In Jack Campbell, the Leafs finally have consistent goaltending

Coming into the season, Jack Campbell’s role with the Toronto Maple Leafs was clear- be the best and most reliable backup Frederik Andersen has had since Curtis McElhinney.
The amazing story that played out couldn’t have been more different than what had been drawn up, in the best way possible, because Jack Campbell finally hit his potential.
Originally drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2010 with talk around the league watercoolers describing him as a kid who has ice in his veins and was projected to be a near-elite starter, once he developed, Campbell struggled mightily to establish himself in the world of professional hockey, due in no small part to injuries and debilitating confidence issues, but now, he has fully arrived. One small side note before we begin, if you have a subscription to The Athletic, I highly recommend reading James Mirtle’s profile on Campbell from April 5th. In this amazing feature, Mirtle explores Campbell’s journey from his childhood all the way up to him taking the starter’s role in Toronto. It was the kind of writing that I (a journalism student) strive to achieve at some point in my career.
Season Recap
Campbell appeared …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Meet the Sellers: Miami Marlins

Coming into the 2021, the Miami Marlins had hoped they could be a competitive team after their successful showing in last year’s shortened season. 

They finished second in the NL East, with a 31-29 record, landing them only four games behind the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins would beat the Chicago Cubs in the wild-card round and then get swept in three games by the Braves in the NLDS. 
The team came into this season with some optimism, but after a tough start through June 15th, the Marlins sit at the bottom of the division with a 29-39 record, 9.5 games back of the New York Mets. General manager, Kim Ng, will more than likely be selling uncontrollable assets to teams with the hopes for a large playoff run. The Toronto Blue Jays are absolutely one of those teams.
In my eyes, after some of the bullpen struggles, adding some arms is Toronto’s biggest priority. The Marlins also have a utility player I think would compliment the Blue Jays as well, which could spell some lost playing time for a guy like Cavan Biggio, who has struggled some this season. In an ideal world, the Marlins would also have some starting …

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Author: Eric Lightfoot / Blue Jays Nation

DFO Rundown: Hyman rumoured to have turned down a $5M/year deal from the Leafs

The Daily Face Off Rundown podcast dove into the next contract for Zach Hyman in their latest episode (around 8 minute mark) Jason Gregor sharing a rumoured offer from the Leafs of a $5M/yr contract, and Hyman’s cap rejecting that offer. Frank Seravalli went on to add that he expects Hyman to receive long term offers from multiple teams, and the cap hit to be north of $6M/yr.
That’s a lot of cheddar. And with the Leafs having to fill roughly 8 roster spots with only $12.5M to do so, that’s a big commitment to a 29 year old with significant time missed due to knee injuries over the past three seasons. Injury histories tend not to improve once you hit the 3-0 age marker either, so that’s a bit of a red flag.
Still if you look at what’s been put out for Hyman’s salary predictions, we could just be scratching the surface. Evolving Hockey‘s salary estimations put Zach Hyman as potentially earning a 7 year, $6.85M deal. I get it that you’ve liked Zach Hyman a lot as a Leaf, and he’s the top six forward we can point to that …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews is a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award

It might fall into the category of things we’re not ready to hear about or celebrate, but Auston Matthews is one of the three finalist for the most outstanding player in the NHL.

Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Sidney Crosby are finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, as voted on by their @NHLPA peers.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 2, 2021

Auston’s Rocket Richard winning year and 40+ goal season in 56 games is why we’re seeing his name up there for sure. In addition, Matthews has begun playing a much more complete game, and can be dominant in his own zone as well. He’s been consistent throughout the regular season, when the voting takes place, and only had a brief lull as he recovered from a wrist injury. The playoffs don’t factor into this, and while they were statistically underwhelming, we can certainly see where Matthews was playing a competitive game, but not getting the results we needed.
Now, here’s the catch. He’s nominated for the same award as Connor McDavid. Connor McDavid who had an absolutely mammoth finish to the season, where he put up over 100 points in a 56 game season. It’s an uphill battle. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Tavares and Muzzin injury updates

Here we are heading into Game Seven of the first round, and the Leafs will appear to be doing so without their captain, and one of their top defensemen. Welcome to Leafs Nation. Here are the updates on where they are at…
Tavares skating…

John Tavares participated in the @MapleLeafs optional morning skate ahead of Game 7 tonight. #NHLonSN pic.twitter.com/JLJqoHZhpj
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 31, 2021

Yep, that’s John Tavares skating (although not looking completely comfortable) in advance of tonight’s Game Seven. The Leafs were quick to rule out Tavares for tonight, and that shouldn’t really be a surprise as this is the first full skate he’s participated in. Having the captain back to work with the players today was hopefully a positive for the team, and maybe, just maybe the Leafs want to play well enough to give Tavares a chance to come back during the playoffs.

“It’s progress that he’s on the ice with other players … He’s had no setbacks” … Sheldon Keefe on John Tavares #Leafs “His recovery has been quite remarkable.”
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) May 31, 2021

Playing guess the return for Tavares is irresponsible, so we won’t, but we will say that it …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs once again staring into the abyss

Leafs once again staring into the abyss

“If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche
Nothing really sums up the Leafs and their history quite like this quote, as the futility of this franchise seems to be entirely of its own making, and inability to get past itself.
Here we once more, in a game seven situation, on the verge of first round defeat, and it’s next to impossible to muster any confidence in this team, and have even a feeling that this Leafs team that looks so great on paper is going to even show half the effort required to move on to the second round.
The second round, a place this team hasn’t been since May of 2004. That is the first term of George Bush. That predates the iPhone by 3 years. Anchorman wouldn’t be out for another two months. Imagine the last time the Leafs won a playoff round Blockbuster had over 9,000 locations and turned down an opportunity to acquire Netflix. This team has sucked for an impossibly long time, and tonight’s Game Seven just feels like another chance to wear that humility on our sleeves.
Putting the history of this franchise on the current …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Playoff Preview: After a season of turmoil, it’s Jack’s net

Goaltending heading into the playoffs hasn’t been much of a cause for conversation in Toronto over the last few seasons. For the entirety of the Matthews Era, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had their game one starter etched in stone since day one of training camp, with Frederik Andersen having been pegged as The Guy essentially from the moment then general manager Lou Lamoriello traded a first and second round pick to Anaheim for the Danish net-minder. And despite a shaky October in his first season with the Leafs (a trend that would plague Andersen for the entirety of his tenure in Toronto,) Andersen settled in and became a stabilizing force for a young Leafs team who were still finding their legs defensively. For as much star power as the Leafs had acquired over the previous few years, it’s hard to argue that they would not have reached the heights that they did as quickly as they did were it not for the stellar play of Frederik Andersen.
But things can change in quickly in the NHL, and over the last couple of seasons, while Toronto’s defense has been bolstered and rounded into for as one fitting …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: Matthews and the Leafs handily defeat the Canucks

Another day, another Leafs victory.
Toronto came into this game looking to further cement their spot atop the North Division while the Canucks were trying desperately to squeak into the playoffs. The game proved to be an exciting affair, but only for one of those teams.
Tanner Pearson opened the scoring off a faceoff from a bad angle and they rode that momentum by piling up the shots. Sheldon Keefe did not like what he was seeing and gave his captain a long talk about the play and what should have been done differently.
It seemed to have paid off as the Leafs soon with Auston Matthews finishing off a nice feed from Mitch Marner off the rush to even things up. Early in the second, Marner stole the puck to set up Matthews’ 38th goal of the season and put his team in front for the rest of the game. Things started to balance out as both teams traded chances and kept the score close, but that all changed in the third period.
It started off with Adam Brooks getting a piece of Justin Holl’s shot from the point that Thatcher Demko had little shot of stopping. Then …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

A big first inning on Tyler Glasnow leads the Blue Jays to a win at The Trop

A slumping offence going into a game against a guy with a 0.73 ERA? Seems like it’s going to be a bad time, right? Nope! The Blue Jays spanked Tyler Glasnow for a four-run first inning and hung on to beat the Rays by a score of 5-3.

Things worth mentioning…
Just about all of Toronto’s offence came in the first inning. Glasnow struck the first two guys he faced out but then Vlad Jr. kept the inning going with a single. After that, Rowdy Tellez drove him in with a double, Randal Grichuk drew a walk, and then Marcus Semien clubbed a three-run bomb to centre field. Glasnow allowed twice as many runs in the first inning of Friday’s game than he had in 24 2/3 innings coming into the game. It looked like Glasnow was going to mow the Blue Jays down based on the first couple of at-bats. It’s amazing how quickly things can change…

That’s a 13 pitch, 0 run inning if Vladdy’s grounder is like 5 feet left. What a sport.
— bk (@_bkuh_) April 23, 2021

Steven Matz was solid on Friday, though he had to compensate for some ugly defence behind him. The Blue Jays made three errors …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays Nation Radio Ep. 6: The bullpen comes up huge in a two-game split at Fenway

The Blue Jays rolled into Fenway and earned a split in their mini, two-game series with the Red Sox this week.

All things considered, given Toronto’s wealth of injuries and how well the Red Sox had been playing early on, earning a split here is a pretty good outcome. The Blue Jays limited the Red Hot Sox bats to just eight runs over the two games, impressive given Boston came into the series with the best offence in baseball.
We talked on this post-series podcast about the team’s unlikely hero, the bullpen, the one-two punch of Bo and Vlad absolutely mashing, the team’s challenges with defence, particularly Lourdes Gurriel and Cavan Biggio, and what the lineup should look like when George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez return.
We also looked ahead to the looming three-game series at The House of Horrors with the Rays. Tampa is also dealing with a wealth of pitching injuries but they’re starting to find their stride offensively. This is a big series for the Blue Jays but they have their best three arms, Hyun Jin Ryu, Steven Matz, and Robbie Ray going.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation