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Despite tricky logistics, Blue Jays’ return comes at crucial time – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – Three roller-coaster weeks of discussions with federal health and government officials resulted in the Toronto Blue Jays being granted a National Interest Exemption on Friday, allowing them to return home for a pivotal 10-game homestand beginning July 30.

Team officials were informed of the decision around 6 p.m. ET, and Marco Mendicino, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, signed the order shortly before joining Blue Jays Central to announce the news.

The July 30 contest against the visiting Kansas City Royals will be the club’s first at its Rogers Centre home since an 8-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 29, 2019.

“The fans, that’s the No. 1 thing (the team has missed),” manager Charlie Montoyo said after a 10-2 win over the Texas Rangers. “It seems like we’ve been playing on the road (the whole time) even though Buffalo has been great. There are a lot of fans from New York and even though they have been great to us, it’s not Toronto. Toronto is one of the best cities in baseball and just to see all the fans pulling for us, that’s going to be a plus for us. Everything about Toronto is just awesome. You should have seen the faces of everybody when we found out, everybody was so happy about it.”

A positive outcome for the Blue Jays was far from a certainty when the team submitted its proposal to the federal government some three weeks ago, and club officials swung between optimism and pessimism daily, sometimes hourly.

Time had been running out for them to logistically pull off a move north from Buffalo and a decision was needed by Friday, although they were willing to play things out a little longer if needed.

But momentum picked up Thursday after Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said their application was “trending in a very good direction” and didn’t include any “showstoppers.” Talks Friday finalized the protocols, highlights of which include:

A dual-track plan in which fully vaccinated players are treated like any other returning traveller and exempt from quarantine, while partially vaccinated or unvaccinated players are limited to their residence/hotel and the ballpark; unvaccinated players cannot interact with the general public and any violation of the rules is punishable by the loss of quarantine exemption and the possibility of fines or prosecution under the Quarantine Act; pre- and post-arrival testing for everyone, plus four more tests a week for all unvaccinated individuals.

The Blue Jays were still sorting through how they’ll be treated under Ontario’s current pandemic rules, but with Rogers Centre expected to be considered an outdoor venue, they should have a capacity of 15,000 under Stage 3 regulations.

“The hardest part was just not knowing,” said third baseman Cavan Biggio. “A bunch of ‘we’ll see in a week’ or ‘we’ll see tomorrow’ or ‘we’ll see then.’ Last year, we all knew with COVID being very fresh in our minds and in the world, that was just part of it. And going into this year, we knew we probably weren’t going to start in Toronto, but we still really didn’t know. Finally getting that information of, ‘we’re getting to the finish line and we’re finally going to be able to go back to Toronto’ was a very satisfying feeling and definitely exciting.”

Earlier this week during the All-Star Game, the Blue Jays representatives in Denver talked about their desire to head north, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. saying in an interview that, “we miss our own fans a lot.”

“When we played in Dunedin, pretty much all the fans were rooting for the other team,” he added in comments interpreted by Hector Lebron. “When we played the Yankees in Buffalo, everybody goes for the Yankees. It’s kind of hard.”

Shortstop Bo Bichette added: “We want to get home, you know? We’ve got a chance to make the playoffs and we’d love to have fans rooting for us. That would be amazing. But if it doesn’t happen, we’ll just continue to fight and continue to battle in Buffalo and do our best.”

No need for that with the Blue Jays’ lengthy displacement coming to an end after what will be an unprecedented third move in a single season. Their home schedule began at TD Ballpark, their spring facility in Dunedin, Fla., and transitioned to Buffalo’s Sahlen Field in June.

A two-week sprint awaits in which the Blue Jays must move all their equipment north, rehire staff to sell tickets and set-up and staff the stadium, pack up the apartments and close out leases in Buffalo and find and move into new places in Toronto.

“That’s why this team deserves so much credit,” said Montoyo. “You’ve never seen a team that moves that many times in a season. Hopefully we’ll never see it again. You’re talking about clubhouse guys, families, the leases that we got here in Buffalo now, everybody’s got to talk to the (landlords) to see what we can do about leases. The same thing happening in Dunedin. It’s going to be our fourth move (including last season). But our fourth one is a happy one because we’re going back to Toronto. So even though it’s going to be tough … at least we’re going back to Toronto and that makes it easier.”

Returning home in time for the July 30 homestand was a priority for the Blue Jays to have a real home-field advantage in time for a crucial 10-game stretch. That represents an eighth of their home schedule and having fans that will be stoked about the club’s return, seeing the club for the first time since its emergence as a playoff contender, and with Guerrero Jr. in the midst of what’s shaping up as the best offensive season in team history can be a powerful mix.

Though the attendance numbers can’t be the same because of capacity limits, it’s akin to the fuse lit in 2015 when the Blue Jays took off after the trade deadline and the building rocked for the next two-and-a-half years.

“I remember being in college (at Notre Dame) and watching those Blue Jays games and just remember how electric they were,” said Biggio. “Then when my name got called by the Toronto Blue Jays, that was the No. 1 thing that I thought of when I got drafted, picturing myself being in the Rogers Centre, being in important games in September and October and just having that crowd behind your back and just ultimately the electricity that you could see on TV and wondering what it’s going to be like on the field. That’s always the vibe and the thoughts when you’re in the minor leagues, grinding in Dunedin or wherever you may be, it’s always the goal to get to. And now that we’ve been here and we’re finally going back to Toronto with a solid team, I’m very excited, to say the least.”

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2021 NHL Draft winners and losers: Ranking every team’s first round – The Athletic

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Just 289 days after we put one draft in the books, here we are for another.

After an unconventional season spent scouting these players predominantly by video, learning about them predominantly over phone calls and text exchanges with sources, hundreds of viewings and conversations, and tens of thousands of words, my coverage of the 2021 draft concludes this weekend with my complete evaluations of all 32 (that’s new!) teams’ draft classes and likely almost (almost!) all of the 224 players that will be chosen.

That starts with this breakdown of Friday’s 31 selections, offering pick-by-pick analysis of the first round.

This analysis does not evaluate any of the trades, nor the teams that didn’t pick. Instead, it will rank each of the teams that did pick based solely on their choices relative to my draft board, considering factors like organizational fit, the available players, and each prospect’s expected range.

This is also not an evaluation of the total value the teams got out of their pick(s) but rather of the relative value they mined compared to where they picked. As such, teams with higher picks, or multiple first-round picks, are not guaranteed favourable grades.

As always at The Athletic, the ranking will also be sorted into the following tiers:

Winners: Teams I believe won out over their competition with sleuth, home-run-level selections relative to where they picked.

Overtime winners: Teams I believe did well with where they were slotted, even if they might not have picked the exact player(s) I would have.

Overtime losers: Teams I believe could have done better but might, in time, be happy with their pick(s) regardless.

Losers: Teams I believe will regret taking the player(s) they chose.

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Janine Beckie's 2 goals carry Canada past Chile for 1st Olympic soccer win – CBC.ca

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Janine Beckie’s two goals gave Canada the boost it needed to earn its first Olympic soccer win in Tokyo, 2-1 over Chile on Saturday.

The victory all but guarantees the Canadian women a quarter-final berth coming off a 1-1- draw against highly ranked Japan in their tournament opener.

They face Britain on Tuesday at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium to close out Group E action. Britain beat No. 37 Chile 2-0 in their opener.

Chile came out aggressive early in Saturday’s match, delivering a corner kick within the first minute. But the Canadians took over possession and produced several scoring opportunities.

  • The first was a close call in the seventh minute as Kadeisha Buchanan took a pass from Beckie in the box. After Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler made the save, the ball ricocheted off Buchanan’s arm and crossed the goalline. But following a review the goal was called off.
  • Ten minutes later, Christine Sinclair went up for the ball against two Chile defenders in the box but was stepped on by Daniela Pardo, causing her to go down. Following a review, Canada was awarded a penalty kick. With Beckie taking the opportunity to score, she hit the goal post and missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring.

“It’s frustrating to miss a penalty to be able to put the team up early on in the game, would have been ideal, but it happens. You can’t score if you don’t shoot, so I stepped up to take it and I’ll continue to step up and take them,” Beckie said.

“My job for this team is to score goals. And you know, Nichelle Prince is incredible at putting the ball on a play for me, Ashley Lawrence, Christine [Sinclair], I have players around me that create scoring opportunities for me. So, to be able to reward the team with two goals is great. We came here to win. And so, to be able to help by scoring two goals makes me happy.”

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In the 39th minute, Beckie got an opportunity to redeem herself, as a cross from Prince was knocked away by Endler, and the Canadian took full advantage for a 1-0 lead.

WATCH | Canada’s Janine Beckie puts home opening goal against Chile:

Canada takes a 1-0 lead over Chile with a goal by Janine Beckie in the 39th minute. 1:22

Coming out of halftime, it was Beckie who struck again, capitalizing from an Ashley Lawrence through ball, getting past Endler in a one-on-one situation and scoring with ease to put Canada up 2-0.

Beckie now has five Olympic goals. She scored three at the 2016 Rio Games, where Canada won bronze for the second consecutive Games.

Canadian coach Bev Priestman had expected a tough challenge from the Chileans, who were making their Olympic debut.

“I think it’s exactly what I expected the game to be. I’ve always said that this game was never an easy game,” she said. “We made it difficult for ourselves at times. But at the end of the day, we could have had four goals … so I’m overall happy we came here to get three points. That’s exactly what we did.”

WATCH | Beckie doubles down with another goal minutes into 2nd half:

Forward Janine Beckie scores early in the 2nd half as Canada takes a 2-0 lead over Chile. 1:13

In the 49th minute, Beckie had another opportunity to complete the hat trick but was unsuccessful.

The missed chance gave Chile life as a Shelina Zadorsky penalty in the box allowed for Karen Araya to score on a penalty kick to cut Canada’s lead to 2-1 in the 57th minute.

Chile had a chance to tie it in the 72nd minute when a shot from in close banged off the crossbar.

Priestman praised the play of Julia Grosso and Jayde Riviere, who made their Olympic debuts on Saturday, Grosso in the midfield and Riviere on the back line.

Their contribution was further evidence of Canada’s depth, which Priestman and her team will need in the Olympic tournament, particularly when they leave the comfortable indoor Sapporo Dome.

“I will be calling on the depth I think, for players to go three nights is a big ask. And we’re going to go back to the heat now, out of the lovely air-conditioned dome that we’re currently in,” she said.

Kailen Sheridan started in net in place of Stephanie Labbe, who suffered a rib joint injury during her heroic performance against Japan. Labbe was injured challenging an attacker inside the penalty area. She was down for several minutes but stayed in the game to stop a Japanese penalty shot. The 24-year-old Sheridan replaced her in the 58th minute.

The Canadian team has 12 members of the teams that won bronze under former coach John Herdman in the previous two Olympics.

Eight teams will advance from the 12-country round robin to the knockout stage. The final is set for Aug. 6 at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.

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2021 NHL Draft day one recap: Trades! Trades! Trades! and more Trades! – Pension Plan Puppets

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Wow. What a day we had! Day one of the 2021 NHL Draft began with many, many, trades. 12 players and 11 picks – including three first round picks for this draft – were traded before the draft began. Let’s look at the pre-draft trades first:

New York Rangers trade Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for Sammy Blais & a 2022 2d round pick.

Buffalo Sabres trade Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Robert Hagg, a 2021 1st round pick (13th overall), & a 2023 2nd round pick.

Arizona Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks for Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, a 2021 1st round pick (9th overall), a 2022 2nd round pick, and a 7th round pick.

Columbus Blue Jackets trade Seth Jones, 1st round pick (32nd overall), & a 2022 6th round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Adam Boquist, 1st round pick (12th overall), 2nd round pick (44th overall), and a 2022 1st round pick.

Columbus Blue Jackets trade a 2nd round pick (44th overall) to the Carolina Hurricanes for Jake Bean.

Also, not a trade but the New York Rangers will be buying out noted racist and hated teammate Tony DeAngelo.

Now, the picks:

1st – Buffalo Sabres – Owen Power (D) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: Mississauga, ON
2020-21 NCAA stats: 26GP – 3G – 13A – 16Pts
2021 Team Canada stats: 10GP – 0G – 3A – 3Pts
Awards: BIG10 All Rookie team, 2021 World Championship Gold Medal

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2nd – Seattle Kraken – Matthew Beniers (C) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: Hingham, MA
2020-21 NCAA Stats: 24GP – 10G – 14A – 24Pts
2021 Team USA Stats: 13GP – 2G – 3A – 5Pts
Awards: BIG10 All Rookie Team, 2021 World Jr. Championship Gold, 2021 World Championship Bronze

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3rd – Anaheim Ducks – Mason McTavish (C) – EHC Olten, Swiss Div. 2
From: Zürich, SUI
2020-21 SD2 Stats: 13GP – 9G – 2A – 11Pts
2021 Team Canada stats: 7GP – 5G – 6A – 11Pts
Awards: 2021 U18 WJC Gold Medal

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4th – New Jersey Devils – Luke Hughes (D) – USA NTDP
From: Canton, MI
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 56GP – 10G – 39A – 49Pts

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5th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Kent Johnson (C) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: North Vancouver, BC
2020-21 NCAA Stats: 26GP – 9G – 18A – 27Pts
2021 Awards: BIG10 All Rookie Team

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6th – Detroit Red Wings – Simon Edvinsson (D) – Frölunda HC, SHL / Västerås IK, HockeyAllsvenskan
From: Onsala, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 28GP – 1G – 11A – 12Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 15GP – 2G – 7A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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7th – San Jose Sharks – William Eklund (LW) – Djurgårdens IF, SHL
From: Haninge, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 40GP – 11G – 12A – 23Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 4GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2021 Awards: SHL Rookie of the Year

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8th – Los Angeles Kings – Brandt Clarke (D) – HC Nove Zamky, Slovakia
From: Ottawa, ON
2020-21 League stats: 26GP – 5G – 10A – 15Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 5A – 7Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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9th – Arizona Coyotes – Dylan Guenther (W) – Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL / Sherwood Park Crusaders, AJHL
From: Edmonton, AB
2020-21 League stats: 16GP – 15G – 15A – 30Pts
2020-21 Team Canada stats: 7GP – 4G – 3A – 7Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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10th – Ottawa Senators – Tyler Boucher (LW) – USNTDP
From: Haddonfield, NJ
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 19GP – 12G – 7A – 19Pts

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11th – Arizona Coyotes – Forfeited

12th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Cole Sillinger (C) – Sioux Falls Stampede, USHL
From: Columbus, OH
2020-21 USHL Stats: 31GP – 24G – 22A – 46Pts
2021 Awards: USHL Rookie of the Year.

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13th – Calgary Flames – Matthew Coronato (RW) – Chicago Steel, USHL
From: New York, NY
2020-21 USHL Stats: 51GP – 48G – 37A – 85Pts
2021 Awards: 2021 Clark Cup, USHL Forward of the Year, USHL Most Goals

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14th – Buffalo Sabres – Isak Rosén (W) – Leksands IF, SHL
From: Stockholm, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 35GP – 9G – 8A – 17Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 8GP – 7G – 2A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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We have a trade to announce….

The Detroit Red Wings trade picks 23, 48, and 138 to the Dallas Stars for pick 15

15th – Detroit Red Wings – Sebastian Cossa (G) – Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL
From: Hamilton, ON
2020-21 WHL Stats: 19GP – 1.57GAA – .941sv% – 4SO

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16th – New York Rangers – Brennan Othman (LW) – EHC Olten, Swiss Div 2
From: Scarborough, ON
2020-21 SD2 Stats: 34GP – 7G – 9A – 16Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 3G – 3A – 6Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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17th – St. Louis Blues – Zachary Bolduc (C) – Rimouski Océanic , QMJHL
From: Trois-Rivières, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 27GP – 10G – 19A – 29Pts
2021 Awards: Mike Bossy Trophy – Best Professional Prospect

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18th – Winnipeg Jets* – Chaz Lucius (C) – USNTDP
From: Grant, MN
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 25GP – 26G – 12A – 38Pts

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19th – Nashville Predators – Fedor Svechkov (F) – Ladia Togliatti, Russia
From: Togliatti, RUS
2020-21 League Stats: 53GP – 9G – 21A – 30Pts
2020-21 Team Russia Stats: 7GP – 4G – 6A – 10Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Silver Medal

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We have a trade to announce…..

The Edmonton Oilers trade pick 20 to the Minnesota Wild for picks 22 and 90

20th – Minnesota Wild – Jesper Wallstedt (G) – Luleå HF , SHL
From: Västerås, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 22 GP – 2.23GAA – .908sv% – 2SO
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 2GP – 2.40GAA – .923sv%

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21st – Boston Bruins – Fabian Lysell (RW) – Luleå HF, SHL
From: Göteborg, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 26GP – 2G – 1A – 3Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 8GP – 3G – 6A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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22nd – Edmonton Oilers – Xavier Bourgault (C) – Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL
From: L’Islet, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 29GP – 20G – 20A – 40Pts

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23rd – Dallas Stars – Wyatt Johnston (C) – Team Canada
From: Leaside, ON
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 2A – 4Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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24th – Florida Panthers – Mackie Samoskevich (C) – Chicago Steel, USHL
From: Newtown, CT
2020-21 USHL Stats: 36GP – 13G – 24A – 37Pts
20201 Awards: Clark Cup

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25th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Corson Ceulemans (D) – Brooks Bandits, AJHL
From: Regina, SK
2020-21 AJHL Stats: 8GP – 4G – 7A – 11Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 6GP – 1G – 7A – 8Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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26th – Minnesota Wild – Carson Lambos (D) – Winnipeg Ice, WHL / JYP. Finland
From: Winnipeg, MB
2020-21 WHL Stats: 2GP – 0G – 0A – 0Pts
2020-21 Finnish Stats: 17GP – 2G – 9A – 11Pts

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We have a trade to announce….

The Carolina Hurricanes trade the 27th pick to the Nashville Predators for picks 40 and 51.

27th – Nashville Predators – Zachary L’Heureux (LW) – Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
From: Montréal, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 33GP – 19G – 20A – 39Pts

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28th – Colorado Avalanche – Oskar Olausson (RW) – HV71, SHL
From: Stockholm, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 43GP – 20G – 17A – 37Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 4GP – 0G – 0A – 0Pts

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29th – New Jersey Devils – Chase Stillman (C) – Esbjerg U20, Denmark
From: St. Louis, MO
2020-21 League stats: 8GP – 9G – 7A – 16Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 2A – 4Pts
20201 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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30th – Vegas Golden Knights – Zach Dean (C) – Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL
From: Grand Prairie, AB
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 23GP – 10G – 10A – 20Pts

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31st – Montréal Canadiens – Logan Mailloux – SK Lejon, HockeyEttan
From: Belle River, ON
2020-21 Stats: 19GP – 7G – 8A – 15Pts

32nd – Chicago Blackhawks – Nolan Allan (D) – Prince Albert Raiders, WHL
From: Davidson, SK
2020-21 WHL Stats: 16GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal


Day one is over, after a nearly 5 hour round one draft.

Rounds 2-7 will begin at 11AM on July 23rd.

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