The Maple Leafs grab a win in their preseason finale against the Senators

Tonight was the Toronto Maple Leafs’ sixth and final preseason game before the 2021-22 season kicks off next Tuesday. I’ve never been happier to say those words in my life. After what felt like a preseason that would never end, the Maple Leafs hosted the Ottawa Senators which saw the Maple Leafs play almost everybody that we will see come opening night next week against an Ottawa team who dressed a handful of AHL players.
The first period of the game was kind of a toss-up given that both teams had their flashes of scoring chances at times. However, after the first period, the Maple Leafs took over the game and applied lots of pressure on the Senators which led to them scoring a small handful of goals in the second period. Special teams looked pretty good tonight for Toronto as they went 1/4 on the power-play (Morgan Rielly goal) and went 4/4 on the penalty kill which saw the penalty killers acting aggressively yet again, something Dean Chynoweth, the new assistant coach praises while being a man down. They ended up picking up a 4-1 win over Ottawa which concluded their preseason for this year.
Before we get into tonight’ …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs select goaltender Vyacheslav Peksa in the sixth round of the NHL Draft

With their third and (as of now) final pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, the Maple Leafs selected Russian goaltender Vyacheslav Peksa in the sixth round, 185th overall. Peksa went undrafted last season in his first year of eligibility and returned to the Kazan system where he got into 17 games for their MHL squad, posting a 2.57 GAA and .909 save percentage.

Welcome to Leafs Nation, Vyacheslav!#NHLDraft | #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 24, 2021

Peksa is athletic with good size for the position but he went unranked on most public draft boards after being passed over in last year’s draft. He will need to become more composed in his crease and improve the way he cuts down angles as he adds bulk to his frame in the coming years.
Peksa plays in the same system as fellow Leafs goaltending prospect Artur Akhtyamov who Toronto selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL Draft so the organization is familiar with both the player and the organization that will be in charge of his development in the immediate future.
(Statistics from

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Morgan Rielly’s shortcomings are significant, but his contributions far outweigh them

Morgan Rielly’s shortcomings are significant, but his contributions far outweigh them

As the final seconds ticked off the clock against the Montreal Canadiens in game seven, some bigger repercussions beyond the disappointment of the game began to swirl in the cesspool that was this season’s conclusion. The Maple Leafs have several significant decisions that are going to demand their attention over not only the short-term period of the draft and free agency but also over the next 12 months. Of course, the most important of those long-term decisions is likely going to be the contract of #1 defenceman Morgan Rielly, now just one year away from Unrestricted Free Agency after finishing his 9th year in the Maple Leafs organization. 
Way back in 2016, under the leadership of Lou Lamoriello, Morgan Rielly was signed to a 6 year/30-million dollar extension with a $5m AAV. While considered somewhat risky at the time, Rielly quickly blossomed in the years to come. Not only did #44 evolve into an offensive dynamo, peaking with 20 goals and 72 points during the Maple Leafs record-breaking 2018-19 campaign, but his leadership role on the team expanded dramatically. The team would add an A to his chest in 16-17, then three seasons later in 19-20 would be hotly debated amongst fans as the 25th …

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Author: Jori Negin-Shecter / The Leafs Nation

Jack Campbell is rightfully the Leafs Masterton nominee

Masterton nominations are one of the more bizarre moments of the final days of the season. It often draws attention to some truly monumental obstacles that have been overcome, but often it is just a bunch of teams going “look at how old this guy is? He’s still playing.” This year was no different in that regard as Patrick Marleau, Corey Perry, Zdeno Chara, Mike Smith, David Backes, Pekka Rinne, and Marc-Andre Fleury were all nominated. Perhaps the most bizarre nomination is Milan Lucic, who seemingly is preserving from being overpaid. I’m sure there are plenty of good stories from markets that I haven’t been paying attention to, but it seems this is Oskar Lindblom’s award.
As for the Leafs, it’s hard to argue with their selection.

Our Toronto chapter of the @ThePHWA has voted Jack Campbell as the #Leafs 2021 Masteron nominee
The Bill Masterton Trophy is awarded to one NHL player each season in recognition of sportsmanship, perseverance and dedication to hockey
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 10, 2021

The rocky path to holding down a job in the NHL for Jack Campbell has been well documented, and as a former first round selected goaltender the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs make two late deadline trades, bring in Ben Hutton

The Leafs made a couple of small trades in the final minutes of the deadline to move some pieces around for the Leafs.
The first one, and more important one, was the Leafs acquiring Ben Hutton from the Anaheim Ducks. Hutton joins the Leafs with a goal and five points in 34 games.

Ben Hutton to #Leafs for a 5th round pick
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) April 12, 2021

Hutton is a decent depth defenseman that doesn’t really move the needle, but won’t hurt the team either. He basically comes as some depth for the Leafs outside of their usual top six if someone gets hurt and they don’t want to rely on Martin Marincin, or one of the young guys in Sandin and Liljegren. For a fifth round pick, not a bad acquisition.
The other trade was a smaller one, but sees the Leafs send Alexander Barabanov to the Sharks for Antti Suomela.

#Leafs trade Barabanov to SJ for Antti Suomela
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) April 12, 2021

Suomela has no points in just 4 games this season, and has 15 points in 51 career games, but is more than likely just a part of this deal to move a contract. More likely, we’ …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

The TLN Trade Bored: Seven Days until the deadline

We are in the home stretch. The final week. Down to the last seven days before all this trade related nonsense disappears until the offseason where it becomes the all consuming topic again. Still that seems like a welcome break. Given that we can now see the finish line it seemed fitting that we once again update The TLN Trade Bored with revised trade rankings based off of what we’ve been hearing and reading for the past few days. Many of the names remain the change, but the prices seem to be more friendly to the Leafs, and but with fewer big names to focus on. There’s also the added intrigue of the Leafs absolutely (but not willing to acknowledge publicly) looking for goaltenders. Fun!

So yeah, Taylor Hall is still the prize above all else, but his teammate Linus Ullmark seems to be emerging as the best goaltending option for the Leafs going forward too.
Kyle Palmieri now sitting out, waiting to find out where he will be traded adds some intrigue to his name, and while there are other teams like the Islanders and Bruins that are pursuing him, the fact that he is the next …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: How Jalen Suggs could make it easier to move off of Kyle Lowry

Toronto Raptors: How Jalen Suggs could make it easier to move off of Kyle Lowry

While Gonzaga’s legendary win against UCLA in the Final Four was one of the greatest games in college football history, the NBA was watching this game to see if star Bulldogs point guard Jalen Suggs could come through in the clutch. The Toronto Raptors, who could lose Kyle Lowry this offseason, have to like what […]
Toronto Raptors: How Jalen Suggs could make it easier to move off of Kyle Lowry – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Over/Under Previewing the Blue Jays Bullpen using ZiPS projections

In the final part of this season preview we will look at the Blue Jays bullpen and their ZiPS projections. Losing Kirby Yates before the season even starts is a big loss, but there are still lots of good pitchers in the pen and this should be a sneaky good bullpen. 
As a reminder we are dealing with pitching so under in this case means I expect the player to beat their projections. 

Jordan Romano 
We will start with the bullpen ace Jordan Romano. The Blue Jays haven’t officially announced a closer replacement for Yates, but I think sooner rather than later this will be Romano’s job. He has the big fastball, running it up to 99 in Spring. He strikes batters out, striking out 36.8% of batters last season. The projections are low on Romano because of how poorly he pitched in 2019. The mechanical change he made last season was small but enough for him to have a breakout 2020 season even if it only was 14.2 innings. Per Baseball Savant, Romano added 200 revolutions per minute of spin to fastball in Spring and that will make his fastball that much harder to hit. Especially …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs face Oilers for final time in the regular season

Coming off a 4-3 OT win on Saturday, the Leafs take on the Oilers for one final time this (regular) season tonight, and they’ll be doing so with Michael Hutchinson in net. In the two teams’ games this season, the Leafs are 6-1-1, and all 3 of their goalies have played (and won) against the Oilers.
Saturday was arguably Jack Campbell’s shakiest game so far this season, and the team in front of him struggled to hit the net, as well; though they finally overcame a 2-goal deficit to tie the game at 3 apiece late in the third period. And Auston Matthews finally got over his snake bite, scoring the OT winner. While the Leafs are now on a 3-game winning streak, two of those three have been in overtime, which is not necessarily ideal when the divisional race is tight.
As the Leafs look to extend their winning streak, and hopefully pull it off in regulation, the Oilers are smarting from yet another loss to a team they want to get the best of. They’ll be hungry for the win, and with Hutchinson in net for the Leafs you can bet that Edmonton will try to …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

Practice Shenanigans: Vesey might (finally) be scratched, Campbell set to return, Matthews is day-to-day

As the Leafs made their final preparations before taking the flight to Edmonton to begin a five-game road trip, Friday’s practice saw quite a lot happen.
First off, it sounds like Sheldon Keefe is going to make a line change that fans have been longing to see happen:

It sure sounds like Jimmy Vesey will be scratched for the first time with the Leafs. Three points in 21 games is woof.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 26, 2021

It’s been a tough start to the Jimmy Vesey era in Toronto and his lacklustre production combined with a consistent struggle to find a permanent spot in the lineup hasn’t helped either. Keefe told the media that while Vesey’s defensive abilities have kept him in the lineup, he has also had trouble making his mark and finding a role he can provide on a consistent basis. This could be interpreted as a challenge to get Vesey to step-up his game or be moved to the taxi squad.
While this may be due to Auston Matthews missing today’s practice (more on him later), perhaps sitting out Vesey for a game or two may give him the motivation to get his season back …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation