Off-season departures: Former goalies continue their struggles, Ilya Mikheyev finding success in top-six role

Off-season departures: Former goalies continue their struggles, Ilya Mikheyev finding success in top-six role

At the beginning of November, I wrote about six former Maple Leafs and how they have been performing with the new teams that they either signed with in the off-season or in Petr Mrazek’s case, got traded to in the off-season.
From guys like Jack Campbell with the Oilers to Colin Blackwell with the Blackhawks, I went over all six players, how they played in the month of November, as well as their season totals through the season’s first two months.

 
1. Jack Campbell – EDM – 30 years old – G
November 2022 stats: 6 GP – 3-3-0 – 4.16 GAA – .863 SV% – 0 SO
2022-23 stats: 12 GP – 7-5-0 – 4.04 GAA – .875 SV% – 0 SO
Contract: 5 years x $5M
Just like the month of October, the month of November wasn’t good for Jack Campbell, and after signing that big five-year contract as a free agent to join the Oilers in the off-season, it’s safe to say Campbell hasn’t been able to live up to that price tag and its kind of concerning if you ask me.
Back at the start of November, I said he would be able to snap out of the poor stretch of games, and so far, it looks like I’m wrong because this hasn’t been just a poor stretch of games, it has be …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

1 concerning takeaway from Raptors’ humiliating loss to Pelicans

1 concerning takeaway from Raptors’ humiliating loss to Pelicans

Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors went into their matchup against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans with their health intact and a two-game winning streak in their back pocket. With Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum both injured, it wouldn’t be outrageous to expect a victory from the Canadian side. While Siakam got the […]
1 concerning takeaway from Raptors’ humiliating loss to Pelicans – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

End of month Winter Leauge wrap-up: Rainer Nuñez leads the Dominican Winter League in home runs, Bowden Francis pitching well, and more!

It’s the end of November, so it’s time to look at how Blue Jays prospects are doing in their respective winter leagues!

So first things first, you’ve read the title and may be asking “who’s Rainer Nuñez?”. He was Blue Jays Nation’s 16th-ranked prospect in the mid-season ranking, and oh my is he ever coming into his own. More on that in the first section.
We’ll also look at several other prospects, such as Naswell Paulino, Bowden Francis, Otto López, and Adrián Hernández.
Rainer Nuñez:
As I had mentioned, the 21-year-old ranked as our 16th best Blue Jays prospect, and for good reason. He was the only Dunedin Blue Jay regular to have an exit velocity over 110 mph, which he did five times. In fact, in 2021 when exit velocity was tracked, he was one of only six batters with a ball hit over 110 mph, which he did the most despite being younger than most of his contemporaries.
Of course, exit velocity only matters so much, so what about his season totals?
Nuñez slashed .299/.328/.482 with 15 homers in 384 plate appearances with the Dunedin Blue Jays, eventually winning the Florida State League batting title. His BB% dropped from 13.7% in the FCL in 2021, to 3.6% with the baby Jays, but he only struck out 21.4% of the time, which isn’t bad in the slightest.

La puso del otro lado ¡HOMERUN de Rainer Núñez que pone a las @EOBASEBALLCLUB en la pizarra! #LIDOM #CopaBanreservas pic.twitter.com/9jiKntkx1J
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) November 30, 2022

He wa …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Around the quarter mark, which Leafs forward has underwhelmed?

Around the quarter mark, which Leafs forward has underwhelmed?

Tomorrow, the calendar rolls into December. American Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we have completed over 25% of the NHL regular season. The Leafs have played 24 games, and currently sit at 14-5-5. They have 33 points, and trail only Boston (who are having a historic start).
Just like last season, they came out of the blocks a little slow. Also replicating last season – the Buds have absolutely torched November. They’ve lost only 1 game in regulation this month, and have done so with some major injuries on the back end and in net. Multiple early questions have been answered, and the overall feel in Toronto is positive.
The d-core has performed heroically considering the injuries, and the goaltending has been very impressive. Most of the forwards have performed adequately, and there have even been some pleasant surprises up front. So, who hasn’t exactly pulled their weight? With more than a quarter of the 82 games played, our sample size is large enough to offer some evaluation.
Alex Kerfoot has had a lacklustre start to this campaign. In a season where many forwards are playing very well, Kerfoot would probably be the first to tell you he hasn’t contributed enough. Given his contract situation, and how he operates within this forward group, #15 is an interesting player to examine.
It should be said, I h …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

The Jays are apparently close to signing Don Mattingly, could be as soon as Wednesday morning

Long-time big league manager Don Mattingly is “very close” to signing with the Toronto Blue Jays

Per Joel Sherman, the 61-year-old legend Mattingly signing with the Jays could be announced as soon as Wednesday morning!

The announcement of Mattingly’s hiring is now expected as early as Wednesday morning. https://t.co/5lMxR4zyPG
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 30, 2022

News continued to pour in, but Mattingly noted on Jon Heyman and Sherman’s podcast that he’s in talks with a mystery team (the Jays per this NYPost article.) 

Don Mattingly was on The Show podcast @nypostsports with @Joelsherman1 & @JonHeyman today.
Mattingly says there is a team he is talking to that is very interesting to him.
Who is the mystery team that may end up hiring the Yankees legend and ex-Marlins manager? pic.twitter.com/BiC1oM3QxX
— Jake Brown (@JakeBrownRadio) November 29, 2022

 
Let’s look at what the veteran manager could offer.
The 61-year-old spent the last seven seasons managing the eternally rebuilding Miami Marlins, amassing a 443-587 record, which isn’t that bad when you factor in the team considers itself a small market.
Miami only had a winning record once in the seven years, coming in the plague season. However, early in his tenure (when they had good players), they sat around .500. Mattingly also spent five seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where they went 446-363 in that span. Overall, he has an 889-950 record for a 48.3 win percentage.
However, the Jays re-sign John Schneider earlier in the off-season, so this begs the question, what role would he fill as a bench coach? As far as my research goes, there are no vacancies for the coaching staff, so I’m not too sure. Prior to becoming a manager, Mattingly’s job was that of a hitting coach.
Now, there are also questions about his leadership style, which is why I don’t see a fit. Unlike Charlie Montoyo and even Jon Schneider, Mattingly has never really allowed his players to be expressive. The most recent example of this came early in the 2022 season, when he sat Miami Marlins star Jazz Chisholm the day after hitting a home run.
As you may know, the Bahamian-born Chisholm is a rather expressive player, which is great for the game. However, Mattingly spent his 14-year career with the New York Yankees, even becoming their captain. So that begs the question if his hardass policies would affect the Jays, who enjoy having fun. Perhaps his policies would take a back seat as a bench coach? Perhaps it’s to help mentor John Schneider as he moves into his first full-season? What will happen to the home run jacket?
So many questions, but first he has to be announced. Expect updates to this article once he officially signs!
As always, y …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Exploring an Anton Stralman homecoming for the Leafs

Exploring an Anton Stralman homecoming for the Leafs

Whenever someone is put on waivers, the default answer to do you claim them should be no. This year the quality of players on waivers really has hammered that point home, and when you consider that as of this morning the Leafs cannot claim Stralman due to being at 50 standard player contracts already really makes the decision for the Leafs.
So all of those things considered, I still have a hard time getting the idea of Anton Stralman out of my head. He’s older, he’s not the player he was in his prime and he’s never been particularly fast and definitely not physical, but he’s always been effective. With a $1M cap hit, a right shot, and the Leafs regularly putting Mac Hollowell in their lineup, it’s not ridiculous to consider a defensive option that comes particularly cheap.
So here is the current state of Anton Stralman:
He’s played 8 games this season, he’s averaging around 14 minutes a night, and seeing about a minute of penalty kill time each game. His Corsi For % is 51%, and his expect goals % is as …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors fans, NBA Twitter react to dominant Pascal Siakam return

Raptors fans, NBA Twitter react to dominant Pascal Siakam return

The Toronto Raptors went 5-5 in their past 10 games, but that was due to the absence of Pascal Siakam. His groin injury kept him out for the better part of three weeks, though that exile finally ended in a Monday night showdown against a very good Cleveland Cavaliers team. Siakam was not eased back […]
Raptors fans, NBA Twitter react to dominant Pascal Siakam return – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Mike Clevinger’s contract with the White Sox further indicates an expensive free-agent market this winter

After a lull in the baseball world over the past week, we got a pair of signings on Sunday and Monday, as Jose Abreu inked a multi-year contract with the Houston Astros and Mike Clevinger inked a show-me deal with the Chicago White Sox.

This flurry of moves sees the White Sox move on from Abreu, who slashed a .292/.354/.506 line with the team over the course of nine seasons, and add a reclamation project to their starting rotation. Clevinger was moved in a big trade from Cleveland to the San Diego Padres during the 2020 season. He made just four starts with the team and underwent Tommy John surgery and then missed the entirety of the 2021 season.
In his first year back from Tommy John, Clevinger posted a 4.33 ERA over the course of 114 1/3 innings. His fastball velocity hovered around 93.5 miles per hour, a noticeable drop from where it was during his successful seasons in Cleveland. As a result, his strikeout rate dipped to 18.8% in 2022 compared to 27.5% in 2020 and 22.6% in 2019.
Now, why does any of this matter? Because Clevinger’s contract, which has $12 million guaranteed, further indicates just how expensive this winter’s free-agent market is going to be…

$12M is more than I e …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors’ OG Anunoby becoming an All-Star lock due to hot start

Raptors’ OG Anunoby becoming an All-Star lock due to hot start

The Toronto Raptors have been on the receiving end of some pretty tough injuries this season, as Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa have both missed time. With Gary Trent Jr. having struggled offensively and Scottie Barnes in and out of the lineup, OG Anunoby has saved this team’s backside. Anunoby was one of the main […]
Raptors’ OG Anunoby becoming an All-Star lock due to hot start – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Maple Leafs dominate Penguins on Hockey Night: Leafs Rundown

Maple Leafs dominate Penguins on Hockey Night: Leafs Rundown

It feels like games against the Penguins are always slightly cursed, but this one worked out pretty well. The Leafs kept the pressure on the Penguins, earning a 4-1 win.
From that first early goal on, the Leafs were healthily in charge of this game. Here are some thoughts on the game.
Behind The Net
No, not the ancient, now defunct stats website. This is to do with the success Toronto had tonight forcing the Penguins defenders to face the wrong way. Twice they capitalized with a pass behind them that scored on Casey DeSmith. First on goal #2 by Pontus Holmberg, and again on goal #3 by William Nylander:

PONTUS HOLMBERG 🚨
WHAT A SHOT! TOP CORNER! pic.twitter.com/T3x8A8IOAQ
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 27, 2022

WILLIAM NYLANDER 🚨
IT’S 3-0! pic.twitter.com/UP2bygPzcb
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 27, 2022

Källgren performance
The Swedish 3rd string goalie has been filling in with the Leafs a lot this season, with injuries to both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. It’s not often that the 3rd stringer has the most starts, 2 months into the season, but with his 9th start for the Maple Leafs tonight, Källgren has that strange honour.
The netminder has only had 2 “quality starts”, plus a third excellent performance in relief against Boston; the remainder have been well below average. This 1-goal-against performance Pittsburgh is definitely a boon to his season stats. He did only face [SHOTS HOW MANY???] in this one, but this is an undeniable success.
No defenders, no problem
With 3 of the Leafs’ apparent top 4 defenders out on injured reserve at the moment, it would be expected that the team would struggle defensively. And certainly, the team’s shooting stats have taken a hit in that regard. In the last 2 games, the Leafs allowed a lot more even strength shot attempts against than normal, ~63 per 60 minutes, versus ~53 per 60 minutes for the previous 20 games. That’s a small sample to be sure …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation