Burning Question: Will the Leafs make it beyond the first round this year?

Over the course of the past couple of weeks we’ve been running some Burning Questions posts on this site, trying to deal with some of the big questions surrounding the Leafs. The one big burning question that has always been left looming is the one that has a lot of fans willing to completely throwaway or ignore the regular season and focus entirely on the postseason, and that question is “Is this the year the Leafs finally make it out of the first round?”
We’ll start with the fact that it’s impossible to know for sure. Law of averages say that a team as good as the Leafs will eventually have something break their way instead of things going against them, and they’ll get there. I can appreciate that appeal to the math of it. The problem with math though is that it ignores the fact that it’s the Leafs we’re talking about. They’ve always been able to find new spectacular ways to have things fall apart on them. No other team blows a 4-1 lead in a game seven, no other team loses to an emergency backup goaltender that they employ, no …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 47: Hyun Jin Ryu’s struggles, Gerrit Cole’s spaz, Josh Donaldson’s ovation, and more!

Another series, another couple of wins for the Blue Jays! That’s the way it’s been for the past month-and-a-bit and the hope is that it continues as the Blue Jays head to The House of Horrors.

The Blue Jays got the job done this weekend, taking two of three from the lowly Minnesota Twins. Things started off ugly as Hyun Jin Ryu got knocked around on Friday but Steven Matz and Jose Berrios led the team to back-to-back wins on Saturday and Sunday, so all ended well.
We talked about Ryu’s struggles, the “injury” that landed him on the 10-day Injured List, and what to expect from him moving forward. We also talked about Matz’s excellent run and what it means for him in the off-season. Finally, we talked about the Blue Jays lineup and why it needs to involve Alejandro Kirk more often than not.
We then took a look at the out-of-town scoreboard and gave a hat tip to Cleveland, who did us a solid by beating the Yankees on Saturday and Sunday. We finished off by talking about the series ahead against the Rays at The Trop, a place that’s never fun …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The 2021 Top 20 Leafs Prospects: #9 Mikhail Abramov

After a couple of seasons where the Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled to graduate prospects on entry-level contracts to the NHL lineup, their 2019 draft class will be looking to change that narrative. Four of Toronto’s selections in that draft feature inside our top 10 and fourth-round pick Mikhail Abramov is a big part of that group.
Abramov falling three positions, from 6th in 2020 to 9th, is extremely harsh. A breakout campaign in 2019/20 saw him shoot up the rankings, but similar results in 2020/21 from the year prior were not enough to maintain his rank with some of the Leafs 2020 draft class seeing breakout seasons of their own.
Still, after captaining the Victoriaville Tigres to a QMJHL championship, a three-position fall is not an indication of the year Abramov had. Making the transition to the professional game in 2021 with the Marlies, Abramov will be high on the list of Leafs prospects to keep an eye on this upcoming season.
Position: Centre
Age: 20
Height: 6’0
Weight: 185 lbs
Drafted: 115th Overall, 2019 NHL Draft by Toronto
2020-21 Team: Victoriaville, QMJHL
2020 Prospect Ranking: #6
Mikhail Abramov took a massive step forwards in 2019/20, and while he didn’t take another big leap forwards in 2020/21, he maintained a lot of …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

The Toronto Raptors are embracing the positionless basketball movement

The Toronto Raptors are embracing the positionless basketball movement

In the last couple of years, the NBA is slowly transitioning to positionless basketball. After all, if DeMar DeRozan played power forward position last season with the San Antonio Spurs, anything is possible. One team that is fully embracing this trend is the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have built a roster full of players that […]
The Toronto Raptors are embracing the positionless basketball movement – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

Raptors: Can Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam duo work together?

Raptors: Can Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam duo work together?

It’s been a couple of days since the Toronto Raptors drafted Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Many Raptor fans were surprised with the selection, as Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs, who was taken by the Orlando Magic, was still available and Pascal Siakam is still on the […]
Raptors: Can Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam duo work together? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

Leafs sign Kurtis Gabriel and David Kampf

The Leafs added a couple more depth forwards to the roster today, as they signed Kurtis Gabriel and David Kampf. Gabriel comes in on a league minimum deal for one year, while Kampf carries a $1.5 million cap hit for two years.

Kampf joins the Leafs coming off a season with just one goal, and 12 points for Chicago. He plays center, so it adds a bit of depth there, although with a 47.99% shot attempt share and 46.86% of the expected goals, I don’t know if he’ll move the needle a ton as a top 9 center.
That said, his shot attempt and expected goals relative to his teammates in Chicago are 0.26 and 0.1, so maybe he’ll be a decent placeholder on the third line or something. But without much of a history of producing points or being a good play driver, it’s hard to see him being much of anything.

Gabriel isn’t much of a needle mover either, as he’s usually just been a fourth liner wherever he goes. He only has two goals and five points in his career, and his underlying numbers aren’t much to write home about either. But, he has some physical edge …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 26: An underwhelming result against the Mariners, Ryu’s struggles, Teoscar an All-Star starter, and more!

That was disappointing!

A couple of weeks ago, the Blue Jays embarked on what we all pointed out could be a season-changing stretch against bad opponents.
They swept a two-game set with the Marlins and won five of seven against Baltimore, setting up an opportunity to really put together a good result for the stretch in the final series against Seattle. Toronto won the first game but then dropped the next two and ultimately went 8-4 in that 12-game easy-ish opponent stretch.
Not terrible, but not exactly season-changing, either.
Anyways! We talked about everything from the Seattle series, ranging from Hyun Jin Ryu’s rough start and recent struggles to Adam Cimber’s debut and what kind of difference he can make to the team’s bullpen. We also talked about Teoscar Hernandez’s amazing rise from going down to Triple-A to fix his swing to being voted in as an All-Star game starter.
Finally, we looked ahead to a very, very important set against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are limping a bit right now and the Blue Jays see them six times before the All-Star break. Doing well against them now would certainly help the Blue Jays …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays are under .500 for the first time in April and they need to capitalize on the upcoming schedule

A couple of weeks ago, the Blue Jays finished off a two-game sweep of the Miami Marlins.

Their record sat at a respectable 29-25, they were on pace for 87 wins, and were only four-and-a-half games back of first place in the American League East.
Since then? Woof.
The Blue Jays faced a very, very difficult schedule and did not do well. They dropped two of three to the Astros and the White Sox, they earned a split in a four-game series with the Red Sox, and then, to cap it all off, they got swept by the Yankees.
Now they’re 33-34, below .500 for the first time since late April, and they’re eight-and-a-half games back of the Rays.
The incredibly frustrating thing here, of course, is the number of winnable games that have been pissed away. The Blue Jays went 2-5 against the divisional opponents they’re trying to leapfrog and they easily could have gone 5-2 with any kind of competent relief pitching.

Blue Jays have now lost an MLB-worst 10 games when leading in the 7th inning or later pic.twitter.com/Jq1LnYuNPF
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) June 18, 2021

As the graphic above shows, nobody in baseball is worse …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leaflets: Stray thoughts on the Leafs forward depth

It’s the ides of June, and we’re still a couple of weeks away from the Stanley Cup Final. This wouldn’t seem so bad except there’s the small matter of knowing that Montreal is still playing, and that between the Islanders and Canadiens still being around there is an active effort to make the series formerly known as the Conference Finals as boring as possible. Part of that sentiment is sour grapes on my part, but that doesn’t change that tuning in to watch these games is a short lived stop on my TV dial. Last night I watched long enough to realize that House Hunters International is more where I’m at right now, and watched a terrible family move to Valencia, Spain instead.
Anyways, with my mind cleared, as ones head does when watching House Hunters, I got to thinking about the Leafs again, and with that, I realized that as much as I want a major move, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way they address depth in the organization as well. Here are a few of my thoughts on Leafs depth.
You don’t have depth until your depth …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs look to put stranglehold on division lead with series sweep over Jets

This game has all the makings for a bloodbath.
A couple of “dirty” plays from the Leafs in response have apparently sent the Jets into a bit of a frenzy, mostly noted with Paul Maurice not even giving the credit of being a tough and dirty team, just a “poorer” team, although I still don’t quite get what he means by that. Some of the Leafs took offense to that, and defended their plays, and here we are now.
That said, you probably shouldn’t go into this game expecting the Leafs to mess everyone up. Their roster makeup has always been a “make you pay by scoring” kind of team, so if the Leafs really want to follow up on that mantra, they might wanna make it a blowout. But this is also where guys like Wayne Simmonds and Nick Foligno really show their worth, so what they add to what has been an oddly chaotic series will be interesting to see.
That’s not the only note for this game, as the Leafs will look to really bury the Jets in the standings to secure first place in the division. The Leafs win, and the Jets are …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation