Resting Leafs, line juggling and the salary cap: Leaflets

Less than a month until meaningful hockey. It shouldn’t have to be this way. It would be nice if there were something beyond avoiding injuries and roster optimization left to care about for the season, but that’s not how it works. I guess it could always be worse than being a team that has been locked into your playoff opponent since late December, you could be a team that hasn’t had a sniff of the playoffs all year, and then really, after the trade deadline what are you tuning in for? So rather than going completely negative on there still being 14 games left to play, I’ll embrace this wild ride through lineup card construction that will likely lead us back to something very familiar to us in time for the playoffs.
5 Player Units
While Sheldon Keefe is exploring what works and what doesn’t when it comes to his lineup card, I wouldn’t mind seeing him dust off the old Soviet tactic of having five player units that head out together rather than running forward lines and defense pairings separately. To some extent, the Leafs are already trying to do this as much as possible as there isn’t much point in putting Morgan Rielly on …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Day two of free agency and beyond: The Leafs to-do list

One day down, and who knows how many more to go until we find ourselves very much in the dog days of summer where nothing seems to happen. The Leafs were pretty active for the first day of free agency. They added three completely new players (Samsonov, Aube-Kubel, Gaudette), brought back one of their own from Europe (Malgin), and made an AHL signing (Logan Shaw). That’s a fair bit of work for one day, but they were also far from the busiest and are likely far from down.
The Leafs are going into day two with several bubble players on forward, but still a couple of potential needs. They should very much be considered a cheap top-six forward option if they can find one and while Gaudette, Malgin, and Aube-Kubel are all capable of lining up as the 4C, finding a proven center for that role would be a plus.
On the blueline, Dubas spelled it out yesterday by saying they could still use a depth piece, possibly a physical right side option. Right now that seems very much like the role being occupied by Justin Holl, so take that as a sign that he is long for the Leafs wor …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Kirk, Guerrero Jr. named AL starters ahead of 2022 ASG

It’s not a party until the Toronto Blue Jays arrive, right?
With the 2022 All-Star Game just over a week away, Major League Baseball revealed which players were voted as starters for their respective leagues on Friday. Thanks to the support from Canada, catcher Alejandro Kirk and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be featured on the American League’s starting lineup in Los Angeles.

The Captain of this Starship @alejandro_kirk is ready for liftoff!
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 8, 2022

Kirk, 23, is headed to his first-ever midsummer classic and will be starting behind the plate, likely catching Tampa Bay Rays starter Shane McClanahan. That’s a pretty huge honour.
As for Guerrero, 23, this will be his second consecutive trip to the All-Star Game. He made his first appearance last season and became the youngest player to win the MVP Trophy at the event. Not too shabby for the eventual AL MVP runner-up.

The All-Star MVP wants more @27vladdyjr will start at 1B!
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 8, 2022

Kirk and Guerrero have both played massive roles for the Blue Jays this season, which has helped position their club into a playoff spot, albeit in the third wild-card seed. At least, for the moment.
In 74 games, the 5’8″ backstop has posted 10 home runs, 33 RBIs and a .312/.399/.491 slash line across 271 plate appearances during his breakout performance. He also currently holds a 2.9 fWAR rating, which leads all big-league catchers.
Not to be outdone, Guerrero has also put up sensational results throughout the first half. They just haven’t been as mind-blowing as some people may have expected.
So far, the 6’2″ slugger is hitting .268/.350/.490 with 19 home runs and 54 RBIs. The right-hander also carries a 1.8 fWAR rating and has appeared in 83 of Toronto’s 84 games. That’s remarkably impressive.
The 2022 All-Star Game is scheduled for July 19, beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Around the NHL: The Ivan Fedotov saga, an upswing of minority hires and a new face in Los Angeles

With only two nights remaining until the NHL entry draft, teams have been scrambling to fill their management and coaching positions. Along with the plethora of new hires, free agents are starting to come off the board, there has been a massive trade and there continues to be plenty of speculation on future movement.
Despite all this, the biggest story now surrounds a player who has never played an NHL game. Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ivan Fedotov will miss the 2022-23 season because he is currently detained at a Russian military base.
Ivan Fedotov
A Flyers draft pick in 2015, Fedotov has spent his entire career playing in Russia. After becoming a high-quality starter over the last three years in the KHL, Fedotov finally decided to sign with the Flyers and make his North American debut this fall.
Once this contract was signed, Fedotov was sought out by Russian military for an alleged attempt to evade mandatory service. Shortly after, he was hospitalized with gastritis although he had no released medical concerns in the weeks prior.
He remains detained at the remote military base, and it has been reported he will not play in 2022-23. His current state of health is unknown as is the future of his hockey career. …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation