Toronto Raptors: 4 X-factors that could make or break 2021 season

Toronto Raptors: 4 X-factors that could make or break 2021 season

The Toronto Raptors are about to embark on one of the most memorable seasons in franchise history. They will play home games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto for the first time since February 2020, and they are about to learn just how good they can be without their heart and soul in Kyle Lowry. There […]
Toronto Raptors: 4 X-factors that could make or break 2021 season – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ

A Look At The Blue Jays’ 40-Man Roster Crunch

Want to talk about the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros playing in the American League Championship Series? Neither do I!

There ain’t much going on around these parts right now as we wait for the post-season to conclude and for the off-season to get rolling, so let’s take a look ahead at one of the interesting situations Toronto will be dealing with — the 40-man roster crunch.
As with last winter (and, well, with just about every winter when you have a deep prospect pool), the Blue Jays have a handful of interesting prospects who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft come December. They added Gabe Moreno, Riley Adams, Ty Tice, Josh Palacios, and Otto Lopez to the 40-man ahead of last year’s draft, who might they add this year?
Here are some names worth considering…
RHP Eric Pardinho: Back in 2017, the Blue Jays inked Pardinho as an international free agent out of Brazil to a deal with a $1.4 million signing bonus. He was a top-100 prospect coming into 2019 but injuries have massively stunted his development. Pardinho, who turns 21 in January, pitched just three innings in 2021. This would almost be an Elvis Luciano situation for somebody …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Rumour Nest: The Blue Jays were interested in Jose Ramirez before the trade deadline and it’s safe to say they still are now

Recently, I wrote an article about the rumours surrounding Marcus Stroman and how he could be returning to the Toronto Blue Jays. Originally I intended to write two rumours in that article, but mid-article, I decided to make a rumour series. Jose Ramirez is the next rumour that this series will cover.

In an article published by Sportsnet written by Shi Davidi, an interesting yet important sentence reads as follows: “Worth noting is that before the trade deadline, the Blue Jays took a run at Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez and Detroit outfielder.”
Shi Davidi is a well-known and respected journalist that follows the Toronto Blue Jays. Where there is smoke, there is a burning building. Do you want a hot take? I believe before spring training 2022, Jose Ramirez will be a Toronto Blue Jay.
Jose Ramirez is amazing:
It’s important to look at a player’s statistics before deciding whether or not it is beneficial for trading for them, so let’s start with that.
Jose Ramirez is a 29-year-old third baseman that has put up impressive numbers over his career. His 2021 was no different as he slashed .266/.355/.893 and added 35 home runs. That’s obviously impressive, but factor …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

This year the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing an 82 game long preseason

Take a moment to think about what a successful season for the Toronto Maple Leafs looks like this year. If the team dominates the regular season, winning the Presidents Trophy and setting all sorts of records but then once again fall in the first round of the playoffs, would anyone consider that a successful year? Even if the team went 82-0 during the season but once again got eliminated in game seven of the first round, would that be considered an achievement or would it only add to the team’s legacy of choking when it matters most?
Similarly, imagine if those same Toronto Maple Leafs struggled throughout the season, finished fourth in their division and barely made the playoffs only to finally slay the dragon and not just advance past the first round but perhaps go on the deepest playoff run this team has seen since The Scorpion King was in theatres. There’s little doubt that it would be seen as by far the most successful Leafs season in the salary cap era, and everyone would soon forget about the struggles of the regular season.
It’s become painfully clear that what happens this regular season doesn’t …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Franchise Hockey Manager 7 predicts the rest of Morgan Rielly’s career

One thing that I both love and hate about the NHL is the ongoing saga of a player in the midst of his contract year. It either gets done rather quickly, drags on for way too long before a deal is reached at the 11th hour, or you get teased of the possibility of an extension only for the player to either be traded or let go at season’s end. It’s stressful, exhausting, and is bound to take up endless hours of debate regarding whether or not said player is worth keeping and what constitutes a fair deal.
This year will once again bring up that never-ending tradition with Morgan Rielly being the main player on the Leafs’ roster whose contract is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2021-22 campaign. It would be foolish to suggest that he won’t be getting paid handsomely since he’s blossomed into a legitimate top-pairing defenceman in the half-decade since he signed the six-year deal. Regardless of whether his future remains in Toronto or he moves elsewhere, there’s no denying that he will be highly valued on the open market with many teams vying for his talents.
But …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

What to expect from a Spencer Carbery-run Leafs PP

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One of the most puzzling things about the Maple Leafs last season was their Jekyll & Hyde powerplay. Fans scratched their heads at how the Leafs could go from having the second-best powerplay in the first half of the season to having the second-worst in the last half, especially with the offensive talent they were throwing over the boards every man advantage.
What went wrong
That it took less than two months for opponents to figure out the Leafs’ powerplay was concerning. That no significant adaptations or changes were made to the team’s special teams strategy was utterly bewildering. Opponents quickly keyed in on the fact that the Leafs powerplay ran through the top of their umbrella formation, which consisted of Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and Auston Matthews. The opposition overcompensated towards Matthews to take away his shot, daring Marner or Rielly to take non-dangerous shots from far out. It worked, as Marner and Rielly combined for just one powerplay goal all season, courtesy of Rielly.
The Leafs passed and passed and passed and passed the puck around the top of the zone trying to open Matthews up for a shot that was seldom uncontested, often …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays are increasing capacity to 30,000 for their six remaining regular season home games

The Rogers Centre is about to get a little rowdier.

The Blue Jays announced on Friday that the capacity for home games at the Rogers Centre will be increased to 30,000 for the remaining six home games of the regular season. They begin a three-game set with the Yankees on Tuesday and then they’ll finish off with a three-game series with the Orioles on the weekend.

Let’s get Toronto loud to help the Blue Jays punch that postseason ticket!
Tickets available now: https://t.co/M7PlRcHWYx pic.twitter.com/4sRyWrkX5k
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 24, 2021

This is obviously great news because it means the vibe at The Dome is going to be even wilder than it has been for their homecoming so far this summer. Having been a few games, it’s been pretty incredible how a stadium with a cap of 15,000 fans feels anywhere near a sellout.
Let’s hope that this gives the Blue Jays a boost for these very, very important games at the end of the season and that it propels the team to take the first wild-card spot. Hosting that game with 30,000 fans would be fucking amazing.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Top 20 Leafs #12: Justin Holl

TLN Top 20 Leafs #12: Justin Holl

A fun fact about Justin Holl is that he is one of the most likable guys on the Leafs, and nobody really knew until the league shut down and he started hosting weekly virtual Leaf to Leaf segments on Instagram live. As someone who prides herself on knowing the players’ personalities, I was disappointed in myself for not knowing this sooner but delighted to learn about it.
But being a lovely and entertaining human off the ice does not always translate to on-ice success. And Justin Holl has swung from everyone’s hero (shutting down Connor McDavid) to everyone’s scapegoat. What do we know about Holl on the ice? Well. We know that he has improved season after season, and has put in the work to move up the Leafs lineup and played heavy minutes in a shutdown pairing with Jake Muzzin last season.
TLN staff are also divided on Justin Holl, and while he ended up at number 12, he ranked anywhere from 9th to not even ranked by one member of the team. He had some highlight reel moments last season, and some major blunders, but overall he showed improvement over the prior season. In the 2021-2022 season …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews is on schedule to return for opening night

About a month ago, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews underwent successful wrist surgery after dealing with a nagging injury throughout the season. It’s honestly crazy that Matthews was playing with basically one wrist at points of last season and still ended up leading the NHL in goals with 41 and ultimately winning his first Rocket Richard. In all seriousness, we’re all glad he got the surgery to help his wrist because clearly, it was bothering him at points last season when he sat out multiple games at once and it also affected his playoff performance as well.
It’s being reported by Luke Fox of Sportsnet that the Maple Leafs forward sat down for a recording with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek for their newest 31 Thoughts podcast episode that is releasing in the near future and he explained that he is well on track to return by opening night to face the Montreal Canadiens.
 

Auston Matthews’ left wrist is on track to be operational for Opening Night with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ star saying he’s “definitely not worried about it” during a recording of the 31 Thoughts podcast. (By @lukefoxjukebox) https://t.co/XUzT2bQ2tZ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 13, 2021



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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Who’s wing should Mitch Marner and William Nylander play on?

There’s always been an interesting debate about William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Each player carries such a threat in the offensive zone and both arguably deserve to be on the top line with Auston Matthews. However, with only one spot on the right-wing, it makes this discussion much more difficult.
Whenever either of the players isn’t producing, fans usually suggest switching the wingers up. Sheldon Keefe doesn’t do it often, but we did see glimpses of Nylander with Matthews and Marner with John Tavares last season.
A lot of us tend to look back at the debut season of Tavares where he scored 47 goals with Marner on his wing. Both had career years that season and haven’t gotten near those totals since. It was obvious for Keefe once he came in that Marner could produce at a much better rate on Matthews’ wing.
Tavares’ first season was unbelievable but matching that is quite unlikely. Evidently, it would make much more sense to take the most effective playmaker and put him with the NHL’s top goal-scorer.
Last year, Marner assisted on 25 of Matthews’ 41 goals which is almost 61%. Looking back on Tavares’ first season in Toronto, Marner …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation