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For a Stanley Cup Playoff run, what starting lineup ingredient are the Edmonton Oilers missing the most?: 9 Things – Edmonton Journal

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Despite the loss to a very responsible Leafs club on Saturday night, the Edmonton Oilers remain solidly in 2nd place in the Canadian Division.

Here is where I remind you to not let small samples swing your emotions too far one way or the other. Toronto is clearly a good team that played well. And their top 2 lines outplayed the Oilers Top 2. That doesn’t happen to the Oilers often, but when it does the result is normally predictable.

But what can change over a longer time frame that could allow the Edmonton guys to maintain their healthy standing and make a playoff run?

That and more in this week’s edition of…

9 Things

9. Prospect Tomas Mazura is suffering from a sports hernia and will undergo surgery, ending his USHL season before it started. Mazura was the Oilers 6th Round selection in the 2019 NHL draft. Instead, Mazura will focus on the 2021-22 season in Providence. But a player with his draft pedigree missing a full year of development isn’t good.

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8. Leon Draisaitl doesn’t look “right”. Combine that with the fact that he has missed a couple practices the past week (something he never does), we can safely assume that he is banged up. If I had to guess, I’d say something upper body. The one thing missing from his game is the usual high quality of his shooting. And as we saw from Oscar Klefbom, that can affect your entire game.

7. Kyle Turris is nearly ready to return from a minor injury. But let’s be honest: Turris was playing far below expectations prior to that. He was headed to the Taxi Squad, hurt or not. When you look at how motivated other Oilers players such as Jujhar Khaira, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Ennis, Evan Bouchard and Caleb Jones were after their stints on the taxi squad, one wonders if Turris will respond similarly? Otherwise, Sam Gagner would be better. We’ll come back to this…

6. At some point here, Zack Kassian will be eligible to come off LTIR. I have a lot of time for Kassian. At his peak, he can have a major impact on the outcome of a game. But right now, where will you put him? Would you pull Jesse Puljujarvi,Kailer Yamamoto, Josh Archibald or Alex Chiasson (good again last night) out of the lineup? And Kassian is signed through 2023-24 at a $3.2m cap hit. Something’s got to give. His player type is quite rare and has value if he brings it, which on a consistent basis he has not.

5. Nothing wrong with any young player seeing the odd game from the press box. But the Oilers obviously missed Evan Bouchard’s puck moving and shooting skills Saturday. However, unless you go 11-7 again, who do you sit? None of Adam Larsson (their best D again last night), Tyson Barrie or Ethan Bear. What if Bouchard plays the LHS? Nurse isn’t coming out. And Caleb Jones and Kris Russell sawed off on chances for/Against on Saturday, Jones with 1 or 2 bigger mistakes than Russell. But do you leave in the quicker, puck mover? Ethan Bear is not yet at the top of his game after a concussion either. But I think he ends up back on the top pairing sooner than later.

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4. The way he is playing to-date, the Oilers Darnell Nurse is in the conversation for a Norris Trophy nomination. Heading into Saturday’s action Nurse led NHL D-men in Even-Strength points. He plays more minutes (25:35) than the other Defenceman Top-10 in NHL scoring. And he brings a level toughness and gamesmanship better than any of his mates. Of course, the real test is whether any player can sustain that level of play over time. And I don’t mean the occasional off game like last night’s result. The best has those. For now, Nurse is in a grouping of 5 top NHL D-men that would merit a place on that ballot. Lets see where he gets to.

3. I have written in this space numerous times over the course of the NCAA season that I expected Dylan Holloway to sign an ELC with the Oilers at the end of the Badgers’ year. He could then join Bakersfield. But as time wears on and Holloway’s performance in Wisconsin continues to dominate (11-22-33 in 18 GP), I begin to wonder if Holloway’s next stop may in fact be Edmonton instead? Remember, Cale Makar stepped right out of NCAA and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Colorado in 2018-19. And Defence is a much tougher position in which to make that jump. But their draft pedigrees aren’t a world apart. Maker was 4th over-all, Holloway 14th. Asking Dylan Holloway to step into the 3C hole during the stretch run of an NHL season is asking a lot. But could he play Top-9 LW? Top 6 Think about that for a minute, I’ll come back to it…

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2. Gaetan Haas is a useful player for the Oilers. He is smart, skates very well and has a solid defensive conscience. He was pretty good again last night. But Haas is a role player. And as a G.M. you can’t fall in love with role players. While certainly important, they are ultimately more replaceable that true Top-6 guys and they ultimately have less impact on games over time. To be clear, I’m o.k. with Haas being on this club. But he is not a Top-9 Center. The numbers don’t lie. Haas has an assist in 8 games this season, just 11 points in 66 games over-all. And he’s only a 42% faceoff man since coming to the NHL, just 22% last night. That won’t get it done, certainly not in a tough playoff series. And so far, as I’ve already mentioned, Kyle Turris has not been the answer at 3C, either. So what are Dave Tippett and Ken Holland to do?

1. I expect the Oilers will make 1 or 2 additions to their roster between now and the playoffs. What do they need the most? I would argue (in part due to the above) a “true” 3C. Now, those are hard to find at the best of times. And it’s especially complicated during COVID, because of the quarantine policy. One player they may look at is Brandon Sutter. The Canucks won’t make the playoffs. Sutter is 52% in the circle his past half-dozen seasons, an excellent defensive player and PK man, and a right-hand shot. Sutter is at $4.375m but Vancouver would be willing to eat up to 50% of that salary. An expiring UFA, Sutter does have a modified no-move clause.

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You may counter that at this point in his career, Brandon Sutter is probably a “4C”. I would not disagree. In particular, Sutter’s offence has fallen off. And at 32 he doesn’t skate as well as he used to. A top-flight LW may be easier to find and cheaper to acquire. So, one another option to consider is moving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins into the 3C position for the stretch run and playoffs, and instead bring in another Winger that could play with McDavid or Draisaitl. Or…is that other winger Dylan Holloway?

Remember, this isn’t 1997 anymore. Players make the jump from NCAA to the NHL on their ELC’s. And Holloway (who has been way too good to be in College hockey) would bring a dimension to the left side that the Oilers are missing: A player with skill, who can fly, is big (Holloway 35 pounds heavier than Dominik Kahun, 45 heavier than Tyler Ennis) and can play with both grit and enthusiasm.

Because of the pandemic, I suspect Ken Holland is shopping now. Like, right now. No time like the present.

But like a lot of us, during COVID-19…maybe Ken decides the right thing to do is “shop local”.

Find me on Twitter @KurtLeavins

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Pistons select Cade Cunningham with No. 1 overall pick in 2021 NBA Draft – Sportsnet.ca

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The Detroit Pistons selected Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.

Cunningham had been widely expected to be the first name called in New York, though Pistons general manager Troy Weaver wouldn’t reveal plans earlier this week and said the team would look at every scenario, including trades.

In the end, Detroit stuck with the 19-year-old mentioned as a potential top pick before ever stepping foot on the Oklahoma State campus.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pound point guard from Arlington, Texas, lived up to expectations with his size and fluid game to become a first-team Associated Press All-American. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists with a game that allowed him to hit from 3-point range, score off the dribble or find teammates out of traps.

Cunningham — the first player in Oklahoma State history to be picked No. 1 overall — joins a Pistons franchise that has won 20 games for two straight seasons and hasn’t finished better than .500 for five straight years.

Cunningham was the headliner of a class that included scorers, playmakers and potentially elite defenders at the top. That group included Southern California freshman big man Evan Mobley, Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs and Florida State freshman forward Scottie Barnes.

There are also a pair of preps-to-pros prospects in guard Jalen Green and forward Jonathan Kuminga, both of whom bypassed college basketball to play in the G League.

The draft is later than its traditional late-June slot for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the 2019-20 season. The 2021-22 season is scheduled to return to its normal schedule, with next year’s draft set for June again.

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NBA Draft 2021: Toronto Raptors select Scottie Barnes with the 4th overall pick – RaptorsHQ

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The Raptors have upended consensus in the 2021 NBA Draft, opting to select Florida State forward Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall pick. To say this was a complete shock is not entirely true — there was buzz the Raptors were at least somewhat intrigued by Barnes’ potential — but it also felt like Toronto would not take the gamble (e.g. it felt like Jalen Suggs at no. 4 was a lock).

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Barnes joins the Raptors just before his 20th birthday. He’s listed at 6’9” and 227 pounds, which puts him in the small forward category, by my math. Barnes spent one season at Florida State during which he averaged 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game across 24 contests. Admittedly, the numbers don’t exactly pop — Barnes only started seven games — but Toronto must love his potential.

Said potential is what our guy JD got at in his column here. Barnes has serious defensive skills, a player who can already guard almost every position via his strength, speed and know-how. The broadcast compared him to Draymond Green, which is not a bad place to be — particularly for a Raptors team that obviously values defensive ability and versatility. Like Green, Barnes has flashed an advanced play-making game for a forward, and he also has a limited offensive arsenal. Few are looking at Barnes, who shot 28 percent from three and 62 percent from the free-throw line, to be a lights-out gunner. Maybe he gets there in time, or maybe his skill-set is less dependent on his shot.

So then the risk: did the Raptors just get a player who can’t start for the current squad with OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam locked in at the small and power forward position? Could it be that Barnes only tracks as another second or third-ranked player on a championship calibre team? (If that; some are worried he’s the next Stanley Johnson.) In all, the question remains: will Toronto regret missing on Suggs?

Or do the Raptors have something else planned with regards to their roster construction? Right now it’s unclear, but we do know one thing for now: Toronto has selected Scottie Barnes in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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Canada's women's eight rowing crew captures Olympic gold for 1st time in 29 years – CBC.ca

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Canada’s women’s eight crew captured gold on the final day of Olympic rowing at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo on Friday, winning the event for the first time in 29 years.

New Zealand claimed silver, finishing ahead of bronze winners China.

The only other Olympic gold for Canada in women’s eight came at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, their first time reaching the Olympic podium. Canada’s crew enjoyed continued success with silver in 1996 and bronze in 2000.

Canada claimed silver in the women’s eight event at the 2012 London Olympics before missing the podium in Rio with a fifth place finish.

The men’s eight final wraps up the rowing competition at 9:25 p.m. ET.

More to come.

Bring on the cheers

Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

More from Tokyo 2020

WATCH l CBC Sports’ The Olympians feature on women’s eight rowing:

Watch CBC Sports’ The Olympians feature, on Women’s 8 Rowing. 2:37

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