Leafs looking to Sandin and Liljegren to solidify blue line ahead of trade deadline

After the additions of TJ Brodie and Zach Bogosian helped shore up a much-maligned Leafs defensive unit during the shortened 2020-21 season, Toronto’s blue line has once again been a point of consternation through the first half of the 2021-22 campaign.
Even with Morgan Rielly playing the best hockey of his career and Brodie locking things down beside him on the team’s top pairing, head coach Sheldon Keefe has been left searching for answers to Toronto’s defensive struggles for much of the season.
Many of those struggles have stemmed from the Leafs’ supposed shutdown pairing of Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl as both players have dealt with injuries and inconsistent play throughout the first half. Muzzin was arguably Toronto’s best defenceman in 2020-21, joining forces with Holl to shoulder the heaviest workload on the team all season long, but they have been unable to produce the same kind of results so far this season.
An illness derailed Holl early in the season and he ended up watching five straight games as a healthy scratch, paving the way for Timothy Liljegren to establish his place in the Leafs’ defensive rotation. Compounding one problem with another, Muzzin was facing his own individual struggles for much of the season before hitting …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Bringing back Luke Schenn could address Zach Bogosian’s departure

So it turns out giving Zach Bogosian a new contract was not a no-brainer like I thought it would.

Am told Zach Bogosian won’t be returning to the #Leafs . …
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) July 26, 2021

Bogosian played well in his lone season with the Leafs as a shutdown defenceman on the third pair. So much, in fact, that Sheldon Keefe had little choice but to continue riding the hot hand throughout the campaign and during the playoffs (apart from a shoulder injury that left him out of the lineup for a month). It seemed like an easy decision to bring him back for another year, but with rumours suggesting he wants to return to the United States and be closer to his family, he is off to greener pastures.
His departure from Toronto leaves a gaping hole on the blueline for a stay-at-home defender who slots in on the bottom pair and providing a physical edge to help make the team tougher to play against. Bogosian’s absence is going to sting but he is by no means irreplaceable. There will surely be plenty of options for Kyle Dubas to consider both on the market and within the organization as a …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Rumours: Bogosian and Foligno seem to be out, and expansion draft fallout

Last year the signing of Zach Bogosian was met with a lot of skepticism. He wasn’t expensive, he was coming off a Stanley Cup championship, but he’s a stay at home defenseman, and that generally doesn’t go over well, especially when he would be blocking the path of prospects like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, not to mention making it harder for Mikko Lehtonen to be an every day player in the NHL.
Well here we are a year later, and while I’m pretty sure Bogosian wasn’t anyone’s favourite Leaf, his hardnosed style of play and serviceable defending on the third pairing certainly earned him plenty of appreciators, and while fans still want Sandin and Liljegren, the safety net of having Bogosian still has a lot of appeal.
That’s why news like this isn’t ideal (from Terry Koshan):
The Leafs and Bogosian have talked about a new deal, but a source indicated the New York native is interested in “taking a peek” at offers in free agency.
“I would expect him to hit the open market,” the source said. “The expectations are that he will.”
The news comes following Bogosian’s concerns …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Giving Zach Bogosian a contract extension is a no-brainer

It’s hard not to make a case for Zach Bogosian being the Leafs’ most pleasant surprise of the 2021 campaign.
When he signed with the team to a one-year, $1 million contract back in October, expectations of what he could provide to the Leafs were rather low in spite of coming off winning his first Stanley Cup with the Lightning. He played well in his role as a defensive defenceman and was a factor in why Toronto improved from 3.17 GA/G in 2019-20 to 2.64 this past season. With a full campaign donning the Blue and White under his belt, it makes total sense to keep him on board for another year.
Even with the defence being crowded next season (including the likes of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren battling for roster spots), Bogosain’s game style is unique and valuable enough to warrant him a member of the Leafs for 2021-22. It certainly helps that one of Travis Dermott or Justin Holl will likely be heading to Seattle in the upcoming expansion draft.
Part of the reason why some fans were initially skeptical of Bogosian was due to him recently playing for the Buffalo Sabres and seeing his career take a …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Name your price for Zach Hyman

It seems that Zach Hyman is as good as gone. That’s a bitter pill to swallow as he’s been a very unique player for the Leafs and the absence of his physical, but smart style of play in the top six will definitely be missed. Still, with there being a very good likelihood of Hyman receiving a contract north of $6M, there is a very good chance that none of us will like $6M/yr Zach Hyman as much as we love $2.25M/yr Zach Hyman, and giving term to a 29 year old with an injury history that raises an eyebrow, probably doesn’t sit right especially when the Leafs are already limited as far as cap resources go.
Still, around these parts we can all see the value Hyman brings, so here are our last best offers to keep Hyman.
Mark Norman:
The absolute highest I would go for Hyman is 8 years X $4.5M. Basically the Killorn contract + 1 year to bring the AAV down. I’m not sure other suitors will go past 5 years for Hyman so perhaps the long-term security would be persuasive.
Ryan Hobart:
Term is certainly something to consider, as he will certainly be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Does Zach Bogosian’s injury offer opportunities for other Leafs defencemen?

Zach Bogosian has been one of the Leafs good stories this season. I’d say every Leaf has had a good story but in particular to Bogosian, he’s been consistent, physical and one of Toronto’s best defencemen this year.
Now, he’s injured. And it sounds like it’ll be a while before he returns to the Leafs lineup.

Zach Bogosian is out a minimum of four weeks with a shoulder injury.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 23, 2021

The 30-year-old likely won’t return until sometime in the first round of the playoffs, meaning Sheldon Keefe has some tinkering to do with the defence. He’s already tried pairing Morgan Rielly with Justin Holl, and Jake Muzzin with TJ Brodie in the top four. They’re now back with their original partners.
He’s also tried Rasmus Sandin and Travis Dermott together — which has looked good in the current circumstances. However, Kyle Dubas acquired Ben Hutton from Anaheim and the Leafs have Timothy Liljegren on the taxi squad, too.
And both deserve opportunities, but likely won’t get them. And let me tell you why.
Keefe specified that he’s enjoyed the pairings and where they were before Bogosian went …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors-Bulls postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing

Raptors-Bulls postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing

The Toronto Raptors were scheduled to take on Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls tonight in what should’ve been a matchup of Eastern Conference playoff contenders. Unfortunately, the pandemic decided to interfere with this game. Toronto already expected to come in short-handed, as power forward Pascal Siakam, head coach Nick Nurse, and five other members […]
Raptors-Bulls postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The complicated reality of Zach Bogosian as a Leaf

It seemed like Zach Bogosian was brought in to be hated by the fanbase of the team he would be playing for. Given Toronto’s recent history with Cody Ceci, Roman Polak, and to some extent also Matt Hunwick, Ron Hainsey, and Ryan O’Byrne, there is no shortage of defensive defensemen that this fanbase has done a dance of joy for their departures. If we want to head in the way back machine, we can probably lump Luke Schenn and Keith Aulie into that group as well, and while Bogosian might not have the price tag of Zaitsev, Ceci, or Phaneuf, or been a wasted lottery pick like Schenn, or even had an asset given up for him like O’Byrne, the universal truth remains, that Leafs fans hate defensive defensemen and Bogosian was going to be hated the moment he decided to sign here.
Neither Dubas or Bogosian did themselves any favours this week with their actions, but it was those actions that should probably have us jump past all of our usual nonsense and go straight to angry acceptance. Dubas choosing not to waive Bogosian and instead waiving both Spezza and Dell to make Mikko Lehtonen, is …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs by the Numbers: Zach Hyman

Zach Hyman proved everyone wrong. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. He was a 5th round (123rd overall) pick in the 2010 draft who wasn’t really thought of, at the time, as anything special. Acquired by the Leafs from the Panthers in 2015, Hyman has become one of the team’s most invaluable players.
Workhorse. Reliable. Consistent. Gives it his all, every game.

Zach Hyman is a one-man army pic.twitter.com/9bkS9m0Aft
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 6, 2020

These are just a few of the phrases used to describe Hyman on the ice over the last couple seasons – especially the 2019-2020 shortened season, where he was on track for some of his best play ever. On a team plagued by inconsistency, unreliability, and often apparent lack of motivation, Hyman stands out as an exception. He has regularly played on the top line alongside players like Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, surpassing expectations and cementing his role as one of the team’s most important guys. He battles for the puck, he gets in the corners, he’s always there.
And he’s the unofficial Leafs king of empty-net goals.
Zach Hyman’s number …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

What to expect from Zach Hyman this summer

Zach Hyman has created an interesting legacy in his Toronto Maple Leafs career. He went from being a “who the heck is that guy?” when he was acquired from Florida for Greg McKegg, to a scapegoat for being the odd man out on some dominant lines in the Leafs first few seasons, and has now gotten praise from just about everyone, being looked at as someone who belongs and thrives in a top six role.
Hyman missed the first month of the 2019-20 season due to an ACL injury he acquired midway through last year’s playoffs (note: he still played games after that injury), which was lucky for him, because he only had to endure four games of Babcock. Not that it would’ve mattered anyways though, he’s always been a favourite of Babs.
Despite all the time missed, Hyman didn’t miss a beat, and even managed to tie his career high of 21 goals in 20 fewer games this season (a 33 goal season if he played all 82 games), all while being the top penalty killing forward AND one of the best forecheckers on the team, maybe even the league.
By the Numbers



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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation