Things might feel different about the Maple Leafs this year, but it felt that way last year too

Every now and then you see an article with a headline that requires a spit take, and that was essentially what happened Monday morning when I read “This year feels different for the Toronto Maple Leafs” by Travis Yost. After reading the article, there is undoubtedly solid points made about how the Leafs have continued to improve, and how Sheldon Keefe is getting the best out of his players, but there is very much a Groundhog Day feel to instilling confidence in the Leafs midway through the regular season. Nothing Travis is saying is wrong, and seemingly through the law of averages, eventually it has to be Toronto’s year, right? And why not this year?
I’m certainly not here to shit on anyone’s optimism about the Leafs either. This is a very good hockey team and the season so far has provided a ton of evidence supporting the Leafs being a team that could make Toronto happy.
Unfortunately, we’ve been through this before.
A couple of summers ago the Leafs found themselves in the fortunate position of playing the Columbus Blue Jackets to kick start the return to play. On paper this was a matchup that Leafs fans were rightfully thrilled about. Toronto was getting the opportunity to play in their home rink instead the NHL’s Eastern Conference bubble, and after going through Columbus the path was far less conv …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

‘We’re proud of him here’, Maple Leafs react to Ho-Sang’s Olympics nod

With NHLers not permitted to participate at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Bejing next month, the door has been blown open for players who would otherwise not get the chance to participate.
Among those is Josh Ho-Sang. The Toronto Marlies forwards was one of several names on the list when Hockey Canada made their official announcement on Tuesday.
“We’re proud of him here,” Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza said of Ho-Sang’s Olympic nod. “He’s a guy that’s worked really hard to change the narrative around his game.”

Meet Team Canada!
25 men have been selected to represent at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
ROSTER https://t.co/d8OVCa3Ceh@TeamCanada | #Beijing2022 pic.twitter.com/pcIv42Qkf6
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) January 25, 2022

Ho-Sang initially joined the Toronto Maple Leafs days before training camp opened in September on a professional tryout contract, but had been working out at the team’s practice facility since July.
After impressing at camp both with how he conducted himself on and off the ice, Ho-Sang signed an AHL-only deal with the Toronto Marlies. The nature of his contract allowed the Thornhill, Ontario native to be eligible for Team Canada’s roster.
“He put himself in some uncomfortable positions in the summer where he had to work different and harder than he has in the past and did great,” Spezza said of Ho-Sang. “[He] came here with a great attitude and when you do that you win people over.”
Ho-Sang spent the previous season in the Swedish Hockey League where he was limited to just nine games through two different clubs. Since coming back to the North American ice surface, Ho-Sang has 11 goals and 20 points in 27 games with the Marlies this season and has received nothing but rave reviews during his time with the club.
“He’s worked to get better and reestablish himself here in North America and he’s done a good job of that and recognition of the Olympics is obviously a very good thing,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said of Ho-Sang. “And I think all of this is through the work that he has put in, combined with, of cours …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Five Pressing Leafs Topics: January Edition

I’ll be starting the new year with a monthly article showcasing some of the most pressing Leafs topics and concerns! So far this month, the Leafs are 5-2-1 and sit comfortably in a playoff spot. Of course, the expectations are higher than that, in an Atlantic division filled with elite teams – the margin for error is extremely thin. Without wasting any more time, let’s get right into it.
Here are the topics that will be covered:
The Forgotten Fourth Line
Do the Leafs have a problem defending leads?
Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl
Timothy Liljegren: Trade piece or part of the core? 
Analyzing the new balanced lines from practice
The Forgotten Fourth Line 
One of the biggest differences between this version of the Leafs and last year has been their fourth line. Last season it provided Toronto with a ton of scoring in limited sheltered minutes. Jason Spezza, the staple of the line, finished the season with 24 points at 5v5 while averaging just over eight minutes at 5v5 minutes per game. Alex Ovechkin, Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Tyler Toffoli also each finished with 24 points at 5v5 despite playing over 200 more minutes at night than Spezza. This year Spezza has only five points at 5v5 in 34 games. The contrast between Spezza’s production in the past two seasons is seen below:
Season
GP
TOI/GP
Goals/60
Total Assists/60
Total Points/60
Shots/60
S%
iCF/60
On-Ice SH%
2020/2021
54
8.58
1.04
2.07*
3.11 *

7.77
13.33
13.47
10.76
2021/2022
34
9.36


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Author: Nick DeSouza / The Leafs Nation

Jerami Grant is a trade scenario Toronto Raptors should avoid

Jerami Grant is a trade scenario Toronto Raptors should avoid

Players with the potential to average 20 or more points a game are talents that the Toronto Raptors normally should pursue to make their roster more potent. However, with the trade deadline approximately one month away, should Toronto consider making a move for Jerami Grant? The Detroit Pistons are 14th out of 15 teams in […]
Jerami Grant is a trade scenario Toronto Raptors should avoid – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

Leafs take the necessary step of waiving Nick Ritchie to ice their best lineup going forward

To some extent the news seemed inevitable. With the return of Marner and Sandin to the Leafs lineup, the COVID protocol list shortening, and now mix in the dominant play of Ilya Mikheyev and safety net of Kyle Clifford, it seemed like the obvious decision was eventually going to be to waive Nick Ritchie.
Now it has happened:

Nick Ritchie on waivers
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 6, 2022

One of the other reasons why waiving Nick Ritchie seems like an obvious decision is the fact that he carries a $2.5M cap hit for this season and next. That puts the Leafs in a situation where they either lose Ritchie and regain a ton of cap space or they retain him, get at least $1.125M to work with as cap space and can try again with Ritchie once he’s had a chance to work out his issues on the Marlies for a bit.
The most likely scenario is obviously that Ritchie goes unclaimed because that’s a lot of risk for another team to take on without dumping someone back on the Leafs. Crazier things could happen, but come 2pm tomorrow, you can probably expect Ritchie to be a Marlie.
Ritchie’s contract was always a bit of a risk. Toronto paid him for what he did last season in Boston, but that was a career year that also feat …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Mikyla Grant-Mentis, Shiann Darkangelo, and 6 more Toronto Six players selected to PHF All-Star Showcase

With our local Toronto Six sitting atop the Premier Hockey Federation standings for this season so far, it’s no surprise that they’re dominating the All-Star Showcase selections as well. With 8 players selected to the preliminary roster (awaiting 4 additional fan selections, details on that are below), they were beat out only by the star-studded Boston Pride by 1 player.
The showcase will be in Toronto on Saturday January 29th, at York Canlan Sports the home of the Toronto Six. The teams will be coached by the three honorary coaches, Meghan Chayka the co-founder of Stathletes, Melody Davidson who coached Team Canada from 2006 to 2012, and Sami Jo Small, who played as goalie for Team Canada from 1998 to 2006.
FORWARDS
Toronto’s captain Shiann Darkangelo will be a captain for her all star team as well, as voted by the players of the PHF. She shares that honour with Boston’s Jillian Dempsey, and Minnesota’s Allie Thunstrom. Darkangelo is second on the team with 8 points in 9 games, and is 8th in the league with 0.89 points per game.
Grant-Mentis is making another strong case for Most Valuable Player, as she sits atop both her team and the league with 15 points in 9 games. It’s no surprise to see her on this roster.
In addition to these two, the two Woods’, Emma on for …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Marner and Sandin return to Maple Leafs lineup tonight vs. Senators

Ring in the first day of the new year with a game between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ottawa is playing their first game since December 18th, while Toronto hasn’t played since December 14th. With both teams not playing in over two weeks, expect a game that will be both good and bad. Messy is the right word.
Drake Batherson is the Senators’ leading scorer with 28 points (9G, 19A) in 23 games. Right behind him in scoring is Brady Tkachuk, who has 22 points (12G, 10A) in 25 games played.
The Senators sit seventh in the Atlantic division with a 7-22-4 record.
Leafs lines heading into the game
Toronto had an optional morning skate this morning, meaning we won’t know the exact lineup until warmups. But, we can go back to what they were yesterday at practice, and go off that.

The Leafs have all their forwards for the 1st time all year.
Practice lines:
Bunting – Matthews – MarnerKerfoot – Tavares – NylanderMikheyev – Kampf – KaseEngvall – Spezza – SimmondsRitchie
Rielly – BrodieMuzzin – HollSandin – DermottKivihalme – Biega
CampbellMrazek
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) December 31, 2021

A few alarm bells rung off earlier this morning when we saw that Rasmus Sandin was reportedly sent to the minors. Many thought …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Coming off injury-riddled season, 2022 is a pivotal year for Cavan Biggio

With 2021 nearing an end, 2022 is expected to be another crucial year for the Toronto Blue Jays, especially for someone like Cavan Biggio.

After enjoying a productive 2020 campaign, where the 26-year-old posted a 122 wRC+ score and a 1.3 fWAR rating over 265 plate appearances, Biggio was aiming to build off that success as he entered last season as the club’s everyday third baseman.
Sadly, nothing went according to plan for the 6’2″ versatile infielder, resulting in the worst statistical performance of his young major league career.
Adding to his disappointing 84 wRC+ score and -0.1 fWAR rating, staying on the field also proved to be extremely challenging throughout the 2021 campaign, as Biggio dealt with multiple nagging injuries all year long. Beginning in spring training, the left-hander missed a sizeable chunk of time due to a sprained finger on his right throwing hand.
Shortly after his finger healed, unfortunately, the former fifth-round selection reinjured it nearly a month later against the Kansas City Royals, which saw a hardly-hit ground ball bounce up and strike his right hand. Though this incident didn’t cause him to spend any time on the injured list, he probably would’ve been better off missing some time rather than …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

News from the Rink: Leafs’ Campbell, Brodie, Dermott, Keefe, Carbery exit COVID protocols

With four days remaining until the Leafs’ next game, more players have left COVID protocols and are back at practice.
Over the last few days, there have been plenty of transactions between the Leafs and Marlies. If I had to pick a day that had the most, I believe today would be that day.
Let’s start with the players who are at Leafs’ practice today.

Players participating in Dec. 28 practice:
Forwards: Anderson, Bunting, Clifford, Engvall, Kaše, Kerfoot, Marner, Matthews, Ritchie, Simmonds, Spezza, Tavares
Defencemen: Biega, Brodie, Dahlström, Dermott, Holl, Král, Liljegren, Rubīns
Goalies: Campbell, Scott
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 28, 2021

There are a few players who’ve returned to practice today, and that list includes Jack Campbell, Travis Dermott, and TJ Brodie. Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, and assistant coach, Spencer Carbery, also returned to practice today.
With three Leafs regulars returning, a few others have been sent back to the Marlies.
Those players include Alex Steeves, Brett Seney, and Joseph Woll.
But wait, there’s more! As those three return to the Marlies, Kristians Rubins gets the recall to the Leafs’ taxi squad. Toronto currently has Kyle Clifford, Alex Biega, Filip Kral, Carl Dahlstrom, Joey Anderson …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors lose G League standout Reggie Perry after call-up

Toronto Raptors lose G League standout Reggie Perry after call-up

While the Toronto Raptors needed anyone with a pulse to fill roster spots on a 10-day contract due to the effects of COVID-19, they did not choose to bring Reggie Perry up from the G League. Perry has been performing well with Raptors 905 in the G League so far this season. While Perry was […]
Toronto Raptors lose G League standout Reggie Perry after call-up – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ