Leaflets: Giordano signing is a great start, defensive offer sheets, and what’s next for Simmonds

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Leaflets post so rather than just simply doing one, I’ve decided to commit to this as a regular Monday thing going forward. Consider Leaflets a small dose of my correct bad opinions for you to get mad at. It seemed like it was going to be a quiet long weekend, but much to delight of everyone, Kyle Dubas showed he was hard at work getting a former Norris Trophy winner back at a bargain price, so let’s start there.
The Giordano signing is impossible to hate
I immediately regret that assessment, as there is a pocket of Leafs fans outraged over Jason Spezza being around at all despite making league minimum and still putting together stretches of productive hockey. I am confident someone while emerge to teach us why Mark Giordano at two years for $800k AAV is bad, but for now let’s focus on all the reasons it’s good including when we last saw Mark Giordano a few weeks ago he still seemed like a perfectly capable middle pairing, or stellar bottom pairing option for the blueline.
So first off, this is a player at the end of his career signaling to his teammates that he believes the Leafs provide him the best opportunity …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Tiedemann impresses in his High A debut + a look at pitching prospects performances from this week.

While the bats have not picked up, the pitching has been something special.

This is a statement that works for the big league club, but it also applies to the rest of the organization at all levels.
There were some great performances from starting pitching prospects since the start of the minor league week. Let’s look at them.
Nick Fraze:
On the day that Orelvis Martinez went deep for his 11th home run of the season, the 24-year-old righty Nick Fraze had quite an impressive game. Below is his line from Tuesday’s game.
4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
Yes, three earned runs in only four and a third doesn’t seem that impressive, but look at his strikeouts compared to walks. Fraze is rocking a 4.09 ERA and 4.27 FIP, which is already solid. However, in his 33 innings pitched, he has only allowed four total walks. In fact, he has hit more batters with pitches (7).
I wrote an article about him last season, but after putting up mediocre numbers in his short stint in New Hampshire, he has flown under the radar. In 2022, Fraze seems to have adjusted to Double A. It’s possible that the 22nd rounder pitches in Triple A in 2022. 
Sem Robberse:
From one pitcher that has figured out his level to the next, Sem Robberse is showing why he is easily the second best pitching prospect in the organization. Here is his line from Tuesday evening.
6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
I’ve written about his background ad nause …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Timberwolves trying to take Masai Ujiri from Raptors is total nonsense

Timberwolves trying to take Masai Ujiri from Raptors is total nonsense

The Toronto Raptors have been one of the most consistent winners in the NBA over the last few seasons, as Masai Ujiri has done an impeccable job of turning them into a solid franchise and sustaining that success. Teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves have tried their hardest to emulate that philosophy. MLB legend Alex Rodriguez […]
Timberwolves trying to take Masai Ujiri from Raptors is total nonsense – 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 did make progress, but it was still not good enough

It has been almost a week since it happened and it sometimes doesn’t feel real that the same outcome occurred yet again.
The Leafs have now played in 10 games with a chance to close out a playoff series and have failed to do just that. They have also played in five consecutive winner-take-all games and have lost all of them, becoming the first team to do so in the history of the NHL/MLB/NBA. The odds of this occurring are so rare (0.0036%) that they were more likely to accidentally win a series than lose five straight in this manner.
Being 18 years from their last series win, we are left with questions as to what went wrong and why the best Leafs team on paper couldn’t finish the job. Compared to last year, the stars were not the reason why this series was lost. This is especially true in Game 7 as all of the core four pieces played excellent hockey and could only get one goal past Andrei Vasilevskiy (it should have been two but that’s a whole other story).
After the Leafs blew a 3-1 series lead to the Canadiens in an embarrassing fashion, I wrote about the need for the Leafs to make a big change because whatever it was that they were doing wasn’t going to cut it if they were to take the next step in their evolution. While we are sitting here waiting for the Leafs to win their first postseason series since 2004, there are both reasons to feel optimistic about their future and frustrated that nothing has changed. It’s a much better outcome than how things went a season prior which is what led us to this …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

The best thing for John Tavares might be to play wing, but that opens up a big hole at center

Last fall I might have been a bit premature in beating the “move John Tavares to wing” drum, and to some extent, a 76 point in 79 game season points to JT doing just fine at center this year so I’ll accept that we weren’t quite there yet. Now things have changed a little. Most significantly there was a spike in GA/60 against the Tavares line this season. There was a notable trend upwards on xGA/60, and a modest increase in CA/60 as well. Defensively a step backward was taken. Tavares’ line was also more offensive, but not enough that it balanced out to a favourable goal differential. While high event hockey is by definition fun, and the Tavares line was getting its chances, the outcomes raise some concerns.
There’s also something to be said for the way Tavares plays the center role. He’s never had much in the way of speed or physicality, two hallmarks of what you’d hope to put in the center of the ice, but his smarts and positi …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 75: Ranting about the umps, ranting about the bats, ranting about Yankee Stadium, and more!

Take me back to April! May has been awful!!!

After not dropping a single series in April, the Blue Jays have now dropped back-to-back-to-back series in May, as they were swept in a little two-game set in New York.
In this episode of BJN Radio, we talked about the Bad Times In The Bronx, including Yimi Garcia inexplicably getting tossed after plunking Josh Donaldson in the first game, Jordan Romano’s implosion in the ninth, and the overarching struggles of the bats to come up with clutch hits. We also fielded comments from the audience in which listeners sent us their biggest reasons for concern about this team and we replied with whether or not we’re also worried about said things.
In order to not be entirely doom and gloom, we talked about some good stuff, such as Bo Bichette possibly heating up at the plate and, randomly, Kevin Gausman being great. Finally, we looked ahead to the series in Tampa Bay, the last place a struggling team wants to be.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays 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

BJN Radio – Ep. 74: Looking at the 2022 Blue Jays after one month

It’s been one month and the Blue Jays own a 17-13 record. Though that seems a little limp because of how they’ve been playing lately, when you consider the strength of schedule they’ve had, it’s fine.

In this episode of BJN Radio, we did three up, three down for the first month of play. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah have both been aces thus far, the bullpen has helped the team steal a handful of games, and Santiago Espinal looks like a legit player. On the flip side, the bats have been much worse than expected as multiple players are ice cold at the same time and Jose Berrios has some worrying underlying numbers early on.
We then looked ahead at a very important stretch the Blue Jays have coming up, as they head to New York for two against the Yankees and then they go down to The Trop for three with the Rays.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Marner beats Vasilevskiy to end 18-game playoff goalless drought

Mitch Marner’s playoff curse has finally been lifted.

The 24-year-old forward scored his first playoff goal since Game 1 against the Boston Bruins in 2019 to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4–0 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
Marner received a pass from Morgan Rielly coming through the slot and made a slick move to fool Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy before sliding the puck into the gaping cage.
Rielly and Auston Matthews picked up the helpers on Marner’s first playoff goal in 18 games, which put the Leafs up by four at the 16:39 mark of the second period of Game 1.

Magic Mitchpic.twitter.com/ldHoV32WCQ
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 3, 2022

Jake Muzzin, Matthews, David Kämpf, and Marner have the goals as the Leafs lead the Lightning 4–0 after two periods at Scotiabank Arena.
Game 1 of this Leafs/Lightning series marks the first time ever that Matthews and Marner have scored in the same playoff contest. Matthews and Marner each have two points through the first 40 minutes of play in Toronto.
More from TheLeafsNation.com
Getting Jack Campbell ready for the playoffs was top ‘priority’ for Maple Leafs, now he has to deliver by David Alter
Do we have the passion? Here are The Leafs Nation playoff prognostications by Jon Steitzer
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning: Who has the advantage on special teams? by Mark Norman
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PointsBet Canada has officially launched in Ontario! Get a $25 free bet just for signing up right here! …

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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

Jays closer Jordan Romano named AL reliever of the month

Jordan Romano’s red hot start to the year has been recognized.

Romano was named the American League’s top reliever of the month for April after leading the AL in saves.
For Romano, it’s his first time receiving the honour after a month that saw him save 10 of the Blue Jays’ 14 win in April. All the while, he recorded a 1.59 ERA through 11.1 IP. He struck out 13 opposing batters, while limiting them to a .195 batting average.
His play has been at a high level for a while, dating all the way back to May 11, 2021, as the MLB noted. Since then, he’s posted a 1.89 ERA and a 4-to-1 strike-to-walk ratio.

Jordan Romano has become one of the best closers in baseball and there’s nothing like a good closer entrance. This is a great thing they got going in Toronto. Place is electric! pic.twitter.com/LBxVzTJMOV
— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) May 1, 2022

Romano’s been a huge storyline for the Jays early on this year and rightfully so. He’s stepped into a ton of games and has done a great job in helping the Jays close out games. His emergence as a great closer is going to pay dividends for this team down the road.
On top of all of that, with all the improvements made at the Rogers Centre, he’s now got some of his own entrance music like he’s a WWE wrestler.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.


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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation