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In wake of humiliating loss, Toronto FC fires head coach Chris Armas –



Toronto FC is coming home Thursday, at least to train and sleep in its own beds. But head coach Chris Armas won’t be making the trip, paying the price for Saturday’s humiliating 7-1 loss at D.C. United and the string of defeats that preceded it.

The first-year coach is the only staffer, so far, to be axed after a nightmarish start to the MLS season that has seen a club that prides itself on its trophy case plummet to the bottom of the 27-team league.

Under Armas, Toronto (1-8-2) has lost six straight and is winless in seven. Its defence is broken and it’s clear that Armas’ bid to change the team’s style of play, long established under former head coach Greg Vanney, to an aggressive pressing approach was an uncomfortable fit.

Assistant coach Javier Perez will lead the team Wednesday against New England on an interim basis. After Wednesday, Toronto does not play again until July 17 against Orlando City.

Club president Bill Manning, echoing the view of most fans, said the team had become “very difficult to watch.” Never more so than Saturday, which marked largest margin of defeat in club history.

“As this season progressed, you could tell that this did not have the makings of a championship team. And of a winning team right now,” Manning said Sunday, hours after firing Armas. “And sometimes being a leader you need to know when to make a change. For me, especially after (Saturday) night’s game, it was clear as day that we needed to make this change.”

The new coach will be challenged “to provide that spark for this group of players who do know what it takes to win,” said Manning.

But Manning and GM Ali Curtis offered little vision for the road ahead. Instead they praised Armas after showing him the door.

“Chris is a good person. He’s a good coach. But the results drive our business in so many ways, which drove this decision in particular,” Curtis said.

Manning said Armas thanked he and Curtis for the opportunity and hugged both before leaving.

“He was a class act on the way in and he was a class act on the way out,” he added.

Manning said the club, which is currently based in Orlando, is able to return home because travel restrictions are being loosened for people who are fully vaccinated. He expressed hope the team will be able to play at BMO Field soon but said there is another U.S. option if needed.

Toronto is mired in its second-worst start to an MLS season. Only 2012, when the team lost its first nine games and didn’t reach the five-point mark until its 13th outing (1-10-2), was worse. That run cost Aron Winter, the team’s head coach and technical director, his job.

On Sunday, it was Armas’ turn. It likely did not come as a surprise.

“Something has to give,” he said after the D.C. United debacle.

“We’re at a place where we haven’t been before,” he added. “It’s a strange time, it’s a difficult time for our team. If you’ve not been there, how do you know how to get out of it?”

Manning acknowledged the team had a “very difficult time changing to a new coaching staff and a new style of play,” which does not exactly augur well for whoever takes over.

“But we are expecting this roster to play better than they are,” Manning added.

The hope, he said, is that “a new tactician possibly could give our current roster a better look and maybe a spark to get something out of them that was missing right now.”

Despite the disastrous loss Saturday, captain Michael Bradley said Armas had the players’ confidence “1,000 per cent.”

Still, Bradley said the team had “let everybody who follows us down” and issued an apology.

“One of my worst days at the club, for sure,” he said. “We’re not in a good way right now and it’s nobody’s fault but ourselves, the players. People want to look around and point fingers and say ‘It’s Chris’ fault, he’s not done a good enough job.’ Bull. The players, we have to look at ourselves and find more.”

In announcing Armas’ hire in mid-January, Manning said the former New York Red Bulls coach was “the right fit to build upon the foundation that’s been established at TFC.

“Our fans are going to love his intensity and how that’s going to translate into our team’s style of play for years to come.”

Instead, it turned out to be months.

Curtis talked of a “collective responsibility” when it came to the team’s poor showing and said he himself bore “a lot of responsibility.” He said the club had to look forward and “find solutions.”

None were offered Sunday.

Toronto’s problems have been legion this season, with the team often digging itself a hole in games. The club has turned the ball over in dangerous positions, looked shaky on set pieces and porous on defence.

TFC conceded goals in the second and eighth minute against D.C. United on Saturday, bringing the number given up in the first 15 minutes of a game to a league-worst eight. Combine that with an 0-7-1 record when conceding the first goal and the woeful season starts to make sense.

Toronto ranked last in the league, conceding 2.45 goals a game, in the wake of the D.C. United humiliation. It was mid-table on offence, tied for 15th in averaging 1.18 goals an outing.

But it has to be said that Armas was dealt a litany of challenges in his first season at Toronto’s helm. He never got to play at home and, due to the pandemic, reporters covering the team only got to know him over video.

An intense man, he burned brightly. But players praised his enthusiasm and commitment. In recent days, however, he seemed short on answers and looked forlorn.

With the pandemic raging, TFC’s training camp was halted due to an outbreak of COVID-19 with eight cases reported, according to city of Toronto figures.

The team then had to relocate to the U.S. for a second-straight season due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Toronto did not fill its third designated player spot until April 26 when it announced the signing of Venezuelan international winger Yeferson Soteldo from Brazil’s Santos FC. When a hamstring injury interrupted his season, he had appeared in just five MLS games (302 minutes).

Playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, the reigning league MVP, was sidelined by a thigh injury during the pre-season. He did not make his season debut until May 21, when he saw 35 minutes of action off the bench in a 2-1 loss to Columbus.

The Spaniard, who played in all 23 league games last season, has appeared in just four this year (209 minutes).

Both Pozuelo and Soteldo came off the bench in the 7-1 loss to D.C. United, marking the first time they had been on the field together in league play.

Star striker Jozy Altidore, the club’s third designated player, fell out with the club after confronting Armas in the wake of being substituted in the 70th minute of Toronto’s 1-0 loss to Orlando on May 22. Altidore, second on the club’s all-time scoring list, has been on the outs ever since, training separately from the first team while talks were held about his future.

Altidore, who is making US$3.6 million this season, turned into an expensive distraction.

Curtis offered little on Altidore’s future Sunday, other than to say talks continue. “Stay tuned in terms of what next week looks like.”

The interrupted pre-season meant Toronto had little time to prepare for high-pressure Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League matches. When it opened round-of-16 play against Mexico’s Club Leon, it had to do it without Pozuelo and No. 1 goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who was late arriving at camp after he and his family contracted the virus.

Toronto got past Club Leon 3-2 on aggregate but the feel-good vibe disappeared quickly in a 4-2 loss to CF Montreal in the MLS season opener. Toronto conceded a goal in the third minute, a trend that has continued.

After the Montreal loss, Toronto tied Vancouver 2-2 and lost 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls. A 2-0 win over defending champion Columbus on May 12 seemed to signal a change.

But the season went south after a 1-1 tie with New York City FC. Toronto lost to Orlando (1-0), Columbus (2-1), Orlando (3-2), Nashville SC (3-2), FC Cincinnati (2-0) and D.C. United (7-1).

After finishing the 2020 season runner-up in the Supporters’ Shield race at 13-5-5, Toronto finds itself bottom of the 27-team league with a 1-8-2 record, having conceded a league-worst 27 goals.

The CONCACAF Champions League campaign ended in a 4-2 aggregate loss to Mexico’s Cruz Azul, and Toronto is 2-10-3 in all competitions.

Armas succeeded the popular and successful Vanney, who stepped down Dec. 1, saying he needed a new challenge. That turned out to be running the Los Angeles Galaxy, whom he joined Jan. 5.

Armas had last coached the Red Bulls, moving up from assistant coach to take over the team in July 2018 and leading it to the 2018 Supporters’ Shield and the Eastern Conference final. He was let go in September 2020 with the team on a 1-4-1 run.

Curtis worked with Armas at the Red Bulls.

A former elite defensive midfielder, Armas played in the MLS from 1996 to 2007, spending two seasons with the Galaxy and 10 with the Chicago Fire. He won one MLS Cup and four U.S. Open Cups.

Armas is one of only five players to be named to the MLS Best XI five times. A six-time MLS all-star, he was named MLS Comeback Player of the Year in 2003.

On the international front, he won 66 caps for the U.S. and was chosen U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2000.

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



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 –



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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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

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



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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