The Maple Leafs have signed Timothy Liljegren, now it’s time for Rasmus Sandin

Two years with a $1.4 million annual average value — that’s the rate Timothy Liljegren received to stay with the Maple Leafs.
When Liljegren spoke with the media on Monday, he discussed how it was his goal to get a bridge deal in Toronto. Two years will allow him to develop even more into the player he wants to be and they got it done.
Looking at the signing, it’s a fairly safe bet for both sides. Liljegren is going to be a great defenceman in the NHL and will soon prove that. The Maple Leafs will also have him at a low cap hit when the team needs it most — this season and next.
But now the next question is, how much will Rasmus Sandin get?
This was one of the most interesting questions heading into the off-season. Of course, there was the examination of Jack Campbell’s career as a Maple Leaf and what Toronto will do in free agency, but I found the contracts of Liljegren and Sandin most fascinating.
One of the many reasons behind it was in part because of their careers and how each of them have played. They’re both different players in terms of handedness and offensive capabilities, yet they provide similar numbers over the s …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Risk vs. Reward: The Ville Husso question

This year’s crop of pending free agents features roughly five goaltenders who have managed a starter’s workload in recent years. The youngest and perhaps most intriguing option is St. Louis’ Ville Husso.
NHL general managers have a notoriously short memory when signing free agents. This seems especially true when looking at goaltending. Look at Sergei Bobrovsky for instance. His career has alternated between near-Vezina quality play and borderline unplayable on almost a yearly basis, and Florida still saw fit to sign him long-term at $10 million per year.
Keeping that in mind, (and what was written in my piece yesterday about goaltending being random and voodoo,) Ville Husso’s next contract brings with it the potential for huge risk or great reward, probably both. Is that something the Toronto Maple Leafs can really consider?
Let’s look at Husso’s career so far. 64 total NHL games (57 in the regular season, 7 playoffs) a career average .910 save percentage. Breaking that down a little further, Husso played 17 games in the 2021 shortened season and posted nine wins with a sub-.900 save percentage.
This past season is generally regarded as his emergence. He played 40 games and won 25, the most of any goaltender for the Blues this year, he essentially usurped Jordan Binnington as the starter, put up a 9.19 save percentage that placed him among the league’s best, and …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Russian factor set to mix up the 2022 NHL draft board

The “Russian factor” has been a topic of discussion for years in the National Hockey League. Whether it was in the early 90s when the first wave of Soviet players made the jump to the NHL or more recently in the 2010s following the creation of the KHL, a bias against players coming out of Russia has been persistent for a long time.
While the Russian factor has not been as significant as it once was immediately after the creation of the KHL in 2008, we have still seen star players take longer to come over to North America, such as Kirill Kaprizov and Igor Shesterkin, enough to make some teams hesitant to use significant draft picks on these players.
Entering the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Russian factor has a whole new meaning. Following the invasion of Ukraine, the relationship between the NHL and KHL has been altered, as has the potential development path for prospects still based in Russia. It has already been reported that some teams are not considering drafting Russian players whatsoever, while on the whole a tentative approach to these prospects will almost certainly be taken from the rest of the league.
This sets up a fascinating question mark as we quickly approach t …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: Is tonight the night for the Leafs?

It’s been 18 years since the Leafs have won a round. I know this because anytime our Twitter account shares something remotely positive about the Leafs we receive a flurry of uninspired responses from around hockey twitter reminding us of exactly this fact.
Maybe, just maybe, tonight is different.
IT’S GONNA HAPPEN!!! vs. emotional hedging
Tonight the bigger payout comes from Beleafing, The Moneyline for Toronto is +115, while Tampa is paying at -136. Tonight I’m choosing to believe in Toronto if for no other reason than when I woke up this morning it felt like things are going to be different (this is always great reasoning for how to put your money down. Be better than me.)
Spezza dragging the Leafs kicking in screaming into the second round
Last game Spezza did his best to motivate the Leafs, this time he might decide to take matters into his own hands more directly. Betting on Spezza to pick up a goal pays at +650.
Leafs have been slow out the gate
At no point in my years of following the Leafs have they ever chosen to do things the easy way. Given their slow starts in the past couple of games, I’m considering going with another rocky start and taking advantage of the +850 payout on th …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Max Ellis looks back on first week since joining the Maple Leafs organization

After three years at Notre Dame, Max Ellis took a chance and signed a two-year entry level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs that begins next season.
The 22-year-old finished his final season in college, scoring 16 goals and adding 12 assists in 39 games — all while also being a Hobey Baker nominee back in January.
“I think what I bring is speed and a little offensive ability,” Ellis said in regards to what he brings and what he wants to improve on. “I think I need to work on just playing tight, playing in the middle, just playing in traffic. We did something like that today (Wednesday) with working with pucks along the walls and playing in battles one-on-one, so I think it’s been incredible. I mean, the resources here are fantastic and I think it’s going to be great for my game.”
After signing a contract with the Maple Leafs that begins next season, Ellis joined the Toronto Marlies on a PTO for the rest of this year. There’ll be an incredible amount of development time for the 22-year-old.
He said that was a big part of why he chose to sign in Toronto.
“I think that’s a big part of it,” Ellis said about development. “The other pa …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

This is the most playoff ready team of the Matthews era for the Leafs

It’s been 17 years since the Maple Leafs last won a playoff series, but could this finally be the year they do it?
Well, maybe. It’s really 50/50 to be exact.
Ever since Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner joined the organization, the team’s goal has been to bring the Stanley Cup back to Toronto. However, the first round has gotten in their way five times (if you count the qualifying round in 2020).
Toronto has pushed to the maximum amount of games in a series each year, except for their first playoff berth of the Matthews era against the Washington Capitals back in 2017.
Three 4-3 losses — two against the Boston Bruins — one against the Montreal Canadiens where Toronto was up 3-1 in the series. I’m sure you remember that one most clearly.
This year, though, the Maple Leafs look like a more playoff-ready team. They acquired Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell on deadline day while also getting Ilya Lyubushkin a few weeks earlier. Each of those transactions has improved the team a lot on the back-end, and I’d say has made them more confident heading into the post-season.
On defence in particular, the Maple Leafs are deeper than ever. Toronto could have a top pairing of Morgan Rielly and Lyubushkin, a second pairing o …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews all business after becoming the fourth Maple Leafs player to score 50 goals in a season

Perhaps it was two years overdue or the fact that he broke the threshold with an empty-netter, but Auston Matthews was quite calm for someone who just scored his 50th goal of the season.
“It’s pretty special just to do it at home as well,” Matthews said as he barely cracked a smile. “I’ve been really fortunate to play with some special players and special teams throughout these six years, it means a lot.”
Matthews’ teammates mobbed him on the ice when he scored with a shot from his own end of the ice late in the third period. They followed that up by dousing Matthews with water when he walked into the dressing room after the game.
The Scottsdale, Arizona native became the fourth player in Maple Leafs history to score 50 in a season along with Rick Vaive, Gary Leeman and Dave Andreychuk, but he obliterated his predecessors by accomplishing the feat in just 62 games.
But as far as leaning into the milestone? There was none of that from Matthews.
Maybe it was because Matthews was three goals away from 50 during the 2019-20 NHL season when the COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt end to the season. Maybe because, as William Nylander put on Saturday in Montreal, that the team …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs trade deadline move everyone is overlooking

Ninety minutes before this year’s NHL trade deadline, Kyle Dubas made a deal with David Poile and the Nashville Predators. The trade was Alex Biega going from the Leafs to the Predators in exchange for everyone’s favourite, future considerations.

TRADE: We’ve traded defenceman Alex Biega to Nashville in exchange for future considerations. #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/hGGradEFoK
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 21, 2022

Before you click away, April 1st isn’t until Friday, so no, I am not joking. There is more to this article than just Biega for future considerations, though. This deal could be the Maple Leafs giving Biega a better opportunity to play in the NHL. In Toronto, Biega was probably ninth or tenth on the organizational depth chart on the blue line. This trade also frees up a contract slot for the Leafs to sign NCAA or European free agents. The team has already signed Nick Abruzzese to an entry-level contract and will probably look into doing the same with Matthew Knies whenever his season concludes. Puck Pedia currently has the Leafs at 50/50 professional contracts, but Cap Friendly has them at 47/50. The discrepancy is likely from Puck Pedia including William Villeneuve, Braeden Kressler, and Ty Voit all have ELCs, but are exempt from the 50 contract limit.
Usually, the details from trades that include future considerations never come to light. But I think we can speculate on what the return for Biega might be. Enter Philippe Myers.

News: The Toronto Marlies have acquired defenceman Philippe Myers on loan from the Nashville Predators. #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/A47XNuFivA
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) March 23, 2022

A loan is not the same as a trade. Myers …

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Author: Stephen Brown / The Leafs Nation

If the correct adjustments are made, Yusei Kikuchi could provide plenty of upside for Blue Jays

Over the years, taking on pitching projects is something the Toronto Blue Jays have become very accustomed to and it appears their latest one has just arrived in the form of starter Yusei Kikuchi.
Despite missing out on him back in 2019, the Blue Jays wouldn’t be denied this time around and finally landed their guy, signing Kikuchi to a three-year, $36-million contract. A move this organization made official Monday evening.

OFFICIAL: We’ve signed LHP Yusei Kikuchi to a 3-year contract!
ブルージェイズ ファミリーへようこそ pic.twitter.com/xhmBsZeWBI
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 14, 2022

Following this announcement, Toronto has now solidified its starting rotation ahead of Opening Day, which is projected to include Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah and Kikuchi. That being said, this signing does involve some level of risk as the 30-year-old is coming off an underwhelming 2021 performance.
During his third and final campaign with the Seattle Mariners, the left-hander compiled 157.0 innings pitched, posting a concerning 4.41 ERA, 5.23 xERA, 4.61 FIP and a measly 1.1 fWAR rating.
Though Kikuchi improved his strikeout rate to a career-best 24.5 per-cent clip, most of those swings and misses were largely overshadowed by his inability to limit hard contact. After his hard-hit rate against sat below 40 per-cent in each of his first two seasons, it spiked dramatically during his most recent one, climbing to 47 per-cent – placing it in the third percentile in the majors.
For the most part, the Japanese-born hurler excelled while facing left-handed hitters last season, but ran into major trouble against right-handers, who slashed .271/.351/.479 and slugged 22 home runs. In comparison, lefties performed to just five home runs and a .147/.205/.272 sla …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

DeMar DeRozan retells cool Kobe Bryant story from Raptors tenure

DeMar DeRozan retells cool Kobe Bryant story from Raptors tenure

Even a full two years after his passing, the memory of Kobe Bryant still burns brightly among fans and players all across the NBA landscape. Among active players, few of them can claim to be bigger Bryant fans than former Toronto Raptors sensation DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan tried to pattern large portions of his game after […]
DeMar DeRozan retells cool Kobe Bryant story from Raptors tenure – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ