Adding Jason Spezza to the lineup gives the Leafs a spark and changes the identity of the fourth line

This first game of the series saw Kyle Clifford take an unnecessary penalty and subsequent suspension. Game Two saw Wayne Simmonds take two penalties that resulted in the Lightning scoring on the powerplay. While this has been going on Jason Spezza has been patiently (or impatiently) watching and waiting for his opportunity to come in, and while Clifford’s suspension will be over and there’s the potential for the Leafs to try the fourth line they wanted in Game One, it’s far more beneficial to go with Spezza.
Part of the appeal of having Spezza come in is he is the rallying cry for why there is a sense of urgency about the Leafs winning this season. Spezza, at 38, is in win-now mode even if the Leafs aren’t otherwise feeling much pressure. The fact that Jason is just 5 points off from 1000 likely means he’ll be back in the NHL next season to hit that milestone, but it feels like this is at the very least his second last chance at it, and the best chance to add value.
Spezza coming would also allow for the Leafs to give their second power play unit a different look, and potentially with Jason lining up at center on …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Kyle Lowry calls Scottie Barnes “cornerstone” for Raptors franchise

Kyle Lowry calls Scottie Barnes “cornerstone” for Raptors franchise

The Toronto Raptors fanbase may have given Kyle Lowry all of the love and adoration they had to give in his return to Canada, but the greatest Raptor to ever do it managed to get the last laugh. Despite strong outings from Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes, the Miami Heat were able to grind out […]
Kyle Lowry calls Scottie Barnes “cornerstone” for Raptors franchise – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Rating the Maple Leafs moves on Trade Deadline Eve

Kyle Dubas was a busy man. He’s earned himself a nice dinner. Whether he made all the moves he should, and if he made the right moves, we’ll explore that later, but a busy day deserves a treat. And tomorrow, while it seems should be a bit slower, probably shouldn’t be completely quiet either.
So let’s look at Dubas’ moves throughout the day.
Nick Robertson demoted to the Marlies:
The small salary cap assistance, along with the empty roster space was essential to making the rest of the day work. With the Leafs bringing in two players on NHL contracts, and only sending one out, something had to give, and that means Robertson is a Marlie again for the time being. If Muzzin is going to remain on the LTIR for a while, it’s very possible we see him again soon. There’s no reason to rate this move, so we’ll start off pass/fail, and give it a pass.
Harri Säteri signed to a 1 year, $750k deal:
The Leafs need a goaltender, and going with an NHL goaltender means trading assets and trying to make something work around the league. That can be tricky, especially with the Leafs’ salary cap situation, so buying a goaltender that has excelled in the KHL for the past three seasons, and led the Finnish …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs hope to unlock more out of Ilya Lyubushkin in effort to improve team defence

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas hopes defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin can not only provide the club with depth on the back end, but can bring a physical element that his club has lacked.
“We don’t have a lot of guys that have his utility, Dubas said. “A big strong right-shot defenceman, able to kill penalties and play with a little bit more physicality than we may have.”
The Maple Leafs acquired the defenceman nicknamed the ‘Russian Bear’ late Saturday along with veteran forward Ryan Dzingel from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for cast-off forward Nick Ritchie and a conditional second-round pick.
In executing the trade, the Leafs were able to remove the $1.375 million of Ritchie’s $2.5 million cap hit off the books, while simultaneously improving their depth on defence.
Lyubushkin doesn’t rank among the top targets out there for depth defencemen ahead of the Mar. 21 NHL trade deadline. But with limited cap space and more established names coming in with much higher price tags, Dubas is aiming for another buy-low opportunity to help out a back end that has been a point of weakness as of the late.
“He’s kind of gone under the radar in Arizon …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Ben Chiarot is who you trade for if you didn’t learn a thing from the Foligno situation

Sheldon Keefe and Kyle Dubas do a lot of talking about how the Leafs keep on learning, and if there is anything to the rumours that the Leafs are interested in Ben Chiarot, the Leafs’ front office is in desperate need of some remedial classes.
Last year the Leafs decided to throw away a first-round pick and a couple of fourth-round picks on Nick Foligno, a player who by most measures wasn’t particularly good. In fact, in addition to that, he was injured at the time. He cost a lot more than the cap space the Leafs had and were so stuck on bringing in this third-line winger, they brokered salary retention through an additional team. They did all of this while Taylor Hall was available. (I don’t know if Taylor Hall was the answer, but he would have certainly made the absence of John Tavares more manageable and wouldn’t have spent half the series hurt because he was rushed back from an injury so he could be traded.
Yes, there are a lot of reasons to still be bitter about the Nick Foligno trade, but last season there was still some benefit of the doubt being given to the Leafs front office that they had a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors preparing for unusual first reunion with Kyle Lowry

Raptors preparing for unusual first reunion with Kyle Lowry

For the first time in almost a decade, Kyle Lowry will play a game against the Toronto Raptors. Following an offseason departure to the Miami Heat, Lowry will make his first appearance against his old squad when he welcomes Toronto to South Beach on a long road trip. Even though Lowry won’t return to Toronto […]
Raptors preparing for unusual first reunion with 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

News from the Rink: Simmonds, Spezza, Kerfoot all return to Leafs practice

Kyle Dubas said yesterday that if Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds, and Alexander Kerfoot pass their cardiac screenings, they’d be back at Leafs practice.
It looks like the three players have left COVID protocols.

Players participating in Dec. 27 practice:
Forwards: Anderson, Bunting, Clifford, Engvall, Kaše, Kerfoot, Marner, Matthews, Ritchie, Seney, Simmonds, Spezza, Steeves, Tavares
Defencemen: Biega, Dahlström, Hellickson, Holl, Král, Liljegren
Goalies: Scott, Woll
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 27, 2021

Matt Hellickson is the latest Marlies player to be practicing with the Leafs. The Leafs’ AHL affiliate has been hit hard by COVID-19 having 24 players and five staff members test positive for the virus.
Hellickson is on an AHL contract, but the NHL has reportedly given the Leafs special permission to have him practice with the team.
Leafs lines at practice
Here’s how the lines shaped up today with Spezza, Simmonds, and Kerfoot all returning to practice.

#Leafs lines at practice Dec. 27/21
Bunting-Matthews-MarnerKerfoot-Tavares-KaseClifford-Engvall-AndersonRitchie-Spezza-SimmondsExtra: Seney-Steeves
Kral-LiljegrenDahlstrom-HolllHellickson-Biega
WollScottD’Agostini (practice goalie)
— David Alter (@dalter) December 27, 2021

The first line has stayed the same as yesterday. With Kerfoot returning to practice, he slots in with John Tavares and Ondrej Kase. The third line consisting of Kyle Clifford, Pierre Engvall, and Joey Anderson stays …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

NHL postpones Wednesday’s Leafs vs. Penguins game

This afternoon, Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas, said that Toronto might be two players short for Wednesday’s game vs. Pittsburgh.
A couple of hours later, the NHL has now postponed that game.

Wednesday’s game vs. Pittsburgh has been postponed. https://t.co/Y0Q7tG1a5C
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 27, 2021

Earlier this afternoon, Dubas also said that Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza and Alexander Kerfoot could return to practice on Monday if their cardiac screenings go well.
As of right now, @Jack Campbell, @Petr Mrazek, @Jake Muzzin, @Morgan Rielly, @Rasmus Sandin, TJ Brodie, @Travis Dermott, @William Nylander, @Ilya Mikheyev, and @David Kampf are still in COVID protocols. Spezza, Simmonds, and Kerfoot remain there as well until they’re available for practice.
Toronto’s next game is now on New Years Day against Ottawa at 7 PM ET.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs recall Kyle Clifford, loan Joey Anderson to the Marlies

Leafs recall Kyle Clifford, loan Joey Anderson to the Marlies

Kyle Clifford is officially back.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled Clifford from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, the Leafs announced Tuesday afternoon.
In a corresponding move, the Leafs loaned Joey Anderson to the Marlies. Toronto had previously recalled Anderson from the AHL on Nov. 21 but he did not appear in any NHL games before being returned to the minor league.

The Maple Leafs have recalled forward Kyle Clifford from the Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Joey Anderson has been loaned to the Marlies.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) November 23, 2021

The Leafs acquired Clifford from the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 16. In return, Toronto sent “future considerations” (read: nothing) back St. Louis’ way. He’s in the final season of a two-year contract with an average annual cap hit of $1 million.
This is Clifford’s second tenure in the Maple Leafs organization. He previously joined the team at the 2020 trade deadline, coming over from the Los Angeles Kings as part of the deal that made Jack Campbell a Maple Leaf.
Clifford appeared in 16 games with the Leafs to close out the 2019–20 regular season, scoring a goal and two assists. He was held without a point in five playoff games with Toronto.


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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

Kyle Lowry talks departure from Raptors, legacy in Toronto in interview

Kyle Lowry talks departure from Raptors, legacy in Toronto in interview

For the first time in almost a decade, Kyle Lowry suited up for an NBA team not named the Toronto Raptors, as his reign north of the border came to an end thanks to a sign-and-trade move that sent him to the Miami Heat. Even after he made the move, Toronto remains on his mind. […]
Kyle Lowry talks departure from Raptors, legacy in Toronto in interview – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ