3 Toronto Marlies that should be brought back next season

The Marlies began this past season with what was believed to be an incredibly strong team, but things didn’t work out that way.
When the Maple Leafs organization maneuvered into having their AHL team be solely focused on development, there was expectation that results would change. On any given night, the Marlies had up to seven rookies in their lineup and it was going to take some time before we see success from a group like that.
Put that together with a head coach who’s in his first real AHL season — it’s a lot of raw talent that just needs time to develop.
There’ll be a number of players that come back next season with a chip on their shoulder after being a part of the first Marlies team to miss the playoffs since 2010-11. However, there’ll also likely be a number of players not returning either.
Brett Seney, Josh Ho-Sang, Joseph Blandisi, Jack Kopacka, Rich Clune, Marc Michaelis, Michael Hutchinson and Teemu Kivihalme will all be UFA’s come July 13. Toronto will also have a number of RFA’s like Kristians Rubins, Chad Krys, and most notably, Joseph Duszak.
Let’s begin with the RFA’s.
I say most notably in regards to Duszak because he likely won’t be returning to the Marlies next season. Being the po …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Rumours: Campbell out? Gibson In? Floating the idea of bold moves

It’s the offseason, and with that comes the return of speculation, rumblings, chatter, whispers, and all your other favourites. We can confirm this. Given the fact that for a lucky few the playoffs are still going on it’s still relatively silent, but Elliotte Friedman dropped a few interesting tidbits about the Leafs in the video below (Leafs content is from the 5:30-9:30 mark) and we’ll dive into some of that here.

The Leafs aren’t necessarily going to “run it back”
This isn’t much of a surprise to anyone who has taken a good look at the Leafs cap situation, and even with the bargain that is the Mark Giordano contract, there is a need to do something to spice up the Leafs lineup and try to put themselves over the top. It can’t just entirely be a waiting game for teams like Tampa and Colorado to take a step back, there needs to be a constant exploration of how the team can improve and Elliotte Friedman alludes to the Leafs considering a couple of significant moves in the coming months. When it comes to a target, Elliotte primarily speaks about goaltending, and we’ll get into that much more below. When it comes to who the Leafs could be entertaining moving on from, the two names that seem to stand out as potential trade bait, we can speculate that William Nylander and Jake Muzzin are those players. Nylander appears to be viewed as the most movable of the big four forwards, and Muzzin, because the Leafs have a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Fortnight on the Farm, Vol. 2

With just 25-30 games (depending mostly on rain) played in the 2022 minor-league season, it’s obviously still early to make more than the most tentative assumptions about any given player.

We know from past experience that any given player can have a very hot – or cold – a couple of weeks at any given time and these are magnified when they fall in the first month or so of the season. But sometimes you can pair up what you know from past performance or scouting reports to lend a certain context to early observations. Like last time, there’s no point in being exhaustive this early, I’ll just look at noted prospects, seeming breakouts, or rate trends that jump off the stat sheet.
Dunedin Blue Jays
The D-Jays are sporting several good-to-great early pitching lines. Both known names and some unexpected performances. Chief among those of course is hard-throwing lefty Ricky Tiedemann, drafted just last year, who may already be too good for this level. In 25 IP, he’s given up just 8 hits and struck out 39.  There’s also Dahain Santos, a smaller built RHP who’s been used in relief but in multi-inning stints which mark him as an eventual starter, which he’s earned with his 31K/8BB ratio in 16 IP.
You may also know the name R …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Kressler’s Game 7 heroics, Marlies end of season recap

One more, folks! With most leagues around the world wrapped up or in the midst of their playoffs, just about every Toronto Maple Leafs prospect has finished their 2021/22 season. As such, rather than give you the same update every Monday morning on the three Maple Leafs prospects that are playing in their respective playoffs, this will be the last prospect roundup for the season.
Don’t worry, though, as we’ll still have lots of prospect coverage here at TLN as we look back on various prospects’ seasons in the coming weeks and look ahead to the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
But before we get to all of that, I’ve got one more prospect roundup in store for you! And we’ve got quite a bit to get to.
Braeden Kressler | C | Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Undrafted free agent signing Braeden Kressler had a tough 2021/22 campaign, interrupted with injury and a move down the Flint Firebirds’ lineup after a strong development camp and rookie tournament performance with the Maple Leafs that saw him earn a contract.
A huge showing that helped Flint prevail in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Owen Sound Attack made that disappointment and frustration go away.
Lining up as the fourth line centre, Kressler was instrumental in Flint surviving a fi …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Are the Maple Leafs unlucky when it comes to finding the right standard for officiating?

The Toronto Maple Leafs are satisfied with the way they have played against the Tampa Bay Lightning at even strength. The only problem is they are using special teams a lot more than they expected.
”Around the league it’s been a little bit of surprise, frankly, on how the games have been called,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said before his team travelled to Tampa for Games 3 and 4. “There’s been a lot of penalties, a lot of power plays. I haven’t followed or watched all the games but it seems like there’s a real uptick in the calls early in the series.”
The amount of penalty minutes in this particular series may not be a surprise given the good-old fashion line brawl that took place both teams’ last meeting during the regular season.
On Apr. 21, The Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 8-1 in a game that saw a combined 114 minutes in penalties. That prompted Keefe to anticipate what he expected to be a “borderline violent” series between both teams.
Game 1 certain lived up to that billing with 113 minutes in penalties dolled out and just 33:42 out of 60 minutes played at 5-on-5.
Although Game 2 was far less “violent”, the Leafs took too many minor penalties and the game resul …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Report from the Rock: Local talent powers Growlers through first playoff series

With all eyes on the NHL playoffs, another team in the Maple Leafs organization has just punched their ticket to the second round.
It was a hard-fought battle that took the full seven games, but the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers ultimately emerged victorious in the opening round of the playoffs against their Canadian rivals from Quebec, the Trois-Rivieres Lions.
“Relieved,” said head coach Eric Wellwood when asked how he was feeling after Game 7. “It was nice to have those nerves again. But yeah, it’s a nice relief. I think the boys deserved that win.”
Home cooking rewards early and often
The series began at home on Friday, April 22, and defenceman Matt Hellickson (who recently re-signed with the Marlies for next season,) got the Growlers’ first goal of the playoffs, assisted by defenceman-turned-forward Riley McCourt.
Trois-Rivieres stormed back and took the lead with two quick goals before the first period ended, but an offensive outburst from the team’s top forward line, including a four-point night from alternate captain and team MVP Zach O’Brien, led the Growlers to a 7-4 victory.
“Every shift in every game means so much,” said O’Brien. “I always try and play well in the regular season as well. But when playoffs start, everyone just wants to elevate their game that much more. And this is why we play, this is the most fun part of the season.”
Wellwood had lots of praise for his team’s MVP after Game 1.
“He ca …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

3 switchable forwards Masai Ujiri and Raptors will love in free agency

3 switchable forwards Masai Ujiri and Raptors will love in free agency

Masai Ujiri built the Toronto Raptors with the intent of being one of the nastiest defensive teams in the league. No team values length and switchability more than Toronto, as the selection of Scottie Barnes and the addition of Precious Achiuwa shows a commitment to this unique style of play. Toronto is going into the […]
3 switchable forwards Masai Ujiri and Raptors will love in free agency – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Bobby McMann: From the ECHL to a two-year contract with the Maple Leafs

Bobby McMann began this season with the Newfoundland Growlers in the ECHL, but after four games, everything changed.
His four points in four games was good enough to get a call-up to the Marlies after Nick Robertson went down with an injury. Once he was called up, the 25-year-old never looked back.
McMann’s first full AHL season started with him in the Marlies’ bottom-six, not really getting much opportunity. Slowly but surely, throughout an injury riddled season for Toronto, the 25-year-old got his chance higher in the lineup, and that’s where he stayed.
Although he found himself lower in the lineup, at times, it wasn’t due to a lack of good play. At one point back in February, the Marlies had a top-nine with Nick Ritchie, Brett Seney, Joey Anderson, Joseph Blandisi, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Nick Robertson, Kyle Clifford, Antti Suomela, and Nick Robertson.
But McMann stuck with his hard work and eventually found his opportunity back in the Marlies top-six, and he even secured a job on the first power play unit where he’s now a mainstay.
“I’m confident and happy with where I’m at right now, definitely not content.” Said the 25-year-old in a 1-on-1 interview earlier this season. “I always want to be better and obviously I think I’m showing th …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The legend of Alejandro Kirk continues to grow

It’s hard to be anything but pleased with the run of games Alejandro Kirk has put together this season.

And earlier today against the Boston Red Sox, he just kept rolling not only catching for The Big Man, Alek Manoah, but by putting together some formidable at-bats.
He went 2 for 4 in the matinee — one of which being an RBI single in the 3rd giving the Jays their lone score of the day. On top of it all, he extended his at-bats without a strike streak to 41 at-bats, the longest active in the MLB. On the season, he’s been struck out just four times all of which coming over the first five games of the season.
According to baseball savant, his K% and Whiff% are in the 99th percentile, while his B% sits in the 87th. That B%, however, sits at 14.8 percent — a 4.7 percent increase over last year.

On the season, he’s slashing .265/.362/.265 recording 13 hits, two RBI’s and a spicy eight walks — a number second to that of Vladimir Guererro Jr. His slugging percentage is down .192 from his last year and that should improve, while his on-base percentage is a sliver higher than last year.
His versatility has played a part, too. He’s designated hit twice, while also pinch-hitting on three occasions. In 10 at-bats, he’s had one hit, a sac fly RBI and one walk.
Nonetheless, Kirk’s ability to get on base and most importantly, not get struck out, has been tremendous for the club in a time where they’re battling some bumps and bruises. Can you ask for much more from him at this point?
It goes without saying that it’s a long season, and a guy like Kirk is making a good case to stick around and see regular at-bats. Along with Zack …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

The case for Calder: Michael Bunting

With the announcement from Sheldon Keefe before Tuesday’s game versus Detroit that Michael Bunting would not play this week, the Leafs’ top left-winger closes out his first full season in the league with a very impressive 63 points in 79 games. Is that enough to capture Toronto’s 11th Calder Trophy?
There is no shortage of worthy nominees for the rookie of the year trophy. The flashy Anaheim centre Trevor Zegras will likely be at the top of a lot of ballots, as will one, if not both of Detroit’s quality rookies, Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Just because Bunting leads the pack in scoring (he holds a 4 point lead over Zegras and a 14 point lead over Seider) that’s not a guarantee that he’s a lock to win the award, although there are a lot of precedents set in that regard.
In terms of the case against Bunting, there really isn’t one. Naysayers will point to his age and say he’s not a rookie, but both Artemi Panarin and Kirill Kaprizov have won the award in the past decade outside of the “traditional” rookie age, so that cannot be brought into the equation on any legitimate argument against.
Another popular statement among detractors is that he’s a pro …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation