The Blue Jays have acquired LHP Anthony Banda from the Pirates, Julian Merryweather moved to the 60-day Injured List

In case you need a distraction from the incredibly cursed game going on, here’s a random Blue Jays transaction…

The team announced on Saturday afternoon that they’ve acquired left-handed pitcher Anthony Banda from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash considerations.

OFFICIAL: We’ve acquired LHP Anthony Banda from the Pirates for cash considerations.
Welcome to the #BlueJays! pic.twitter.com/AdipNVsA4e
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 2, 2022

Originally drafted by the Brewers in 2012, Banda has pitched for the Diamondbacks, Rays, Giants, Mets, and Pirates in his professional career. He was claimed off of waivers by the Pirates last August and put up a 3.42 ERA over 25 appearances as a reliever.
 
This season, Banda has a 6.41 ERA, though his peripheral numbers suggest he’s been better than that ugly ERA would show. He’s striking out 10.1 and walking 2.1 batters per nine and has only allowed three home runs through 19 2/3 innings.
While this isn’t a big-name addition, it makes sense for the Blue Jays to be adding a left-handed arm to the bullpen. Right now, Tim Mayza and Matt Gage are the only lefty arms in the bullpen as Tayler Saucedo and Andrew Vasquez are on the Injured List.
In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays have shifted Julian Merryweather from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list.
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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

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Leafs sign Liljegren up for two more years

The hangovers from the Stanley Cup Final haven’t even had a chance to grab hold of the Avalanche yet and the Leafs are already getting around to announcing some business.

We’ve signed defenceman Timothy Liljegren to a two-year contract extension. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) June 27, 2022

Liljegren is back and he’s back at a very team-friendly cap hit with a two year deal at $1.4M AAV.
So there’s nothing but positives to unpack here. The Leafs need good right side defensemen and they locked one in for two years at a bargain. They’ve set a very awesome comparable contract for their dealings with Rasmus Sandin, which had the potential of being more contentious. And that puts Toronto in a situation where they have they have around $7M of cap space to sign Sandin, Engvall, another forward, and a goaltender. That’s before any possible moves of Mrazek, Holl, and Kerfoot. The Leafs have the opportunity to do some interesting things this summer without panicking about the salary cap.
As for Liljegren, let’s recap his 2021-22 Season:
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
EV
PP
SH
S
S%
TOI
ATOI
BLK
HIT
61
5
18
23
15
14
4
1
0
79
6.3
1000
16:24
60
87
CF/60
CA/60
CF%
GF/60
GA/60
GF%
xGF/60
xGA/60
xG%
HDCF/60
HDCA/60
HDCF%
62.98
51.35
55.09
3.83
2.82
57.58
3.14
2.13
59.5
14.65
10.22
58.92
Not a bad first full-time year in the NHL, and the fact that he’s built some chemistry with both Giordano and Muzzin, Liljegren should get a realistic look at being the second pairing option. The Leafs are off to a strong start for the summer and now all eyes turn to Rasmus Sandin.
Data from Hockey Reference and Natural Stat Trick
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At least in theory the next contracts for Sandin and Liljegren will be decent

It doesn’t seem like we are that far removed from Travis Dermott’s post entry level contract and his somewhat inflated 2-year, $1.5M AAV contract. That was a pretty solid bridge deal and one that certainly worked for the Leafs as Dermott failed to take that next step and left them with a moveable dollar amount and a figure that wasn’t hurting the team when he was there. The Dermott deal is just one of the many comparisons that should have us pumping our brakes on anything being out of hand for Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren now that they are up for renewal, but nothing is ever easy with the Leafs, and there is still plenty to consider here.
While we’re being generally positive about these contracts, let’s look at Evolving Hockey’s projected contracts for Sandin and Liljegren:
Sandin projects as receiving a 2-year deal at $1.6M AAV and Liljegren would receive 2 years at $1.25M AAV. Both are a lot better than I’d expect to see and remarkably team friendly. Now that’s just the start of it, and it’s probably worth exploring the entire range of their contracts here.
Sandin’s range goes from $1.016M (on a 1yr deal) to $3.69M (on an 8yr deal) with an average contract of 2.9 years and AAV of $2.025M. That certainly reflects the dramatic shift between going long-term with an RFA vs. a bridge deal.
Liljegren very much mirrors Sandin’s range, but on a micro-level. His range is $1.094 (1-year deal) to $3.142 (8 years) with an average of $1.847M AAV and 2.8 years. The average AAVs for both Liljegren and Sandin seem to be much more likely than the mode selections.
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Is it time to move away from Hall and Oates? If so, what song would Toronto move to?
When it comes to being a Maple Leafs fan, the most important part of attending a game is the experience that comes with it. Whether it be the goal song, the commercial break fun, or the intermission content, it’s all important to the fan experience.
As we enter another off-season, there becomes questions of what needs to be fixed. Some might say change the goal song, others will mention making beer and food cheaper, but the biggest thing fans would want is less expensive tickets.
I don’t even think there’d be any debate for the last one. (One way to drive prices down would be hiring me to do intermission puns, according to our Managing Editor Jon Steitzer, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind that.)
The biggest part that needs to be changed is the ticket prices. There’s not a ticket you can find for a game that’s under $75 and that’s unfortunate. I believe everyone would agree with the fact that if ticket prices were cheaper, Scotiabank Arena would be much, much louder during games.
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What does a successful summer for the Leafs look like?

The Leafs are starting from a pretty good place. Much like last year, but this year there is a lot more buy-in to where they are starting from because it’s a lot easier to lose to the Lightning in the first round than the Canadiens or Blue Jackets. Here’s to progress.
Anyways, there isn’t a whole lot that really needs to be done (in theory) as we should be somewhat comfortable with a team that finished with the fourth best regular season record. Except, the salary cap doesn’t make it as easy as saying “everyone gets to come back”, it’s a little much to expect everyone to have career years again, and if there’s one thing to learn from the Lightning it’s that no matter how much you like your roster you need to always be looking for opportunities to improve it.
So let’s begin, here’s what needs to be dealt with:
1. Goaltending
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After receiving many votes on each matchup, we eventually got our second-round, third-round, and ultimately, our finals matchup that just came to an end yesterday afternoon with the voting. The finals for this bracket consisted of two of the best players in the league, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. The goals that were in the finals though you may ask? Marner vs Vegas in November of 2021, and Matthews vs Dallas in April of 2022.
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It still might be too soon for the Maple Leafs to move on from Justin Holl

Can and should the Maple Leafs move on from Justin Holl this summer?
Nobody can see into the future, not even GM Kyle Dubas. But when they signed the now 30-year-old defenceman, it wasn’t clear where both Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren would be in their development.
Usually when a trade article like this is made, it’s usually because of a players bad play during the season. However, Holl had a fairly good regular season and playoffs.
Throughout the year, he found himself in and out of the lineup, rotating with Liljegren and Travis Dermott on the third pairing. It seemed like Rasmus Sandin had locked up a full-time spot, until he suffered an injury prior to the NHL trade deadline.
Once it became clear that Sandin wouldn’t return for a while, and with Dermott being traded to Vancouver, a free spot on the defence opened up. That opening was beside veteran defenceman Mark Giordano.
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe continued to go back and forth between the two of Holl and Liljegren before ultimately giving the role to the 30-year-old after Game 2 against the Lightning.
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