News and Notes: Joe Siddall suggests the Blue Jays could trade two catchers, Ross Atkins speaks, and more!

News and Notes time, as we’re slowly approaching the Winter Meetings.

“Slowly approaching” feels like an understatement, as the past month has just been filled with speculation and empty rumours, but we’re almost there. Let’s look at some things boiling on the hot stove.
Why just trade one catcher, why not two:
It’s pretty well known that the Jays are expected to trade a catcher before the start of the 2023 season. While it’s also been noted that they’re okay with carrying three if a trade doesn’t materialize, they have a surplus of three really good catchers, so a trade will probably happen.
Sportsnet’s Joe Siddall takes it one step further and suggests that instead of trading one catcher, trade two and sign a veteran.

#MLB winter meetings next week… #BlueJays expected to move a C (area of depth)…thinking outside the box…how about trading 2 C’s?…& sign FA christian vazquez…vaz catches primarily, kirk C & dh…using jansen/moreno to acquire needs (sp/rp, cf)..rest is done via FA
— Joe Siddall (@SiddallJoe) December 1, 2022

 
Siddall, who played the backstop in the Majors knows what he’s talking about, but this may be too extreme. Defensively, Vázquez is an upgrade over Jansen, but except for in 2019 when he hit 23 homers, he never had over 10. Over his career, he is a 84 wRC+ hitter as well, but he’s a perfect fit for a backup catcher.
Once you factor in that he’s been the backstop for two World Series winners, and yeah, Vázquez is definitely an interesting free agent, but it doesn’t seem likely the Jays will sign a catcher for the main roster
This is speculation on my behalf, but it seems likely to me that they’d trade for a starter with team control while signing a left-handed batting outfielder. More on this later, though.
Nathan Eovaldi:
Jim Bowden of The Athletic paired former Red Sox Nathan Eovaldi with the Toronto Blue Jays, speculating that he’d sign a four-year, $90,000,000 deal with the team. The s …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

End of month Winter Leauge wrap-up: Rainer Nuñez leads the Dominican Winter League in home runs, Bowden Francis pitching well, and more!

It’s the end of November, so it’s time to look at how Blue Jays prospects are doing in their respective winter leagues!

So first things first, you’ve read the title and may be asking “who’s Rainer Nuñez?”. He was Blue Jays Nation’s 16th-ranked prospect in the mid-season ranking, and oh my is he ever coming into his own. More on that in the first section.
We’ll also look at several other prospects, such as Naswell Paulino, Bowden Francis, Otto López, and Adrián Hernández.
Rainer Nuñez:
As I had mentioned, the 21-year-old ranked as our 16th best Blue Jays prospect, and for good reason. He was the only Dunedin Blue Jay regular to have an exit velocity over 110 mph, which he did five times. In fact, in 2021 when exit velocity was tracked, he was one of only six batters with a ball hit over 110 mph, which he did the most despite being younger than most of his contemporaries.
Of course, exit velocity only matters so much, so what about his season totals?
Nuñez slashed .299/.328/.482 with 15 homers in 384 plate appearances with the Dunedin Blue Jays, eventually winning the Florida State League batting title. His BB% dropped from 13.7% in the FCL in 2021, to 3.6% with the baby Jays, but he only struck out 21.4% of the time, which isn’t bad in the slightest.

La puso del otro lado ¡HOMERUN de Rainer Núñez que pone a las @EOBASEBALLCLUB en la pizarra! #LIDOM #CopaBanreservas pic.twitter.com/9jiKntkx1J
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) November 30, 2022

He wa …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Digging into eight proposed trades involving Blue Jays catchers!

It’s the time of year when we all make hypothetical trade suggestions. It doesn’t help that this off-season has felt incredibly slow. Grab a snack and get curled up, this article is going to be a long one.

A few days ago, Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic wrote an article pitching eight trades involving Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk. She spoke with the other team’s beat writers of The Athletic to compile these trades, while former general manager Jim Bowden gave his assessment.
As a somewhat rational Jay fan, I also wanted to take a look at these trades and give my opinion. The fact of the matter is that some of these trades actually make sense, and I want to dig into those ones in particular.
We’ll start by looking at Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk by the numbers and attempt to gauge their value.
Danny Jansen:
The 2022 season was a career year for the 27-year-old catcher, at least with the bat. He slashed .260/.339/.516 in 248 plate appearances and had a 10.1 K% and 17.7 BB% during that time.
Where he really impressed though, was the fact that he hit a career-high 15 homers in such a short span, which was good enough for a 140 wRC+ and 2.6 fWAR.

FREE TIP: To shift Danny Jansen, place your outfielders BEHIND the wall pic.twitter.com/N7y35YnNoG
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 27, 2022

Defensively, he just hasn’t been the same as his 2019, whe …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Luke Schenn might make sense for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the deadline

The Toronto Maple Leafs are bound to be buyers by the time the trade deadline rolls around this season, and defence may be an area that the team looks to address before the final push towards the playoffs.
It’s been a month since veteran blueliner Jake Muzzin left the Leafs’ 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes with a neck injury, with the Toronto Maple Leafs announcing that the 33-year-old is out indefinitely with a cervical spine injury and will be re-evaluated in February. This leaves the Leafs without one of their best defensive players for at the very least a significant chunk of the season, if he even returns at all.
The Leafs have managed fairly well in Muzzin’s absence, with a 6-3-3 record since, but with recent injuries to both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, as well as the potential for another significant injury along the blueline, with T.J. Brodie currently also on IR, the team will undoubtedly have one eye on the potential to add another body at some stage.
A situation such as this is likely to throw up all kinds of names, such as the aforementioned Coyotes’ wantaway Jakob Chychrun, who himself is currently sidelined with a wrist injury. Alternatively, a reunion with a former Leaf could be on many people’s mind, and this could very well be the case for Luke Schenn.
Schenn recently appeared on the Nation Network’s Leafs Morning Take ahead of the Vancouver Canucks’ trip to Toronto, where they suffered a 3-2 loss to the Leafs, …

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Author: James Reeve / The Leafs Nation

Leafs season from Holl

It brings me no joy to report that a one time ECHL reclamation project turned top four defenseman has taken a tour for the worse. I was an early adopter of Justin Holl fandom and it seemed like Mike Babcock would rob us of a good time. Sheldon Keefe gave Holl his opportunity and for one glorious season alongside Jake Muzzin it looked like the good times were never going to end.
Last season was a step back from Holl. The fact that Muzzin also took a step back or was absent due to injury often meant straining what could be achieved by Holl, but he still looked like a capable bottom pairing defenseman who was just being asked to punch above his weight class and fill in on the second pairing due to injuries. This year… well this year has been a mess.
Season
GP
TOI/GP
CA/60
CF%
GA/60
GF%
xGA/60
xG%
HDCA/60
HDCF%
PDO
20192020
68
15.92
54.76
51.80
2.44
51.65
2.30
53.00
10.97
51.71
0.998
20202021
55
17.60
53.13
49.85
2.54
53.93
2.11
54.51
9.30
55.49
1.010
20212022
69
16.90
54.17
52.22
2.73
51.82
2.37
54.69
10.19
57.33
1.003
20222023
9
16.61
58.21
50.51
2.41
40.00
3.07
43.83
16.46
35.94
0.969
Most notably with Holl’s numbers you can see the spikes in shot attempts against, especially those in high danger areas, and as a result there has been a significant impact on the expected goals against, which tell an interesting story compared to the goals against. It truly could be a lot worse, but the low GF% also speaks to the Leafs not producing offensively with Holl on the ice either. That’s a definite red flag for a defensemen the Leafs have needed to deploy in their top four due to Liljegren’s injury to start the season.

(red dots mean negative for/against differentials and all data is sourced from Natural Stat Trick)
Holl has struggled in the majority of his games this season. He had a strong outing against Washington, and statistically it wasn’t a bad night against San Jose, although the eye test would certainly disagree with the numbers, as Sheldon Keefe had to address Holl’s performance following the game…

Sheldon Keefe on Holl: “Justin likes really direct & honest feedback. We’ve given him that. Certainly, a little more direct here today because it’s been snowballing …” pic.twitter.com/BNsGoRnaaX
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) October 28, 2022

Last night did not help Holl’s cause and while the reality is he’s safe fo …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Looking way ahead to the 2023 draft: The Blue Jays will pick 20th, an early look at draft prospects and more!

With the Jays out of the playoffs, it’s time to look ahead to the 2023 season. More specifically, the 2023 draft.

As you know, the Jays were eliminated from the playoffs last Saturday, swept by the lower-seed Seattle Mariners. It was a bitter pill to swallow, as they were considered to be World Series contenders in 2022. 
I’ll eventually write my thoughts on what exactly went wrong, and what needs to be changed, but we’ll just focus on some good that came out of being bounced so quickly.
The Jays will select 20th overall:
Unlike last season, the draft ranking isn’t determined by where teams finish in the standings, but by a lottery. While the Jays won’t partake in that, they’ll be affected by the changes regarding the playoffs.
Teams that are bounced in the wildcard round, will pick after the 18 teams that didn’t make it. These four teams are the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York lolMets.
The 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd overall picks have been determined by record, meaning that the Rays will pick 19th, the Jays 20th, and the St. Louis Cardinals 21st. While the Mets would usually get the 22nd, they pick drops ten spots due to being way over the luxury tax. Have fun signing all your free agents, lolMets.
If you’re wondering, yes, the fact that the Jays picked a few spots below the World Series winning Atlanta Braves in the 2022 draft absolutely irks me to t …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Things to look forward to about the Leafs season

Things to look forward to about the Leafs season

It’s that rare time of year when even the Habs and Sens are undefeated and everyone has a slight sense of optimism around their team except for Coyotes fans. We have roughly seven months to kill before actually finding out whether or not the Leafs can win a round, so in the spirit of having too much time on our hands, I’ve asked the TLN crew to share what they are excited about this season.
This is also an opportunity for us to introduce you to a number of new contributors on the site and give you a chance to know some of the new and old faces on the site. Without further adieu, here we go:
Colin Hunter:
Hi, I’m Colin, and I recently joined The Leafs Nation team as a writer. I am currently a student in Newfoundland, and am involved in the local coaching scene. I hope to contribute to improving public access/coverage of goaltending analysis in the sport. As a retired goalie and current coach myself, I’m looking forward to seeing how the goalies at various levels of the Leafs’ pipeline perform, with many of them entering pivotal years.
James Reeve:
Hi everyone, my name’s James and I am a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and writer all the way from the United Kingdom. I’ve been followi …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Buffalo Sabres are sticking with development this season

The Buffalo Sabres are sticking with development this season

Overview:
11 years is a long time. It’s been 11 long years since the Buffalo Sabres made the playoffs, which is currently the longest active streak in the NHL. We have been through Eichel, multiple GM’s and coaches, and yet how much closer are the Sabres to playing meaningful summer hockey? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
Stats from last year:
Atlantic Standing: 5/8
Points: 75 (24th)
CF%: 48.50% (20th)
GF%: 44.13 (28th)
PP%: 21.2% (16th)
PK%: 76.4% (23rd)
Other than the power play, these numbers all need to improve if Buffalo wants playoff hockey.
Internal Moves:
Tage Thompson got paid. 7 years, $50 million dollars. Victor Olofsson got a 2 year $9.5 million dollar extension. Both players will be relied upon heavily.
Player Moves:
Buffalo stayed relatively quiet this summer, but still addressed a couple of key areas. Eric Comrie was signed to a 2 year deal. Sometimes in hockey, the perfect contract emerges. It’s rare, but I believe this contract will be great for both parties. Buffalo gets a legitimate option to help Craig Anderson, and Comrie finally gets some stability. Peace of mind is priceless, particularly for NHL netminders. We could see the best Eric Comrie has to offer this season.
Buffalo also brought in Ilya Lyubushkin on a 2 year deal. He gets a pay in …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

There is no shortage of personal milestones to be hit by Leafs players this season

It’s training camp time, which means we are spending the next three weeks anticipating a season that is essentially an eight month long transaction to get us to the hockey that we really care about, the playoffs. I think we should be reasonably comfortable with the idea the Leafs are a playoff team, and even if the biggest pessimists will grant the Leafs the bare minimum of a wild card spot in the playoffs, while we’re waiting for that hockey we need something to keep us interested and to some degree that will include players hitting personal milestones.
That is partially why I spent some time putting together a list of what the Leafs’ individual players could achieve.
Who
Milestone
How far away
Joey Anderson
1st Leafs goal
1 goal
Joey Anderson
1st Leafs point
1 point
Joey Anderson
100 games played
42 games
Nic Aube-Kubel
100 games played
31 games
Jordie Benn
600 games played
5 games
TJ Brodie
800 games played
28 games
Michael Bunting
100 games as a Leaf
21 games
Michael Bunting
100 points as a Leaf
37 points
Michael Bunting
100 points
23 points
Kyle Clifford
800 games played
49 games
Carl Dahlstrom
100 games played
33 games
Pierre Engvall
200 games played
32 games
Pierre Engvall
100 points
38 points
Adam Gaudette
100 points
30 points
Mark Giordano
100 games as a Leaf
80 games
Mark Giordano
1100 games
76 games
Mark Giordano
600 points
56 points
Mark Giordano
400 assists
7 assists
Justin Holl
100 points
36 points
Calle Jarnkrok
600 games played
26 games
David Kampf
100 games as a Leaf
18 games
David Kampf
100 career points
16 points
Alex Kerfoot
400 games played
40 games
Alex Kerfoot
200 points
13 points
Timothy Liljegren
100 games played
26 games
Denis Malgin
200 games played
8 games
Denis Malgin
100 points
40 points
Denis Malgin
1st Leafs goal
1 goal
Denis Malgin
1st Leafs point
1 point
Mitch Marner
500 games played
73 games
Mitch Marner
500 points
45 points
Mitch Marner
400 assists
83 assists
Mitch Marner
9th on the Leafs alltime assists list (321 tied with Doug Gilmour)
4 assists
Mitch Marner
8th on the Leafs alltime assists list (330 tied with Ted Kennedy)
13 assists
Mitch Marner
7th on the Leafs alltime assists list (349 tied with Tim Horton)
32 assists
Mitch Marner
10th on the Leafs alltime points list (537 tied with Rick Vaive)
82 points
Auston Matthews
300 goals
41 goals
Auston Matthews
200 assists
2 assists
Auston Matthews
500 points
43 points
Auston Matthews
8th on the Leafs alltime goals list (260 with Wendel Clark)
1 goal
Auston Matthews
6th on the Leafs alltime goals list (296 tied with Mahovlich and Armstrong)
37 goals
Auston Matthews
5th on the Leafs alltime goals list (299, tied with Vaive)
40 goals
Auston Matthews
10th on the Leafs alltime points list (537 tied with Rick Vaive)
80 points
Matt Murray
300 games played
54 games
Matt Murray
150 wins
18 wins
Matt Murray
20 shutouts
9 shutouts
Jake Muzzin
700 games played
21 games
Jake Muzzin
200 games as a Leaf
17 games
Jake Muzzin
100 points as a Leaf
20 points
Jake Muzzin
300 points
7 points
William Nylander
500 games played
61 games
William Nylander
400 points
57 points
Morgan Rielly
700 games played
46 games
Morgan Rielly
400 points
27 points
Morgan Rielly
4th all time in Leafs defensive points (414 tied with Ian Turnbull)
41 points
Morgan Rielly
5th all time in Leafs defensive games played (717 tied with Jim Thomson)
63 games
Ilya Samsonov
100 games played
11 games
Ilya Samsonov
10th shutout
4 shutouts
Rasmus Sandin
100 games played
49 games
Alex Steeves
1st NHL goal
1 goal
John Tavares
1000 games played
51 ga …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Establishing reasonable expectations for Ilya Samsonov

I’ve been following the Leafs for a long time. And in those many years of following the Maple Leafs one thing I can never recall seeing is a goaltender coming to Toronto and seeing their career rebound. Jack Campbell and Frederik Andersen maybe punctuated their success after establishing that they were good during their time in Southern California, but neither was truly struggling. Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour came to Toronto and continued on with their Hall of Fame worthy careers, but no one breaks out in Toronto and that’s part of why establishing expectations for Ilya Samsonov is important.
It’s also important to note that with a new goaltending coach comes the opportunity to erase the past. Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen now. If hope is an important part of your Leafs viewing process, I’m not going to be the person that takes away from you, and admittedly I’m very excited about Curtis Sanford as the Leafs goaltending coach too. I’ve caught myself believing he could do for goaltending what Dean Chynoweth did for special teams, and then reminded myself to dial it back a little.
Dialing …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation