The Leafs’ worst contract is actually Phil Kessel’s retained salary

Although it feels weird to say this in November, we are well into the dog days of the NHL offseason. Meaning we rarely see much news regarding transactions and announcements (with a few notable exceptions) while waiting for the return of hockey on XX/XX/2021.
It also means sports talk radio shows will look to find any sort of content to keep viewer interest up, leading to stuff like this:

Tavares’ contract might be the Leafs’ worst, unless they win.@OverDrive1050 discusses:
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) November 25, 2020

Even if it were true that the Leafs did indeed overspend on John Tavares, he was a free agent back in 2018 and could have easily accepted the San Jose Sharks’ offer of $13 million per season but instead took less to play for his hometown team. We don’t even need to get into whether or not the Leafs overpaid Mitch Marner on his extension.
Instead of responding with anger and fury over this take from the OverDrive team, I would like to instead present a counter-argument. As the title of this post outlines, the actual worst contract on the Leafs is Phil Kessel’s retained salary.

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Matt Shoemaker says the Blue Jays could face a hurdle signing free agents due to COVID-19

This is going to be a weird off-season.

The COVID-19 landscape will have ramifications on the entire league and this winter’s free agency class will certainly feel it. Many teams will be reluctant to spend big dollars in free agency this year due to the fact that owners lost a whole bunch of cash by not having fans in the seats.
From a Blue Jays’ perspective, they’re going to have to work around the uncertainty of not necessarily knowing where they’re going to play next year. Matt Shoemaker went on Sportsnet’s The Good Show on Wednesday and spoke about the challenges the organization will likely face…
“If COVID-19 is still a factor … that could play a huge aspect in anybody coming to Toronto, and hopefully it doesn’t,” Shoemaker said on Sportsnet’s “The Good Show” on Wednesday. “I think in general, before this season, everybody loves coming to Toronto when they play them on the road.
But I think it’s semi-tough for people to go to Toronto over a picking a different team in a regular season because some people are intimidated about going over the border.
“If Toronto wants you and they want …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Finding some positives in the Leafs brief return to play

What a weird week it was. We got the briefest taste of meaningful hockey. It was playoff shareware. And going beyond the qualifying round would have been nice, but honestly when we look back on a season that included a coaching change, numerous injuries, a loss to their own employee serving as an Emergency Backup Goaltender, it’s not hard to see why this was over before it began, and why moving on from numerous players on this roster now seems like the smart decision for the Leafs.
Anyways, there were a few positive takeaways from that series that we should want to cling to in the coming months. Let’s look at some of them now.
1. This is unquestionably Auston Matthews’ team
Matthews played with the greatest sense of urgency we’ve seen from him at any point in his career. When the Leafs were down, Matthews pushed harder, wanted the puck, and put the team on his back. In many ways this is a continuation of the regular season when Matthews had his career best goal totals, and helped the Leafs fight their way back into the playoffs, but the Columbus series put an …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Ranking the 5 Weirdest Teams in Toronto Raptors History 

There have been many weird teams in Toronto Raptors history. Some good, some bad, some ugly. The Toronto Raptors have always been regarded as a weird team in the NBA, I mean, after all, a team in Canada? Who wants to play there. They were always constantly viewed as a very cold pitstop a few […]
Ranking the 5 Weirdest Teams in Toronto Raptors History  – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Alexandro Fidanza / Raptors HQ

NHL History: Today in 1966, Toronto Maple Leafs use three goalies in a game for the first time in NHL history

April 3rd, 1966 was a weird night for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The team was facing off against the Detroit Red Wings in their respective regular-season finales, a game that ended in a 3-3 tie.
And many years before there were such things as emergency backup goalies, on that fateful night the Maple Leafs played three goalies in a single game for the first time in league history.
Johnny Bower started the game in net, holding the Red Wings scoreless before Terry Sawchuk stepped in for the second frame giving up a goal to Detroit’s Norm Ullman.
Then, in the third frame, Bruce Gamble came into the game as both Bower and Sawchuk fell ill.
Even stranger, Bower took over running the bench from Punch Imlach in the third period. Imlach, for whatever reason, decided to take on the third period from the stands.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Leafs being asked about potentially trading UFAs Muzzin, Barrie, Ceci

God, this season seems weird, doesn’t it? Looking at the Leafs sitting outside of a playoff spot going into the all-star break when it feels like they were reeling off win after win just a couple weeks ago really makes it difficult to get a handle on what this team is doing, or more importantly, should do for the next three months.
I made an argument that Toronto was one of the most boring teams going into the trade deadline from a rumours perspective, and I still believe that. But with the way things have been good to bad to worse to good again and finally mediocre, it’s understandable that teams are starting to circle and see who might shake loose in the next month.
According to Elliotte Friedman from 31 Thoughts, there have been calls about the Leafs’ much-talked-about defence corps specifically.
I also think the Maple Leafs have been asked about their UFA-to-be defenders — Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, and Jake Muzzin. I don’t see Toronto falling out of the race, so the only way anything happens here is if they are convinced one of the younger defencemen needs a permanent …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Predicting where Elvis Luciano starts the 2020 season

It was rather weird that the Blue Jays selected Elvis Luciano from Kansas City in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft. At the time an 18-year-old hurler who’d never pitched above Rookie, Luciano wasn’t exactly the most natural choice for a team to select.
Still, Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays chose him and became instantly faced with the challenge of keeping him on the big-league roster all season. Though the season came with its fair share of growing pains — Luciano pitched to an ERA of 5.35 in 33.2 innings, allowing 20 earned runs on 36 hits and 24 walks, striking out just 27 — the organization was, miraculously, able to keep him in the system, thanks chiefly to a timely stint on the injured list.
Now, the Blue Jays have full and complete control of Luciano’s future, which, ultimately, is what they wanted when they took him from the Royals. With years of control and an electric yet raw arm, Luciano becomes more intriguing now than ever.
Since his rookie status is still intact as of the end of the 2019 season, the Blue Jays can develop him as they wish. Player development, especially in this organization, is a challenging and at times divisive topic. Do the …

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

Jake Gardiner might still be waiting for the Leafs to make room for him

There’s no other way to put it: The Jake Gardiner situation is a weird one. The (maybe former) Leafs’ defenceman, coming off a season that was derailed a bit by injury but still impressive hasn’t signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent. He’s just… sitting there.
But why? There have been some who’ve pointed to his injury this past spring as the key reason, while others believe he actually has a handshake deal with a team looking to clear up other business. Oddly enough, it’s usually his hometown Minnesota Wild that get tossed around in those rumours.
As far as I can tell, however, there doesn’t appear to be anything cap-wise stopping the Wild from signing Gardiner today if they want to. That’s why it’s always been in the back of my mind that the Leafs are still in on this for some bizarre reason, especially since I don’t believe his time missed this past season is enough to scare other teams away from offering him a decent long term deal.
I just don’t know how it looks if the Leafs really are still in this. Not that Gardiner …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Davey Clarkman is back, baby!

What a weird world we live in. After the Leafs have done gods work to clear enough cap space to keep all of the good parts of this team together, Dubas also decided to spice up our summer even more and bring back the man, the myth, the legend himself, Wendel Clark… er, I mean David Clarkson.
Apparently, the Vegas Golden Knights need money or something, so the Leafs have acquired David Clarkson’s contract and a fourth round pick for Garret Sparks.

This is going to happen involve TOR getting a fourth-round pick and sending Garret Sparks to LV
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 23, 2019

First off, Dave Nonis is a liar. He said we wouldn’t have to worry about years six or seven, and here we are in year seven, with David Clarkson on our cap. No wonder he got fired.
In all seriousness, this is just bizarre. I’m no cap expert, but the easiest way to explain this is that because he’s LTIRetired, Clarkson won’t count against the cap at all. He’s basically Nathan Horton, who we traded him for in the first place coincidentally.
Why did the Leafs …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

The Curving Path of Patrick Murphy

(I’m going to be getting weird over at The Hardball Times now, as well as continuing to contribute for Blue Jays Nation. Here’s a look at my first article over there with the link.) 
On June 6, 2013, Bud Selig’s carnival had pitched its June tent in Secaucus, New Jersey for another year’s MLB First-Year Draft, and the 1K lights of Studio 42 were ready to shine on the future of baseball. The cameras, the media, and baseball lovers around the world had been following the top draft prospects for months, all leading up to this — the big day, now finally arrived. Mark Appel, Jon Gray, Kris Bryant, Clint Frazier, Kohl Stewart, and Austin Meadows were the big names on Baseball America’s Top 500 list. And with the first overall pick, the Astros, sure enough, chose Appel — the right-handed pitcher and Houston native in his second year as the draft’s top prospect.
Appel isn’t in baseball anymore. After years of tough luck and injuries, he left the game in 2018. He is the third No. 1 overall pick to never set foot on major league soil, joining Brien Taylor of the New York Yankees (‘91) and Steve Chilcott of the …

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Author: Ryan Di Francesco / Blue Jays Nation