EDMONTON — It was a hell of a distraction, as the hockey story in Edmonton became the signing of Jesse Puljujarvi instead of folks dwelling on a pair of wasted second-round draft picks. The ol’ bait and switch, hockey style.
In the end, however, Ken Holland simply never blinked on the Puljujarvi file, when the player took his talents to Finland in hopes of forcing a trade. Instead, Puljujarvi returns on a value two-year deal worth $2.35 million, with a team-friendly average annual value of $1.175 million.
So, on the day Oilers GM Ken Holland cut Andreas Athanasiou loose — after spending two second-rounders at the deadline to acquire him — he balanced the sheet by bringing a fan favourite back into the fold. Now, if he can actually land Jacob Markstrom as a free agent…
One year and a draft into his tenure at the Oilers helm, the only real blemish on Holland’s scorecard is the Athanasiou deal, and it does come with an asterisk. He acquired the player, and Athanasiou isn’t a great one, but COVID-19 limited the winger’s runway in Edmonton to just nine games before the pause and four more in the post-season.
Where no one in hockey would have questioned issuing Athanasiou a qualifying offer of $3 million when he was acquired, with the cap suddenly flat for who knows how long, clearly he isn’t a $3 million player in the new economy.
None of that is Holland’s fault. It is, however, his problem.
“I would like to have the picks,” he admits, “but my question is, have you done things in your life you would do differently? Probably.”
A wise old GM used to say, when you make a mistake, correct it quickly and move on. Don’t chase good money after bad, which would have been the case if Holland QO’ed Athanasiou.
“You grab all the information at the time, you make a decision, and I’m not looking back,” he said of the deadline acquisition. “I did it because we were trying to win, he had scored 30 goals (in 2018-19), I knew him and he had talent. I was hoping he would come in and give us a boost down the stretch and into the playoffs.
“He only played nine games for us then the pandemic hit. I was hoping he would play 20 games, play our way into the playoffs so he would have an impact on our team.”
So out goes the Greek alphabet and in comes the Finnish one, with the ceiling on Puljujarvi likely as high or higher than Athanasiou. He joins a roster of right-wingers that includes Kailer Yamamoto, Zack Kassian, Alex Chiasson, Josh Archibald and James Neal.
Yamamoto was a fixture on Draisaitl’s wing, which leaves a platoon for McDavid — which is precisely where fans in Edmonton will want to see the returning hero, Puljujarvi.
The reality is, that is the last place you’ll see Puljujarvi. At the start of the season, anyhow.
Holland’s pitch to the 22-year-old a year ago was, come to training camp, we’ll put you next to a responsible, professional centreman on the third line, and we’ll play you there every night while you learn the NHL game. Very few players turn into stars before they get their sea legs in the National Hockey League, and that is exactly where Puljujarvi stands today.
Puljujarvi went over to Finland where he was a quasi-scoring machine, with 25 goals in 58 games for Oulu Karpat. It was a year of Twitter highlights, with Puljujarvi blasting pucks past helpless looking goalies from all over the rink.
A wicked wrist shot wasn’t the reason Puljujarvi failed in his first attempt in Edmonton, however. He couldn’t succeed in Edmonton the first time because he did not have a clue how to play without the puck. His linemates had no idea where he was going to be, and because he hadn’t worked hard enough at his English skills, half the time he had no idea what they were saying.
Puljurvavi looks great when he’s rushing the puck, or rifling that wrist shot of his. It’s the other 30 seconds of his shift that he has to learn what to do and where to go.
That he signed a two-year deal for less than $2.4 million is a win for both sides. We’d bet there is a handshake deal that if Puljujarvi does not find a way to mesh with this organization in Year 1, he’ll be dealt away in Year 2. And with that low price tag it will be easy for Holland to find someone willing to take on the project.
If he clicks and produces the way a No. 4 overall draft pick is supposed to, then it’s a true value contract for Edmonton.
What do we think will happen?
I would say that the year abroad and the opportunity waiting here in Edmonton makes it likely that Puljujarvi can re-write his life story as an Oiler. He has so many tools, and the Oilers have two elite centres, it seems unfathomable that a swift skating, six-foot-four winger with an excellent shot can’t find a way as an Oiler.
It’s Jesse time: Take 2.
Let the hype machine begin.
Garoppolo shines in return to NE; Niners crush Patriots 33-6 – Yahoo Canada Sports
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo was once considered to be the man in waiting to take over at quarterback in New England for Tom Brady.
Now he’s the guy who helped hand the Patriots their worst home loss under Bill Belichick.
Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for a career-high three touchdowns and 112 yards before leaving with an ankle injury and the San Francisco 49ers crushed New England 33-6 on Sunday.
Garoppolo finished 20 of 25 for 277 yards with two interceptions in his first game against his former team. San Francisco (4-3) has followed back-to-back losses with consecutive wins and is 3-0 on the road.
“It was an exciting night. Lot of emotions. Couldn’t imagine it going any better than this,” Garoppolo said.
The Patriots’ 27-point loss was their largest at home under Belichick. They had gone 286 games without a three-game losing streak, the longest span between three-game slides in NFL history. New England fell to 2-4 for the first since Belichick’s first season in 2000, when the Patriots went 5-11.
New England was outgained 467-241 in total yards.
“We were clearly out-coached, outplayed. Just out-everything,” Belichick said. “We’re still a long way from where we need to be. That’s obvious.”
San Francisco’s Brandon Aiyuk had six catches for 115 yards and Deebo Samuel had five catches for 65 yards before leaving the game with a hamstring injury.
“When we got them down, we got to keep them down, don’t want to give them any chance to breathe. I thought we did that tonight,” Garoppolo said. “Started from the first snap and carried its way throughout the whole game.”
Cam Newton struggled for the Patriots, completing 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards and three interceptions before being replaced by Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter. Stidham was 6 of 10 for 64 yards and an interception.
Belichick said his plan is to keep Newton as the starter.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said.
Newton was out of sync from the outset, making poor reads and poorer throws. Garoppolo, meanwhile, was successful in spreading out New England’s defence with a steady diet of passes behind the line of scrimmage and jet sweeps to get the ball into the hands of Wilson, Samuel and tight end George Kittle.
San Francisco dominated the first half, taking a 23-3 lead, holding the ball for 22:30 and racking up a 301-59 advantage in total yards. The Patriots managed four first downs to the 49ers’ 18.
The Niners took just over five minutes and nine plays to march 75 yards and take a 7-0 lead on 3-yard run by Wilson. It was the first time the Patriots have allowed a touchdown on an opponent’s opening drive at home since Week 4 of 2016 against Buffalo.
Following a Patriots punt, San Francisco was pinned inside its 15. Long completions by Garoppolo helped erase some early penalty losses before he missed high on a pass for Kittle and was intercepted by Devin McCourty.
San Francisco’s defence limited the damage, yielding a 40-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
That wasn’t the case for the Patriots later in the second quarter.
Trailing 10-3, Newton made a bad play worse when he tried to dump off the ball on the run to receiver Jakobi Meyers. It was picked off by linebacker Fred Warner. Five plays later, the 49ers capitalized on a 4-yard touchdown run by Kyle Juszczyk.
The lead grew to 23-3 with just under a minute to go before halftime on a 16-yard run by Wilson.
“D just played impressive the whole day. I thought special teams and offence did, too. It was an extremely physical game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was fun to watch.”
49ers: WR Richie James left with an ankle injury. … Wilson had just crossed into the end zone following his third TD when his leg twisted as he was tackled. He stayed down on the field before walking off under his own power. Shanahan said the tentative diagnosis is a high ankle sprain. “Not sounding great right now,” he said.
Patriots: WR N’Keal Harry left with a head injury and did not return. … LG Joe Thuney departed with an ankle injury. … RT Justin Herron also left with an ankle injury.
With an 11-yard pass to Jakobi Meyers in the third quarter, Newton became the 48th NFL quarterback to reach the 30,000-yard plateau.
He also became the first NFL player to pass for 30,000 yards and rush for 5,000 yards in his career.
The 49ers head to Seattle next Sunday. The Patriots visit Buffalo.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Kyle Hightower, The Associated Press
Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. done for season with torn ACL – Sportsnet.ca
CLEVELAND — Odell Beckham Jr. was in a much better place emotionally and physically. This was going to be the season he changed minds.
He was determined to make 2020 _ and its many obstacles — a special year, re-establish himself as one of the NFL’s best players and lead the Browns back to the playoffs, along with with best friend and teammate Jarvis Landry.
Beckham won’t get the chance.
The star receiver’s second season with Cleveland ended on Monday after an MRI confirmed he sustained a torn left knee ligament in the opening minutes of Sunday’s 37-34 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Beckham’s injury is a devastating personal blow and a potentially major setback to the Browns, who are off to their best start since 1994 and eyeing their first post-season appearance in 18 years.
They’ll have to get there without Beckham.
“Obviously, it’s a big loss,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s a huge part of what we do, so now we just have to huddle up and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. … I’m sick for Odell.”
The three-time Pro Bowler got hurt when his left leg buckled while he was trying to make a tackle after Baker Mayfield’s first pass was intercepted by Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips.
An MRI taken Monday in Cleveland confirmed the diagnosis of the torn ACL, an injury that typically requires nine months to one year of recovery time. The team said Beckham will be placed on injured reserve, but Stefanski did not have a timetable on when he will have surgery.
On what became his final play of 2020, Beckham, who was slowed last season by a core muscle injury, was chasing Phillips down the sideline when his leg got twisted awkwardly. He immediately grabbed it, was taken directly to the locker room and didn’t return.
The Browns (5-2) played well without Beckham, who for all his talent hasn’t been able to make a strong connection with Mayfield since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the New York Giants before last season. The three-time Pro Bowler played most of 2019 with an injury that required off-season surgery.
After Beckham went out Sunday, Mayfield completed 21 consecutive passes and threw five TD passes _ matching a franchise record _ as the Browns outlasted Joe Burrow and the Bengals.
Mayfield was also without injured running back Nick Chubb, tight end Austin Hooper and Landry played with a broken rib. But the third-year QB had one of his best games by making plays with rookie tight end Harrison Bryant (two TDs), Rashard Higgins (six catches) and rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who entered the game without a catch and grabbed Mayfield’s winning TD pass with 11 seconds left
Cleveland, which hasn’t made the post-season since 2002, will have to go the rest of the way without Beckham, who turns 28 on Nov. 5. He had 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns this season and scored on a 50-yard touchdown run.
Beckham’s presence alone made defences account for him on every snap.
“Odell, the energy he brings to practice, the energy he brings to games. No one else is going to be able to bring that type of juice,” Stefanski said. “But it’s our job to find the guys that can go compete and we’ll put them in spots where they can succeed and think we’ll be able to do that.
“It’s not easy. I don’t want to have to do it and I’m very disappointed for Odell, but that’s the nature of this beast. Injuries are part of this thing and that doesn’t mean any of us have to like it, but we do have to deal with it.”
While Beckham had continued to make some headlines with off-the-field antics, he had been emerging as a leader on the Browns. He was healthier than he had been in several years and showing some of the breakaway speed that made him so dangerous with the Giants.
The torn ACL is the latest injury for Beckham, who was the AP’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 after being drafted with the No. 12 overall pick by New York. He made the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, but was limited to four games in 2017 with a broken ankle and 12 games in 2018 with a bruised quadriceps.
Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap offers house for sale after loss to Browns, fight with coach – Yahoo Canada Sports
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Carlos Dunlap appears to be done with the Cincinnati Bengals.” data-reactid=”12″>Carlos Dunlap appears to be done with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end has spent his entire 11-season career with the Bengals, but seemed to reach his breaking point with the franchise on Sunday.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Bengals lost a tight game to the rival Cleveland Browns as quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for five touchdowns against the Cincinnati defense.” data-reactid=”14″>The Bengals lost a tight game to the rival Cleveland Browns as quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for five touchdowns against the Cincinnati defense.
As time wound down, cameras caught Dunlap in a sideline argument with the coaching staff.
Dunlap: ‘I don’t got time for this’
Dunlap lost his starting job earlier this season and wrote, via Instagram on Saturday “I don’t got time for this” alongside a whiteboard image of the Bengals depth chart.
That post has since been removed.
House for sale in Cincinnati
The 31-year-old failed to record a tackle in Sunday’s loss. Immediately after the game, he announced on Twitter that his house is for sale. “Serious inquiries only.” They read:
~6000 sqft city view with huge balcony. 4 bedroom. 4.5 bathroom. In one of the best school districts for sale. Do your market analysis and make me offer. Serious inquiries only with proof of funds!
Owner is willing to sell furnished or unfurnished!
— Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) October 25, 2020
The tweets have since been deleted.
The NFL trade deadline is Nov. 3. Dunlap is making clear that he wants to be a part of it.
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