William Villeneuve shows offensive prowl in third day of Maple Leafs development camp

A quick day three was on the books for Tuesday as Team White took on Team Blue for the first of two scrimmages this week at Maple Leafs development camp.
The first faceoff had the top forwards from each team lining up — Matthew Knies, Fraser Minten, and Max Ellis wearing Blue — Brandon Lisowsky, Nick Moldenhauer, and Ryan Tverberg sporting White.
A scrimmage halfway through development camp will allow the Maple Leafs’ brass to get a more firm look at who’s distancing themselves further from others.
3 Players who’ve distanced themselves early at Leafs development camp
Period one started with goaltenders Dennis Hildeby in Team Blue’s net and Keith Petruzzelli in net for Team White. The game began with a lot of pace and physicality and players weren’t afraid of leaning into hits or going into corners.
Rayan Bettahar was one player who didn’t seem afraid to throw big hits throughout Tuesday’s scrimmage.
A few minutes into the first period, Michael Renwick, who spent last season with the Windsor Spitfires, slid into the boards pretty hard. The 20-year-old looked to be in some considerable pain and was clearly frustrated that he had to leave the game. He didn’t return.
The line of Knies, Minten, and Ellis looked very good early, but seemed to taper off in the back-half of the scrimmage. The first period saw no goals, in part from there being not many strong chances, but also because of the strong play from Petruzzelli and Hil …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Blue Jays Fired Charlie Montoyo. Now What?

If turning around a struggling baseball team was as easy as firing your manager, there would be a constant cycle of middle-aged baseball dudes getting laid off weekly. But it rarely is that easy, and thus despite the Blue Jays firing Charlie Montoyo yesterday, a lot of work remains to be done in order to turn this team into one that not only will make the playoffs, but will be built to go on a deep run in October.

It is impossible to tell if replacing Montoyo with John Schneider will have any impact on how the players perform, but it became clear yesterday just how important of a first step it was to getting this team on the right track. From the first reports that were trickling out of the US, to this excellent piece from The Athletic’s Kaitlyn McGrath, Montoyo had clearly lost the confidence of his team, and once that happens, a move needs to be made. (Ironically, all arguments I saw and contributed to pre-firing assumed Montoyo was well-liked by the team. Once that assumption was thrown out the window, the argument for making a change became much simpler).
Now, after taking responsibility for where the club is in the standings at this point in the season yesterday, the task Ross Atkins has ahead of him is to identify the faults in this team and address them. It’s a tricky situation to navigate because if you’ve been watching the Blue Jays closely this year, you might identify many issues plaguing this team. In reality, though, I believe the issues are actually pretty simple. 
Despite what many might think, the Blue Jays’ offense is more or less fine. They’ve been the fifth-best team in baseball according to wRC+ this season in the aggregate. Their issues offensively have more to do with being inconsistent – which I don’t think is something you can ever avoid in baseball – and an inability to hit in high leverage spots.
That last point has been a thorn in their side since the beginning of 2021, and there have been many theories floating out there, from a lack of “clutch” – which would …

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Author: Gideon Turk / Blue Jays Nation

A fond look back at the narratives of the Leafs first day of free agency

Editor’s note: I wanted to start off by thanking the team here at The Leafs Nation for their outstanding coverage of the first day of free agency this year. Our writers were on top of every development as it occurred and analyzed in a thoughtful manner. I also want to thank our readers who have been coming to the site in the record numbers in the past couple of days. Don’t think we don’t appreciate you too. I know free agency is a big time for news, but I assure you we’ve got some exciting content planned throughout the offseason and if you are new to the site, we hope we can count you returning frequently (whether you agree with us or not.) 
Free agency is a day that I often look forward to on the NHL calendar, and then comes and it’s an absolute blur. I have no idea who plays where anymore but assume that most of the Leafs free agents are in Edmonton now and that Johnny Gaudreau isn’t the best decision maker in high pressure situations.
So far in free agency the Leafs have had one key objective that needed to be accomplished and more or less they’ve done that. They’ve reworked the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Ross Stripling’s excellent outing leads the Blue Jays to a sweep over the Phillies

This is Ross Stripling’s team. And now, John Schneider’s as well.

The Blue Jays were clicking on all cylinders tonight as they completed a two-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 8-2 win on Wednesday night.
Stripling had one of his best outings as a Blue Jay, retiring 18 of the first 19 batters he faced. Much like Jose Berrios last night, Stripling felt comfortable with every pitch in his arsenal: the fastball, changeup, curveball, and even an occasional slider.
Stripling’s final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6K’s. His efficiency was also noteworthy, only needing 81 pitches to get through his night. 57 of those were strikes.

Ross Stripling has been so money for this rotation so far. The way he’s stepped up has been a huge boost.
— Ricky Romero (@Ricky_Ro24) July 14, 2022

Maybe even more impressive was the offense, which went up against Phillies ace Zack Wheeler. Wheeler came into tonight’s game only allowing five home runs all season, but the Jays weren’t hearing any of that. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernandez took Wheeler deep in the 4th inning, with Guerrero’s home run being a unique one. He hit a slider low-and-away with one hand. Most hitters would “poke” that ball into play for a wimpy single or a groundout, but since Vlad is Vlad, he hit this one 397 feet. Hernandez would hit another home run in the 8th inning off of Phillies rookie Bubby Rossman, bringing his season total to 11.
Bo Bichette and Raimel Tapia also contributed RBIs tonight. The only disappointing thing the Jay …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Ondrej Kase signs one-year deal with the Hurricanes

Ondrej Kase is off to a new team after the Maple Leafs decided not to qualify him just two days ago.

Ondrej Kase signs a one-year contract with the #hurricanes at $1.5M AAV.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 13, 2022

The 26-year-old played 50 games in Toronto last season, scoring 14 goals and 13 assists in that span. One of the biggest reasons why the Maple Leafs didn’t qualify Kase was because of the possible arbitration case that they felt his side could’ve put together to get more money.
Another side of not signing him might be due to his injury history. It’s possible the Maple Leafs knew that one more concussion could be the end of his NHL career. However, $1.5 million for a player like Kase is pretty good and he’ll fit well with a team like the Hurricanes.
It’ll be interesting to see how he fares next season in Carolina.
More from TheLeafsNation.com
Goaltending is the number one priority heading into free agency by Nick Barden

Reviewing the Leafs’ 2022 Draft Class by Nick Richard

Ondrej Kaše will cost too much to return to the Leafs, most likely by Ryan Hobart

POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIO

PointsBet is live in Ontario. Get started here. …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Value to be found in non-tendered free agents once again for Maple Leafs

When you’re a team that operates near the salary cap ceiling, free agency is a time to try to bring in undervalued talent rather than throw money at the big fish.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, this is the situation they’ve found themselves in for a few seasons now. While the flat cap world has hurt Toronto by keeping them near the salary cap without the anticipated growth of the cap over the past couple of years, there is a bit of a silver lining to be found.
As every team has to deal with the ramifications of a stagnant salary cap, it has resulted in teams becoming much warier of arbitration for their restricted free agents. For another year in a row, this has resulted in multiple intriguing mid-20s players becoming available on the open market due to team’s non-tendering their restricted free agents either due to a qualifying offer that is too high or an arbitration case they want no part of.
Last summer, GM Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs dipped into the non-tendered UFA market quite a bit. David Kampf, one of their best signings, was one of these players, having been non-tendered by Chicago. Ondrej Kase was another, who was let go by Boston due …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation