Connect with us


How Leafs can fill the defensive void left by Jake Muzzin’s injury



The Leafs have a hole to fill on the blueline after Jake Muzzin was placed on LTIR, and the Coyotes have a prized d-man available. Will Dubas take a swing? (Getty)

In an expected move, the Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Jake Muzzin on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) with a neck injury on Tuesday.

Muzzin left during an Oct. 17 loss to the Arizona Coyotes and did not return. The 33-year-old has suffered several ailments during his tenure with the Maple Leafs and this latest setback renders the Maple Leafs scrambling for a suitable replacement. It’s also important to note that Muzzin missed training camp with a back injury.

How does Muzzin’s LTIR designation affect the Maple Leafs for the remainder of the year? We’ll break it down here.

Leafs could take a big swing at Jakob Chychrun

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

CapFriendly was the first outlet to break the news, and it’s a good place to start. Muzzin’s absence frees up $5.625 million in Toronto’s LTIR pool. How can the Maple Leafs mobilize with this newfound cash?

Let’s start with the home run swing that many are hoping Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will take. Jakob Chychrun, the 24-year-old star defenseman for the Arizona Coyotes, is readily available on the trade market although the first part is a misnomer, an overly simplistic gambit. Toronto can surely afford Chychrun’s salary with Muzzin out of the picture. Carrying a $4.6-million cap hit for the next three seasons, Chychrun is unquestionably one of the best values in the league and top-end defenders entering their primes like this are rarely made available for good reason.

What’s the asking price? Toronto would almost certainly need to depart with one (or more) of its future first-round picks, along with one of their future cornerstones in Nick Robertson, Matthew Knies or Rasmus Sandin. If the idea of sending a first and Robertson made you balk, as a Maple Leafs fan, we don’t entirely blame you. It’s a lot to give up. But you’re also making a calculated bet that the Maple Leafs are firmly in their Cup contention window, while securing an asset that bridges the win-now timeline with a more patient long-view.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported Saturday that Chychrun has asked for a trade, but the Coyotes are asking for a package that equates to two first-round picks along with some established players. This may read as overly simplistic, but would you trade your 2023 and 2025 firsts along with Rasmus Sandin or Matthew Knies for an ascending left-shot star three years of team control? Dubas and his staff are surely going over the machinations now.

It’s also worth noting that Timothy Liljegren is working his way back from offseason hernia surgery and once he’s ready to return to the Maple Leafs, his $1.4 million salary will count against Toronto’s cap space.

Filling Muzzin’s void without signings or trades

Trying to fill the void that Muzzin leaves internally is more difficult to stomach, particularly for the rightfully impatient sect of the fanbase that wants an immediate replacement. Toronto called up Filip Kral from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies as an immediate action. Kral is highly-regarded within Toronto’s system — he’s a late-round find from the 2018 draft — but the team will almost certainly need to shelter his minutes upon his promotion. He isn’t a flashy player and will aim to mitigate mistakes, but there has to be a learning curve to be expected for a 23-year-old who couldn’t crack the opening night roster. Kral will be used as the seventh defenseman, while the more experienced and reliable Victor Mete slides in as the sixth defender alongside veteran Mark Giordano.

Rasmus Sandin has been matched with Justin Holl in Muzzin’s absence and though we’re dealing with an admittedly small sample, there’s enough to suggest that this pairing simply isn’t good enough to be considered Toronto’s second-pair for the remainder of the season. Sandin-Holl played 44 minutes and 22 seconds together at 5-on-5, with a 47.6 Corsi and a dreadful 37.2 percent share of the expected goals, according to Natural Stat Trick.

And what may be more alarming is that Sandin has been much better without Holl, whose roving style of play takes some time for his partner to get adjusted to. Sandin is proving to be one of Toronto’s best players at suppressing chances, but Holl’s freelancing style of game where he jumps into the rush as a fourth forward probably causes some headaches for his new partner.

Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie aren’t going to be broken up in order to give Toronto more balance and this notion would be viewed as a break-glass-in-emergency type of move for Sheldon Keefe. Rielly in particular has been on the ice for nine goals at 5-on-5, but continuity, stability and quality of opponent matters, so Toronto is banking on the rest of its core to step up while demanding its best defenseman begins to play at an All-Star level again. He was never considered an elite shutdown defender, but he needs to amplify his game in his own end with Muzzin out.

Liljegren is slated to return, while Jordie Benn is an NHL-caliber defenseman the Maple Leafs have in their system, but he’s also recovering from a groin injury sustained during the preseason. Benn’s $750,000 cap hit isn’t particularly difficult to work around, either.

The wait-and-see approach might be Toronto’s most practical option, while Sandin’s workload and responsibility in particular takes a dramatic leap. It would be incumbent upon Dubas to go for a major swing right now, but with so much riding on this season, with his job prospectus among the factors to be evaluated, the Maple Leafs may be forced to rely on its own internal development to weather the absence created by Muzzin’s injury.

Source link

Continue Reading


Palestinian flag waved on pitch as Morocco celebrates historic World Cup win



Several players of Morocco’s national team unfurled a Palestinian flag on the pitch while celebrating their historic World Cup win over Spain in Qatar on Tuesday.

World Cup quarterfinals: Qualifying teams, fixtures and schedule

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated


Following a dramatic penalty shootout, Morocco became the first Arab side to make it to the World Cup quarterfinals.

This is the second time Moroccan players have raised the Palestinian flag after winning a match. Morocco’s player Jawad El Yamiq raised the Palestinian flag while celebrating his country’s 2-1 victory over Canada last week.

Moroccan football fans were also seen waving a “Free Palestine” banner during the North African country’s 2-0 victory over Belgium in Group E earlier in the tournament.

Morocco's team makes a group photo on the pitch, holding the Palestinian flag after beating Spain.

Regulations from FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, prohibit the use of banners, flags and fliers that are deemed to be political, offensive and/or discriminatory in nature.

“The promotion or announcement of political or religious messages or any other political or religious actions, inside or in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, by any means, is strictly prohibited before, during and after matches,” FIFA regulations state.

Israeli journalists experience chilly reception at Qatar World Cup


Football authorities have occasionally issued fines for displays of the Palestinian flag inside grounds.

The flag bearing move was hailed by Arabs on social media, as users from Libya, Morroco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia celebrated the Moroccan win.

Videos on social media also show Palestinians celebrating Morocco’s win in the streets of several cities in the West Bank and in Gaza.

Source link

Continue Reading


With CBT 'not an obstacle,' Blue Jays can avoid Judge drama with Guerrero and Bichette –





* #userInformationForm *

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

* traditionalSignIn_emailAddress *



* traditionalSignIn_signInButton *

* traditionalSignIn_createButton *

* /userInformationForm *

Adblock test (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Matt Murray Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs Dallas Stars



DALLAS (AP) — Matt Murray made a season-high 44 saves and Mitch Marner extended his Toronto-record point streak to 20 games with an early assist as the Maple Leafs beat the Dallas Stars 4-0 on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Rasmus Sandin and Alexander Kerfoot scored for the surging Maple Leafs, who are 9-0-3 in their last 12 games. They pulled within three points of first-place Boston in the Atlantic Division.

Dallas went 0 for 7 on the power play despite 17 shots on goal, including a four-minute double minor and a 5-on-3 for 1:38.

Toronto blocked 27 shots in its first shutout this season, and the Stars missed the net on 22 attempts.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

“Big thanks to the guys in front who did a heck of a job defensively tonight against a really dangerous team,” said Murray, who was acquired from Ottawa last summer and shares time in net with fellow newcomer Ilya Samsonov.

Murray is 6-0-2 since missing 15 games with an adductor injury following his initial start of the season.

“He was perfect,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Came up with huge saves in big moments. Obviously, the number of penalties we took today could have been a big problem.”

The Stars were shut out for the first time this season and are tied with Winnipeg atop the Central Division with 33 points. The Jets have two games in hand.

Jake Oettinger stopped 25 shots.

It was the NHL’s first game featuring two players with point streaks of at least 18 games.

The Stars’ Jason Robertson saw his run end at 18, a Dallas record. Robertson leads the NHL with 23 goals.

Marner got an assist when his wrist shot was stopped but Tavares tapped in the rebound 4:51 in for the first of two first-period Toronto goals.

“Like I’ve been saying, it’s not a one-man effort,” Marner said. “Just trying to go out there and buzz.”

Matthews took possession after his wrist shot was stopped and circled back into the slot to score at 17:36.

Sandin collected a loose puck just outside the crease and scored at 12:19 of the second period for a 3-0 lead.

Kerfoot added an empty-net goal with 3:53 remaining, rolling the puck in from center ice. It was his first goal since a 3-2 overtime win at home over the Stars on Oct. 20.

Toronto played most of the game with only five defensemen. Victor Mete left with a lower-body injury after playing just 3:04 of the first period. Mete is expected to miss at least a few games.

During part of Dallas’ 5-on-3 late in the second, the Maple Leafs were further handcuffed when Marner had to give up a broken stick. He still managed to block a shot.

Maple Leafs forward Semyon Der-Arguchintsev made his NHL debut, playing 7:16.


It was the second and final scheduled meeting this season matching Robertson against his younger brother, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson.

Their mother, Mercedes, traveled from Michigan to attend the game. She followed her custom in these brotherly matchups by wearing the home team’s sweater and the visitors’ cap.

Nick Robertson scored his only two goals of the season to date in the teams’ previous meeting — including the overtime winner.

“He wasn’t too happy about that,” Nick said of his brother when they visited after that game.


Dallas is 0 for 11 on the power play in its past two games after ranking second in the NHL at 30% going into Sunday’s game, a 6-5 shootout loss to Minnesota.

“We had some great looks,” captain Jamie Benn said of Tuesday’s effort. “We’ve got to find a way.”


Maple Leafs: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

Stars: Host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.


AP NHL: and

Source link

Continue Reading