Rumours: Campbell out? Gibson In? Floating the idea of bold moves

It’s the offseason, and with that comes the return of speculation, rumblings, chatter, whispers, and all your other favourites. We can confirm this. Given the fact that for a lucky few the playoffs are still going on it’s still relatively silent, but Elliotte Friedman dropped a few interesting tidbits about the Leafs in the video below (Leafs content is from the 5:30-9:30 mark) and we’ll dive into some of that here.

The Leafs aren’t necessarily going to “run it back”
This isn’t much of a surprise to anyone who has taken a good look at the Leafs cap situation, and even with the bargain that is the Mark Giordano contract, there is a need to do something to spice up the Leafs lineup and try to put themselves over the top. It can’t just entirely be a waiting game for teams like Tampa and Colorado to take a step back, there needs to be a constant exploration of how the team can improve and Elliotte Friedman alludes to the Leafs considering a couple of significant moves in the coming months. When it comes to a target, Elliotte primarily speaks about goaltending, and we’ll get into that much more below. When it comes to who the Leafs could be entertaining moving on from, the two names that seem to stand out as potential trade bait, we can speculate that William Nylander and Jake Muzzin are those players. Nylander appears to be viewed as the most movable of the big four forwards, and Muzzin, because the Leafs have a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leaflets: Giordano signing is a great start, defensive offer sheets, and what’s next for Simmonds

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Leaflets post so rather than just simply doing one, I’ve decided to commit to this as a regular Monday thing going forward. Consider Leaflets a small dose of my correct bad opinions for you to get mad at. It seemed like it was going to be a quiet long weekend, but much to delight of everyone, Kyle Dubas showed he was hard at work getting a former Norris Trophy winner back at a bargain price, so let’s start there.
The Giordano signing is impossible to hate
I immediately regret that assessment, as there is a pocket of Leafs fans outraged over Jason Spezza being around at all despite making league minimum and still putting together stretches of productive hockey. I am confident someone while emerge to teach us why Mark Giordano at two years for $800k AAV is bad, but for now let’s focus on all the reasons it’s good including when we last saw Mark Giordano a few weeks ago he still seemed like a perfectly capable middle pairing, or stellar bottom pairing option for the blueline.
So first off, this is a player at the end of his career signaling to his teammates that he believes the Leafs provide him the best opportunity …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Meet the Sellers: Cincinnati Reds

It’s late May, which means that it’s not too early to look at players the Jays could trade for at the upcoming trade deadline.

Today, we’ll be looking at the Cincinnati Reds, timely, right?
Preface: I started writing for Blue Jays Nation just over a year ago. One of the first articles I wrote was about which Rockie players would have fit on the Jays. As I was new to writing, I included hypothetical trades to get Trevor Story and German Marquez.
However, I want to steer clear of naming particular prospects in this series.
Joey Votto:
I feel the inclusion of Votto here is necessary, despite not really wanting the first baseman on the team for a multitude of reasons.
At one point, I’d give my first born to the Jays if they were to acquire the Canadian first baseman. However, his numbers have taken a huge hit in the 2022 season. Thus far in 94 plate appearances, he’s slashing .128/.277/.154 with a wRC+ of 37.
He has yet to hit a homer and his K% has been blown up to 30.9%, well above his career average of 18.4%. In fact, his numbers have been so bad that he has a -1.1 fWAR, well below average.
Last season, the then 37-year old slashed .266/.375/.563 with 36 homers (one less than his career high) and a wRC+ of 140. Votto contracted COVID, which halted the start of his season, so it’s safe to assume that the 38-year-old would likely bounce back.


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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Which Buffalo Bisons players could help the Blue Jays this season?

It’s tough to admit, but so far this season, the team has not lived up to their lofty goals of contending for a World Series.

While it’s still very early in the season and things can change, in my eyes, moves would have to be made if they want to meet those expectations.
Yes, that means trades, but there are also internal options that are currently with the Buffalo Bisons. Let’s go through each of the Bisons that I believe could make an impact this season for the Jays.
The bullpen has been okay, but all these one run games will tax the ‘pen as the season continues. For example, Mayza has already suffered an injury, meaning they’ve lost their set-up man.
That begs the question, which pitchers on the Bisons roster could help the Blue Jays pen if need be.
Adrian Hernandez:
Hernandez ranked as my #14 best Jays prospect heading into the 2022 season. He has not disappointed in his brief stint in the upper minors. 
He started the 2022 season in New Hampshire, pitching 4 innings in relief. During that time, he posted a 2.25 ERA and 2.66 FIP. Most impressively, his K/9 sat at 13.50, while his BB/9 sat at 6.75, which is rather high. However, context matters, as two of those walks were when it was raining fairly heavily.
It didn’t take long for Hernandez to be promoted to Triple A, where he’s improved his numbers, despite facing batters who have big league experience. In his 13 innings pitched, he has a K/9 of 14.54 and BB/9 of 4.15.

Let’s watch Adrian Hernandez absolutely bully some batters.#BlueJays #NextLevel
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) May 5, 2022

While 13 innings is a “small sample size” (although not so much for a reliever), it’s important to note that wherever he’s pitched, he’s alway …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Best of the Leafs player availabilities

It’s got to be a tough day for the Leafs, but one they’ve in some ways brought on themselves. And while there is a need for tough questions and big asks of them, having the day filled with the same nonsense questions about Mitch Marner getting carjacked is not something I expected. Thankfully the Leafs chose not to make him available today, as answering questions about that while also dealing with the playoff shortcomings of the team would be a little much.
Anyways, as usual hockey players didn’t say a whole lot, but here’s the best of what they gave us.

Spezza says he wants to come back if he can contribute to the group. “This is the only place where I want to play.”
— David Alter (@dalter) May 17, 2022

Spezza on his off-season recovery: “I don’t know know right now. I’m a little lost with what happened (in the playoffs)”.
— David Alter (@dalter) May 17, 2022

It might not be the most impactful thing for the 2022-23 Leafs, but it’s a question many of us had. What’s next for Jason Spezza. We at least now know that he is certainly a Leaf or nothing next year, and honestly who can blame him for wanting to take some time to make up his mind. With only five points to go until 1000, I sure hope he comes back and gets that important milestone, and even more so hope that he can be a part-time player for the Leafs next year, allowing him to end his career with a proper playoff send-off.

Giordano on his future says he has to talk to his agent but also adds: “I don’t think it’s a secret that I enjoyed my time here.”
— David Alter (@dalter) May 17, 2022

Giordano on if he thinks the group as it is currently constructed can get to the next level: “Yes, I do.”
— Davi …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: Is tonight the night for the Leafs?

It’s been 18 years since the Leafs have won a round. I know this because anytime our Twitter account shares something remotely positive about the Leafs we receive a flurry of uninspired responses from around hockey twitter reminding us of exactly this fact.
Maybe, just maybe, tonight is different.
IT’S GONNA HAPPEN!!! vs. emotional hedging
Tonight the bigger payout comes from Beleafing, The Moneyline for Toronto is +115, while Tampa is paying at -136. Tonight I’m choosing to believe in Toronto if for no other reason than when I woke up this morning it felt like things are going to be different (this is always great reasoning for how to put your money down. Be better than me.)
Spezza dragging the Leafs kicking in screaming into the second round
Last game Spezza did his best to motivate the Leafs, this time he might decide to take matters into his own hands more directly. Betting on Spezza to pick up a goal pays at +650.
Leafs have been slow out the gate
At no point in my years of following the Leafs have they ever chosen to do things the easy way. Given their slow starts in the past couple of games, I’m considering going with another rocky start and taking advantage of the +850 payout on th …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs’ Michael Bunting nominated for Calder Trophy

It’s officially official, Maple Leafs’ rookie Michael Bunting is one of three players nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

Michael Bunting (@MapleLeafs), Moritz Seider (@DetroitRedWings) and Trevor Zegras (@AnaheimDucks) are the three finalists for the 2021‑22 Calder Memorial Trophy. #NHLAwards
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 11, 2022

Bunting finished with the most points as a rookie with 63 (23G, 40A) over the span of 79 games this season. Nominated with him are the Red Wings defenceman Moritz Seider and the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras.
At 26-years-old, Bunting could be the 11th player in Maple Leafs history to win the award with the last player to win it being Auston Matthews.
We’ll find out who the winners of the awards are throughout the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final with the awards being presented at the NHL Awards.
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‘It was my 15th season, I love playing in Toronto, and I don’t know’ Rich Clune’s hockey-playing career hangs in the balance by Nick Barden

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 74: Looking at the 2022 Blue Jays after one month

It’s been one month and the Blue Jays own a 17-13 record. Though that seems a little limp because of how they’ve been playing lately, when you consider the strength of schedule they’ve had, it’s fine.

In this episode of BJN Radio, we did three up, three down for the first month of play. Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah have both been aces thus far, the bullpen has helped the team steal a handful of games, and Santiago Espinal looks like a legit player. On the flip side, the bats have been much worse than expected as multiple players are ice cold at the same time and Jose Berrios has some worrying underlying numbers early on.
We then looked ahead at a very important stretch the Blue Jays have coming up, as they head to New York for two against the Yankees and then they go down to The Trop for three with the Rays.
You can listen to the episode here…


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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs looking to put a stranglehold on the series

If history has taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t start feeling confident about how the Leafs are doing in the playoffs. Ever. I think if the Leafs do win the Cup, it’s going to be post parade, banner raising, and names on the cup before it will feel like it’s finally over.
Still, having a three game lead on the series would feel a lot better than a tied series. Especially if the Leafs would then have two opportunities to close it out at home, that would be a nice little situation to find ourselves in. Maybe it’s too greedy to expect Toronto to take two games in Tampa, but if Jack Campbell continues to do November Jack Campbell things, it doesn’t hurt to believe a little.
At 5v5, the Leafs haven’t been the dominant team, but the good news for the Leafs is that this series isn’t being won at 5v5. Penalties are being called, and as long as the Leafs are modestly disciplined in comparison to the slow-moving buffoonery of players like Maroon, Bogosian, Killorn, and Perry, the Leafs can cost by on the powerplay and trust that with limited shorthanded opportunities, things won’t get out of control and their power kill can k …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Bluelines: Looking for luck on the road

It’s a clean slate. The Leafs have a best of 5 series with Tampa having the home advantage. Toronto will need to pick up at least one on the road to get to the next round, and tonight is as good a night as any.
Leafs at +100
For the first time in the series, the odds favour the Lightning at -121. Still, the teams are about as close together as you can be.
Can John Tavares get in the mix?
So far John Tavares is the star Leafs player that leaves us most wanting. A goal from him pays at +270, and I’m going to be wishful that Nylander joining his line will get him back in the mix.
Will Corey Perry continue to give the Leafs trouble?
Listen, I don’t want to say expect the worst for the Leafs, or that this will be a tough game for the Leafs to win, but I will say that Corey Perry has been an absolute thorn in Toronto’s side and if we have to put up with that, we might as well turn it into some cash. A goal from Corey Perry is paying at +320 tonight.
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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation