Mitch Marner is an incredible talent but we should absolutely be debating if he has a future with the Leafs

Welcome to the TLN Year in Review series on the Leafs players. One by one we’ll go through the entire roster and assess what went right and what went wrong for each player last season and what we think the futre holds for them. Rather than keep you all waiting for his name to come up at a random point, we’re starting off with a bang and going with a player that might be the most polarizing Leafs player at the moment, and rightfully so.
For three of the last four seasons Mitch Marner has been the Leafs leading scorer. He was on pace to finish with a career best regular season point total of 98 points, and have a legitimate shot at a 100 point season. After a 16 goal season last year, Marner worked on his shot and came back with 20 goals in 55 games this year. He’s received votes for the Lady Byng, Selke, and Allstar teams in the past, and this year, more than any other he has a legitimate shot at being named to either the first or second all-star team as he led all RW in points. Yes, there’s a lot to like about …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Top 4 moments from unusually unlucky 2020-21 season

Toronto Raptors: Top 4 moments from unusually unlucky 2020-21 season

Last year, the Toronto Raptors didn’t repeat, but we watched the champs get their rings and uncover the championship banner in Toronto. This was THE moment. Although The Raptors 2020-21 season was underwhelming, marked by COVID-19 related issues, injury, and unpredictability, the team still put on some grand performances. The Raptors showed that when COVID-19 […]
Toronto Raptors: Top 4 moments from unusually unlucky 2020-21 season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Kahfeel Buchanan / Raptors HQ

Auston Matthews’ career-defining season — Staturday Weekly Column #17

What a year this has been for Auston Matthews, eh? He has been atop the league’s goal scoring charts for the majority of the season, and has had the Rocket Richard trophy locked up for a few weeks.
But this season has been about more than just goals; Matthews has finally shed that expectation of being poor defensively that so often comes with elite, young offensive talent. In Toronto, we’ve had our fair share of goal scorers being poor defensively, so it almost feels natural to expect Matthews to be a detriment to the team in his own zone. However, this year, that narrative is changing.
Today, we’re going to look into Auston Matthews in two specific respects: goal scoring, and defensive play. One is certainly sexier than the other, but both are important for a star center to take their team to higher heights. As the Leafs attempt to reach those heights, both of these skills will be necessary for Matthews to lead this team forward.
Phenomenal Goal Scoring
We’ve all seen Matthews score some incredible goals in his NHL career already. Most recently, this one that made  Ben Chiarot question if playing in the …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

How did the Leafs do at the Trade Deadline? — Staturday Weekly Column #15

Going into the Trade Deadline this year, the Leafs appeared to be singly focused on getting a depth middle six winger. However, it slowly came to light that, despite a lack of cap space, they had their sights set on a number of different roster improvements.
At the end of the day, Toronto added two forwards, one defender, and one goaltender, whose averaged annual salaries are a combined $11.95M, but costing the Leafs only $6.45M against the cap. To add such value for such a good financial cost, Dubas had to pay some draft pick premiums, but no assets that the Leafs couldn’t afford to spend.
This post will dig into the statistics of each of the acquired players, and figure out just what they add to this already powerful Toronto team.
The Columbus Duo
Interestingly, the Leafs made two separate trades with the Columbus Blue Jackets for injured defensive forwards. THe first was Riley Nash, and the second was Nick Foligno. As the biggest acquisition the Leafs made, Foligno carries with him a certain expectation to really move the needle when it comes to the Leafs’ success this season. As an energetic middle-six winger, Foligno will drive opponents …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Trade chips, Amirov’s arrival appears imminent, Miettinen off to NCAA Championship

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For most of the year, our interest in prospects typically revolves around their performance and progression but with a number of leagues winding down for the season and the NHL’s trade deadline approaching, the focus in Leafs Land has shifted to which prospects could be used to acquire help for the current roster.
Kyle Dubas has made it known that his Leafs are all-in on this season and, in turn, he is willing to offer up prospects and draft picks to fortify the Leafs’ lineup for a playoff run. Most of the talk has been centered around the top prospects in the system like Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, and Rodion Amirov but the Leafs have a number of other prospects in their pipeline that could hold value ahead of Monday’s trade deadline.
To help get a better idea of exactly what kind of trade ammunition Kyle Dubas has at his disposal, Tony Ferrari and I put together a list of the Leafs’ best trade chips beyond the top prospects:
Maple Leafs’ trade chips beyond the top prospects

Enough trade talk for now, let’s get to some prospect updates.
Rodion Amirov – LW/RW – Tolpar …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Shop Local: Marlies that will make an impact for the Leafs after the trade deadline

As the NHL’s trade deadline approaches each year, fans tend to look outside of the organization for new talent. At times though, some of the best players who can make that difference for a team are actually within their own system.
In terms of the Leafs and Marlies — there are a ton of players who are on the cusp of making a difference at the NHL level. For some, like Nick Robertson and Rasmus Sandin, it’ll come a lot faster since Kyle Dubas already said they’d be with the Leafs on the back-half of this season. Plus, they’re top-end talents.

On TSN’s pre-game show, Kyle Dubas says Rasmus Sandin will likely return to the #Marlies next week.
Dubas said him and Nick Robertson may be with the #Leafs in the later-half of the NHL season.
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) April 2, 2021

And even after this season, Dubas said he expects those two “to be big parts of our club for a long time.” But what about the other players within the Leafs system?
When looking at the Toronto Marlies there are so, so many players who could be listed as a depth option on any other NHL …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Is Victor Oladipo a better long-term play than Norman Powell?

Toronto Raptors: Is Victor Oladipo a better long-term play than Norman Powell?

Norman Powell had a career year with the Toronto Raptors, he is currently averaging 19.6 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game. Powell became a key player for the Raptors, but they decided to trade him to the Portland Trail Blazers. On a day where stars like Nikola Vucevic and […]
Toronto Raptors: Is Victor Oladipo a better long-term play than Norman Powell? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

A Who’s Who of 2021 NCAA Free Agency

Every year the NCAA season begins to wind down and the players who have earned some NHL attention begin to have their names bubble to the surface. Not every player that garners interest signs a contract and many never result in much more than quality AHL depth but the NCAA market always seems to be a hotly contested one. This season’s crop of college free agents may face some barriers because of the COVID-19 pandemic as teams are strapped for cash and have been hesitant to spend in some cases. This could give teams like the Leafs, Rangers, and Bruins a bit more of an advantage as they are not held to the same monetary restrictions as others.
The drop, in general, is fairly average in terms of talent and there may not be a Tyler Bozak but you could get a Zach Whitecloud or a Zach Aston-Reese from this group. Bottom of the roster players need to be contributors and they need to be on good, cheap deals. NCAA free agents are a good way to give yourself extra options to fill those roles with cheap talent. If they don’t work out, the only asset that has …

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Author: Tony Ferrari / The Leafs Nation

Vesey claimed by the Canucks

The Leafs haven’t had the greatest luck this year with sneaking people through waivers.

VAN claims Vesey
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 17, 2021

Anyway, if the Canucks are going to start selling off players, they’ll need to add some bodies, and for the Leafs, well the decision to waive Jimmy Vesey was entirely based on roster flexibility, and the Leafs have that now. Vesey hasn’t been the misfire he may have been labelled as at times, and as far as outputs from a replacement level player on a $900k contract, his five goals haven’t been bad, and while he hasn’t stood out in any situation, he hasn’t been horrifically out of place in any situation either. The biggest issues were that as far as gambling on Vesey being more than he was in Buffalo last year don’t seem to be yielding the ideal results, and nothing about his performance truly warrants him being an everyday player. Waiving him so he can join the taxi squad and the Leafs can pursue other roster options makes sense, and Vesey is not a case for asset management. There was no trade market for him.

Wayne Simmonds appears to …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

When unprecedented becomes normal: How hockey has changed in the time of COVID

One year ago today, it all fell apart.
This past week has been about remembering everyone’s last normal week before the pandemic started, which was just over 365 days go. It’s been tough financially, tough on everyone’s mental health, and most of all, incredibly tough if you’ve lost a family member due to the Coronavirus. To say the least, this year has sucked. A lot.
One day after the NBA suspended their season due to COVID-19 last year, the AHL and NHL did the same. It was a difficult decision due to the uncertainty of when everything would go back to normal. Some said weeks, some said months. And after one year, there seems to be a subtle end in sight.
I can remember when it all happened. It was one of those moments where you have memory of where you were and what you were doing. But looking back on it, what do you remember?
For myself, this time last year I denied getting into the app TikTok saying “there’s too many young people on it.” I was 22 at the time. Little did I know that it would be the app that brought the most …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation