Sandin’s injury provides Holl one last chance to show he belongs on the Leafs’ blueline

When I sat down to write about the underwhelming year from Justin Holl on Sunday afternoon, I certainly didn’t anticipate that we could very well be looking at the end of Rasmus Sandin for the season. That certainly fell into the less than ideal category and one that runs counter to the premise of this post which about the need to move on from Justin Holl. Luckily for the purpose of not completely trashing the post and more importantly Rasmus Sandin’s health, it looks like it will only be a two to three week window that Sandin will be out. This new scenario really fits with a lot of the recent articles that about the Holl trade speculation that caution against giving up defensive depth. While the situation has changed, Holl’s performance still leaves a lot to be desired, so while I might have initially been calling for it being time to move on from Holl, instead this seems like chance to turn things around.
A few years back the Leafs took a chance on a former second round pick whose career had sent him on a path to the ECHL.
Things went well on the Marlies, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Prospect Graham Spraker making strong push to crack the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster

Year after year, every off-season usually brings some very intriguing 40-man roster decisions ahead of the annual Rule 5 Draft, and for the Toronto Blue Jays, this winter shouldn’t be any different.

This time around, the deadline for all 30 teams to add Rule 5 eligible players to their respective 40-man rosters is scheduled for Nov. 19 (this Friday). As currently constructed, the Blue Jays feature seven open spots on their 40-man squad, although it’s unlikely they’d fill all of those openings so early in the off-season.
Among numerous quality candidates, pitcher Graham Spraker is someone who’s been generating plenty of buzz around himself over the last six months or so, likely inserting himself into this conversation. Though he isn’t a highly-touted prospect, at least, not at the moment, the 26-year-old has made considerable progress in the last year and is seemingly knocking on the door of the major leagues.
Originally drafted out of the 31st round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Spraker came out of college as a starter, however, he split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen through his first few seasons of professional baseball. Unfortunately, the right-hander battled through inconsistencies during that span, struggling to …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Michael Bunting is just what the Leafs need, but they still need to identify where

It feels strange to say that a 26 year old rookie making less than $1M/yr might not be ready for the Leafs top six, and be prepared to meet resistance from making that statement, but here we are. Bunting, who has been very solid with four goals, and seven total points through his first 16 games with the Leafs is doing what could have reasonably been expected of him, but at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if his modest success is coming at the cost of slowing down the Leafs top six.
Earlier in the year it was the case for Nick Ritchie. He simply wasn’t a fit with Tavares and Marner and then Matthews and Marner. As time progressed onward we found ourselves with Michael Bunting seeing time with the Auston Matthews line, and what we’ve seen is a steady cooling off of Bunting’s game as well as a number of question marks around how well Auston has been doing this year. Presumably, this duo isn’t a match, and Bunting could be better off in a sheltered situation alongside Alex Kerfoot, assuming that placing him back at center is an option again.


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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors: 3-point shooting will be key for OG Anunoby’s MIP chances

Raptors: 3-point shooting will be key for OG Anunoby’s MIP chances

So far, it’s been a career year for OG Anunoby. He is averaging 20.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Anunoby is one of the key reasons why the Toronto Raptors are currently riding a five-game winning streak after such a sluggish start. His stats this season are good enough to be in […]
Raptors: 3-point shooting will be key for OG Anunoby’s MIP chances – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

The Marlies get their goalie as Hutchinson clears and the Leafs put four more players on waivers

What a difference a year makes. Last year little thought was given to putting Michael Hutchinson on waivers, and instead some of us were worried what might become of Aaron Dell. Now, knowing the importance of a third string goaltender a bit more, especially in the pandemic era, there was a bit of nervousness about whether or not Hutch would be claimed, and today we are thankful to say he was not.

Michael Hutchinson (TOR) clears waivers.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 6, 2021

The Leafs do not need to immediately assign him to the Marlies, so we’ll see if he hangs around the Leafs camp for a few more days, but ultimately he’ll be a Marlie and the Leafs emergency callup option.
Hutchinson was not the only bit of waivers news for the Leafs today as four more players were placed on waivers today…

Kole Lind (SEA), Max McCormick (SEA), Joey Anderson (TOR), Carl Dahlstrom (TOR), Brennan Menell (TOR), Brett Seney (TOR) and Jonah Gadjovich (VAN).
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 6, 2021

Brennan Menell, Brett Seney, Joey Anderson, and Carl Dahlstrom have all been sent down, and while all will likely clear there might possibly be some interest in Brennan Menell or …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #4 John Tavares

To say last year didn’t end how John Tavares wanted it to is probably the biggest understatement I could make. After captaining the Leafs to a division title, there was a lot of hope heading into the post season, and while the Leafs didn’t make it out of the first round, a freak accident meant Tavares didn’t make it out of the first period of Game One, and while disappointing, the only thought that comes to mind about Tavares is that it could have been so much worse and the fact that he’s back at 100% to start the 2021-22 season is one of the reasons for hope this year.
Like the next three Leafs on our list, Tavares was exclusively ranked at the top of the Leafs list. Some three rankings, some four rankings, a couple of fives from our contributors that value defense and goaltender, but for me Tavares is the 2nd best Leaf (I’ll leave you to guess who’s #1.) My ranking, like I’d hope most of our contributors rankings was based in person preference, and for me I’ll take a center over a winger any day, and I think round …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Burning Question: Can Jack Campbell’s success continue?

Last year, Jack Campbell soared into the hearts of Leafs nation as he fairly won the starting goaltending position from Frederik Andersen. His rise to that role was entrhalling, and will certainly earn him the chance to keep that role, despite the Leafs bringing in an established goalie into the fold in Petr Mrazek.
However the workload is shared between Mrazek and Campbell, it’s obvious that everyone involved is hoping that Campbell can build on what he did last year and continue to have excellent results in the 2021-22 season.
Unfortunately, goaltending results can be quite volatile year-over-year. It has been shown in research by people smarter than I am that save percentage is mostly a team stat, and isn’t really representative of goalie quality.
Even when someone like DTMAboutHeart breaks it out into save percentages from different zones, or using those zones to make an “adjusted” save percentage, it’s really hard to repeat results year-over-year. This goes for good and bad results.
Essentially, the team’s system and quality of team defense, after being tested repeatedly over 82 games, can be repeated year-over-year. For goalies, this isn’t so much the case; it’s hard for a …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Why the Leafs should sign development camp invites way more often

Why the Leafs should sign development camp invites way more often

Every year, a large group of undrafted free agents attend development camps and rookie tournaments around the league. Teams bring these players that they have varying degrees of interest in to get a closer look at them, before sending them back to their junior leagues in the hopes of being drafted the next time around.
And with that, every year we see “overage” prospects drafted relatively high. No matter the draft class, you can find numerous prospects that had been passed over in previous drafts selected as high as the top 100. Most just accept this as a reality of the draft, that once the draft is over you have to wait another year to have a crack at bringing these prospects into your organization. This isn’t exactly the case, however.
For NCAA bound prospects and those based in Europe, there isn’t much an NHL franchise can do. NCAA players cannot be signed to NHL contracts, so any NCAA prospect would have to forgo their collegiate career in order to turn pro. It is highly unlikely that an invite would forgo their collegiate career in order to join an organization, especially when these invites are often entering their first …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

The 2021 Top 20 Leafs Prospects: Honourable mentions

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It’s that time of year again. The dog days of summer are here and it’s time to take stock of the Leafs’ prospect pipeline before we ramp up for another busy season. The votes have been tallied and the countdown gets underway for real on Monday but we kick off the series today by looking at a few players that just barely missed the cut.
The Leafs’ prospect system might not have much star potential but they have drafted well in recent years, adding a number of very good mid-level prospects to the organization. That is evident here as each of the players on this list of honourable mentions has had success at lower levels and they all possess legitimate NHL upside, too.
Filip Král
Position: LHD
Age: 21
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 176 lbs
Drafted: 2018, fifth round, 149th overall
2020-21 Team: Kometa Brno (Czech), Toronto Marlies (AHL)
2020 Prospect Ranking: 17

Team
League
GP
G
A
P

Prerov
Czech2
7
2
8
10

Kometa Brno
Czech
48
2
15
21

Toronto Marlies
AHL
10
2
0
2

Král began last season in the second-tier Czech professional league, racking up 10 points in just seven games, before earning a call-up to the top Czech league. He got into 48 games with Kometa Brno, …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

The Toronto Maple Leafs Bet on Matthew Knies and His Tale of Two Seasons

Scouting the past year and a half has been strange, to say the least. No OHL games were played, resulting in numerous prospects heading overseas to play in random European leagues. The QMJHL started…then stopped for five weeks. WHL prospects played minimal games but were limited to in-division opponents only. And biggest of all, at any time a team or player could be shut down and have their entire season impacted with a positive COVID test.
That last group is the one that Toronto Maple Leafs 2021 second-round pick Matthew Knies falls into and is a major factor as to why the Leafs decided to bet on Knies despite a relatively disappointing season in the USHL.
Heading into the 2020/21 USHL season, expectations were high for Knies. The previous year, Knies had led the USHL in total points and points-per-game among prospects eligible for the 2021 Draft. That’s more points than Matt Coronato and Mackie Samoskevich, two USHL regulars who went in the first round, as well as a higher scoring rate than the USNTDP’s Matthew Beniers and Chaz Lucius, who also became first-round picks.

When the 2020/21 season started though, it was a struggle out of the gate for Knies. …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation