The cap is on the rise, the season will start on time, and other news on the state of the NHL

For some, tonight is all about the best on best matchup between two stacked teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche. For others tonight is a bit about gaining some insight into the direction the league is going and how long we’re committed to flat caps and hockey deep into the summer. For his part, Gary Bettman provided some actual good news on both of those fronts and there was some other interesting information to boot.

Gary Bettman says the 2022-23 #NHL regular season will begin on Oct. 11.
Schedule will be released in “early July.”
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 15, 2022

In the true spirit of the NHL, I’d take that early July release to mean “July 14th”, but given that falls during the start of free agency, we might see the NHL truly stick their word and we could see a schedule in that window of time between the draft and free agency. It seems too much to ask for that they’d give it to us any earlier than that. It doesn’t really matter anyway, the big thing is being back to a normal hockey schedule that should see everything moved up two weeks next year.

Gary Bettman mentioned “record” #NHL revenues this year. Says now that number could be in excess of $5.2 billion.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) June 15, 2022

Cool. That’s a lot of money for billionaires. They sure work hard for it. For the rest of us, I guess we can take comfort in the fact that the league won’t be folding anytime soon, the salary cap should go up significantly at some point in the post escrow balanced world, and reall …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Aaron Judge turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension

There are 13 baseball games on the slate tonight, but, naturally, the New York Yankees are grabbing headlines.

Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman spoke to reporters today ahead of New York’s season-opener this afternoon against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium and said that the team and Aaron Judge haven’t been able to come to terms on a contract extension.
He even outright said in the interview that the Yankees offered the slugger a seven-year contract worth $213.5 million, which is $30.5 million annually. Judge, of course, is eligible to hit the open market as a free agent for the first time in his career following the 2022 season.

Brian Cashman says the #Yankees offer was $30.5 million per year.
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) April 8, 2022

After an injury-riddled 2020 season, Judge had a huge bounceback season for the Yankees in 2022, slashing a .287/.373/.544 line with 39 dingers over the course of 633 plate appearances. Judge finished fourth in American League MVP voting, his best finish since his breakout season in 2017 in which he won AL Rookie of the Year and finished second in MVP voting.
Since 2017, Judge ranks fourth in baseball in terms of FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, behind only Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Jose Ramirez. The contract would make Judge the second-highest-paid outfielder in terms of average annual salary, but the $213.5 million total falls short of the $365 million deal that Betts signed with the Dodgers and the $426.5 million deal Trout inked with the Angels.
Given Judge’s durability concerns and the fact he’s not likely to stick in the outfield for long, he isn’t going to be able to command the same money as Betts and Trout, who are both elite …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Bluelines: Betting on history being made in Dallas

Tonight has a lot of promise. A backup goaltender on a bubble playoff team is what Auston Matthews will be facing as he attempts to write his name in the Leafs history books. Of course, if you look at the Leafs recent history of facing backup goaltenders you might be inclined to bet against the Leafs tonight.
Maple Leafs are the favourites at -160
If Leafs fans need further proof that this is a good team and that we might be a little too hard on them, that line is a good example of where the Leafs are at. It’s because of that I’d say that if you are betting on the Leafs you are better off betting on the Leafs betting the spread of 1.5 (+160).
Making history is -135
With Matthews not scoring last game, it seems like it’s truly easy money to bet on him to score tonight. If you want to be adventurous Matthews scoring first pays +750, or if you want to play it a bit safer Matthews scoring first for the Leafs pays +360.
Bet against my takes +360
I just wrote about taking Wayne Simmonds out of the Leafs lineup, and normally anytime I say something remotely critical about a Leafs player it comes back to bite m …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: Maple Leafs fall victim to a couple of Ryans and strong goaltending

Ryan Reaves scoring two goals tonight probably tells you everything you need to know about this game.
Much like a lot of this road trip, four out of the five games actually, the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves with a multi-goal lead before blowing it. Twice they found themselves holding on for the win, and now twice they would eventually lose it. There’s a lot of other circumstances involved, what with Jack Campbell’s play somewhat falling off and him likely getting fatigued, the Leafs now being almost two weeks deep into this road trip, an injured blueline, and also score effects are usually a thing that comes into play when you take a lead. And a lot of the goals the Rangers scored, including Reaves second and Ryan Strome’s, were some pretty weird bounces. But, it’s also not the best thing to see happening over and over again.
The game also saw Auston Matthews road goal streak come to an end right before tying the NHL record, despite a goal that got waived off for a kicking motion that almost started the Leafs comeback.
Three Stars
3rd Star: William Nylander
It wasn’t his best game defensively, or even his line’s, but Nylander mostly gets the third star for there not being a ton of options from this game …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Ondrej Kaše probable for re-joining the Maple Leafs tonight, Campbell starts tonight and Mrazek tomorrow

The Leafs are back at it tonight in Las Vegas. A locale that the red hot Auston Matthews has thrived in…

After a long series of NHL/World Junior postponements, @rayferrarotsn and I are back with Toronto/VGK tonight on TSN4 for viewers in the Maple Leafs region. Toronto won the 1st meeting 4-0 at home Nov 2, Auston Matthews @AM34 scored twice, has 7 goals in 6 GP vs Vegas.
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) January 11, 2022

With seven goals in six games in Vegas, and with Matthews just four goals off the Rocket Richard lead it would be great to see him take a run at Draisaitl’s spot while the Oilers play just once in the next couple of weeks.

Keefe says Kase felt good through the night that he didn’t feel he had to skate this morning. One of those injuries that can flare up at any moment so he is still a game-time decision. Team will have an extra forward at warmup in case.
— David Alter (@dalter) January 11, 2022

The return of Kase is a good sign for the Leafs as he was taking line rushes with Auston Matthews’ line in yesterday’s practice. If he’s unable to go, I’d assume we’ll see the lines revert to what worked for the early part of the game against Colorado on Saturday. Tomorrow is a different situation as Marner and Engvall could potentially leave COVID Protocol, and it’s likely we see something more typical for the Leafs with Marner on the top line and Kase reunited with Kampf.
(Full Leafs lines can be found below.)

Holl on being one of the few #Leafs who has not had COVID: “It’s one of those deals where you’re pretty much powerless. If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it … I really don’t think about it day to day, but long term, I would hate to get it at a bad time.”
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) January 11, 2022

As Engvall and Marner prepare to leave the COVID protocol it’s important to note who still hasn’t been in it. Auston Matthews just dodged it, and there’s also Justin Holl. Consid …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Maple Leafs round out fourth line, Jack Campbell starts vs. Avalanche

Tonight, the Maple Leafs have one of the toughest tests of the last month — a game against the Colorado Avalanche.
It’s the second matchup between the two teams this season, and if you remember, Toronto won the last game rather effortlessly, 8-3. This time, the game’s going to be a little bit different.
“The way that we’ve played in the two games since coming back from the break, that’s not going to cut it on this road trip,” Sheldon Keefe said after Friday’s practice. “That’s certainly not going to cut it on Saturday against Colorado. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to play a lot more connected, a lot more in-sync, we’ve gotta raise our level — the intensity level, the stress of being on the road and the fans — all those things and what that provides. We’ve gotta get back to that level. We can’t be easing into it. Colorado is a team that comes at you in waves, and they come early. And we’ve gotta be prepared for that.”
As good as the Maple Leafs have been in the last 25 games, the Avalanche have been just as good. In the last 20 games, Colorado has a record of 16-3-1, compared to Toront …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Alex Kerfoot’s offense is something to behold this year

Tonight, since the Maple Leafs will take on the Colorado Avalanche, it feels prudent to take a deep dive into the former Avalanche, Alexander Kerfoot. We’re not here to rehash the debate on whether the trade that brought Kerfoot here was a good one. That’s a tired debate, a dead horse, and it hinges too much on how much you value one season of Tyson Barrie.
Instead, we’re going to talk about Alex Kerfoot outside of that trade, and not in comparison with Nazem Kadri, for once. Or at least, we’re going to try to.
His season this year so far has been a good one and it deserves highlighting.
In terms of production, Kerfoot has been the best forward on the team outside of the core four, with 21 points in all situations. His line with John Tavares and William Nylander has been incredible overall, as well, with those three players leading the team in even strength points, as shown in the table from QuantHockey below.

But, looking a bit deeper into that, the below table from Evolving Hockey shows that William Nylander has 0 secondary assists at evens; all 21 of his even strength points this season are primary points. That’s somewhat incredible. He is either the primary passer or the scorer for every goal that that line has scored at even strength.

But, this isn’t another Nylander love fest, as much as I could write on that subject. On that line, Tavares and Kerfoot are each more balanced, with 4-6-7-20 and 8-7-6-24 stat lines at even strength.
This is Staturday, so we’re going to go further than production to see just what Kerfoot’s up to this year. One tool we have is the Environment Distiller tool from HockeyViz. For a look at how these and other fancy stats work, check out my advanced stats primer Part 2.

We can see above that they have been really strong the offensive side of the puck. They have created 32% more than league average expected goals, which is fantastic …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Dermott, Mikheyev to play tonight, Seney to make Leafs debut vs. Oilers

The Leafs are taking on the Edmonton Oilers tonight for the first time this season tonight.
After a 5-4 win at home vs. Chicago on Saturday night, the Leafs are battling the best duo in the NHL — Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
The two have put together a combined 90 points in their first 26 games of the season. That’s the best duo in the league by a long shot.
However, the Oilers, as a team, haven’t had much success as of late. They’ve lost five games in a row, only scoring three goals at five-on-five in that span. Their woes could continue tonight as they’re missing a key player from their lineup in Zach Hyman, who won’t play his former team for the first time.

Hyman out tonight. Keith a possibility. @TSN_Edge
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) December 14, 2021

The 29-year-old injured his shoulder in a game vs. Carolina earlier this week.
Starting in net for the Oilers tonight will be Mikko Koskinen. In 17 games this season, the 33-year-old has 12 wins and a save percentage of .907.
Leafs projected lineup vs. Edmonton
Toronto had an optional morning skate today, so no line rushes. Here’s how the Leafs’ lines …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Leafs playing for injured teammates in matchup vs. Lightning

It’s a battle between two of the best teams in the NHL tonight as the Leafs take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Both teams have been extremely hot as of late. The Lightning has won 14 of their last 19 games, and Toronto has only lost three times in regulation through their last 20 games.
The Leafs, though, have been the better team this season, sitting atop the NHL standings, but Tampa is breathing down their neck.
Games like these are always huge for both teams because it’s like a measuring stick game. As much as you see how good each team is doing, these games are nice comparables to how close each team is to each other.
Tampa is without two critical players in Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. The Lightning is still a difficult team to play against with those two players out, though.
Steven Stamkos has been Tampa’s most dangerous player, and he’s been averaging a point-per-game in his last 10. You can’t forget about Victor Hedman, who’s averaging more than a point-per-game this season.
Those two are key players to watch out for, but you can never forget about Andrei Vasilevskiy. The 27-year-old has 13 …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Scenes from the gameday skate: Kaše out, Kämpf a game time decision for the Leafs and Reimer in for the Sharks

It’s another late night tonight, so slip on your PJs, brew a pot of coffee and see if the Leafs can go 2 for 2 to start their California roadtrip.

Ondrej Kase is out tonight, per coach Sheldon Keefe
Kirill Semyonov draws in@TSN_Edge
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) November 26, 2021

It seems like the past 21 games has been an exercise in understanding why Kase has missed so much time in his career. He plays an incredibly reckless style and doesn’t seem to have much regard for his health, at least within the designated hours of gametime. It seems like a good decision to pull him out and let him heal up and probably needs to be load managed to some extent throughout the season.
Semyonov coming in is another chance to get a look at a player who showed a lot of promise in the preseason and has fit with the low event style of play the Leafs are looking for from their third line.

Sheldon Keefe says David Kampf is a game-time decision
He skated again this morning & Kyle Clifford has stayed out late with the scratches so … looking like Kampf will be able to go tonight at SJ@ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation