Jack Campbell is an elite goaltender, maybe

In the early days of these Staturday columns last season, I took a look at the incredible numbers that Jack Campbell was putting up. It was after only 8 games of the 2020 season, and was at a point where we still weren’t sure whether he or Frederik Andersen was our starting goalie. The conclusion was: he’s playing like a top-5 goalie in the NHL, but it’s only 8 games.
Since then, the former 11th overall pick and USNTDP product has made a consistent case that he could be on the Olympics team for the USA.
In 37 games across the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, per Evolving Hockey, Campbell has a 93.09% save percentage in all situations, good for second in the league behind only Jeremy Swayman, who has half of the ice time that Campbell does.
But while save percentage is simultaneously one of the easiest and most valuable goalie stats we have, efforts by people smarter than me over the years have attempted to come up with better ways to evaluate goalies than that. We’ll look at some of those ways here, and what picture they paint about the goaltending elite status of Jack Campbell.
Danger, Danger! HDSV%!
One …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Dion Phaneuf deserves respect for his time as a Leaf

January 31, 2010, was one of the most exciting moments of the early 2010s for Maple Leafs fans. On the heels of a six-game losing streak and with the 29th-place Leafs in jeopardy of relinquishing a lottery pick to Boston from the Phil Kessel trade, Brian Burke pulled off two blockbuster moves in a single day that generated a lot of hope in Leafs Nation.
The Leafs, who were last place in goals-against-per-game at the time of the trade, needed defence and goaltending, badly. Burke first acquired the goaltender who delivered him a Stanley Cup in Anaheim three seasons prior, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, in exchange for two John Ferguson Jr. oopsies: Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala.
Burke then followed it up with an even bigger deal. Darren Dreger with the call:

phaneuf to the Leafs
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 31, 2010

The Internet was set afire with gossip about who could be going back the other way. Kessel and a first? Kaberle and Kadri? Getzlaf in a three-way deal? I truly encourage you to read through at least the first 15 pages of this Calgary Flames message boards thread, which catalogues the initial moments of panic in the aftermath of Dreger’s tweet, the (horribly wrong) …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

NBA Rookie Ladder: Where does Raptors star Scottie Barnes rank?

NBA Rookie Ladder: Where does Raptors star Scottie Barnes rank?

The early returns on the 2021 NBA Draft class have been very encouraging for lottery teams like the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers, as both of them appear to have drafted stars in Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley. The latest NBA Rookie ladder shows that these two aren’t the only teams who hit home runs. […]
NBA Rookie Ladder: Where does Raptors star Scottie Barnes rank? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Taking a not so fond look back at the start of the Leafs season

Yes, it’s very early in the Leafs season, and it seems pretty clear that things could be going better. It also seems that there are decidedly two camps in Leafs land when it comes to how to approach that slow start. There’s a “it’s only been six games, relax” crowd, and there’s a “same old shit as last year” crowd, that was pretty close to done with the Leafs after their playoff collapse last season, and let’s be honest, a lacklustre second half of last season.
We’ve got a pretty even divide of the two camps here at TLN, so the question was posed to the group, “What are your thoughts on the Leafs after the first couple weeks of the season?”
Michael Mazzei:
Leafs fans have been overly emotional over the first few weeks of the season, indicating that a good percentage of them are still not over last season’s disastrous conclusion. This has made them lose sight over the fact that this Leafs team has been playing fairly well to begin the year, even in spite of the lack of offence. Sure it is concerning that three of the big four …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs scrimmaging for your pleasure

In the early days of COVID one of the fun little training camp treats was the Blue and White scrimmage between two halves of the Leafs training camp roster. This year, with the return of the preseason, the idea of a Leafs on Leafs scrimmage seems a bit less compelling, but on the other hand, we’re at least guaranteed to see a Leafs win tonight.
The Blue and White game does serve a purpose, beyond letting everyone get a final look at Marlies depth before they report to their rink at the practice facility. It’s the opportunity for the Leafs to specifically take a look at some scenarios that they might not get as much exposure to in the preseason.

So, the structure of Friday’s Blue and White scrimmage will be:
– 20 minute first period, followed by a shootout
– 20 minute second period, followed by a full 3-on-3 OT
– 20 minute third period, focusing on special teams (aka, swapping power plays)
6 pm puck drop on TSN https://t.co/zhEZELGbWC
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) October 1, 2021

The idea of including a 3 on 3 OT session, and a period of trading special teams opportunities has a lot of value. It also will allow …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Shopping potential buyouts

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Shopping potential buyouts

Let’s get the general bad idea response out of the way early. I get it. The players being suggested were flawed enough to be bought out in the first place. You are very smart to know that these players are likely not bound for an all-star selection any time soon. Congrats.
Getting that out of the way, we can now take a more honest look at the practice of exploring the buyout market. These were players that were believed in recently, and either by their own slipping play or the being placed in a role they couldn’t live up to, they need to be removed from their contract. For a couple of reasons it’s safe to assume they’ll be playing for less. First they failed to live up to the expectations of their last contract, and in a flat cap situation they certainly won’t see the same cap hit again this year. And secondly, they are still being paid some money from their previous club. In theory that opens them up to accepting less.
With that in mind it’s time for a good idea/bad idea look at 8 of the names on Frank Seravalli’ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: Leafs clinch division title in comeback win over Habs

Early on, it seemed like a game that the Leafs would sleep through with pretty much everything locked up, even though they hadn’t clinched the division. The Habs were dominating play, got a goal in the first and an early goal in the second, and the Leafs found themselves down 2-0.
That all changed with a Pierre Engvall wrist shot from beyond the faceoff circles that found it’s way past Jake Allen. The Leafs were back within the game, and from that point on, it was theirs. They were playing better, and a game tying goal from William Nylander, and the game winner from Mitch Marner later in the second secured that victory. Against a team that they’re likely going to face in the playoffs, it’s a big win, and an important one for a team that wants to show some perseverance in the playoffs and win their first playoff series in 17 years.
Three Stars
3rd Star: Mitch Marner
Mitch gets the third star for that shot to score the go-ahead goal alone (seriously, where has that been his whole career), but he did much more than that in this game. Him and Matthews were dominant …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

We Need To Talk About Justin Holl

I remember at the end of January, during the early stretch of the Maple Leafs regular season, seeing a meme about Justin Holl in a reply to the Edmonton Oilers team Twitter account. The Maple Leafs had just beaten the Oilers 4-3 and were off to a blazing 7-2-0 start. The meme made me chuckle, as it read “Thank you for your contribution to Justin Holl’s 2021 Norris Trophy”. Justin Holl had just emerged from the ashes as a top 4 right-handed defenseman for the Maple Leafs, not only providing steady reliability on the back end, but outright winning matchups against the league’s premier players, notably Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl that very evening.
The story of Justin Holl’s ascent has been echoed ad nauseama amongst Maple Leafs fans, oftentimes as a jab at Mike Babcock, who famously scratched the Minnesota native for 71 games during the 18-19 campaign. Holl hung around nonetheless the year after, outlasting even Babcock, and eventually finding his way into the Leafs lineup as a regular beside Jake Muzzin for the Maple Leafs in their top four. The 19-20 season was a breakout campaign for Holl in many respects, as he ranked amongst the …

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Author: Jori Negin-Shecter / The Leafs Nation

NHL Playoff Projections! — Staturday Weekly Column #16

Today’s staturday post will be a quick and early look at how different models are rating teams’ playoff chances around the NHL, with a necessary focus on the Canadian North division where our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs play.
HockeyViz
The first model I’ll show you is Micah Blake McCurdy’s “Magnus 4” model, which is available on his website, hockeyviz.com (which is for subscribers only, which I highly recommend), or through periodic updates on his Twitter page. I’ll use the most recent Twitter updates so that everyone is on the same level here.
The first way to look at playoff projections is to look at points projections. The Magnus 4 model calculates a team’s projected points in the standings regularly, so this chart shows the changes in those projections over the last 2 weeks.

We can see that Toronto has been on a downward trend recently, both in results and in Magnus 4’s estimation of how those results might continue. The tail end of the trend does buck up significantly though, so Thursday’s win over the Jets apparently showed Magnus 4 something it liked.
The chart above also shows the expected points cutoff for each division as to …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

A new home on the horizon for the Blue Jays?

Christmas has come early for Toronto Blue Jays fans.
Most awoke this morning to the startling news of Andrew Willis of The Globe and Mail reporting the Blue Jays are planning to scrap the Rogers Centre and build a brand new ballpark for the team.
This is something many, many people have dreamed about for years, but considering the ideal location of the current stadium and the hundreds of million of dollars sunk into the Rogers Centre already, starting from scratch didn’t seem feasible.
Now it is, apparently! If this plan does in fact come to fruition, there are tonnes of working parts to figure out, but in the short term, this is incredibly promising for the Blue Jays. Many have been pining for a new ballpark for a long time, and now their prayers have been answered.
Keep in mind that Rogers Centre is the seventh-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball and one of the last stadiums built in the multi-use era. During its unveiling in 1989, the SkyDome aimed to be everything to everyone; from baseball fans, to football fans, to concerts and yes, even Star Trek screenings.
Now that the Argos have moved out and the Blue …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation