MAILBAG: Who replaces Andersen, Does Marner Deserve an A, and more…

It’s been a while since we’ve done a mailbag, so in this the beginning of the dark of void of no transactions and no hockey being played, we thought we’d reach out to you, our beautiful readers to see what’s on your mind, and what we can answer for you. Our writers were eager to answer, and I’m pretty sure everything we’ve said is 100% correct, even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff.

If Freddie wants a big raise next offseason, who’s a tendy Dubas should look at as a replacement in free agency or a trade?
— Lyle (@InsiderLyle) October 20, 2020

Michael Mazzei: I don’t think the Leafs should be quick to search for a new goalie via trade or free agency. They have two serviceable netminders in Jack Campbell and Aaron Dell on the roster and there is a real chance that they could be the tandem heading into 2021-22. Kyle Dubas made the move to acquire Campbell in part because of his potential and also his track record of progression. We saw briefly how much his presences helped stabilized the backup position and raise questions as to whether he should be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs to add Eric Joyce as Director of Hockey Strategy

While the Leafs might be done with the on ice moves for a while, they are apparently not done overhauling the hockey operations department…

Hearing former #FlaPanthers asst GM Eric Joyce is joining the #Leafs in a role expected to be Director of Hockey Strategy.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 22, 2020

So a couple of questions come from this, and we’ll deal with them both.
First, who is Eric Joyce?
Well, good news, he’s got a LinkedIn page!
Eric has been an Assistant to the GM or Assistant GM with the Panthers organization for the past six years and 11 months (shame to leave right before celebrating his work anniversary on LinkedIn.) He’s been the GM of their Springfield AHL team for the past four years, and prior to that the Panther’s AHL teams in San Antonio and Portland.
Prior to Eric’s time with the Panthers, he’s spent a lot of time with in the military and security related fields, as an Army Captain and West Point graduate would. He’s also a graduate of Harvard, in case you were worried that the elitism ended with Vesey and Kerfoot.
In any sense, he seems qualified. And …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Prospect Roundup: Amirov update, Prospect on pause, Akhtyamov gets the call

While Kyle Dubas and his staff have been hard at work reshaping the Maple Leafs roster and adding veterans such as TJ Brodie, Wayne Simmonds, and Zach Bogosian to the fold, several of the organization’s younger talents have continued their work towards staking their own claim to a Leafs roster spot in the future. In this, the strangest of fall seasons in which there is barely any high level hockey taking place in North America, it’s exciting for Leafs fans to have so many of the organization’s prospects playing overseas while we await the next NHL season. Let’s get to it.
Rodion Amirov – LW/RW – Salavat Yulaev Ufa
The Leafs’ most recent first round selection has predominantly played right wing on Ufa’s first line in the early part of the season but found himself on the left side of the third line for yesterday’s game. Just barely 19 years old, Amirov has been playing big minutes in a prime role against more mature players and has not looked out of place. His three goals and three assists through the first 14 games of the KHL season have already tripled his output from the 21 games he played …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

With the 44th overall pick the Leafs are proud to select…

We are now just a day away from the draft, and while the attention is always focused on the surefire first round prospects, every GM knows that finding NHL players beyond the first round is key to sustaining a successful organization. Over the last few weeks, the team at The Leafs Nation has been previewing potential options for the 15th overall pick but the Leafs have an opportunity to add another high end prospect to their system with the 44th pick as well.
Keep in mind that Toronto drafted Nick Robertson – arguably the top prospect in the organization – with the 53rd pick just last year, and he is already looking poised to be a contributor on the Leafs roster. Now, we shouldn’t expect every second round pick to break into the NHL so quickly but there should be plenty of talent and potential left on the board when it’s the Leafs’ turn to make their selection in the second round.
Many of the names on this list could be gone before the Leafs pick, but players slide down draft boards for a variety of reasons every year. Let’s take a look at some players ranked in the …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Who will be back in 2020-21? – The defense and goalies

The Leafs are well into their offseason, and while there’s still hockey to be played, the Leafs focuses are on next season and what improvements they can make to the roster to finally put them over the hump.
The good news for Kyle Dubas is that this will be, to some extent, his easiest offseason. He doesn’t have to pull all-nighters to win over John Tavares, he doesn’t need to go down to the wire to extend William Nylander, and he certainly doesn’t have to deal with Darren Ferris. But, he does need to address the holes the Leafs have on defense, whether it be through trade, free agency, or internally, and also continue to add prospect depth to the organization, something we’ve been lacking due to the disasters that were the 2016 and 2017 drafts. We might be looking at a similar team as last year, or a completely overhauled roster, as Dubas appears to not be letting any emotions get in the way of his moves so far.
So, let’s look at the team from top to bottom, and figure out who will be back. I will throw …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Who will be back in 2020-21? – The forwards

The Leafs are well into their offseason, and while there’s still hockey to be played, the Leafs focuses are on next season and what improvements they can make to the roster to finally put them over the hump.
The good news for Kyle Dubas is that this will be, to some extent, his easiest offseason. He doesn’t have to pull all-nighters to win over John Tavares, he doesn’t need to go down to the wire to extend William Nylander, and he certainly doesn’t have to deal with Darren Ferris. But, he does need to address the holes the Leafs have on defense, whether it be through trade, free agency, or internally, and also continue to add prospect depth to the organization, something we’ve been lacking due to the disasters that were the 2016 and 2017 drafts. We might be looking at a similar team as last year, or a completely overhauled roster, as Dubas appears to not be letting any emotions get in the way of his moves so far.
So, let’s look at the team from top to bottom, and figure out who will be back. I will throw …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays go from being no-hit through six to an explosive extra-innings win in Boston

It took a while for them to get there, but the bats finally showed up in the 10th inning last night. Better late than never.

Things worth mentioning…

Taijuan Walker got the start on Thursday night looking to build on the excellent Blue Jays debut he put together last weekend. Walker’s stuff was a little bit different this time out than it was with the adrenaline of his debut. He was sitting around 92 miles-per-hour on his fastball, which is a slight tick down from the 94 mph he was hitting against Baltimore. Still, Walker tossed five-and-two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out four. If he can keep doing that for the rest of the season, it would be huge.
In the sixth inning, Walker allowed a couple of hits and then walked Christian Vasquez to load the bases. Charlie Montoyo pulled him in favour of Anthony Kay, a lefty, and Walker wasn’t happy with it at all. I know the general sentiment is you don’t want to see a pitcher “show up” a manager on the mound like that, but you have to love the …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Did the Tyson Barrie experiment fail?

Last summer was one of the most active off-seasons in a while for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas.
The first major move on July 1st was sending Connor Brown, Nikita Zaitsev and Michael Carcone to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Cody Ceci, Ben Harpur, Aaron Luchuk and a 2020 third-round pick. Some may have thought that would be the only big move that Dubas would make.
But just under 12 hours later, he would trade Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 third-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche for Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth-round pick.
It was a move that fans thought would shift the organization forward, but to some, it has now set the Maple Leafs a few steps back.
In Toronto, Barrie didn’t have the best season — but it wasn’t as poor as some suggest. Obviously, everyone is now comparing it to Kadri’s blowout playoff tenure, where he has 11 points in eight games with the Avalanche. Yet with the Maple Leafs, Barrie did his best before they were eliminated by the Columbus Blue Jackets two weeks ago.
The hardest part for 29-year-old was in the beginning of the season, …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

How the lines could look following Muzzin’s injury

While the Leafs did enjoy a bounce-back win on Tuesday evening, it came at the expense of Jake Muzzin who left the game early.
Late in the third period, Muzzin was cross-checked by Pierre-Luc Dubois and as he fell to the ice, his head and neck were knocked back after colliding with Oliver Bjorkstrand’s leg. He was unable to get up on his own power and was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher following a 15-minute delay.

Here’s the cross check from Pierre-Luc Dubois on Jake Muzzin. No penalty for Dubois. pic.twitter.com/AMdu7lFuU4
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) August 4, 2020

In the fallback of this gut-wrenching injury, fans wonder how the Leafs will adjust their lines for Games 3 and 4. This depends on what Sheldon Keefe will be looking for on his blue line for however long Muzzin is gone. Does he want to implement a player who can impact the game offensively or can provide value on the penalty kill?
If the answer is the former, then Rasmus Sandin makes the most sense. He showed promising progression during his second tenure with the big club and was trusted into big minutes when they had …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

The dream of a 60-0 season is now dead

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Thanks to a late-inning rally, the Blue Jays lots 4-1 to the Rays and the dream of a 60-0 season has now evaporated.

Things worth mentioning…

The best thing about this game was the excellent start from Matt Shoemaker. In his first Major League start in well over a year (his 2019 season got derailed due to a freak injury), Shoemaker went six innings, allowing just one earned run on three hits and one walk while striking out four. Shoemaker looked every bit like the top-of-the-rotation guy he was during his short sample size in Toronto last season. As frustrating as tonight’s game was, seeing Shoemaker put together a return like that after tearing his ACL last April was a brilliant sight to behold. That’s certainly a positive sign for the season.
Unfortunately for Shoemaker, he wasn’t able to pick up a W because the offence was nowhere to be found. The lineup simply couldn’t solve Ryan Yarborough, who allowed just four hits over five-and-a-third. The only damage done by the Jays on Saturday night was a solo jack (he loves doing these in Florida) …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation