Why did the Leafs trade for David Rittich?

So, Kyle Dubas decided to try and slip one by us before we all went to bed and it didn’t work. The Leafs acquired David Rittich from Calgary in exchange for a third-round pick in 2022 just after 10PM.
This could mean a lot of things (that you’ll have to find out by watching the video)!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Diesel Engine wasn’t anywhere near fired up as the Blue Jays get dropped in Texas

That went just about as well as you’d have expected it to. The Blue Jays, on Tanner Roark day, take the loss by a score of 7-4.

Things worth mentioning…

I was willing to give Tanner Roark the benefit of the doubt after a miserable 2020 season given the fact that there wasn’t a normal spring training before the 60-game sprint and a lot of pitchers struggled because of it. But, this season, Roark had ample time to get the Diesel Engine rolling (he allowed 10 earned runs in 10 2/3 spring innings) and he still got lit up by a hapless Rangers offence on Tuesday. Roark got clubbed for five earned runs on six hits, three of which were homers, and only lasted three innings.

I don’t know how you can put Mayza and Kirk on the roster because you’re only here to win ballgames this year, then give Roark any more than three starts if they’re going to be like this. Maybe two.
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) April 7, 2021

I know it’s just one start but… yeesh. Roark was only able to hit 92 miles-per-hour or higher on the gun three times and his pitches that are supposed to …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays are off to Texas to (hopefully) kick the crap out of the hapless Rangers

Opening Weekend went about as well as anybody reasonably could have expected for the Blue Jays.

They rolled into Yankee Stadium without George Springer, their top two projected starting pitchers, and their closer, and they managed to take two of three games thanks largely to some impressive pitching performances.
Now they have a really good opportunity to get off to a hot start to the season as they travel to Texas to face the Rangers, who, on paper, are arguably the worst team in baseball. According to ZiPS projections, the Rangers are expected to win just 66 games this season, which is better than only the Baltimore Orioles (65 wins) in the American League.
The Rangers will also become the first big-league team to welcome fans back at full capacity for their home opener on Monday. What could go wrong!
How they’re doing…
You generally don’t want to draw too many conclusions from Opening Weekend but Texas’ three-game set in Kansas City with the thoroughly mediocre Royals validates the notion of how bad the Rangers supposedly are. Texas lost the first two games of that series by a combined score of 25-14 and salvaged things on Sunday with a 7-3 …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Norman Powell traded to Trail Blazers for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood

Toronto Raptors: Norman Powell traded to Trail Blazers for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood

The Toronto Raptors went into the trade deadline with the intention of selling, and they did just that by sending Norman Powell on his way after the former second-round pick evolved into a star this season. Powell has averaged 19.6 points per game this season while shooting 50% from the field and 44% from 3-point […]
Toronto Raptors: Norman Powell traded to Trail Blazers for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Trying to understand why Jimmy Vesey plays every night

Okay, so I went into looking at Jimmy Vesey’s stats fully expecting that there would be a huge difference between the eye test on him and the numbers. My eyes when it comes to Vesey are strained. Generally it’s hard to tell that he’s even in the lineup, but at some point he’ll find himself in the right position and he’ll create an opportunity, and then it serves to remind you about how you haven’t noticed him the rest of the time he was playing, which has been around 12 minutes a night.
Injuries to Simmonds, Thornton, Hyman, etc. have certainly made it easier to see why Vesey is the lineup right now, but the 12 minutes part still remains a bit perplexing, because, well, he hasn’t been good. And with Nic Petan showing that he can work well with Travis Boyd, and Jason Spezza, Alex Barabanov might be beginning to find his footing in the NHL as well, Alex Galchenyuk waiting to make his Leafs debut, and of course Nick Robertson and Joey Anderson sitting on the Marlies waiting for their next opportunity, it’s starting to hurt my brain trying to establish why …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Aaron Dell era is over, the Jason Spezza era continues in Toronto.

It went exactly as expected. Aaron Dell was claimed off of waivers today at noon.

Devils claim Dell…
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) January 18, 2021

So the good news here is that Dell didn’t go to Scotia North Division opponent that needed a goaltender (read: the Oilers.) The fact that Dell went to New Jersey meant that he wound up exactly were he was expected to be after Corey Crawford announced his retirement and a capable backup was required for Mackenzie Blackwood. Previously the Devils had claimed Eric Comrie off of waivers, but Dell would certainly be an upgrade. It remains to be seen if they’ll move forward with three goaltenders, or if Comrie will be on waivers later this week. He could be an interesting depth option, although we can definitely see the challenge in getting third string goaltenders to the taxi squad at the moment. In that regard, Michael Hutchinson is a solid safety net for the Leafs, as he’s at least on par with most of the third string options around the league. It’s just unfortunate that goaltending depth will no longer be a position of strength for the Leafs.

Jason Spezza clears waivers – he’ll be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Staturday Weekly Column #4: 2020-21 Leafs Roster Improvements by Goals Above Replacement Model

Kyle Dubas went into this offseason with a ‘no holds barred’ mandate of getting this team over the hump in this upcoming season. Using short-term contracts to veterans, low-cost contracts to the team’s young RFAs, and new contracts to exciting European talent, the Leafs’ roster appears to have improved significantly. We’re ever so close to seeing this new team in action, so it’s gotten me curious to see the significance of these transactions.
To answer the question of “how significant?”, we can use the Goals Above Replacement model developed by EvolvingHockey that we discussed in an earlier edition of Staturday.
Basically, EvolvingHockey put a bunch of statistics into a box, and figured out how many goals that would be worth, relative to what a “replacement level” player (i.e. a call-up from the minors just filling in) could do.
As a manager, Kyle Dubas will be hoping that each of his players has a positive Goals Above Replacement (GAR) season in 2021. But we don’t just have to hope; we can actually attempt to predict whether this will happen or not.
See, EvolvingHockey also developed an Expected Goals Above Replacement (xGAR) model to predict the results of …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Leafs have 10 picks in the draft, just not the pick we wanted

Well, the draft lottery came and went as expected. There was a 12.5% chance of happiness, and in true Leafs fashion, Toronto managed to come close enough to bring only pain…

leafs lottery ball rimming out set to my heart will go on (recorder version) pic.twitter.com/ncmimBGtZc
— dirtbag daddy (@dirtbag_daddi) August 11, 2020

Ah, nevertheless. Instead the Leafs traded the 13th overall pick, so they could unload Patrick Marleau and sign Marner to a contract to a contract that I will comfortably call “a little much.”
The good news in all of this is that the Leafs seem to draft well across the draft now that the keen eyes of Mark Hunter have departed. And with 10 picks in a deep draft, the Leafs have the potential to make the best of things…

Overall Pick
Original Owner of Pick

2nd Round
45th Overall

4th Round
106th Overall

4th Round
118th Overall*
Golden Knights Pick

5th Round
149th Overall*
Golden Knights Pick

6th Round
168th Overall

6th Round
178th Overall*
Hurricanes Pick

6th Round
184th Overall*
Avalanche Pick

7th Round
189th Overall
Sharks Pick

7th Round
195th Overall
Jets Pick

7th Round
216th Overall*
Blues Pick

* …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Scott’s Thoughts: The Leafs scare me more than the Blue Jackets

So last week I went all in on the Leafs beating the Blue Jackets in their upcoming qualifying series. And I still am. While the Blue Jackets have the advantage defensively, I think a lot of that relies on an extremely effective system put in place by John Tortorella to make up for the losses of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, something that could take some time to get used to after nearly five months off.
And while the Leafs have a habit of not being able to perform in the playoffs, we haven’t seen how they’ll perform in a playoff situation under Sheldon Keefe, although they did have good performances against Florida and Tampa Bay right before the season was paused.
There are even some analytical models that have them as the heavy favourites in the series (although there are also plenty that have it as insanely close but the Leafs coming out on top):

2020 NHL qualifying round preview: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets
On paper this shouldn’t be close. But we saw what the Blue Jackets did last year and they pose a similar stylistic problem to a skilled Leafs team.https://t.co/ …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays select Austin Martin with the fifth-overall pick

Well, that went better than expected! With the fifth-overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft, the Blue Jays selected Austin Martin, a multi-position player from Vanderbilt.

According to Keith Law, Martin is the best player available in the draft, so this is a massive win for the Jays to snag him at number five. After Spencer Torkelson went to Detroit with the first pick, both Baltimore and Miami went off the board, leaving the Jays with Martin.

Law says he hears the Jays will take Martin. “An enormous home run. Blue Jays fans should be over the moon. I think they get the best player in the draft.”
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) June 10, 2020

Martin slashed a .377/.507/.660 line for Vanderbilt this year over the course of 16 games before the season was killed due to COVID-19. Perhaps most impressive, Martin struck out only twice in 69 plate appearances. Very nice.
Coming into the draft, Martin was ranked No. 2 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 list, so, again, it’s incredible the Jays were able to snag him where they were drafting.
The best pure hitter in the 2020 Draft, Martin has tremendous feel for the barrel and makes consistent hard contact with a short, …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation