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Maple Leafs AGM Ryan Hardy on Nick Robertson's big-club prospects this Fall: "He's very much knocking on the doorstep" – Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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Photo: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com

Ahead of the 2022 prospects tournament in Traverse City, Assistant General Manager Ryan Hardy discussed Nick Robertson’s prospects for an NHL job this season, the organization’s goals for the tournament, and the development of Curtis Douglas, Pontus Holmberg, William Villeneuve, and Mikhail Abramov.


Maple Leafs’ 2022 Prospect Tournament Roster & Schedule

Date & Time Opponent
September 15, 6:30 p.m. Dallas
September 16, 6:30 p.m. St. Louis
September 18, 2:00 p.m. Columbus
September 19, 11:00 a.m. Detroit
Forwards Defensemen Goaltenders
#22 Max Ellis #33 Noah Van Vliet #40 Luke Cavallin
#26 Nick Abruzzese #41 Kasper Larsen #70 Marco Costantini
#29 Pontus Holmberg #59 Tommy Miller #80 Keith Petruzzelli
#39 Fraser Minten #61 Axel Rindell
#46 Alex Steeves #76 William Villaneuve
#49 Ty Voit #82 Filip Kral
#53 Curtis Douglas #83 Marshall Rifai
#56 Brandon Lisowsky #84 Mikko Kokkonen
#63 Braeden Kressler
#67 Avery Hayes
#72 Sean McGurn
#75 Pavel Gogolev
#85 Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
#89 Nick Robertson
#90 Graham Slaggert
#97 Pano Fimis

How close do you think Nick Robertson is to being an everyday NHLer?

Hardy: If we look at last season, in particular, I think Nicky played 28 games in the American league and scored 16 goals. That is a 40-goal clip for a kid that just turned 22 the other day. That is an unbelievable run.

He is extremely driven. He is a young man that loves hockey. I think he is very much knocking on the doorstep.

Can you see Curtis Douglas developing into his body over the next few years and become more of an offensive force?

Hardy: For Curtis, it has been a really great story for us to have him, after a couple of stops before, come in and perform the way he did. The offensive production he had was probably more than we were expecting.

When you look at what he does, he is a big man that works extremely hard at his craft. I think we have to be patient. I sort of view Curtis kind of like you would view a goalie. It is typically goalies and then defensemen who take the longest to mature, but when you are 6’8, that is probably going to take the longest time to fully mature.

We have to be patient with him. We have to temper expectations. At the same time, he brings a lot of elements that are extremely important to the future of this organization. If he continues to work the way that he does, he will be knocking on the door sooner rather than later.

Are you expecting any kind of difficulty in the transition for players like Mikko Kokkonen and Axel Rindell coming from Finland to the AHL or NHL?

Hardy: There is always a transition. There is a transition for players certainly coming from junior, even, to professional — which we saw last year with a lot of our first-year professionals. Whether it is a smaller rink or just coming to North America, you probably take for granted a little bit the transition for a young person moving away from home or what is normal and comfortable for them.

As we always are, we will be patient with the young players, but they are very talented, so I certainly expect that they will pick certain things up in short order. Some things will take some time. We will just support them and work with them and push them along as far as we can.

How do you feel Pontus Holmberg has adapted since coming over?

Hardy: Pontus is a great kid. We sort of threw him into the fire at the end of the season with the Marlies there. We dropped him right in with Brett Seney and Joey Anderson on our top unit. He played important minutes. He is another guy who has put together a nice resume for himself in Swedish professional hockey or in international hockey. He did a nice job for us at the end of the season.

I am looking forward to him maybe having an uptick in offensive production relative to what we saw at the end. He will be relied upon plenty, whichever team he is on, and certainly in this event.

William Villeneuve showed a lot of growth in junior after having a -50 season. He was +60 last year and won the Memorial Cup. What are your expectations for him?

Hardy: He is an extremely smart player with a lot of poise with the puck. He has done a really nice job this summer. If you look at him and the work he has put in on his body, it has been phenomenal.  When players transitioning from junior to professional take that time and attack it that diligently, it probably shortens the learning curve.

That being said, he is another guy that, because of what he can do with the puck, with his size and his right shot, everybody is extremely excited about, especially at an event like this where you can see some real positive flashes from him.

Again, it is patience. It is going to be defensive habits and defensive details, learning the schedule, learning how to assimilate to pro hockey, and learning how to play inside of contact when men are leaning on you and bearing down on you. That is what I expect from him. There will be ups and downs in the first professional season, but he is certainly a guy myself and all of our staff really are bullish on.

Can you confirm Mikhail Abramov’s status?

Hardy: He would have been on this roster. At the end of last season, he tweaked something and he missed the last few weeks of the Marlies‘ season. I think it was something we thought was going to go away with some rest early in the summer. It just kind of lingered, lingered, and lingered.

He is another player that from an outside perspective maybe you would think should have had more production last season. From my perspective — transitioning from junior into first-year professional and with how relied on him, Douglas, and SDA were for us down the middle after the other guys didn’t clear waivers — he did a lot of things that I certainly wanted him to do.

The biggest thing for me and for us is that he is a player who is extremely conscientious in his details and has a great work ethic. I would like to get him starting this season on the absolute right foot, which is getting his body where it needs to be first and adding some strength, which probably in the summer — because he was rehabbing his injury — he didn’t get.

We are going to take a very conservative approach with him and make sure that when we do assimilate him back into the group, we will be setting him up for long-term success rather than us getting excited to see him in this event.

What was the thought process behind the coaching staff this year instead of going with the AHL staff like in other years?

Note: The Maple Leafs prospect team’s head coach will be Maple Leafs assistant coach Manny Maholtra. Assistants will include Duanté Abercrombie, Jordan Bean, Danielle Goyette, John Snowden, and Hannu Toivonen.

Hardy: I think it is a multi-layered decision, really. It was actually Sheldon [Keefe’s] idea. It originated with him. We just talked about, for the Marlies coaches that have gone to this event so many times, there is a redundancy in that. We looked at all of these people — whether it is player development, which Danielle Goyette represents, or Manny Maholtra’s experience with the Leafs staff — and we said, “Let’s give Manny an opportunity to get some exposure and experience in an area to help facilitate his development.” When we looked at the rest of the staff, we said, “Okay, where else can we make those kinds of decisions?”

We have blended together a nice staff from Marlies, player development, and the Leafs. We are just letting everybody get some experience and exposure in different areas. At the same time, we are always trying to develop players and we are always trying to develop staff. That was the thought process behind it. That is really why we went that direction.

What are your impressions of Manny Maholtra in spending time around him?

Hardy: Manny has done an excellent job. He is very professional, detailed, and organized. One thing, to Manny’s credit, is that he is very excited about this opportunity.

It is something we stressed within our group. Particularly for players who have been in this event before, sometimes it is, “Ah, I have to go to Traverse City again and go through the rookie tournament process again?” Particularly with players like Nick Robertson and Alex Steeves — who have done this before and have played NHL games — they’re excited to come here and help grow their leadership perspective.

For the coaches and management people, it is really no different. Manny has approached this with a great degree of passion and excitement for him to get his first taste of head-coaching experience. I know he is excited. He is organized. I think we’re ready to go.

What are you looking for from the prospects at this camp? 

Hardy: Biggest point of emphasis is probably just to bring a high degree of competitiveness, abrasiveness, and making sure everybody is playing to their potential or capacity. We want to play fast. We want to be aggressive. We want to have everybody get off on the right foot as we start into the training camp season.

How about the players that are close to a roster spot — Nick Abruzzese, Nick Robertson? Are you expecting them to dominate against the competition?

Hardy: I expect them to play to their absolute potential. If they do that, I am confident they will have a good four games.

Are you giving the goalies one game each and going from there?

Hardy: I haven’t made a full determination yet on how we will attack that. We have a plan for the first two games. To speak candidly, we are going to see where we are at in the event. For us, within our organization, we are going here with a very specific purpose: to win. We want to set the tone here with this event in Traverse City leading into Leafs training camp — that is our expectation.

That is how we are going to approach every day. We will go into the first game putting our best foot forward, expecting to win, and we will go from there.

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Mariners-Blue Jays 2022 Wild Card Series Game 1 FAQ – MLB.com

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TORONTO — After regular-season campaigns with very few dull moments, two postseason-hungry clubs are ready for October.

The Blue Jays and Mariners face off in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series on Friday at Rogers Centre.

Seattle snapped the largest active playoff drought in MLB by securing the second AL Wild Card spot with a 90-72 regular-season record, while Toronto will play a postseason game in front of its fans for the first time since 2016.

Since the Blue Jays secured home-field advantage by finishing the regular season with the best record among AL Wild Card teams, at 92-70, all of the games in the best-of-three set will be played at Rogers Centre. The winner gets a date with the Astros in the American League Division Series.

For both teams, this moment is a balancing act between excitement and the demands of the spotlight.

“Pressure is something you put in your tires,” said righty Alek Manoah, who will start Game 1 for the Blue Jays against the Mariners’ Luis Castillo. “This is just baseball. This is just a game. Understand [that,] go out there and have some fun and leave the pressure for your tires.”

“It’s the postseason, where confidence can play an important role here,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “And when I go up on that mound, I’m very confident.”

When is the game and how can I watch it?

Game 1: Friday, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN (Sportsnet in Canada)
Game 2: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN (Sportsnet in Canada)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, ABC (Sportsnet in Canada)

All series are available in the US on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are not available live internationally (archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends).

What might the starting lineups look like?

Mariners: Manager Scott Servais hinted on Thursday that the lineup will likely look similar to what he’s rolled out in recent weeks, with Julio Rodríguez and Ty France at the top, followed by Mitch Haniger, Eugenio Suárez and Carlos Santana in some order. Servais likes to go right-left when possible, especially against a power pitcher like Manoah.

Blue Jays: Toronto’s biggest decision comes at the DH spot, but with Alejandro Kirk catching Manoah in Game 1, Danny Jansen has been swinging the bat too well to keep him out of the lineup. This is close to the order that the Blue Jays were using down the stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox as they tried to clinch a postseason spot, then home field.

Who are the starting pitchers?

Mariners: Castillo (8-6, 2.99 ERA) takes the mound bringing supreme confidence after a stellar 11-start stretch after the Mariners acquired him ahead of the Trade Deadline. Though his postseason experience is limited to 2020, when there were no fans in the stands, Castillo has already established himself as a big-game pitcher and welcomes this stage.

Blue Jays: Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA) opens the series, and the Blue Jays couldn’t be happier. The big right-hander is built for the postseason and seems to feed off the moment and crowd as well as anyone in baseball. September’s AL Pitcher of the Month is peaking at the right time, and he should benefit from some extra rest just like he did in his last outing.

Mariners: Sam Haggerty (Grade 2 right adductor strain) won’t be on the postseason roster after suffering the injury on Monday, dealing the Mariners a big blow for their sparkplug off the bench. Jesse Winker (cervical disc bulge) also hit the 10-day IL this week, though his role was more unclear given his significant defensive struggles and brutal second half at the plate. Instead, the Mariners will lean on Taylor Trammell and Abraham Toro, the players who were recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take those guys’ places.

Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left hamstring strain) and Santiago Espinal (left oblique strain) both flew home from Baltimore early this week to continue their rehabs in the controlled atmosphere at Rogers Centre, and each decision is expected to come right down to the wire. It’s also a question of just how ready either would be after Gurriel said Monday that he may only be ready to pinch-hit by the postseason opener. Would that be enough, especially considering the talent already in this lineup?

The only issue on the pitching side is expected to be a minor one and no longer an issue by Game 2, but Kevin Gausman left his final regular-season outing with a cut on his right middle finger, near the nail. Both Gausman and manager John Schneider said this shouldn’t impact his expected Game 2 start, but it’s worth keeping an eye on over the next 24 hours.

Who is hot and who is not?

Mariners: Rodríguez rocketed his 28th homer in the regular-season finale, putting the finishing touches on an AL Rookie of the Year Award bid, and given how much he already relishes the big stage, it’s a strong bet that he’ll impact this series. As for who’s not, Crawford’s inconsistencies have stretched all the way into a two-month period, with the shortstop slashing .200/.340/.259 (.599 OPS) over the final two months.

Blue Jays: Several Blue Jays are peaking at the right time, which started with Bichette in September. Bichette hit .403 with a 1.134 OPS that month, his 48 hits the most in a single month by a Blue Jays hitter. Merrifield has caught fire since taking over everyday reps from Espinal, too, flashing some power down the stretch and completely flipping the script on his ‘22 season with the Blue Jays. Jansen, who started the year hot then hit the IL with a fractured bone in his hand, is back in a groove, too, and could be an X-factor in this series at the bottom of the lineup.

If there’s one hitter the Blue Jays need more from, though, it’s Guerrero. He’s had his moments, like his walk-off hit to beat the Yankees in 10 innings on Sept. 26, but he simply hasn’t been the hitter everyone saw in ‘21, when he looked like a perennial MVP candidate and Triple Crown threat. Guerrero’s potential impact is unrivaled, though, and the Blue Jays need him to break a game open.

Anything else I should know?

Mariners: Seattle hasn’t been on this stage in a generation, and there are only a handful of players on the roster who have any postseason experience. Because of how green they are, they could be susceptible to a sink-or-swim effect, but they’ve also shown late-inning resiliency to punch back when the stakes are high.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are ready to be aggressive, a mindset they’ve been preaching since Schneider took the reins in July. That starts on the bases, where the Blue Jays have done a much better job of taking extra bags, but it could extend to bullpen usage, too. Jordan Romano, the Canadian closer coming off a season with a 2.11 ERA and 36 saves, has made nine multi-inning (1 1/3 or more frames) appearances this season. They certainly won’t shy away from another.

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Stutzle's three-point night propels Senators over Canadiens in Gander, N.L. – Sportsnet.ca

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Tim Stutzle recorded a goal and two assists as the Ottawa Senators won their third consecutive game over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 Thursday in pre-season action at the Steele Community Centre in Gander, N.L.

Drake Batherson opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the game, followed by a Brady Tkachuk goal under eight minutes later as Ottawa (4-3) took an early 2-0 lead.

Kaiden Guhle put Montreal (0-6-1) on the board 12:23 into the first period to cut the deficit.

In the second, Kirby Dach scored a power-play goal to even the game for the Canadiens 5:13 into the period. However, Stutzle responded six minutes later to put Ottawa up once again.

Claude Giroux added to the Senators’ lead 8:02 into the final period. Josh Anderson scored for Montreal a minute later but that was all the Canadiens could muster.

Anton Forsberg stopped 20-of-23 shots he faced in the victory while his counterpart Cayden Primeau made 22 saves for Montreal.

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Online gambling in Canada: The risks and how to stay safe

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Gambling is a popular pastime in Canada, with many people regularly taking part in activities such as the lottery, casinos, and online gambling.

While gambling can be a fun and enjoyable way to spend time, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved.

How to online gamble safely in Canada – A guide for beginners

There are a few things to keep in mind when gambling online in Canada, especially if you’re a beginner.

First and foremost, you should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. It’s also important to set limits for yourself – both on how much you’re willing to spend and how much time you’re willing to spend gambling.

It’s also a good idea to do some research before you start gambling. This means reading up on the different types of games available on N°1 guide to online gambling in Canada, as well as the odds of winning. Once you have a good understanding of the basics, you can then start looking for an online casino that offers the games and odds that you’re interested in.

What are the risks of online gambling in Canada?

There are a few risks associated with online gambling in Canada, but they are relatively minor. The biggest risk is probably financial, as it can be easy to get carried away and spend more money than you intended to.

Another risk is that of addiction, as gambling can be quite addictive. If you find yourself spending more and more time gambling, or if you start neglecting other aspects of your life in favor of gambling, it might be time to seek help.

Finally, there is the risk of getting scammed. There are a lot of scams out there, and some of them target people who gamble online. Be sure to do your research and only gamble with reputable sites to minimize this risk.

What types of online gambling are available in Canada?

The most popular type is online casino gambling, which includes games such as slots, blackjack, roulette, and poker. There are also many sports betting websites available in Canada, where you can bet on your favourite teams and players. Finally, there are also online lottery websites where you can purchase tickets for various lottery games.

So if you’re thinking about gambling online, remember to do your research, choose a reputable site, and most importantly, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.

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