Signing Claude Giroux would be a pipe dream for the Maple Leafs, but might make sense

The best part of this time around the draft and free agency is the rumours surrounding the Maple Leafs and other teams throughout the NHL.
Similar to Lou Lamoriello, Toronto GM Kyle Dubas has always been good at keeping his circle close — not allowing anything to seep out to the media. It might happen at some points, however it’s never any huge trades or signings. If there is the chance it occurs, it’s always the insiders reporting it right as it happens.
There’s four days until the draft which means things are beginning to heat up. The rumour mill has begun spinning for the first time since the trade deadline.
In the final written 32 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discusses a number of doings sorrounding the Maple Leafs, but drops an “irresponsible whopper of a long-shot prediction” too.
“They (Maple Leafs) take a look at (Claude) Giroux, but it means someone big goes.” —Friedman
Now, there were also a few other little tidbits in this article — most of which we already knew of. The Maple Leafs are still struggling to sign Jack Campbell, but deadlines might change how that goes. Rasmus Sandin’s situation remains both interesting and tricky, according to Friedman.
He even drops news that Toronto has interviewed Edmonton Oilers goalie development coach Sylvain Rodrigue. That could be an interesting development in the future.
I do want to circle back on Giroux, tho …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Trade Deadline Primer: Looking for teams that can give the Blue Jays pitching depth and make them more left-handed

Last year around this time the Blue Jays’ trade deadline needs were shaping up to a left-handed bat, relief pitching help, and arguably another starting pitcher.

Funny enough, those are the same things the team could stand to add as this year’s trade deadline approaches. But what teams could represent an opportunity for Blue Jays to address two, or maybe all three, needs in one fell swoop? Well, that is what we are going to investigate here. Hopefully, these names could coalesce in a package that provides the kind of impact more in line with the Adam Cimber-Corey Dickerson trade than the Rowdy Tellez deal.
For example, former Blue Jays assistant general manager, and current general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ben Cherington probably still has a good handle on the Blue Jays prospect pipeline. But the Pirates also have players that could fill all three of the Blue Jays’ needs, making them a good match for each other at the deadline. To start, David Bednar is a monster out the bullpen, using a blistering fastball to put up elite strikeout rates. When hitters do make contact against him they tend to do damage, but he profiles as the kind of force the Blue Jays could stand to add to lock up games la …

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Author: Noah Vande / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays need to get some bullpen help

Around this time last year, the Blue Jays were losing games that features implosions from the likes of Tyler Chatwood and Rafael Dolis.

Everyone was shouting “Get bullpen help!” and the front office did exactly that by acquiring Adam Cimber from the Miami Marlins on June 29 and Trevor Richards from the Milwaukee Brewers on July 6. While Richards has fallen off a cliff this season, he and Cimber helped solidify the Blue Jays’ bullpen last summer and the team did much better from July onwards than they did in April and May.
The bullpen isn’t quite as much of a mess this year as it was last but the cracks are very clearly showing and the Blue Jays are again in need of some reinforcements.
This week’s series in Chicago was a difficult one for the ‘pen as Toronto’s relievers got tagged in all three games against the White Sox…
The Blue Jays nearly pulled off a comeback on Monday after a terrible start from Jose Berrios but the difference wound up being two runs that the White Sox scored off of David Phelps in the fifth inning.
Tuesday’s game featured three blown saves by the Blue Jays. Jordan Romano couldn’t hold a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Tim Mayza allowed the ghost runner to score in the 1 …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Rumours: Matt Murray Speculation, Campbell’s agent is talking to the Leafs, and John Gibson talk won’t go away

The downside to the cone of silence around the Leafs is the fact that we’ve really got little to go off of for credible rumours. There’s no shortage of wild speculation and flights of fancy, but trying to guess what the Leafs are up to remains a mystery or is in fact being determined this week.
Jonas Siegel’s report on Campbell (which we’ll get to later) had this little tidbit from Campbell’s agent about where the Leafs are presently focused:
“There’s still so much time,” Overhardt said, noting that teams, including the Leafs, were likely in the midst of, or had recently completed, their pro scouting meetings.
So that’s something worth noting. If teams are just closing off their pro scout meetings it’s highly likely that next week is when we start getting leaks of the players discussed. Please. Give us something and preferably not goalie related. Anyways, here’s some goalie related stuff.
Matt Murray isn’t a good idea even if he isn’t the worst idea either
Initially Murray’s name was dropped by Chris Johnston on a TSN radio hit and that led to The Athletic exploring the idea of the Leafs acquiring Matt Murray in a back and forth between Ian Mendes and Jonas Siegel. As far as I can tell the only basis for this speculation is that Matt Murray played for the Keefe/Dubas era Soo Greyhounds. That’s not nothing and as Dubas has shown time and time again, there is some value in familiarity. Still Matt Murray isn’t an ideal target.
Murray is three years removed from being healthy, and three years removed from strong r …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

NBA executive foolishly links Raptors star OG Anunoby to Heat

NBA executive foolishly links Raptors star OG Anunoby to Heat

The trade rumors around Toronto Raptors star OG Anunoby are likely not going to subside in the coming days or weeks, as teams from around the league are going to give their best shot at acquiring an elite defender and ascending offensive talent on a cheap contract. After crashing out of the Eastern Conference finals […]
NBA executive foolishly links Raptors star OG Anunoby to Heat – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Alejandro Kirk has a legitimate All-Star case

When the 2022 All-Star Game rolls around next month, the Toronto Blue Jays are expected to be well represented for a second straight season and one of those spots could potentially be awarded to catcher Alejandro Kirk.

Granted, in most circumstances, Kirk doesn’t immediately stand out in your mind when you think of all-star players on Toronto’s roster. That’s certainly understandable. But that might begin to change over the next few weeks.
As each day passes, the more traction Kirk’s all-star campaign gains as he’s currently putting together a very strong case for himself. At the moment, the 23-year-old stands as one of the hottest hitters in the majors, which has recently sparked this lively debate.
Since May 23, the 5’8″ backstop is hitting .425/.500/.825 with four home runs, four doubles, and nine RBIs over his last 46 plate appearances. His latest blast came during his club’s series finale versus the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. A solo shot that came off the bat at 108.9 m.p.h. and traveled an estimated 416 feet to left field.

Cleared for liftoff @alejandro_kirk pic.twitter.com/HwkIqqHiyd
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) June 5, 2022

Digging deeper, Kirk is also carrying a remarkable .400 ISO, .394 BABIP, .557 wOBA and a 276 wRC+ score during this recent hot streak. He leads all Blue Jays hitters with a 1.1 fWAR rating, as well.
This current offensive explosion has instantly helped Kirk improve off his slow start, which saw him slash .232/.323/.232 with zero extra-base hits across his first 65 plate appearances of the season. That resulted in a very forgettable April, although he still posted more walks (nine) …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Insane NBA Mock Draft has Raptors acquiring No. 7 pick from Blazers

Insane NBA Mock Draft has Raptors acquiring No. 7 pick from Blazers

The Toronto Raptors raised some eyebrows around the NBA Draft world when they met with a pair of versatile guards in Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin that many expect to be picked in the Top 10. Could Masai Ujiri be eyeing a significant trade-up into the lottery? While the Kings might be willing to trade […]
Insane NBA Mock Draft has Raptors acquiring No. 7 pick from Blazers – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The Leafs aren’t in cap hell, but some creativity is still required if they want to improve

The phrase thrown around a lot is “run it back.” That’s not an entirely bad idea given the success the Leafs had in the regular season, and the first round was not the physical mismatch of past postseasons. You could probably play that Lightning and Leafs series 100 times and not be surprised to have both teams walk away with 50 wins. The Leafs weren’t bad and there isn’t a need for a complete overhaul.
Running it back becomes a fantasy versus reality when you look at the cap situation. Of the 23 roster regulars at the end of the season, 10 of the players need new contracts. Some players like Jason Spezza, Colin Blackwell, and Ondrej Kase aren’t going to break the bank. Others like Ilya Lyubushkin or arguably the three previously mentioned players are ones that you might be comfortable seeing the Leafs move on from, and in reality, the Leafs are going to find a way of unloading Petr Mrazek’s contract, we just don’t know how yet and a buyout keeps a bit of extra money hitting the cap, not to mention the fact that it opens up another pricier position to fill because it’s doubtful that even “Run it back” e …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Kressler’s Game 7 heroics, Marlies end of season recap

One more, folks! With most leagues around the world wrapped up or in the midst of their playoffs, just about every Toronto Maple Leafs prospect has finished their 2021/22 season. As such, rather than give you the same update every Monday morning on the three Maple Leafs prospects that are playing in their respective playoffs, this will be the last prospect roundup for the season.
Don’t worry, though, as we’ll still have lots of prospect coverage here at TLN as we look back on various prospects’ seasons in the coming weeks and look ahead to the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
But before we get to all of that, I’ve got one more prospect roundup in store for you! And we’ve got quite a bit to get to.
Braeden Kressler | C | Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Undrafted free agent signing Braeden Kressler had a tough 2021/22 campaign, interrupted with injury and a move down the Flint Firebirds’ lineup after a strong development camp and rookie tournament performance with the Maple Leafs that saw him earn a contract.
A huge showing that helped Flint prevail in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Owen Sound Attack made that disappointment and frustration go away.
Lining up as the fourth line centre, Kressler was instrumental in Flint surviving a fi …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Past playoff failures mean the Leafs are dealing with tough expectations

One year ago around this time, the Leafs were settling into clinching the North Division. They cruised through most of the season, and even when they took their foot off the gas the lead they had built was insurmountable enough that Toronto easily took the North. In contrast, the Canadiens spent much of their last month clawing their way back up the standings past a Flames team that had run out of gas. The Maple Leafs were primed to easily march through two rounds of North Division competition and face whatever the Pacific Division could throw at them. Seemingly there was never going to be a better year to believe in the Leafs as a Stanley Cup contender.
Obviously, the Leafs failed. There is no other way to put it. And that set off the vitriol of criticism around pretty much every member of the Leafs top four forwards, Kyle Dubas, Manny Malhotra, and eventually pretty much every Leaf at one point or another. Kyle Dubas doubled down on his group and was backed up by Brendan Shanahan. With that doubling down seemed to be the continuation of the preceding year’s expectations to not only win a playoff round but put forth a legitim …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation