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Jets’ Cheveldayoff flips risk-averse script with bold Dubois-Laine trade – Sportsnet.ca

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WINNIPEG — This is the deal that could end up defining Kevin Cheveldayoff’s tenure as general manager of the Winnipeg Jets.

When you make a bold trade that ships out a popular player with the potential to win the Rocket Richard Trophy and toss in another former first round selection as part of the package, there is going to be some backlash from the passionate fan base.

That’s part of the job description and comes with the territory.

When it comes to the previous nine years that Cheveldayoff has been at the helm of the Jets, he was been viewed as one of the most conservative general managers in the NHL.

To say he’s been risk-averse would be putting it mildly.

That approach was by design, and it has mostly served the organization well when it comes to the building process.

But to this point, the Jets have won just two playoff series and the bulk of this core group is under contract for the next four seasons.

This isn’t a time to rebuild; the time to try and take the next step is right now.

Prior to Saturday morning, there had been just one blockbuster on Cheveldayoff’s resume and that deal with the Buffalo Sabres was mostly borne out of necessity (headlined by Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian and Tyler Myers).

The move to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-rounder from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic eclipses that one immediately.

“To get a top centre in this environment is virtually unheard of, and that’s why the bidding was fast and furious,” Cheveldayoff said. “We wouldn’t have moved a Patrik Laine for anyone that didn’t fit that certain criteria of a top cenetreman or a top defenceman. When that opportunity presented itself, I felt it was necessary that we made that move.”

The departure of Laine caused a pair of teammates to be openly emotional after the deal became official.

“He cares a lot,” Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers said. “This is obviously the tough side of the business. He’s a guy that I’ve had a really good relationship with since my second year, since his first year. We were roommates together on the first road trip. We’ve been brothers since Day 1, so this is not very fun but like I said before, it’s part of the business. It’s the way it goes.”

Jets captain Blake Wheeler was reflective and that’s not a surprise. He’s got some experience in what Laine is going through, dating back to his time being dealt by the Boston Bruins to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011.

Wheeler knows first-hand what going to a place with increased opportunity can mean for someone’s career. He has also watched Laine put in work and begin to grow into the dominant player he’s always been projected to be.

Now Laine’s talent — which is closer to a finished product — will be on display for a team other than the Jets.

“A young man who almost won the goal-scoring title. We connected on a lot of big goals,” Wheeler said. “We tried to give him the puck on the power play every chance we got. He’s a guy that’s very powerful and he’s starting to tap into that a little bit. So, I’ll have nothing but good memories of the time spent on the ice with Patty, and some of the steps we were able to take as a team and an organization, they all included his time here. I’ll be cheering for him, there’s no doubt, no doubt about that.

“I won’t lie. It’s kind of sad. Just rewind four years ago and the excitement when we drafted (Laine) and the steps our organization has taken and he’s a big part of that. It’s disappointing to be having this conversation. It’s the nature of pro sports and for our organization, we move forward.”

Usage has often been at the heart of the discussion when it comes to Laine.

With a top unit of Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Wheeler entrenched ahead of him on the depth chart, Laine has been used mostly on the second line – though he spent the bulk of last season on the top group when Wheeler moved down to play centre after the head injury to Bryan Little.

Laine was the focal point of the Jets’ power play, but his game had grown to a point where he wanted more responsibility and ice time.

Barring a change in philosophy, that wasn’t going to happen with the Jets. If it eventually did, Laine would have viewed it as a gesture that was too little, too late.

This trade includes risk for both teams, there is little doubt about that.

What this ultimately boils down to is that Laine’s time with the Jets was going to be over next off-season and there was no long-term extension on the horizon.

Sure, the Jets had two more years of team control, but holding onto him was simply delaying the inevitable departure.

The end was near and the availability of Dubois simply sped up the process.

As for Roslovic, he had also grown tired of waiting for an enhanced role – though he must bear some responsibility as several of his peers moved past him on the depth chart.

No franchise whose foundation begins as a draft-and-development team wants to ship two recent first-rounders out in any deal.

To a certain degree, it’s an attack on the fundamental values the Jets pride themselves on.

Since the return of the Jets 2.0 edition in 2011, the number of first-round picks that have been moved out via trade or waived includes Bogosian (2008), Evander Kane (2009), Alex Burmistrov (2010), Jacob Trouba (2012), Roslovic (2015) and Laine (2016).

The circumstances surrounding all of those players were different, but in each case, ice time or role was definitely part of the equation.

There is always going to be some turnover and roster churn — that’s the nature of the business.

Not all first-liners grow into stars. Some become depth players and others don’t pan out at all.

There are a finite number of spots available on either the top two lines or the top defence pairing — multiple players are always going to believe they aren’t playing enough or being paid enough.

However, the exit of first-rounders is a trend the Jets can’t afford to have continue — especially when attracting premier free agents is a challenge and many players still have the Jets featured prominently on no-trade clauses.

It should also be noted that the number of first-rounders to commit to long-term deals includes Scheifele (2011), Josh Morrissey (2013), Nikolaj Ehlers (2014) and Kyle Connor (2015).

So, it’s an exaggeration to say that nobody is happy here and everyone wants out.

There is no guarantee this trade is going to work out for Cheveldayoff and company — but this isn’t Teemu Selanne for Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky, either.

Based on his development, Laine might not be far away from winning his first of multiple Rocket Richard trophies. He’s a budding superstar with personality to match his ability.

Roslovic has the talent to grow into a 20-goal scorer, but it’s up to him to find another level and increase his consistency.

The Jets can’t worry about what is going to come next for Laine and Roslovic, though you can be sure the fan base — and the court of public opinion — will be keeping score.

Is there a benefit to shipping those players to an Eastern Conference team that usually only makes one trip per season to Winnipeg?

Perhaps, but that wasn’t a driving force toward pushing the deal through.

The only thing that matters to the Jets is what Dubois does for his new team — and most importantly, whether he can be convinced to stick around.

Given their experience level and upside, Scheifele and Dubois form a dynamic one-two punch that will anchor the top two lines.

No, the final shift Dubois took as a member of the Blue Jackets wasn’t pretty, and the video evidence was available for all to see.

In talking to various people in many hockey circles this weekend, that snapshot doesn’t change the perception of the type of individual the Jets are bringing in.

Dubois won’t be judged on that action alone, but on his body of work — and that includes plenty of impeccable references.

“I don’t know what went on there. I know you get the camera on him and you decide what you see,” Maurice said. “None of us were a part of what went on there. You have no idea what went on in the background, so I’d be very careful with my character assassinations before I get to meet the man.

“He’ll walk in here, he’ll present himself, we’ll accept him with open arms as we always do with new players and we’ll judge him by how he becomes a Winnipeg Jet.”

In the short term, the Jets gain some salary cap flexibility and an additional year of team control when you compare Dubois (pending UFA in 2024) and Laine (pending UFA in 2023).

That’s helpful for the time being, but the quickest way for this trade to be deemed a success is if Dubois signs an extension (though that window doesn’t open up until July 28) and blossoms into a star.

With this move, the Jets won’t need to pursue a trade to add centre depth like they’ve gone out and done in each of the past three seasons.

By strengthening themselves down the middle, the Jets have taken an important — and necessary — step to widening their collective window of contention.

It came at a significant cost, but this blockbuster was a risk worth taking for the Jets.

That’s why Cheveldayoff came out of character and pulled the trigger.

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Stastny's overtime goal gives Jets win over Habs – TSN

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WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets managed to weather the storm as the Montreal Canadiens unloaded a barrage of shots. And then it took the Jets just 36 seconds in overtime to end the game.

Paul Stastny‘s overtime goal clinched Winnipeg’s 2-1 victory over Montreal, extending the Jets’ winning streak to four games.

“I think overtime is a crapshoot, especially three-on-three, right? So, you might as well just go out there and play aggressive,” Stastny said.

Nikolaj Ehlers also scored for Winnipeg (13-6-1). The Jets were victorious despite being outshot 41-21. Connor Hellebuyck made 40 saves in the winning effort at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.

“I was able to get into a good flow. I thought the guys in front of me blocked a lot of key shots tonight and really controlled where the shots were coming from. Not only that, but we were controlling the rebounds. I think the whole team’s defence was very solid down our middle tonight,” Hellebuyck said after the game.

Nick Suzuki scored for Montreal (9-6-5) while goaltender Jake Allen made 19 saves in the loss.

Montreal’s winless streak is now at five games. The streak includes back-to-back losses to the Jets. Montreal held a 3-1 lead on Winnipeg Thursday night before the Jets scored five unanswered goals en route to a 6-3 win.

Despite the loss, Suzuki says head coach Dominique Ducharme told the team they were heading in the right direction and that they deserved better Saturday night.

“I thought we played a great game. Outshot them a lot, had a lot of chances. Just didn’t come out on the right side of the scoreboard,” Suzuki said.

Ducharme is still looking for his first NHL win as head coach. The Quebecer was named interim head coach Wednesday after the Canadiens fired Claude Julien and associate head coach Kirk Muller.

Saturday night’s affair saw both teams fail to score in the opening period. Montreal, however, doubled Winnipeg’s shot total, leading 14-7.

Neither team took a penalty until the second period when each had a pair of minors, with Jeff Petry serving time for both of Montreal’s infractions.

As Petry sat in the box for his second penalty, Ehlers opened the scoring with a power play goal. Jets forward Andrew Copp won a faceoff in the offensive zone and flicked the puck behind him. Ehlers was first to it, sniping it past Allen for his 11th of the season.

Suzuki replied with his fifth of the season almost five minutes later. The goal was unassisted. The forward, while standing to the goalie’s left, banked the puck off of Hellebuyck and into the net. Hellebuyck had covered the left post, but the puck still beat him.

“It was one of those goals that you could do 99 out of 100 (times) it’s not going to go in. I got caught on the one which seems to be a theme this year.” Hellebuyck said.

The Canadiens and Jets remained deadlocked in the third, but it was Montreal that applied most of the pressure. The Canadiens outshot the Jets in every period, including the third where they led 14-2.

As the game headed into overtime it took Stastny only 36 seconds to get the puck past Allen and give the Jets the win. Ehlers fired a shot on net that was trickling towards the goal line after it beat Allen, and Stastny then pushed it in.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021.

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Everything came up Maple Leafs in most complete win of year over Oilers – Sportsnet.ca

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If you could, you’d bottle it.

You’d have scientists extract the formula and you’d reproduce this exact recipe of hockey every night the puck drops.

NHLers so often trot out “the full 60” objective that it doesn’t just feel cliché. That lofty achievement feels almost mythical, unattainable in a game composed of a zillion tiny mistakes on a slippery surface.

Well, as far as complete performances go, the precision of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 4-0 defeat of the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday is about as close as you’ll see.

That a full 60 was executed without its No. 1 goaltender in the pipes or the league’s No. 1 sniper in uniform made Toronto’s NHL-best 16th victory all the more impressive.

“Everything really came up Leafs here tonight,” Sheldon Keefe said.

The coach began running down the checklist:

• The Leafs’ slumping power play ended its 0-for-12 stretch as William Nylander sniped through Joe Thornton’s stirred net-front havoc in the game’s lone 5-on-4 opportunity.

• Toronto did not commit a single penalty, marking the first time all season the deadly Oilers failed to draw a power play.

• Connor McDavid was limited to one shot on goal and finished the evening a dash-3, his worst stat line in more than five years. And he wore that frustration on his face.

• The Leafs scored in each period and produced even-strength goals from three different lines.

• After being sidelined for a month with a leg injury, Jack Campbell pitched his first shutout as a Maple Leaf — a 30-save gem — and improved his record to a pristine 3-0-0.

• Justin Holl instantly stuck up for Campbell when the goaltender’s head was clipped by a net-charging Tyler Ennis.

• And captain John Tavares thrived on the top unit in Auston Matthews’ absence, drawing the penalty, contributing two assists (his first multi-point effort in more than two weeks) and winning 72 per cent of his faceoffs. A seamless promotion to the Mitch Marner and Thornton line.

“John has not gotten enough credit for how he’s defended through this season,” Keefe said. “You ask a lot more of him here tonight, taking on tougher matchups, even more matchups, against their best players, and I thought he was outstanding. He was above the puck all night long. I don’t know how many shots he ended up with (a team-high five), but he had his own opportunities to score.”

McDavid, too, had a couple chances early — a wicked backhander off the rush blocked by Campbell, and a cut to the slot denied by T.J. Brodie’s deft stickwork — but once Toronto seized the lead, the visitors’ defensive structure took hold.

Sometime between Jason Spezza fooling Mike Smith with his patented fake-the-clapper, unleash-the-wrister snipe and Zach Hyman firing a beauty in tight, Leon Draisaitl could be seen smashing a Gatorade bottle in disgust.

Dave Tippett chucked his forwards into the Vitamix, but the consistency was off.

Edmonton entered this three-game set the hotter team with the hotter goalie.

Sweep the Leafs, and they’d seize first place. Now, the Oilers must regroup and figure out how to beat a Toronto team that has twice come out on top when Matthews takes time to rest his injured wrist.

“Even without Auston, they’re a very good team,” Tippett said. “They don’t get to be on top of the standings without being a good team.”

Campbell said Matthews was “fired up in room” when he greeted the boys in his civvies post-game and can’t wait to get back in. Maybe as soon as Monday.

“You lose a guy like that, you’re essentially taking a goal away from your lineup,” said Keefe, commending the defensive commitment. “If you’re going to score one less, you’ve got to make sure you give up one less. I think the players recognize that.

“For the most part, we had four lines, six defencemen and, certainly, the goaltender that were really on the same page here tonight.”

The fellas stepped up for Campbell, and Campbell held the fort for them.

“Man, we just played great. Every single guy on this team played amazing tonight,” said Campbell, his forever smile growing like the Leafs’ standings cushion.

“That was a full 60 minutes.”

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Defending champion Kerri Einarson secures Scotties playoff berth – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY — Kerri Einarson took a significant step toward defending her Canadian women’s curling championship by skipping her team to a playoff berth Saturday.

Einarson’s foursome out of Manitoba’s Gimli Curling Club beat Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges 7-4 to get to a record of 10-1 with a draw remaining Saturday night.

“We’re definitely just focusing on ourselves and what we need to do,” Einarson said. “We’re in control of our own destiny.”

Ontario’s Rachel Homan (9-2), Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones (8-3) and Alberta’s Laura Walker (8-3) were in contention for the two remaining playoff spots heading into the final draw of the championship round.

The top seed emerging from the championship round earns a bye to Sunday evening’s final, while second and third square off in the afternoon semifinal.

A tie for third would be solved by a tiebreaker game in the morning.

The 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts is one of four Curling Canada events to be held in a spectator-free, controlled environment at the WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.

The COVID-19 pandemic thwarting many provincial and territorial playdowns prompted Curling Canada to add two wild-card teams to the Hearts field for a total of 18, which in turn shrunk the playoff window.

Instead of the traditional four teams in a Page playoff, only three advance.

Einarson is attempting the first back-to-back Hearts titles since Rachel Homan in 2013 and 2014.

Sunday’s victor earns $100,000 in prize money and a return trip to the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., as Team Canada.

The winner doesn’t have a world championship, however, in which to wear the Maple Leaf.

The March 19-28 tournament in Schaffhausen, Switzerland was cancelled by the World Curling Federation because of the pandemic.

The 2020 world championship in Prince George, B.C., was called off for the same reason, so Einarson wasn’t able to represent Canada there.

Six-time champion Jennifer Jones of Manitoba thumped Ontario’s Homan 9-1 on Saturday afternoon before facing Einarson at night.

Jones had struggled the previous evening in a loss to Alberta, but the skip and her teammates were on their game against three-time champion Homan.

“We definitely regrouped and decided we needed to step it up a little bit,” Jones said. “Last night’s loss doesn’t impact our confidence at all. I think that just comes with experience.”

It wasn’t the first time that Jones’ lead Lisa Weagle faced former skip Homan, but it was the first time at a Tournament of Hearts.

Homan, third Emma Miskew and Weagle won three Canadian titles and a world title together. They also represented Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics with Joanne Courtney.

Homan dropped Weagle from her lineup last year and replaced her with Sarah Wilkes.

Weagle met her former teammates Nov. 12 in an Okotoks, Alta., event. Homan won the game 7-1.

There was a time when Weagle might have felt extra satisfaction in beating Homan for the first time, but the all-star lead says that time has passed.

“If you’d asked me that a few months ago, or over the summer, probably,” Weagle said.

“Today, I was really just out there playing for me and I was playing for my team. I just wanted to find a new level of excellence and play really well and I feel like that’s what we’ve been doing here.

“It wasn’t really my focus today that we were playing them. I was definitely excited for the game, but I was focused more on myself.”

Quebec, Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson, and wild-card teams skipped by Beth Peterson and Chelsea Carey are out of contention with their fifth losses.

Alberta’s Walker stayed in the hunt with a 9-4 win over Saskatchewan.

The host province was to take on Carey’s Wild Card One and Homan faced Saskatchewan on Saturday evening.

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