1 stud and 1 dud from Raptors opening night win over Cavaliers

1 stud and 1 dud from Raptors opening night win over Cavaliers

The Toronto Raptors finally got their 2022-23 campaign kicked off with a home opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, one of many Eastern Conference foes who took a massive step in the right direction following some big offseason moves. Cleveland and Toronto will both be fighting to escape the randomness of the play-in. The first quarter […]
1 stud and 1 dud from Raptors opening night win over Cavaliers – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

5 very bold predictions ahead of Raptors’ 2022-23 season debut

5 very bold predictions ahead of Raptors’ 2022-23 season debut

Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors are finally set to make their 2022-23 season debut against Donovan Mitchell and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers. Winning 48 games was an exceptionally high total, given the preseason expectations placed on this team last year, but they won’t be viewed as surprise darlings this year. Siakam, 2021 All-Star Fred […]
5 very bold predictions ahead of Raptors’ 2022-23 season debut – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Make or Break: the 2022-23 Leafs goaltending primer

Make or Break: the 2022-23 Leafs goaltending primer

The NHL season is finally upon us, and with it, another season of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey begins.
Among the fans of this team, I’m sure that there have been a variety of approaches to this season. Many will be back, as interested as ever, analyzing the opening lineup and consuming all of the content that they can get their hands on. Others may be feeling apathetic about it all. And who could blame them after yet another first-round disappointment?
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve been at least mildly engaged with the team and their moves during the off-season. It certainly has not been a summer without intriguing storylines. While most of the moves made during the summer are interesting individually, they have all been colored by one theme: this is Kyle Dubas’ last shot. Notably, Dubas, with one year left on his contract, has not been given an extension as General Manager of the Leafs. Rightly or wrongly, every move made since the Game 7 loss to Tampa Bay will be seen to have a very direct impact on the job security of Dubas.
This brings us to goaltending. The most notable roster moves for the Leafs this summer were in the crease. Fan-favor …

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Author: Colin Hunter / The Leafs Nation

Fitting Rasmus Sandin into the Toronto Maple Leafs line-up

Fitting Rasmus Sandin into the Toronto Maple Leafs line-up

Rasmus Sandin has finally signed a new contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and now the coaches will need to find the best place for him in the line-up.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are no longer waiting for any remaining restricted free agents to sign a new deal with the team after it was announced that Rasmus Sandin had agreed to a two-year, $1.4 million AAV contract. It is reportedly the same contract that was offered to the young Swedish defenceman earlier in the summer and is the exact same deal that fellow countryman and teammate Timothy Liljegren penned this past off-season.
Now that the deal is signed, and there hasn’t been such a long and drawn-out situation that could make people sour on the 22-year-old, fans can rejoice that the Leafs have one of their better young players locked up and can now simply focus on playing hockey. That would be easier to do, however, if the Leafs were not suffering the slew of injuries that seemingly prompted Sandin to get his deal done this week.
With the injuries, though, comes the opportunity for Sandin to cement his position within the Leafs’ top six defencemen early on this season. This poses an interesting question of where will Sandin most likely fit into the team once h …

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Author: James Reeve / The Leafs Nation

Whit Merrifield sparks win behind Alek Manoah’s huge start

We finally have the answer to if giving up Max Castillo and Samad Taylor to the Royals for Whit Merrifield was worth it. Hell yes, it was. Whit Merrifield is a Blue Jay.

Of all the pain that Tropicana Field has caused the Blue Jays, Merrifield has seemed to find his former batting title self while playing down in Tampa. His 7th inning 3-run home run off of Rays reliever Brooks Raley sealed the deal on a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay, as well as changed the tone for how this series has been going.
The Blue Jays had just stranded the bases loaded in the 6th, as they were in the midst of a pitching duel between Alek Manoah and Drew Rasmussen. Chances to pounce on the relentless Rays pitching were dwindling down, but the bottom of Toronto’s order came through.
Teoscar Hernandez doubled with one out in the 7th, forcing Rasmussen to leave the game in favor of Raley. Danny Jansen walked, setting the stage for Merrifield.

BIG HIT WHIT @WhitMerrifield pic.twitter.com/jBAxkDo2J5
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 25, 2022

Merrifield skied a first-pitch slider to the left-field seats for his fourth home run as a Blue Jay. As a fan, it was quite the moment watching Merrifield trot around the bases with a lot of emotion. The recent injury to Santiago Espinal has opened the door for more playing time for Merrifield, and he is taking full advantage.
Thus far in this series, Merrifield is 5-for-11 with three home runs and six RBIs. It’s almost comical how much he has been the “secret weapon” for the Jays against the Rays. It’s important to note that he had the clutch hit to put Toronto ahead during a September 13th win over these Rays during the late innings.
Merrifield’s big hit also gave Alek Manoah a win; a reward for the Big Man’s excellent outing. Manoah didn’t allow his first hit until the 4th inning, en route to a 7 inning, four hit and no run performance.
Jordan Romano finished the game off with a 4-out save, a reassuring sight to see after two straight blown saves.
Manoah has continued to be the MVP of this Blue Jays team, and everyone is running out of adjectives to describe how much he has meant to this team. He also continues to be the go-to guy after a loss, as this win tonight by the Jays came when they absolutely needed it. The win put the Jays back …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

2022 MLB Draft day primer: How does the draft work and who are the Blue Jays linked too?

It’s finally here. Tonight at 7:00 PM eastern time, the 2022 MLB draft officially kicks under way.

As far as I can tell, tonight will cover the first two rounds, which includes the Blue Jays compensatory #77 and #78 picks.
The MLB draft is a rather confusing process compared to other North American sports, so I’ll explain it to the best of my capabilities.
How does the draft work:
In this section, we’ll look at what type of player is available as well as how the bonus pool works.
Who’s eligible:
The MLB draft has 20 rounds, but the Blue Jays will be able to draft 22 players due to those compensatory picks. The team got those picks when they extended a qualifying offer to both Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien at the end of the 2021 season. Since the two players signed elsewhere, the Jays got those two picks.
If you’re drafted by an NHL or NBA team, you essentially don’t have a choice in the matter but to play for that team. Yeah, you get weird instances like when Eric Lindros declined to play for the Quebec Nordiques or when Steve Francis refused to play for the Vancouver Grizzlies. However, most of the time once you apply to be drafted, you can’t be drafted again.
This isn’t the case with the MLB draft. The draft has a litany of pathways, such as being a recently graduated high school player, a third year university player or a junior college/community college pla …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Get to know every invite to Maple Leafs development camp

The Toronto Maple Leafs finally announced their development camp roster earlier today, and as per usual, there are a bunch of very intriguing invites.
Undrafted free agency is an excellent way to supplement your prospect pool when you don’t have many draft picks. While the Leafs did draft five times this year and they are close to the 50 contract limit, there are numerous prospects that would be worthwhile bets to be signed to an entry-level contract while they are eligible to do so.
Firstly, the invites have been separated into two groups: those in the CHL and those on the path to the NCAA.
Players in the CHL can sign as undrafted free agents, regardless of their age (as long as they have been eligible for an NHL draft), until the start of the new CHL season. This is how the Leafs signed Braeden Kressler last year, or how Philadelphia landed Philippe Myers and Egor Zamula in the past.
NCAA players, on the hand, don’t have it quite as easy. If they sign an NHL contract, they forego their NCAA eligibility. While we have seen …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation