Prospect Roundup: Accolades for Amirov, Kokkonen stands out, Abramov returning to action

It’s a strange time in the hockey world, with several leagues entering the mid points of their seasons while other leagues have been put on hold or cancelled altogether. The Leafs have several prospects that are projected to represent their respective countries at the upcoming World Juniors in Edmonton, and that should help provide some sense of normalcy for hockey fans if even for a couple of weeks. There are a number of other prospects, however, who still don’t know what the immediate future has in store for them.
There’s plenty to talk about with the Leafs prospect system this week, so let’s get to it.
Rodion Amirov – LW/RW – Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
Rodion Amirov led off the Prospect Roundup last week after a strong first game representing Russia at the Karjala Cup. He carried that strong play through the rest of the tournament, scoring a goal in each game plus another in a shootout, and was named the tournament’s best forward as Russia went undefeated to claim the title. He was a key player in all situations for a Russian squad that was the only team in the tournament made up entirely of …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Grading the Raptors last 3 games played on Halloween

Toronto Raptors: Grading the Raptors last 3 games played on Halloween

It’s the time of the year we review the Toronto Raptors scary past. It’s Halloween and it’s that time of the year to watch scary movies… actually, this time around we’re the ones in the scary movie with everything going on in the world right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and […]
Toronto Raptors: Grading the Raptors last 3 games played on Halloween – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

The ripple effects of the David Ayres game are becoming more clear

Hey, remember that time the Leafs lost to a 42-year-old Zamboni driver who worked for the team? The Carolina Hurricanes don’t want you to forget since they keep bringing it up on their social media pages once a month. While that was an inspiring story for David Ayres during his 15 minutes of fame, it’s a night that the Leafs would like to forget but can’t.
In the months that have followed that game, Martin Marincin scored a goal, a global pandemic started, some kid named Nicholas Robertson made his NHL debut, and the Leafs lost in the first round yet again. Judging by all of the moves made since the Blue Jackets forced them to travel fifteen minutes back to their real homes, it’s evident that Kyle Dubas and company were not pleased with the makeup of the roster and wanted to make some changes.
One of those new additions was Zach Bogosian, a guy who was bought out by the Sabres and went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Lightning. The last part almost did not happen because the Leafs had some interest in him around the time he was released from Buffalo. …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Marlies sign Riley McCourt

Kyle Dubas wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity to bring in an OHL overage defenseman who went undrafted this week.

#Marlies have signed D Riley McCourt to a two-year AHL contract. The 20-year-old was fifth in OHL scoring among defencemen last season with 62 points in 63 games for Flint. #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) October 8, 2020

So that’s a lot of points for the 5’11 defender. And it savvy move by the GM in adding him. While the deal is an AHL one, you can likely expect to have McCourt spend most of his season in Newfoundland for the Growlers.

SEASON
TEAM
LEAGUE
GP
G
A
TP
PIM
+/-

2014-15
 Niagara North Stars U16 AAA
SCTA U16
8
0
0
0
0

2015-16
 Niagara North Stars U16 AAA
SCTA U16
33
9
11
20
20

 Ridley College
CISAA
6
1
7
8
6

 Ridley College
MPHL
2
0
0
0
0

 St. Catharines Falcons
GOJHL
2
0
1
1
2

2016-17
 Ridley College
CISAA
3
0
1
1
4

 St. Catharines Falcons
GOJHL
42
10
22
32
54

 Hamilton Bulldogs
OHL
9
1
0
1
6
2

2017-18
 Hamilton Bulldogs
OHL
26
1
8
9
12
-2

 Flint Firebirds
OHL
30
4
9
13
16
-11

2018-19
 Flint Firebirds
OHL
47
6
26
32
36
-38

2019-20
 Flint Firebirds
OHL
63
18
44
62
44
-4

data from eliteprospects.com

Odds are this won’t be the last deal we see like this in the coming days. Restocking the AHL/ECHL rosters might not be a priority, but it’s something that …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

With the 15th overall pick, the Leafs are proud to select…Connor Zary?

One of the older first time eligibles in the draft Connor Zary is one of many centers who the Leafs could consider to address their lack of depth in that position organizationally. (I mean the one/two spots in the depth chart are fine, but after that.)
Zary is an interest case, as older first timers tend to carry a bit of a stigma because they are expected to significantly outproduce the younger draft eligibles, and Zary certainly did that by putting up 86 points in 57 games last season, but when you see that Zary was also a 67 point player in 63 games in the year he missed the draft cut off by 10 days, it looks more like a solid first rounder following up his year with a solid draft plus one year, and Zary potentially being more NHL ready than a lot of other options available in the mid first round.
At 6’0 and 181 lbs, Zary isn’t a giant, but is big enough that he escapes the undersized stigma unfairly thrown on players like Jarvis. He was a 2nd round pick in the WHL bantam draft, so he’s been consistent in his success throughout his hockey career, and is considered …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Despite the post-season letdown, the 2020 Blue Jays should be remembered fondly

For the first time in months, there’s no longer that feeling of baseball-related anticipation. Instead, in its place, is a feeling of melancholy.

It’s October now and it feels like summer is over. Tuesday’s post-season opener was a tight, stressful, nail-biter, while Wednesday’s must-win was a flop. This team that had been loaded with magic all season — all 60 games of it — didn’t have anything left.
The young Jays sprinted headfirst into a wall known as the Tampa Bay Rays — a veteran team in which every player seems to be a perfectly placed piece to a puzzle — and got sent back home after a two-game sweep.
Maybe things would have gone been better if the Jays hadn’t tried to be so clever with their starting pitching strategy. Maybe losing to the Rays was an inevitability and we were just blind with undeserved optimism heading into the series. Who knows.
What I do know, though, is that as disappointing as bowing out of the playoffs in two games may seem now, the 2020 Blue Jays were a blessing, and they deserve to be remembered fondly.
Had I told you back in April that the Blue Jays were …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Ross Stripling, A Fitting Blue Jay

It’s been mentioned time and time again that the Blue Jays have a “type” when targeting and acquiring starting pitching.
They have been targeting pitchers with lower velocity who have a large pitch mix. Their acquisition of Robbie Ray didn’t quite fit that, but their second pitching add of trade deadline day sure does.
Ross Stripling relies on four different pitches, fastball (44.6%), curve (28.8%), change-up (16.2%) and slider (9.8%). He doesn’t throw with much velocity, his four-seamer averages 91.8 mph, the 33rd slowest among 157 right handed pitchers who have thrown at least 250 pitches this season, per Baseball Savant. He also brings versatility, having thrown 290.2 innings as a starter and 130.0 out of the bullpen in his career. It should be noted that he has been just a starter this season. The results have not been there. His 7.23 FIP is tied with Ray for the worst in baseball, among pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings.
Prior to this season, Stripling was really good. From 2016-19 over 387.0 innings Stripling had a 3.51 ERA, a 3.60 FIP and 3.49 xFIP. He was one of the best arms in baseball and someone many people wanted to see traded away from the Dodgers so …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Two Leafs make their way onto the TSN Trade Bait Board

Welcome to Speculatember. All speculation, all the time. Okay, that will be a little much and get old quick, but in reality there is going to be a lot of noise around the Leafs over the next month, given that the Kapanen trade has already happened.
To kick things off, TSN has unveiled their Trade Bait Board, and of the 20 names on it, two are Leafs.
17. Andreas Johnsson
This really does come as much of a surprise, as the Leafs have capable wingers willing to work for cheap in the form of Robertson, Barabanov, and Korshkov. Replacing Johnsson and Kapanen with cheap entry level deal players that at the very least will be able to cover off the underwhelming 2019-20 seasons of Kapanen and Johnsson and at best match their 2018-19 career best years, seems like a no brainer.
Johnsson probably isn’t going to land the Leafs a mid-1st round pick, but there’s a good chance that he could be part of a worthwhile package for an area of need for the Leafs.
19. Frederik Andersen
I really feels like we’re past the point of no return with Andersen returning to the Leafs. There …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The magic continues as the Blue Jays complete another walk-off win

This time one month ago, it was all about how the Blue Jays managed to find ways to lose games. Now, it’s all about how they keep finding ways to win. This team has some magic.

Things worth mentioning…

Tanner Roark made the start for the Blue Jays and didn’t have the best time. He was walking the tightrope all game, allowing runners to reach base in all of the innings that he pitched. But, thanks to some clutch double plays and some key strikeouts, Roark was able to dance around trouble for five innings, surrendering just one earned run on a solo homer to Ryan Mountcastle. But then Roark came out for the sixth inning and all hell broke loose. Roark allowed a double, single, and a homer. I certainly understand why Charlie Montoyo wanted to try to get six innings out of him, but it was probably ill-advised. I would take five innings of one-run ball from Roark and run.
After that, Anthony Kay came in and worked through the sixth inning, and then Sean Reid-Foley bombed through two innings allowing just one hit. Anthony Bass had some shitty batted-ball luck in the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

This is not the end.

Saturday August 29th at 12:30pm. 
 
The day and time the NHL is officially back in action. Let me tell you why we shouldn’t be rushing to forget the events of the past three days. 
 
Before I get into that, I ask that you folks take some time to read this piece by Omar from Pension Plan Puppets, as well as this open letter to the NHL by Matthew Henriques, if you haven’t already. 
 
These past couple days have been a lot in the hockey world.
 
From a lack of action from the league and players the day sports took a pause. Excuses of napping or not enough time to plan for a stop, even though there were hours from when the Bucks didn’t take the court to the Tampa/Boston game. Some folks are in a bubble both literally and figuratively. Re: Alain Vigneault
It caused an uproar which then phased into a moment of reflection. 
 

In the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting, the NHL will hold a moment of reflection before tonight’s Tampa/Boston game in Toronto and tonight’s Colorado/Dallas game in …

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Author: Marsha Joseph / The Leafs Nation