Rumours: Campbell and Mikheyev updates, Dubas’ plan, fresh trade bait

In last week’s Rumour post I held out some hope that with scouting meetings wrapping up we might finally see some tangible rumours develop this week. That was wishful thinking and we are still very much at the mercy of a very quiet Leafs organization that doesn’t want to tip their hand one way or another. The silence from the Leafs organization is probably a positive thing and certainly seems more respectful of the players, but on the other hand, it makes me nervous having no idea what could be coming and often leads to raised expectations.
In the spirit of that, let’s start with a refresher from Kyle Dubas’ end of season press availability that spelled out some of what could be explored this summer:
I don’t think that we just want to start making changes that may be lateral or make us inferior as a team just to say that we changed something.
I think this one is a pretty straightforward one and in many ways a throwaway statement. No one goes into a trade trying to get back the same value or trading from an area of need that they’d need to replace with a similar player at a similar cost. I mean, you could do that if you plan gaining assets via trade and then be aggressive in free agency, but there is more risk associated with that approach than GMs like.
I don’t v …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Jason Spezza should have no regrets about not getting 1000 points

It was just over two weeks ago that Jason Spezza announced his retirement and accepted a job in the Maple Leafs’ front office.
The 19-season veteran called it a career after amassing a total of 995 points in 1248 career regular season games and an additional 76 points across 97 career playoff games. However, the ink had not yet dried on Spezza’s new contract as special assistant to Kyle Dubas when speculation began in some corners of the Leafs’ fanbase that he could come out of retirement and rejoin the team.

Jason Spezza announced today his retirement from the NHL after 19 seasons. He will be joining the Maple Leafs’ front office effective immediately. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 29, 2022

The hypothesis presented is that Spezza would not formally sign his papers to retire from the NHL Player’s Association, keep in shape by working on the ice alone after hours, and then sign just before the trade deadline next year. The purpose of this being that he would be a basically free depth add and it would allow him to not only pursue the Stanley Cup one more time as a player, but it would also give him a chance to pick up five more points so he could hit 1000.
This (probably) isn’t going to happen.
We are gonna have to live in a reality where Jason Spezza’s playing career ended on a night when Nick Paul, a player who was part of the trade that saw him go from Ottawa to Dallas, scored the two goals that eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs, as tragically coincidental as that is.
As great as it would be to see Spezza back in the b …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Breaking down the Toronto Maple Leafs organizational depth chart heading into the offseason

After a few weeks with little of note going on in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, we’re nearly at the busiest part of the hockey calendar. In about three weeks, we’ll have qualifying offer deadlines, the entry draft, and free agency in quick succession to fill our appetite for Leafs news.
For now, though, we remain in a waiting period as the Stanley Cup Finals approach with not much to say regarding the Maple Leafs in terms of news. That means it’s the perfect time to get everyone up to date on where the organizational depth chart stands heading into the 2022 offseason, what areas still need to be addressed, and what to expect to come down over the next month and a half.

For starters, all unrestricted free agents have been already removed from the depth chart to give a proper view as to where things stand and what needs to be accomplished.
Beginning at the NHL level, there is a lineup that can be produced with in-house options already that would be NHL quality for the opening of the 2022-23 season. That being said, we can fully expect some pieces to shift around and additions to be made. While restricted free agents Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase are useful pieces that I’m sure the Maple Leafs would like to keep around, both are arbitration-eligible and could cause some hurdles depending on what they are asking for. Engvall is very likely to stick around, but Kase’s combination of injuries with his arbitration case could result in the Leafs looking to non-tender him as we near the qualifying offer deadline.
Elsewhere at forward, Pontus Holmberg temporarily fills in at 4C with a lack of other options currently under contract, but this is an area that will almost certainly be addressed. Holmberg is an intriguing prospect coming off of a strong year in Sweden but could use time in the AHL to adjust to North America prior to filling in a fourth-line role in the NHL.
On defence, the Leafs have a strong group already compiled. The Leafs have five NHL quality defencemen under contract, plus Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren who are RFAs. Though we could still see movement here if someone such as Justin Holl is traded, defence is the aspect of the roster where there is likely to be the least amount of change.
That brings us to the goaltending situation. Petr Mrazek remains on the depth chart for now, but with his poor play and injury troubles l …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Round three recap: Who scored the goal of the year for Toronto?

About two and a half weeks ago, I went through all 315 goals scored by the Toronto Maple Leafs this season and picked out the best ones. From there, I narrowed it down even further to the 16 best in my opinion that could possibly contend for “The Leafs Goal of the Year”. However, I wanted to include the followers in on this so I decided to make a bracket for this and post two goals daily and give you the chance to vote on a goal that you would like to see in the next round.
We started with eight matchups in round one and as the days went on, goals were being eliminated and we eventually got to round two, and round three. Now, we’re down to only two goals from the original 16 that were in the bracket, and today, you will yet again get the chance to vote on the goal you think deserves to move on, and in this case, be the goal of the year for Toronto.
Over on our Twitter (@TLNdc), we will be putting out a poll around 12:00 pm ET and you will click one of the two goals that you like best. With all of that out o …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Patience was the key in the Blue Jays’ big win in St. Louis

That was a cathartic experience.

For weeks runs have been seemingly impossible to come by as the Blue Jays have inexplicably performed like a bottom-of-the-pack club offensively. On Tuesday night, the bats finally exploded. Danny Jansen homered, George Springer tripled, Vladdy homered, and Danny Jansen homered again as the Blue Jays scored eight runs in a route over the Cardinals.

For those that missed last night’s Jays game it was basically this
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) May 25, 2022

While the homers are the things that stand out, the key to Toronto’s bats finally coming alive was patience. The Blue Jays walked eight times, a stark contrast to what they’ve been doing otherwise this season as they came into Tuesday night’s game ranked 22nd in baseball in terms of total walks. They also only struck out four times, which is much more in line with the 2021 team, which struck out less than anybody in baseball.
Now, it should be pointed out that Jordan Hicks, St. Louis’ starter, is a pitcher who struggles with command, so that obviously helped the Blue Jays in their endeavour to take more pitches than usual, but they also drew three walks off of Miles Mikolas on Monday, and he’s a pitcher who has walked just 1.8 batters per nine over the course of his career.
Laying off on pitches outside of the zone and demanding Hicks challenge them is ultimately what resulted in the Blue Jays hitting three homers and scoring eight runs…

The #BlueJays got some big hits and homers, but tonight’s offensive outburst was powered by smart swing decisions.
While Jordan Hicks was all over the place, Toronto kept their swings …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Top prospects Orelvis Martinez and Gabriel Moreno among the 15 Blue Jays sent to minor-league camp

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, the Blue Jays have started to make some cuts.

The team sent 15 players down to minor-league camp on Monday. Eight of them are 40-man roster players who were optioned and the other seven are non-roster invitees.
Optioned: Hagen Danner, Bowden Francis, Thomas Hatch, Leo Jimenez, Anthony Kay, Otto Lopez, Gabriel Moreno, Josh Palacios.
Reassigned: Chris Bec, Maximo Castillo, Adrian Hernandez, Casey Lawrence, Orelvis Martinez, Fitz Stadler, Chavez Young.
The headliners here, of course, are Orelvis Martinez and Gabriel Moreno, who currently rank as the organization’s top prospects on most lists.
Martinez was incredibly impressive during Grapefruit play, going 4-for-13 with a pair of dingers, while Moreno hasn’t yet seen any game action because of a visa issue. Since he’s only 20 years old and isn’t on the 40-man, there was never any chance that Martinez would crack the Blue Jays, but since Moreno was added to the roster over the winter ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, there was some thought he could steal a spot.
The Blue Jays will likely roll with three catchers (Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and Alejandro Kirk), so Moreno will get plenty of time behind the plate for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons off the hop. Martinez’s spring showing was so good that he could start the sea …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Assessing the Leafs’ trade chips ahead of the deadline

The trade deadline is now less than two weeks away and not only are the Leafs expected to be buyers, but they also have multiple needs to address before then.
Most of the discussion has been centered around which players the Leafs might be able to bring into the fold before March 21st but nothing comes without a price. The Leafs may not have a top-five or even top-10 prospect pool and they’ve traded away their fair share of picks in recent years but they have also drafted well and managed to maintain some valuable trade capital.
As management continues to work the phones and fans dream about potential big-time additions to the roster, let’s take a look at what the Leafs could offer up in an effort to solidify their lineup.
Tier One
The Leafs’ most valuable trade chips are also the pieces they will be most hesitant to include in a trade. If the Leafs do end up moving on from one of these assets, it will most likely be for an impact acquisition with term remaining on their contract rather than a traditional rental.
Matthew …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

First Look at Potential Blue Jays Farm Rosters: Dobule-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Following up on last week’s look at the potential Buffalo roster, it goes without saying that the nature of such things is that there are fuzzy lines between the rosters, and assumptions about one naturally affects those made about another, but I’m saying it anyway.

The Fisher Cats roster currently carries 17 names, albeit at least three of which I fully expect to end up in Buffalo. Still, there are more in-house options to sift through here than there was last week.
As we start with the rotation, two names command our attention first…
Luis Quinones, who’s 24, has posted really impressive strikeout numbers throughout his career (13.82 K/9 on his career, 12.44 in his 8 AA starts in 2021), and at no point have opponents been able to average more than .190 against him. On the other hand,  his walk rate tempers our excitement (6.75 on his career, 6.44 in AA). IF he came in this spring and showed dramatically better control he’d have a shot at AAA, but otherwise, he’ll come back here and try to figure it out as others have had to in the past. Ultimately he may end up in relief, but not yet.
The other name is Elvis Luciano. Still just 22, injuries limited him to just 12 starts in 2021 and AA was a regressive assignment, his year in the majors notwithstanding, given his previous MiLB work in 2018 was in …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Dreger says no one is pushing Jake Muzzin to return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup

We’re just under two weeks away from the NHL trade deadline and the Maple Leafs will soon need an answer on Jake Muzzin.
The 33-year-old is going through his second concussion this season, which could have him out for the next few weeks, or until the playoffs begin on May 2nd.
On Monday morning, TSN’s Darren Dreger spoke on First up about Muzzin, the Maple Leafs, and the fact that they won’t be pushing the 33-year-old back.
“One thing I know is that there is no one pushing Jake Muzzin to get back into the lineup, right? Everybody is super sensitive, including Jake, to the fact that he’s had back-to-back head injuries. The first one took him a month to recover from, so there is no guarantee that this one is going to take at least a month, and if the symptoms are lingering, as mild as they may or may not be, then I’m sure that again, his agent, Joe Resnick and the Toronto Maple Leafs will say ‘Muzz, you need to sit on the sidelines. You need to get healthy, you need to make this right.’”
Going through a concussion isn’t like any other injury. There’s broken bones, pulled muscles, and torn ligaments, but those heal. They may not heal 100% to allow yo …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Hornets Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 25

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Hornets Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 25

After nearly two weeks off following the All-Star festivities, the Toronto Raptors are ready to resume their grueling push towards the postseason. The latest Raptors odds have them starting the second half hot against a team they have had some success against this year. Toronto will start this stretch off in North Carolina against LaMelo […]
Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Hornets Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 25 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ