Appreciating William Nylander’s hot start to the 2022–23 season with the Maple Leafs

Appreciating William Nylander’s hot start to the 2022–23 season with the Maple Leafs

William Nylander has been on fire in the early season for the Leafs.

For a player that was subject to a high degree of criticism for a significant time, let’s appreciate what he has done thus far.
His overtime winner against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday secured the win and gave him 21 goals and 19 assists for 40 points in just 35 games. These marks are good for first on the team in goals and tied for second in points.

WILLIAM NYLANDER 🚨
OVERTIME WINNER pic.twitter.com/wI32M3gXYC
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) December 28, 2022

This play, to me, displays the best aspects of Nylander’s game. Obviously, his offensive abilities are outstanding — skating, hands, and finishing ability. However, an underrated aspect of Nylander’s game is his ability to generate turnovers in both the offensive and defensive zones. He is currently listed as being third on the team in takeaways, behind only Matthews and Marner. Here, he reads Tarasenko perfectly, stripping him of the puck and immediately generating an offensive opportunity.
It’s not as if this is some unpredictable breakout – Nylander has finished just below a point per game in each of the past three seasons. However, the valuable development this season has been his jump in goal scoring. Currently, Nylander is on pace for 48 goals over 82 games. This mark would be good for a 14-goal career high.
Goal scoring is obviously an incredibly important element of any team. For the Leafs this season, however, Nylander’s increased production in this area has been of particular importan …

Read More

Author: Colin Hunter / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs depth at centre could be a cause for concern if an injury occurs

Maple Leafs depth at centre could be a cause for concern if an injury occurs

The injury bug has hit the Maple Leafs hard early this season, but they’ve been lucky that their centremen have stayed healthy.
Auston Matthews and John Tavares are two players who I’d consider to be number one centre’s on any NHL team. Though after that, the skill down the middle for Toronto drops off a cliff.
And that’s something they’re going to need to address by the trade deadline.
The Maple Leafs entered the season with a vacancy at fourth line centre, with plenty of players auditioning for the role. In a perfect world, I believe Toronto would love to have David Kämpf play that part. But for now, it’s Pontus Holmberg.
It’s not the worst thing in world to have the 23-year-old rookie as your fourth line centre, especially when he’s playing the way he is. Holmberg has earned everything that he’s been given in the first 13 games by Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe.
But what happens if there’s an injury at that position?
Toronto has been playing incredible with the amount of injuries they’ve had this season. Their defence, in particular, had a hell of a stretch with players like T.J. Brodie, J …

Read More

Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Unlucky Pierre: A slow start for Engvall hurts the Leafs

Unlucky Pierre: A slow start for Engvall hurts the Leafs

It’s pretty early but it’s safe to say that an 87.9 PDO is ungood. Welcome to the first six games of Pierre Engvall’s season. On a team that hasn’t been performing up to standard to start the year, Engvall’s 85% on-ice save percentage and 2.79% on-ice shooting percentage combine to be the team’s worst PDO, slightly behind fellow bottom sixers like Zach Aston-Reese and Nic Aube-Kubel. It would seem that neither Engvall nor Aston-Reese are thriving in the suppression setting and need to drive the puck up the ice a bit more than the Leafs have been trying to do with them on the ice.
The things that you’d hope to see Engvall doing well, he still seems to be doing. When you look at the shot attempts against when he’s on the ice, his CA/60 is 51.37, one of the better results on the Leafs, but it’s the quality of those chances that have been concerning as his scoring chance against, expected goals against, and high danger shot attempts against rates are all towards the middle of the pack for the Leafs, leading to his goals against rate being one of the worst on the Leafs.
With dwindling offensive opportunities, Engvall’s “for” percentages have …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Newest Fred VanVleet contract update sounds good for Raptors

Newest Fred VanVleet contract update sounds good for Raptors

In the early stages of the offseason, it seemed like Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet was a lock to be extended. A four-year deal that would get into nine figures would make the highest-paid undrafted player in NBA history even more wealthy following an All-Star season. VanVleet is close to free agency once again, […]
Newest Fred VanVleet contract update sounds good for Raptors – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

3 reasons not to panic if Raptors don’t acquire Kevin Durant

3 reasons not to panic if Raptors don’t acquire Kevin Durant

The Toronto Raptors made waves early in the offseason thanks to their pursuit of Kevin Durant. Even though such a trade would be borderline unprecedented across NBA history, the Raptors are still hanging around the KD sweepstakes thanks to a stockpile of assets they have accumulated. In addition to a heap of draft picks, the […]
3 reasons not to panic if Raptors don’t acquire Kevin Durant – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

B/R grades Raptors’ Otto Porter Jr. signing as a top-five move

B/R grades Raptors’ Otto Porter Jr. signing as a top-five move

The Toronto Raptors are often content just to sit put the early free agent frenzy and allow some of their significant flaws to be fixed by internal development. They didn’t necessarily hold themselves to that philosophical stance this year, as they were out in front of the rest of the competition in the race to […]
B/R grades Raptors’ Otto Porter Jr. signing as a top-five move – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

Read More

Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The Blue Jays make a trade for Foster Griffin, a former 1st round pick and make other roster moves

A litany of roster moves were announced early Saturday morning, including a trade!

The Jays traded 20-year-old minor league pitcher Jonatan Bernal to the Kansas City Royals for 26-year-old pitcher Foster Griffin.
Pitching mainly for the Omaha Royals, Griffin has posted a 1.93 ERA and a 2.86 FIP in 28 innings pitched with the AAA ball club. His K/9 sits at 10.29 while his BB/9 is a rather impressive 1.93.
There’s very little Baseball Savant data on the 26-year-old lefty, but I can tell you what he throws and what his average velocity is. He throws a cutter at 89.3 mph, a four seamer at about 94 mph, a changeup at 85.1 mph and a curveball at 79.9 mph.
His velocity actually ticked up from 2020, where he his cutter for 86.2 mph and four seamer for 91.8 mph.
This season is his first season pitching out of the pen. However, Griffin’s pitch mix is an unusual one for a reliever. It’s to be seen if the Jays attempt to stretch him out again, as they only have two starting pitchers in Buffalo (Casey Lawrenece, Thomas Hatch). Below is a thread where he struck out the side, dating back to June 9th.

@Foster_Griffin strikeout thread from June 9th.#BlueJays #NextLevel pic.twitter.com/uErUbAUVCk
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) July 16 …

Read More

Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation