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All systems go? Yes. Edmonton Oilers sign Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year deal – Edmonton Journal

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The Edmonton Oilers have signed Kailer Yamamoto to a one year deal, reports TSN’s Dustin Nielson on Twitter.

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My take

1. Excellent news that this did not drag on into the season. The Oilers had some solid candidates to try out in Yamamoto’s spot, namely Warren Foegele and Cooper Marody, but it’s better to have Yamamoto himself.

2.  Yamamoto, who will be 23 in a few weeks, was an amazing major junior point scorer, a solid AHL point scorer and had an astonishing 26 points in 27 games after he was called up to the Oilers and placed on the DYNamite Line with Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2019-20. The DYNamite Line was inexplicably broken up last year. Yamamoto’s point scoring crashed. In 2020-21, he scored just 21 points in 52 games. His defensive play was still strong — he often slides down to play the centre role in his own zone, allowing Draisaitl to free-lance on defence — but his forechecking didn’t have quite the same bite as it had the previous season, and the new combo of Draisaitl, Yamo and Dominik Kahun never came close to cycling and working give-and-go plays like the DYNamites had done.

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3. Yamamoto’s offence crashed last year, but he still was involved in Edmonton’s top line when teamed for a small sample size of even strength minutes with Draisaitl and McDavid. Yamamoto’s solid defensive play was the glue to that line, as he often moved down to cover the defensive slot, allowing Draisaitl and McDavid to hunt pucks and take off on the attack. In that role, think of Yamamoto as a smaller version of Esa Tikkanen with Jari Kurri and Wayne Gretzky.

4. Would it have been better if the Oilers had found a way to sign Yamamoto to a two or three year deal? That’s a tricky question. Better for the fans, yes, as it would have locked down a promising young player for longer term. But with Yamamoto’s huge drop off in attacking play, was he not better off to take the lesser contract this year, get to camp on time, earn a spot again in the Top 6, have a big year and then negotiate a new longer term deal? Relatively unproven but highly promising attacking wingers like Drake Batherson and Joel Farabee just got six years deals at about $5.0 million per. Yamamoto has to have his eyes on that kind of deal. As for the Oilers, they had the hammer in this negotiation, with Yamamoto having not any real alternative but to take their offer or sit out. The Oilers get him at a cap-friendly salary for this season.

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5. The Oilers are pressed up against the cap and there’s going to be little cap space for years to come, what with the flat cap and big ticket and long-term contracts for Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman. Where will the Oilers find the money to pay players like Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi, both on expiring contracts now, if they have big years? Good luck with that, Ken Holland. You will need it.

6. This coming summer, Mikko Koskinen’s $4.5 million per year contract ends, but the Oilers will need a goalie to replace him if he goes. Maybe Stuart Skinner or Ilya Konovalov will provide a low cost option. If not, that issue will be expensive to fix. Some of Koskinen’s money might go to Yamamoto or Puljujarvi (most of it will go to cover Nurse’s new deal when it kicks in next year), but it’s hard to imagine the Oilers will have the cap space to keep both of them, even if both turn out to be outstanding two-way players in Top 6 roles.

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7. Maybe the Oilers could move out Zack Kassian and his $3.2 million per deal, which has three more years, but maybe they can’t. Most likely, Edmonton will likely have to pick one of Yamamoto or Puljujarvi and move the other. Get ready for that controversy and that debate, Oilers fans, because it’s coming.

8. If there’s one piece of good news, the Oilers will not have to re-sign Evan Bouchard for two more years, at the same time as Duncan Keith’s $5.5 million per contract ends. Andrej Sekera’s $1.5 million per year buy-out also ends then. Looking even more down the road, Tyson Barrie and Zack Kassian’s big ticket deals end in three years, but Cody Ceci’s got four years on his contract. That is the deal I worry about most in the short term. If Ceci doesn’t perform as a 4/5 d-man, that’s an ugly opportunity cost for the Oilers. But we’ll leave those worries for another day. Right now, Yamamoto is back, giving the Oilers a chance to have the best top two lines in the NHL. That’s something to celebrate.

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P.S. Oilers rookies vs Flames rookies tonight at 5 p.m.

Oilers line-up:

Lavoie – Hamblin – Bourgault

Petrov – Rybinski – Tullio

Safin – Englot – Kambeitz

Soderlund – Brosseau – Burns

Broberg – Berglund

Samorukov – Kemp

Niemelainen – Kesselring

Kaldis

Rodrigue Konovalov

Staples on politics

Kenney says message of hope was a mistake: “Hope is not a strategy in dealing with a dynamic public health challenge”

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Schwarber hits grand slam, Red Sox hammer Astros to take ALCS lead – Sportsnet.ca

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BOSTON — Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez walked off the mound with a six-run lead and a message for Carlos Correa and the rest of the Houston Astros:

Now it’s Boston’s time.

Tapping his wrist to mimic Correa’s Game 1 celebration, Rodriguez rode four more Boston homers — including Kyle Schwarber’s record-setting grand slam — to a 12-3 victory Monday night as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

The taunt drew a rebuke from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who reminded his pitcher that they still need two more wins to advance to the World Series for the fifth time since 2004. Games 4 and 5 are at Fenway Park on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

“It’s not that I’m mad at him,” said Cora, who was celebrating his 46th birthday. “We don’t act that way. We just show up, we play, and we move on.”

One game after J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers each hit grand slams, Schwarber hit a second-inning 3-0 pitch 430 feet into the right field grandstand.

Boston is the first team ever with three slams in a postseason series.

“Electrifying. It’s unbelievable,” outfielder Alex Verdugo said. “You can have a big swing and get four runs in on just that one play — it’s huge.

“It’s one of the best plays in baseball, man. You give up a grand slam, it takes a lot out of you,” he added. “And just to kind of keep stepping on their neck and adding the pressure, it’s huge.”

Martinez and Devers each homered again, Christian Arroyo also hit one, and Kike Hernandez had two more hits for Boston, which opened 9-0 leads and coasted to victory in back-to-back games. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe ended it with a diving catch of Correa’s sinking line drive.

“They count as one (loss),” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We come back and win tomorrow and the series is even. You don’t like it tonight, but you come back in the morning.”

Rodriguez gave up five hits, including Kyle Tucker’s three-run homer, and struck out seven. He retired Correa to end the sixth and let the Astros shortstop know that his gesture in Game 1 was not appreciated.

Cora chastised Rodriguez before giving him a hug when he reached the dugout.

“He just told me `Don’t do that,’” said Rodriguez, who said he would apologize to Correa if he sees him. “It was something that was part of the moment. But (Cora) just told me, ‘We don’t do that here. Stay humble. Just go out there and play hard every time.”’

“Besides that,” Cora said, “he was outstanding.”

Correa said he “loved every single bit of it.”

“It’s just the way baseball should trend, moving forward,” he added. “You need to let the players have fun.”

Boston matched a franchise record with its seventh straight postseason win at home. The Red Sox had 11 hits in all, becoming the first team in major league history to reach double digits six straight times in a single postseason.

Hernandez, who has 18 hits during the playoffs and is batting .500 — both leading the majors — left the game after six innings.

Asked why, Cora said with a smile: “He has been running the bases a lot in the last few days, or weeks, or whatever.”

The Red Sox capitalized on two Astros errors and the struggles of Houston starter Jose Urquidy, who gave up six runs, five earned, on five hits and two walks, striking out one in 1 2/3 innings.

Rodriguez, who missed all of last season with COVID-related heart problems, retired the first six batters before running into the trouble in the third, when Tucker made it 9-3.

His outing enabled Cora to keep Nick Pivetta fresh for a Game 4 start.

ERRORS

To the delight of the Fenway fans, who targeted him with profane chants for his role in the Astros 2017 cheating scandal, Jose Altuve struggled at the plate and in the field.

A Gold Glove and AL MVP-winner, the three-time batting champion went 0 for 4 and let Arroyo’s chopper bounce off his chest for an error with the bases loaded in the second inning. One batter later, Schwarber hit Boston’s third grand slam in 11 innings.

The Red Sox, who only had three grand slams during the regular season, matched the 1998 Atlanta Braves as the only clubs to hit three in a single postseason. Boston has 20 homers this postseason, matching the 2004 Astros for the most through the first eight games of the playoffs, per MLB.com.

Altuve also waved at a throw from Martin Maldonado on Hunter Renfroe’s stolen base in the third; the error went to the catcher. The throw to third was also wild, but the Astros were saved another error when the ball missed the dugout and bounced off the padding back toward the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Baker said outfielder Jake Meyers, who injured his left shoulder crashing into the wall in Game 4 of the Division Series, is doing better and could start as soon as Tuesday.

UP NEXT

The teams play Game 4 on Tuesday night. The Red Sox are expected to rely on Pivetta, who was 9-8 with a 4.53 ERA in the regular season. Houston will call on RHP Zack Greinke, with RHP Cristian Javier ready to follow the veteran. Greinke has been limited over the past two months due to a neck issue and a positive COVID-19 test.

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Canada's women's team drops third straight game with 8-0 loss to Drumheller Dragons – The Globe and Mail

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The Drumheller Dragons held Canada’s women’s hockey team off the scoresheet Monday, blanking the national squad 8-0 in a tune-up game.

Adam Raesler scored a hat trick for the Alberta Junior Hockey League side, while Luke Fennig added a pair of goals. Ty Daneault, Grayson Dietrich and Ty Whitford all scored singles.

Canada’s Kristen Campbell stopped 19-of-22 shots in two periods of work and Emerance Maschmeyer made six saves in relief.

Eric Ward saved all five shots he faced in 29 minutes of play for the Dragons and Garrett Fuller finished out the game, making six stops.

Neither side capitalized with the man advantage, with Team Canada going 0 for 3 on the power play and Drumheller going 0 for 2.

Canada has now lost three games in a row to junior-A hockey teams as it prepares for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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Olympics-Small minority of U.S. Olympians oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandate, say officials

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The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Monday its decision to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for those competing at next year’s Beijing Olympics has been met with some resistance.

In a bid to create a safe environment and restore some level of consistency in planning, the USOPC announced last month that Team USA athletes hoping to compete in the Beijing Olympics will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The response is as you would expect: Within our general population, there are some people who are extremely happy that we introduced this policy,” Jonathan Finnoff, the USOPC’s chief medical officer, said during the virtual Team USA media summit.

“And there are others that are upset and would like to not have any mandate regarding vaccinations.”

According to Finnoff, it is only a “very small minority” of Team USA athletes who oppose the mandate and the USOPC is having one-on-one conversations with each one to discuss their feelings and explain why the decision was made.

Last month’s announcement by the USOPC came days before the International Olympic Committee said the Beijing Olympics would have tight COVID-19 measures in place to ensure the safety of all participants during the Feb. 4-20 event.

Finnoff said the “more stringent” Beijing measures, which he added unlike the USOPC’s rules will not grant religious exemption, would supersede the  U.S. policy.

Any athlete who is granted a medical exemption will have to go through a 21-day quarantine in Beijing before they can begin training ahead of their event.

“These are challenging times but the vaccine policy that we’ve put in place and that China has put in place is going to make the Games as safe as possible,” said Finnoff.

USOPC Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland said the COVID-19 mandate is all about the safety and health of the team.

“The presence of this virus makes the challenge greater for all of us in a Games environment but we are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate illness and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Hirshland.

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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