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It’s been a rough offseason for the Canucks so far – NHL

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Monday’s Tyler Toffoli signing wasn’t just a big deal for the Montreal Canadiens.

It was also significant for the Vancouver Canucks because it means that Toffoli no longer plays for them. That makes him the latest player to exit the team during what has been — so far — a very frustrating offseason.

The Canucks entered the offseason coming off of their most successful season in nearly a decade. They made the Stanley Cup Playoffs, won their play-in round series against Minnesota, knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the First Round, and then took another Stanley Cup contender (Vegas Golden Knights) to a seventh game in the Second Round.

They also have one of the best young cores in the league with Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes at the top of the lineup, all of whom excelled in the biggest games this postseason.

There should be a lot of optimism here. But almost everything that has happened this offseason for Vancouver has been some kind of a loss.

[Related: Tyler Toffoli signs with Montreal Canadiens]

The only exception to that is probably the signing of goalie Braden Holtby on the opening day of free agency, bringing in the Stanley Cup winning veteran to share the net with Thatcher Demko.

A quick rundown of everything that has happened after that.

  • They failed to complete a trade for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson before his deadline (he has a no-trade clause and can determine when and where he goes). Some might look at that as a win depending on what you think of Ekman-Larsson’s contract, but…
  • The failure to complete that trade, combined with the free agency departures of Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher, has left them with some significant question marks on defense after Hughes and Alexander Edler.
  • They lost Toffoli after trading two draft picks and a prospect for him at the deadline and getting just 17 games out of him. That was always going to be a risk, but it still has to hurt.
  • That means since the end of the postseason they have lost Jacob Markstrom, Toffoli, Tanev, and Stecher and only replaced them — as of now — with Holtby.

Toffoli is the one that is going to hurt the most because he was the sort of player they could have really used long-term.

There is a significant drop-off in talent from the Canucks’ top-four forwards to the rest of the roster, and in his limited time with the team Toffoli looked like he could have been a perfect complement to that core group.

It is possible that salary cap limitations played a role, as the Canucks currently sit with just a little over $7 million in cap space remaining. They still have restricted free agent Jake Virtanen to re-sign and still need to fill out the rest of their defense following the departures of Tanev and Stecher.

But even if that is the case, it is just another reminder as to how a bunch of little mistakes over time can add up into a big problem.

Keep in mind, the Canucks are currently paying Loui Eriksson ($6 million) and Brandon Sutter ($4.3 million) more than Toffoli is going to make for Montreal. When you add in the $3 million per year contracts for bottom-sixers like Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel, it just makes things even tougher. The concern with those deals at the time was they were overpaying for players that they probably didn’t need, and that it could eventually cause headaches down the road. It seemingly has.

The Canucks are in a situation now where they are going to have to deal with a salary cap crunch in the short-term despite the fact that 1) their best players are still relatively cheap, and 2) they do not have a single player on the team that makes more than $6 million per season. A team should not be this pressed against the cap given those two circumstances.

That crunch helped cost them a really good player and has left just another hole on the roster that is going to be tough to fill.

Things are not going to get any easier next offseason when they have to re-sign Pettersson and Hughes to potentially massive contracts, while also still filling out the rest of the roster.

It is still early in the offseason, but they are not going to find a better player than Toffoli for a better price on the open market, while there is not much left to pick over on defense.

Tough way to follow up the most promising season the team has had in years.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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Byfield named to Hockey Canada WJC select camp roster – NHL.com

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The camp will be held at Westerner Park Centrium from Nov. 16-Dec. 13 in Red Deer, Alberta.

Alexis Lafreniere, chosen No. 1 by the New York Rangers in the 2020 draft, was not one of the 46 invitees that includes 26 forwards, 15 defensemen and five goalies. The forward played for Canada in the 2019 and 2020 WJC, and he was named the tournament most valuable player in 2020.

Lafreniere could still be added to the team; the Rangers want Lafreniere to attend NHL training camp, but Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney said more clarity on Lafreniere’s status is expected in about 10 days.

“(Rangers general manager) Jeff Gorton and I had a good chat,” Renney said, “and [I] gave Jeff the opportunity to understand our timetable of what might be coming up with respect to this camp … and well beyond that. With that being said, Jeff was certainly open-minded to the idea, was hoping that his player would have the opportunity to join the NHL team in New York as of now, actually, to begin skating with the club.” 

The event is the final step in picking the team that will play for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. The tournament, to be held Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, 2021, will be played entirely at Rogers Place in Edmonton without fans in attendance in a secure-zone bubble, similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The IIHF initially was going to utilize Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta as joint hosts.

“I think having an opportunity to be together for 51 days will be special,” Canada coach Andre Tourigny said. “Fortunately for everyone, we’ll have time to be really well prepared so we’re really grateful for it. the coaches spent so many hours on video for scouting and getting prepared. Close to 90 players had been scouting through video and I think we’re really excited and really confident with the group we will have in Red Deer. We can’t wait to get into the bubble.

“This has never happened in the past where Team Canada had the chance to meet together for this long (in a selection camp) and to grow their structure and to grow their chemistry for that long. I think it will be unique, and it will be an outstanding opportunity for us.”

Byfield, a forward, is one of six returnees who helped Canada finish first at the 2020 WJC, along with defensemen Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche, 2019 NHL Draft, No. 4) and Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks, 2020, No. 6) and forwards Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres, 2019, No. 7), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals, 2019, No. 25) and Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils, 2020, No. 18).

To ensure the health and safety of all participants and the community, Hockey Canada will be adhering to enhanced measures around testing and team protocols.

“Although this has been a difficult year for our athletes and staff, we are excited to unveil the 46 players who will compete for a spot on Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada. “We know our athletes are excited for the opportunity to defend gold on home ice this year, and we expect a highly competitive selection camp with a number of difficult decisions to be made when it comes time to select the players who will wear the Maple Leaf in Edmonton in December.”

The selection camp will include practices, three intra-squad games and six games against a team of U SPORTS all-stars before the team enters the bubble in Edmonton in preparation for the 2021 WJC. The camp will take place in a bubble and will be closed to the public and media.

Canada will be in Group A, along with Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany. Group B will include the United States, Russia, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic. Canada plays the opening game of the round-robin portion against Germany on Dec. 26. 

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.

Canada, which defeated Russia 4-3 in the 2020 championship game at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic, finished first at the event for the 18th time. 

Vancouver (Western Hockey League) coach Michael Dyck and Saskatoon (WHL) coach Mitch Love will be assistants under Tourigny, the coach of Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League. Love and Tourigny were assistants to coach Dale Hunter at the 2020 WJC.

HOCKEY CANADA WJC SELECT CAMP ROSTER

GOALIES: Brett Brochu, London, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Dylan Garand, Kamloops, WHL (New York Rangers); Taylor Gauthier, Prince George, WHL (2021 draft eligible); Triston Lennox, Saginaw, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Devon Levi, Northeastern, HE (Florida Panthers)

DEFENSEMEN: Justin Barron, Halifax, QMJHL (Colorado Avalanche); Bowen Byram, Vancouver, WHL (Colorado Avalanche); Lukas Cormier, Charlottetown, QMJHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Jamie Drysdale, Erie, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert, WHL (Montreal Canadiens); Thomas Harley, Mississauga, OHL (Dallas Stars); Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Mason Millman, Saginaw OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (Minnesota Wild); Owen Power, Michigan, BIG10 (2021 draft eligible); Matthew Robertson, Edmonton, WHL (New York Rangers); Braden Schneider, Brandon, WHL (New York Rangers); Donovan Sebrango, Kitchener, OHL (Detroit Red Wings); Jordan Spence, Moncton, QMJHL (Los Angeles Kings)

FORWARDS: Adam Beckman, Spokane, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Mavrik Bourque, Shawinigan, QMJHL (Dallas Stars); Quinton Byfield, Sudbury, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Graeme Clarke, Ottawa, OHL (New Jersey Devils); Kirby Dach, Saskatoon, WHL (Chicago Blackhawks); Tyson Foerster, Barrie, OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Gage Goncalves, Everett, WHL (Tampa Bay Lightning); Ridly Greig, Brandon, WHL (Ottawa Senators); Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Edmonton Oilers); Seth Jarvis, Portland, WHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (Washington Capitals); Connor McMichael, London, OHL (Washington Capitals); Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (New Jersey Devils); Alex Newhook, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Jakob Pelletier, Val-d’Or, QMJHL (Calgary Flames); Cole Perfetti, Saginaw, OHL (Winnipeg Jets); Samuel Poulin, Sherbrooke, QMJHL (Pittsburgh Penguins); Jack Quinn, Ottawa, OHL (Buffalo Sabres); Jamieson Rees, Sarnia, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Cole Schwindt, Mississauga, OHL (Florida Panthers); Xavier Simoneau, Drummondville, QMJHL (2021 draft eligible); Ryan Suzuki, Saginaw, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Philip Tomasino, Oshawa, OHL (Nashville Predators); Shane Wright, Kingston, OHL (2022 draft eligible); Connor Zary, Kamloops, WHL (Calgary Flames)

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Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Falcons' TNF win over the Panthers | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections – Pro Football Focus

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Thursday Night Football featured two division rivals who played just 18 days ago. The Falcons dominated time of possession most of the game, but their drives kept ending in field goals, which kept the game close. The game featured plenty of stars in the fantasy football world, but none of them had a great game — some performances were quite disappointing.

As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action — and how we should react to anything new.

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

Winner: WR Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

Samuel had the winner spot locked up early in the second quarter after scoring his second touchdown of the game. He ended up with three carries for 23 yards and a touchdown, along with four catches for 31 yards and another TD. Samuel’s fantasy stock was on the rise earlier in the week after the release of Seth Roberts, which helped lead to more playing time for Samuel. While this game was a step in the right direction, Christian McCaffrey will return soon and command a ton of touches. There is the possibility McCaffrey and Mike Davis seeing the field at the same time, which could cut into both Samuel’s playing time and his carries.

Loser: WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

Gage was held to two catches on three targets for 25 yards. With Ridley missing two-thirds of the game, this should have been an opportunity for Gage to have a bigger role in the offense. He had seen his targets rise in recent weeks, leading to back-to-back games with over 50 yards. Instead, Ridley’s injury led to more targets for Julio Jones and Hayden Hurst. Even if Ridley misses time, it would be hard to trust Gage with how few targets he had in this game and earlier in the season when Jones was out.

Waiver Wire Target: RB Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons

Hill has spent the season as the No. 2 running back behind Todd Gurley II. Coming into Thursday night, he had put up a higher yards per carry and more than double the yards per route run. This week, Hill saw his biggest role in the offense in over a month. Despite having seven fewer carries than Gurley, Hill ended up with nine more rushing yards. He saw three targets and was the only halfback targeted in the Falcons offense. He only had two catches for nine yards, but if he continues to outplay Gurley it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hill’s playing time continue to rise.

Injury: WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Ridley left the game early in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He was off to a strong start with three catches on four targets for 42 yards before the injury. The Falcons have struggled to keep all three of their wide receivers healthy, with both Julio Jones and Russell Gage missing time in recent weeks. While Olamide Zaccheaus typically replaced Jones, and Brandon Powell replaced Gage last week, it was Christian Blake primarily replacing Ridley Thursday night. Blake caught both of his targets for 14 yards. If Ridley were to miss any time, Blake would be a good waiver wire target. He might not be someone worth starting right away, but there would be high upside in the Falcons offense.

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

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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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