning…

A big theme of this season has been the Blue Jays’ frequent fundamental failures leading to frustrating losses. On Tuesday, it was refreshing to be reminded that other teams have game-altering fuck ups too. After blowing a 7-3 lead, the Jays ended up in extra innings, and, honestly, given the way things have gone thus far, nobody would have blamed you for expecting this one to wind up being another heartbreaker. But, the Trash Birds! They’re still trash! In the Jays’ half of the 10th, Lourdes Gurriel slapped a ball on the ground to Chris Davis who somehow wasn’t able to make a throw to catch the glacial drift that was Travis Shaw running home from third. Then, in Baltimore’s half, with the game on the line, Dwight Smith Jr. got caught up between third and home after Cedric Mullens hit a single. Boy oh boy, it’s refreshing to be on the other side of that kind of thing …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

News and Notes as the Blue Jays head to Baltimore to face the inexplicably good Orioles

We’re one-third of the way through the season and the Baltimore Orioles — yes, the Trash Birds — are in a playoff spot. Let that sink in.

The Orioles doing as well as they are is pretty much exactly why I had optimism for the Blue Jays during this 60-game sprint. Baltimore has a fairly similar roster to the one they trotted out last season when they won like 40 games, yet, here we are. They’ve somehow bullshitted their way to a 12-9 start, which is the sixth-best record in the American League.
The key for the O’s has been scoring runs. They’ve won seven of their last nine games and only once have they scored fewer than five runs in a game during that stretch. The pitching has been so-so, but Baltimore is scoring the fifth-most runs-per-game in baseball, behind only the Yankees, Rockies, A’s, and Dodgers. Just like we all expected!

This year, the Orioles have faced:
Gerrit ColeBlake SnellTyler GlasnowZack WheelerJake ArrietaStephen StrasburgPatrick Corbin
They have a combined $1.06 billion in guaranteed contracts between them. And a 6.82 ERA against Baltimore.
— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) August 16, 2020

Anyways, after a wildly …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

News and Notes as the Blue Jays host the Rays in Buffalo

We’re already one-quarter of the way through this miniature season.

Amazingly, despite having the fewest wins in the American League (tied with Boston with six) the Blue Jays are very much so still hilariously in the playoff hunt. That’s what happens when you double the playoff field.
The Jays are 6-9 and that record, as we know, could easily be much better if not for some ugly, heartbreaking losses. But, maybe we have to accept that’s just who these Blue Jays are. They’re a young, mistake-prone team and frustrating, avoidable losses comes with the territory.
Regardless, the Jays will host the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend for a difficult American League East series. Tampa just finished kicking the everloving shit out of the Red Sox this weekend and they’ve won six straight, putting them at 12-8 after a slowish start to the season.
Taking two of three against a red-hot Rays team would go a long way in helping forget about some of those losses we’ve seen recently. It won’t be easy to cool off this offence, though!

The Rays outscored the Red Sox 42-22 in …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation