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A way-too-early look at Canada’s 2021 World Junior Championships roster –



Hockey Canada announced a list of 47 players expected to participate in a 51-day evaluation camp en route to the 2021 World Junior Championships in Edmonton. Canada will put its title defence on the line, playing in Group A alongside Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and Finland.

Canada will open the tournament on Dec. 26 against Germany, with the marquee preliminary round match-up against Finland on New Year’s eve.

At first glance, this roster is extremely deep. There are 26 first round picks and seven returnees from last year’s gold medal winning team. The list of 26 includes Kirby Dach, whom Hockey Canada learned it was getting on loan from the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

One notable name not on the list was Alexis Lafreniere, the top pick by the New York Rangers in the 2020 draft. According to Hockey Canada president Tom Renney, talks are ongoing with Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton as to the participation of Lafreniere in either the camp or once Team Canada enters the bubble. We should know more in the next 10 days.

This camp will be challenging in that most of the players haven’t played a game since March. Nine players named to the camp from the QMJHL have played a varying number of games, as the only one of three CHL leagues currently on the ice.

In making things as safe as possible, each player and staff member will be tested for COVID-19 prior to leaving for camp, then tested regularly once camp begins. The evaluation camp will start on Nov. 16 in Red Deer, Alta. It is expected that the final roster of 25 players will enter the Edmonton bubble on Dec. 13.

The IIHF has made for an allowance of two extra players on the roster due to the pandemic. Canada will be allowed to carry 3 goalies and 22 skaters into the Edmonton bubble.

Discussion is ongoing with U Sports to play six exhibition games — with two pre-tournament games vs. Sweden and Russia — once Canada gets into the bubble.

Here’s a way-too-early-look at what Canada’s final roster might be (the “*” indicates a returnee from the 2020 team):

Goalies (3)

Dylan Garand

Taylor Gauthier

Tristan Lennox

Synopsis: Goaltending is the biggest concern for this team. The position is wide open with no returnees from last year, as Joel Hofer, Nico Daws and Olivier Rodrigue have all aged-out.

Gauthier is the elder statesman of the group. He’s a right-catch tender who is extremely athletic and he’s a Hlinka-Gretzky gold medalist. If Gauthier can make the saves he’s supposed to make, he should be the starter. Garand has been brilliant for upstart Kamloops. He’s a monster competitor, who is technically sound. He is also very good at playing the puck. The third goalie is anyone’s guess. Lennox has the size, Brett Brochu has come out of nowhere and Devon Levi is extremely confident and has put up remarkable numbers at every level.

Defence (8)

*Bowen Byram

*Jamie Drysdale

Thomas Harley

Braden Schneider

Ryan O’Rourke

Kaiden Guhle

Jordan Spence

Kaedan Korczak

Synopsis: The defence corps provides a nice mix of experience, size and grit. Byram and Drysdale should anchor each of the top-two pairings, with both of them likely to see significant time on the power play.

Schneider, a Rangers’ first-rounder, was close to making it last year. He skates well, moves pucks efficiently and has great physical presence. The makeup of this group allows there to be a puck-mover paired with a complimentary or more of a stay-at-home type. O’Rourke, Guhle, and Korczak are all big and nasty, while Spence is a blend of Byram and Drysdale. This group is also split evenly between left and right shots.

Forwards (14)

*Kirby Dach

*Quinton Byfield

*Connor McMichael

*Dylan Cozens

*Dawson Mercer

Adam Beckman

Gage Goncalves

Peyton Krebs

Hendrix Lapierre

Alex Newhook

Jakob Pelletier

Cole Perfetti

Philip Tomasino

Shane Wright

TBD Alexis Lafreniere

Synopsis: The strength of this team is up front. If Dach plays and Lafreniere is added before the Dec. 13 cutoff date, Canada will possess the deepest group of forwards in the tournament.

There’s plenty of size down the middle with Dach, Byfield and Cozens. It will be a dogfight for the 4C position. Lafreniere would solidify the top left wing position, while an abundance of options remain, with many natural centres being forced to the wing.

McMichael snipes and Cozens can use his size and speed, while I expect big things from Byfield in an elevated role. Mercer can play anywhere in the lineup. The competition for forward spots will be intense.

Beckman led the WHL in scoring last season. Newhook was one of the best players at camp last year. Wright will not only have earned his way on the team, but he will be able to carry this experience forward. Pelletier is super slick and the long layoff has served him well. There will also be plenty of options for the power forward type in Greig, Holloway and Poulin.

Perfetti used last year’s snub as motivation and he’s poised to make the team this year. Goncalves had a breakout year in Everett last year, while Krebs spent time in the Vegas bubble. Tomasino has speed to burn and he’s a right shot.

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Current and former Lions players rejoice over Matt Patricia's firing on social media – Yahoo



The Canadian Press

Toronto FC looks for new designated player, opts not to pick up Piatti option

Toronto FC is looking for a new designated player, opting not to pick up the option on Pablo Piatti.GM Ali Curtis said while TFC will talk to the 31-year-old Argentine midfielder and his representative about returning next season, it is not interested in having him back as a DP. Piatti joined Toronto in February from Spain’s Espanyol on a one-year contract plus an option. Piatti, who will be eligible for the MLS re-entry draft, had four goals and four assists in 17 league games. When healthy and at his best, he made a difference — but apparently not big enough.“The year did not end how we wanted it to, but I am very proud of what the team accomplished under unique and difficult circumstances,” Curtis said in a statement detailing Toronto’s end-of-season moves.”We’ll be able to return a core part of the group, including some young, exciting and hungry homegrown players, but also, we’ll look to make some important decisions that add to the quality of the team. In a lot of ways, the (salary) cap next year will be less than it was this year, so we’ll have to be creative.”Toronto’s other designated players are Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo and striker Jozy Altidore. Only a portion of their salaries count against Toronto’s cap.When available, Piatti forged an effective partnership with Pozuelo on the right side of the Toronto attack. The two also became close off the field.”I hope he can stay here because he does a lot for the team, … … A big professional,” Pozuelo said in his end-of-season meeting with the media last week.Piatti, who suffered right knee ligament damage in February 2019, missed the opening two games of the season before the league shut down due to the pandemic and did not see action until the MLS is Back Tournament in July. Toronto medical staff were careful not to rush Piatti, who had played just seven games since his knee surgery.The five-foot-four 139-pounder missed the last four games of the regular season with a hamstring injury, during which time TFC went 1-3-0 and missed out on the Supporters’ Shield. He returned for Toronto’s season-ending 1-0 loss to Nashville SC in the first round of the playoffs.Piatti opened his MLS account in mid-August with two goals, including a 25-foot long-range rocket, in a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in his BMO Field debut.Defenders Laurent Ciman, Justin Morrow and Eriq Zavaleta will be out of contract at the end of the year. The loan deal for defender Tony Gallacher also expires at the end of the year.The 35-year-old Ciman saw action in 12 games this season, including five starts. The 28-year-old Zavaleta was restricted to five games (three starts).The 33-year-old Morrow, who has played more than 200 games in Toronto colours, was limited to 15 games (11 starts) and missed much of the regular-season stretch drive through injury. Off the field, he is the executive director of Black Players for Change.Curtis said the club will talk to Morrow and its other free agents about returning.Toronto exercised contract options on goalkeeper Kevin Silva, defender Julian Dunn, midfielders Nick DeLeon, Tsubasa Endoh, Liam Fraser, forwards Ifunanyachi Achara and Ayo Akinola. Twenty-one players are already under contract for the 2021 season: goalkeepers Alex Bono and Quentin Westberg; defenders Auro, Omar Gonzalez, Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Rocco Romeo (currently away on loan); midfielders Michael Bradley, Marky Delgado, Griffin Dorsey, Erickson Gallardo, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Noble Okello (currently away on loan), Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ralph Priso, Jacob Shaffelburg and forwards Altidore, Patrick Mullins, Jayden Nelson and Jordan Perruzza. Toronto FC’s 2021 Current RosterGoalkeepers (3): Alex Bono, Kevin Silva, Quentin Westberg.Defenders (6): Auro, Julian Dunn, Omar Gonzalez, Richie Laryea, Chris Mavinga, Rocco Romeo.Midfielders (13): Michael Bradley, Nick DeLeon, Marky Delgado, Griffin Dorsey, Tsubasa Endoh, Liam Fraser, Erickson Gallardo, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Noble Okello, Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo, Ralph Priso, Jacob Shaffelburg.Forwards (6): Ifunanyachi Achara, Ayo Akinola, Jozy Altidore, Jayden Nelson, Patrick Mullins, Jordan Perruzza.—Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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Morning Coffee – Mon, Nov 30 – Raptors Republic



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Raptors camp invites: Watanabe, Johnson and Ellenson reports – The Athletic

Yuta Watanabe
Contract: Exhibit 10 (no guarantee, can make roster or be converted to two-way, $50K bonus if cut and remains with 905 for 60 days)
G League rights: Unowned (was two-way with Grizzlies)
Basics: 26 years old, forward, 6-foot-8, 6-foot-10 wingspan, 215 pounds, undrafted (2018) out of George Washington
Flier type: 3-and-D Unproven 3

Brief history: The second Japanese player to play in an NBA game, Watanabe has been one of the more exciting G League prospects to watch the past two years. A former Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and Midseason G League All-Star, Watanabe has used the two seasons primarily on the junior circuit to round out his offensive package that complements a versatile and impactful defensive foundation. Despite being a consistent G League and Summer League standout, Watanabe managed only 279 minutes over two seasons as a Grizzlies two-way player, hardly enough to make a judgment.

Strengths: Excellent defender who can stay with guards on the perimeter and switch as far as power forward on the positional spectrum. Offers defensive playmaking with solid steal rate and weakside rim protection that point to defensive awareness and anticipation. Excellent control closing out to trap shooters. Improved dramatically as a scorer in his second G League season, taking strides inside and outside the 3-point line while cutting down on his turnovers. Knows his role extremely well and stays within it, although he also stepped up when the Memphis Hustle needed it, dropping a hyper-efficient 40 points in January.

Limitations: Despite the improved handle and inside-out scoring instincts, Watanabe hasn’t shown much playmaking from the wing, even regressing in that regard statistically last season. That projects him as mostly a catch-and-shoot or transition specialist at the NBA level. That casts his 3-point shooting into question, as he hit only 33.7 percent in college and is at 33.5 percent across both pro levels. That ticked up to 36.4 percent in the G League last season and he’s a strong free-throw shooter, but “3-and-D” will require him to shoot well in camp to prove it.

Fit: Long, multi-position defender with great awareness; accepts and thrives within role; team has been in desperate need of a Libra.

Raptors reportedly add trio of journey on training camp deals – Yahoo!

The first signing is Alize Johnson, a 24-year-old forward who went 50th overall in the 2018 draft to the Indiana Pacers. He is light on collegiate experience since he received no Division I offers coming out of high school, but played for Missouri State for two seasons before going pro. It wasn’t until his senior year where he finally found traction with NBA executives after receiving an invite to the Adidas Nations camp.

Johnson spent the majority of his NBA career to date in the G-League, where he holds averages of 19.5 points, 13.4 points, and 3.7 assists while shooting 51 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep. His main attribute is that he is an athletically capable wing who consistently gives all-out effort, particularly on the glass. Couple that with a decent handle and enough strength to slash into the paint, and it’s not hard to see why the Raptors would like him.

Toronto also added Japanese forward Yuta Watanabe to a training camp deal. The 6-foot-8 lefty went undrafted in 2018, and has been a bench piece for the Memphis Grizzlies over the past two seasons. As with Johnson, Watanabe spent most of his time in the G-League where he averaged 17 points, six rebounds and two assists on 55 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from three. He is an active wing who can play on the wing, but is more suited to being a smallball power forward.

Raptors training camp roster: What you need to know – The Athletic

The Antetokounmpo trade

Len taking up a chunk of the midlevel exception rather than his minimum means he has a $2.26 million salary for trade matching, not a minimum (which would pay him $2.17 million but only count as $1.62 million in trade). As noted by The Athletic’s John Hollinger, the salaries of Powell, Johnson, McCaw and Len are now just enough to make the math work on a trade for a player who makes $25.73 million. Like, say, Antetokounmpo.

Now, the chances of Antetokounmpo being traded this year are tiny, and Len won’t be helpful for a sign-and-trade in the offseason. However, there are two things that could be at play. One is keeping open every avenue for Antetokounmpo just in case, which makes sense. And two, if Antetokounmpo is paying attention, this is a fun wink about the Raptors’ handling of the salary cap after the Bucks have made multiple missteps with their cap situation in the past year.

Was it worth the $84,000 extra to Len and the lost flexibility to add a third year for someone to leave Antetokounmpo’s camp an Easter egg? Probably!

NBA Free Agency 2020: Understanding the hypotheticals for a Giannis-to-the-Toronto Raptors move – Raptors HQ

Is there a way to get Giannis without losing his Bird Rights, allowing him to sign a shorter term deal to get to the supermax on time and then sign him for five years at that elevated salary?

Well, there is one way. Get traded before the deadline. Any team trading for him would still lose the ability to give him a supermax right away, but they would get his Bird Rights. They sign him to his 2+1, then they sign him to the 5-year supermax.

And Giannis (and his agent) likely knows this is the case. If he has a specific destination in mind, and the financial considerations above are significant to him, that’s the sort of scenario where he might ask for a trade to his preferred destination.

Enter the following tweet from John Hollinger of the Athletic:

Hollinger is talking there about Alex Len’s salary. The Raptors signed Len to barely above his minimum salary with the rest of their Mid-Level Exception. Oh, and the “hypothetical player” who makes exactly that amount that Toronto could then match: Giannis.

Similar to maximum salaries, minimum salaries are different for players with different experience. There is actually a full sliding scale from rookies all the way up to 10-year plus veterans. The league, to discourage teams from going with younger players to save money, reimburses teams for any minimum salary above the two-year veteran value — which is also the value that counts as the cap hit for those players. So Len would have made almost exactly the same amount of money (give or take $0.1 million), but since he did not technically sign for the minimum, his cap hit is the larger salary he is owed ($2.3 million), not that reduced 2-year veteran minimum salary ($1.6 million).

Why would a team ever choose the higher cap hit? The tweet above lays out the answer — bigger cap hit, more salary for matching in a trade.

But Len is on a one-year deal, that means he can only be used to match in a trade between now and the deadline. Which means the Raptors are preparing for a situation where maybe they can trade for Giannis this season, not wait until next off-season for a sign-and-trade or clear cap space to sign him directly.

The suggested trade above is not one I think they would do — in this hypothetical scenario, they know they are getting Giannis the following summer, he has indicated they are his destination of choice to be traded to, etc. So the Raptors would likely not include a piece as valuable as OG Anunoby. The whole point of acquiring Giannis early for the team is to be able to keep their best players around him since they don’t need to clear cap. But Stanley Johnson makes essentially the same amount of money and can be substituted in the trade.

The trade then is this: Giannis for Norman Powell, Terence Davis, Patrick McCaw, Stanley Johnson and Alex Len, plus maybe a draft pick or two to provide the Bucks some extra value before Giannis walks for nothing. That just might work. The Bucks get the Bird Rights to Norm, who (a) has always tormented the Bucks in the playoffs and (b) could step into a larger role and perhaps find even more success as a scorer, and they get Davis (who will be a restricted free agent — RFA), plus draft assets to help with life post-Giannis.

The Raptors would be left being able to re-sign Giannis and Lowry next summer, re-up OG as an RFA, and keep Baynes and Boucher on their second years, with Pascal and FVV already locked up.

The Raptors’ 20-man training camp will include Terence Davis II while his assault case plays out | The Star

What that investigation bears out — and what becomes of the criminal charges Davis is facing — will ultimately determine whether he plays for Toronto in the 2020-21 season.

Letting the guarantee kick in isn’t that significant, financially or from a purely basketball sense. The money is small with a full guarantee of about $1.5 million (U.S.) this season, a drop in the bucket for a team with a payroll approaching $130 million.

While it would send a message to some if the Raptors let Davis go before the deadline, it would certainly prompt a grievance from the players association since the criminal charges have yet to be proved in court — his next court date is scheduled for Dec. 11. It’s impossible to argue that Davis, who had a stellar rookie year, should be released for purely basketball reasons.

By bringing him to camp and letting the process unfold, the Raptors assume no risk or liability and still have the option of releasing or disciplining the native of Mississippi in the future.

The Raptors have a long-standing and well-earned reputation for social awareness, fairness and promotion, support and inclusion of women in high-ranking positions. They have not taken the Davis incident lightly and have complied with all of the league’s information gathering steps.

Still, they have not publicly addressed the situation other than one statement handing over the investigation to the NBA, as they are compelled to do. The league takes control of any internal probes into cases related to domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault, and could hand down an array of penalties — anything from a suspension to banishment — on top of any court-imposed sentences.

Toronto Raptors HQ Podcast — That’s A Rap #118: Transaction Week Recap – Raptors HQ

Doesn’t it feel like the NBA Draft was just a week ago, yet we’re already talking about training camp?

The shortest off-season continues at break-neck speed with teams finalizing their respective rosters and bringing in extra bodies for training camp battles. The Toronto Raptors are no different, with Friday’s invites/signings of Alize Johnson, Henry Ellenson, Yuta Watanabe, and Oshae Brissett.

Before projecting what the Raptors’ final roster will look like, we spent the majority of the latest podcast reminiscing on the past — from the Rogers Centre to Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol’s time in Toronto. Enjoy the latest episode of That’s A Rap!

From OG Anunoby to Patrick McCaw, these Raptors have something to prove in training camp. The ball’s in their court | The Star

OG Anunoby

Much is expected from the powerful young forward, who is likely to see even more responsibility thrown his way this coming season.

The Raptors are small and the six-foot-seven Anunoby is likely going to play extended time in the frontcourt, where his all-around defensive abilities will be needed. He has to become a better and more consistent rebounder than he’s been, but the other facets of his game continue to improve.

If he keeps getting better as a ball-handler, and more active in the offence rather than being satisfied with waiting in the corner to shoot open three-pointers, he will become even more vital to any success the team has.

He’s also eligible for a contract extension before the season begins on Dec. 22, but the Raptors went to great lengths to protect their financial flexibility going into next summer, so it may be on hold until a year from now.

Please send me any Raptors related article/video: [email protected]

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Diego Maradona death: Police search home, clinic of star's personal doctor, seize files – National Post



Article content continued

In later years, Maradona struggled with substance abuse issues. “Diego was tired, tired of being ‘Maradona’,” Luque said.

The player’s lawyer, Matias Moria, on Thursday said he would ask for a full investigation of the circumstances of the soccer legend’s death, saying the health workers caring for the star were negligent.

“It is inexplicable that for 12 hours my friend has not had attention or control from the health personnel,” Moria wrote on social media. “The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was a criminal idiocy.” Prosecutors say it took 12 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona holds up the World Cup trophy as he is carried off the field after Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 to win the World Cup soccer championship in Mexico City on June 29, 1986. Photo by Gary Hershorn/Reuters

Luque said faster ambulance service would not have saved Maradona’s life. “You would have needed medical equipment at his house, including a respirator,” he told reporters.

“If I am responsible of something, it is of loving him and taking care of him, extending his life and improving it until the end,” Luque said. “I am not responsible for this.”

A tearful Luque described Maradona as a difficult patient who often argued with the medical staff.

“Diego needed help,” he said. “Diego was hard. Diego kicked me out of his house and then called me again. That was the relationship, the one of a rebellious father with a son.”

— with files from the Washington Post

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