Deadline Primer: The Bullpen

Oh how we love to get our hopes up, it’s a Trade Deadline tradition, after all. However, heading into the 2021 Trade Deadline, things feel a little bit different. The Blue Jays boast one of the game’s most feared lineups to go along with one of the game’s deepest farm systems. It’s the perfect recipe for a little trade deadline drama.

The biggest hole for this club since the very beginning of the season has been in the bullpen, and although Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards have done well to come in and bolster, it’s very to say that GM Ross Atkins will be on the hunt for at least one more reliever. In 2020, The Jays were in a similar situation, as they approached the expanded playoff with minimal concern for falling out. They went out and acquired starting pitching depth in Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling and used them to lengthen the bullpen. I would suspect another bulk reliever to be added to fold sooner than later to upgrade over Anthony Kay as the first man out and push relievers like the aforementioned Cimber and Richards back down towards the back end.
Tim …

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Author: DeuceDoucette / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs have the cap space to address roster holes but not to improve significantly

Leafs have the cap space to address roster holes but not to improve significantly

It’s the annual tradition of being in salary cap hell. We make light of it, largely because all it takes it one trade to seemingly rid yourself of it, or one expansion draft claim (read: Kerfoot) away from a bit more flexibility existing as well. Still, that doesn’t change that the Leafs have about $12.5M available to address four forward positions, one defense position, one goaltender position, and any reserve players they wish to put on their roster this year. That’s 85% of their cap space spent on the lineup so far, and when you consider that the top four defense, starting goaltender, and four of the top six forwards are accounted for in that, it doesn’t look terrible. When you consider that the Leafs could potentially use a course correction, that doesn’t seem like a lot of money to do something significant.
First, here’s the roster as it exists today…
LW
C
RW
LD
RD
G
Reserve

Matthews
Marner
Rielly
Brodie
Campbell

Tavares
Nylander
Muzzin
Holl

Engvall
Kerfoot
Mikheyev
Sandin

Spezza

So I’m avoiding all assumptions. No attempt to determine if Kerfoot, Engvall, Dermott, Holl, or a wild card are off to Seattle. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

It’s time to rank the Leafs prospects

It’s time to rank the Leafs prospects

It’s an annual tradition on TheLeafsNation, to fill the August downtime with prospect rankings. Given that the Leafs briefly played in August, and the draft wasn’t held until October, we’ve pushed back our content to mid November to accommodate the new batch of Leafs babies and hopefully we’ll keep this content going on the site right up until the anticipated start of training camps in mid-December.
We’ve made a few changes to the way the rankings are done on the site this year as well. Previously our criteria for being considered a prospect was Calder eligibility. That never quite sat right with me in the years I’ve participated, so now that I’ve been given the keys to blog we’ve changed things up. And after discussion with the TLN crew we’ve landed on prospects being defined as players under the age of 24 with fewer than 82 NHL games played. This means that Egor Korshkov, Pierre Engvall, Adam Brooks, Mikko Lethonen, and Alexander Barabanov won’t be appearing on our lists, nor will players like Denis Malgin, who has exceeded the 82 games played.
Instead our criteria allows for Rasmus Sandin to remain a prospect …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Realist’s Guide to the 2020 Blue Jays

My tradition at this site for previewing the Blue Jays ahead of Opening Day is to take an optimistic, pessimistic, and realistic look at the team.

I walked through the rose-coloured-glasses, hope-springs-eternal, everything-can-and-will-go-right scenic route on Wednesday, outlining all of the upside on the roster and why it’s absolutely worth being excited about this group.
Since baseball is a cruel game designed to break your heart, we know deep down that the optimistic view is fool’s gold. So, next, I would take the pessimistic approach, in which everything can and will go wrong and we expect the worst.
But this season is a bit different. The doom-and-gloom approach ultimately boils down to Major League Baseball’s tightrope walk over the COVID-19 volcano going incredibly wrong. At the very worst, this season crashes into a wall and goes up in smoke. There’s really no need to write an entire article about how quickly things can implode as teams travel around the United States during a pandemic, I figure, so I’m just going to get into the Realist’s Guide to the 2020 Blue Jays.
I’ll kick this off by …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Zach Hyman has a torn ACL and what that means for your fall plans

As per tradition now that the Leafs have been eliminated from the playoffs we get to learn how hurt they were. In Zach Hyman’s case, he was hurting pretty bad…

The @MapleLeafs announced today that forward Zach Hyman will undergo surgery Monday, April 29 to repair a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) sustained during the team’s first round playoff series against Boston. He is expected to miss a minimum of six months.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) April 25, 2019
Yikes.
Six months is a long time. I did the math, that’s roughly 182 days or  4368 hours or 262080 minutes before we’ll see Zach Hyman in a Leafs uniform again. His earliest expected return date is October 25th if we are taking the six months thing to heart, and the minimum aspect of the announcement seems like he’s pulling a Wyclef Jean and he’ll be gone til November.
What this means?
Well, if you are a fan of modest cap relief the Leafs will potentially save a bit of money at the start of the season by having Hyman on the injured reserve.
The Leafs top line of Hyman-Tavares-Marner is going to need an understudy and potentially that is Trevor Moore, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Replacing Kadri

So it looks like the annual tradition of Kadri getting suspended for the majority of the first round is alive and well. Not all traditions are good ones I guess and that’s something to reflect on while watching Coach’s Corner. But I digress.
Kadri is likely done for the first round and Mike Babcock’s immediate solution is to put Nylander with Marleau and Brown.

So that seems like a bad idea. There isn’t really anything optimistic about this trio together. Things start looking a bit better if you combine two of them, and I think there’s a strong case there from Brown and Marleau making up two thirds of a solid fourth line, but it doesn’t seem to work with Nylander. The Leafs would be putting their fourth best forward in a less familiar position and taking away the biggest strength of his game, which is offense and playmaking.
So if Nylander at center with Brown and Marleau is likely to be done after tonight, where do they go from there?
Option 1: My Lines
So here’s where I force you all to look at my line combinations:
Hyman-Tavares-Marner
This is pretty much etched …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation