Rumours: Back pocket goaltenders for the Leafs and is this the calm before the storm?

It’s been as quiet as it’s been in weeks on the Leafs rumours front, and I’m sure that comes as welcome break to many of our readers who are tired of the rampant speculation, and suggested improvements that come with this time of year. I admit I get that. It’s tiring to write about every name that comes up, and admittedly when we get excited about speculating on someone it’s hard to make the case for breaking up a Leafs team that’s sitting at the top of their division, doesn’t have a ton cap wiggle room, and has prospects we’d rather not see shipped out for a modest chance of improvement.
While I get that notion, I’d also argue that there is something to learn from the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, who swung for the fences on players that might not seem like the biggest names, but without question Blake Coleman was a valuable add for them. Much more debatably the Lightning also got what they wanted out of players like Zach Bogosian and Barclay Goodrow as well.
Another more extreme example might be when the Blue Jackets blew up …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Scott’s Thoughts: Midseason Awards

Keeping in the spirit of last week’s report cards, I figured right now would be a great time to look back on the first half of the season and appreciate the performances we’ve gotten from players this year.
But, this one isn’t going to be solely Leafs focused. In fact, there’s a good chance there won’t be any Leafs mentioned in this article, but it’s not the worst idea to see what is happening elsewhere in the league too, especially as playoff time gets closer.
I’ll be focusing on the major individual awards (I don’t really want to pick the winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award if I’m being honest), and I’m only going to give my winner as opposed to a full ballot, although I may mention a few other names in there who were close.
Anyways, let’s get started.
Hart Trophy Winner: Connor McDavid
Auston Matthews made it a slightly interesting conversation to start the season, and Patrick Kane will probably get some votes because he got a lot of points on a bad team, but McDavid is the only obvious winner here. He’s on …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam reportedly crossed lined, got personal in Nick Nurse spat

Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam reportedly crossed lined, got personal in Nick Nurse spat

As if the last few weeks of Toronto Raptors basketball, which has featured COVID-19 outbreaks and a nine-game losing streak, couldn’t get any worse, star power forward Pascal Siakam has found himself in head coach Nick Nurse’s doghouse for the second time this season. Siakam, who was disciplined earlier in the year for a similar […]
Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam reportedly crossed lined, got personal in Nick Nurse spat – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Amidst a Sea of Negativity, John Tavares is Quietly Finding his Groove

The last two weeks in Maple Leaf Land have, to put things lightly, been fairly strenuous for the team and fans alike. Following one of the strongest three-game stretches of the Big Four era against the Edmonton Oilers, the Maple Leafs were set to turn over their calendars by wrapping up their road trip against the struggling Vancouver Canucks. Following a pair against them, the Maple Leafs would then head back to Ontario for a three-game homestand against the Winnipeg Jets and, finally, a road game against the Ottawa Senators. During a stretch that many expected to further cement the Maple Leafs spot atop the North Division, the club sputtered badly. Tired legs, unstable goaltending, and an inability to convert scoring chances into goals defined the Maple Leafs’ most recent slump. Now, having captured just 2 of their last possible 12 points, the team is starting a long break away from the ice, with just two games between today and March 25th on the docket. Things are getting somewhat messy, and the good luck, which was seemingly raining like mana from the heavens mere days ago, has completely dried up.
Over the bumpy stretch, some players have seen their numbers dip, most …

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Author: Jori Negin-Shecter / The Leafs Nation

How the NHL’s TV deal with ESPN affects the Leafs

There have been rumblings for the past few weeks that a move could be possible, and it finally came to pass on Tuesday.
No, I am not talking about the Leafs making a trade for Taylor Hall, I am referring to the NHL signing a seven-year TV deal with ESPN beginning in 2021-22.

Sources: ESPN is signing a seven-year deal with the NHL as part of the league’s new U.S. media rights package.https://t.co/R7VeixXYq7
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 9, 2021

This will mark the largest sports broadcaster in the United States’ return to covering hockey after last airing games in 2004 (prior to the infamous lockout). According to the official press release, the NHL will also have games aired on ABC, ESPN+, and Hulu although financial terms were not discussed.
With a recent track record of helping increase exposure for some of the other major North American sports, the NHL getting this deal done will do a lot of good for the growth of the game and the salary cap.
Back in 2014, the NBA finalized a $24 billion TV deal with three broadcasters that included ESPN. When it kicked in at the end of the 2015-16 season, the league …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays were among the teams who attended Yoenis Cespedes’ showcase in Florida

We’re only a few weeks away from the start of the season and we have a new ‘The Blue Jays have checked in on ________’ report.

According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Blue Jays (along with the Yankees, White Sox, Brewers, Tigers,, Padres, Rays, Reds, Marlins, Cubs, and Braves) attended Yoenis Cespedes’ showcase in Florida.
I could quote some of the scouts on site, except it would be more effective to express their general sentiments in a collective shrug, as many of them did, their shrugs meaning, “Yup, he’s still a physical wonder and somebody you can dream on.”
At the plate, working with recently dismissed Mets hitting coordinator and coach Ryan Ellis, Cespedes did some soft-toss work, and then he took batting practice against a left-handed pitcher. He pulled some shots over the left-field wall and went the other way to deposit some shots over the wall in right-center. La Potencia still can send the baseball on a long-distance trip.
Cespedes has sort of fallen off the grid over the past few years due to battles with various injuries. He opted out of the 2020 season and he played in just 119 games between 2017 and 2019 due …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Scott’s Thoughts: Twitter Request Edition

I was a bit hard pressed for content for this week’s article, so I decided to take to Twitter to take suggestions. I ended up breaking the rule of “most likes in a reply wins”, but the commenter (who is also my managing editor) said I didn’t have to write about werewolves, and I got this suggestion instead.

Is it being too harsh to think John Tavares should be able to better drive a line consisting of Nylander + any other winger?
We would expect Matthews to do it, who is clearly better. But is it too much to expect more dominance from our captain who earns 11m cap hit?
— UK_Leaf (@uk_leaf) February 14, 2021

So, I think to start off, I’ll simply answer the question: I don’t think it’s too harsh to expect John Tavares to drive a line, especially with William Nylander on his wing. The two of them should be able to have anyone on their wing and be able to drive play.
And for the most part, they have. When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they have 55.13% of the shot attempts, and 53.19% of the expected …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Staturday Weekly Column #7: A sneak peak at an analytics project for the NWHL Bubble Season

Firstly, apologies for the last 2 weeks of this weekly column being AWOL, but I’ve been busy with something I’m really excited about.
If you’ve been following this blog lately, you’ll know that the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is currently in a bubble season for 2021 to determine the winner of this season’s Isobel Cup. You’ll also know that the Toronto Six, who this blog are ecstatic to be covering, are playing their inaugural season this year for that Isobel Cup.
Getting wrapped up in all of the excitement around the bubble season, I decided to take on a project to get some analytics for this bubble season. Luckily, I had some volunteers to build out a full-fledged team of our own. The goal of the project is to track some basic counting stats as well as more in depth “microstats”.
What?
The main goal of the project is to get Corsi, or Shot Attempts, for the teams and players. Those are your basic counting stats. We’re tracking each shot attempt, and who was on the ice when it happened. This is valuable because every shot attempt that is taken has some chance, …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

How much of Michael Hutchinson will we see?

The news that Campbell is out for weeks is the opposite of ideal. Some might say it’s pretty bad. The fact that the Leafs recently lost Aaron Dell on waivers to gain some flexibility in taxi squad recalls for Thornton and Robertson’s injury makes things feel a little worse, and the Leafs are once again looking at Michael Hutchinson as the Leafs backup goaltender.
This time Hutchinson is the backup, not out of poor planning, but out of the necessity. He was slated as the fourth string goaltender, but the shortage of goaltenders around the league made Aaron Dell a commodity, and Campbell’s injury, is well, why the had Dell in the first place. The fact that they are now onto Hutchinson, who is a perfectly reasonable option as a third string goaltender wouldn’t be an issue except for the decreasing confidence from Leafs fans in Freddie Andersen, but he’s actively trying to prove people wrong. Over the past three starts Andersen is sitting at a .938 save percentage which is decidedly better than he started the year at. Fingers crossed that he can perform at this level or at least somewhere in-between this level and …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs will host home games at Scotiabank Arena this season

After a couple weeks with it up in the air, the Leafs have been permitted by the government of Ontario to play all of their home games this season at Scotiabank Arena.

#Hockey news in Ontario
The Ottawa @Senators and Toronto @MapleLeafs will be able to play home games in their respective arena’s as they compete in the @NHL North Division. My statement here: pic.twitter.com/Q6bOGJeamV
— Lisa MacLeod (@MacLeodLisa) January 7, 2021

The NHL schedule was released on December 23rd, there was still some doubt surrounding the Leafs (and likewise, the Ottawa Senators) and whether or not they’d be allowed to play games in Ontario to start the season, with the current lockdown in place. However, the Leafs will be allowed to play in Toronto, as long as them and the travelling teams follow strict health and safety protocols.
With this, it means that the Leafs will be able to play in Toronto for the entire regular season, and at the very least, the first two rounds of the post season (should the Leafs make it that far), since the first two rounds will remain in division for the whole league.
After that, there’s a bit more …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation