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JONES: Edmonton Oilers better coming off NHL trade deadline – Edmonton Sun

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It was back on Thursday when general manager Ken Holland held his pre-trade deadline scrum and was surrounded by a dozen media members just outside the Edmonton Oilers dressing room.

The doors to the room opened an out clomped coach Dave Tippett, headed to the ice for practice.

Tippett stopped, leaned in, and stage whispered to the media guys.

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“Who we getting?”

In a way, with the dealing done, that’s still the question.

Are the Oilers getting the two Detroit Red Wings who have been having horrible seasons with the worst team in the NHL? Or are they getting two about-to-be rejuvenated players who should be expected to make a significant difference in Edmonton’s drive to the playoffs and their performing in the post season, if they get there?

Can Andreas Athanasiou be the missing-link line mate for Connor McDavid and turn around the totally terrible season he’s been having in Detroit by coming here to play with the greatest player in the world?

Can Mike Green, at age 34, for the final 20 games of the regular season as a rental, even remotely resemble the puck-moving defenceman he used to be, but definitely hasn’t come close to being this year, with the Red Wings?

And can Edmonton native Tyler Ennis be an upgrade to the bottom-six forward group escaping Ottawa?

Again, Athanasiou has been having just an absolutely awful season with the worst plus-minus in the entire league. Green hasn’t looked remotely like the Norris Trophy finalist he once was with Washington. And Ottawa couldn’t get anything more than a fifth-round pick for Ennis. Take each of them and their individual seasons and there is all sorts of room to be suspicious.

But ask yourself one question: Are the Oilers, with 20 regular-season games to go, any better than they were when they stepped on the ice in Los Angeles Sunday evening?

The answer is yes, yes and yes.

Yes, with Athanasiou.

Yes, with Green.

Yes, with Ennis.

And credit Holland for living up to his promise from a one-on-one interview with your correspondent a month earlier and swearing that if this group put themselves into the position they are today that he’d come through for them.

Quote-unquote, Holland: “My message today is I’m here to win. I’ve come to Edmonton and this team has played hard to put us into a good position. No risk. No reward. I could have sat around and done nothing but I felt like I had an obligation to pitch in and help a team that’s worked extremely hard.”

Green and Ennis are here until the end of this season. They cost a mere fourth- (third if Edmonton makes the Western Conference final and Green plays half the games) and a fifth-round pick.

Athanasiou is not a rental. He cost a second-round pick in June and a second in 2021, plus Sam Gagner to Detroit (mostly to move out his contract to make way for the Athanasiou contract).

He has 10 goals and 14 assists and a whopping minus-45. That hardly announces the second coming of Jari Kurri.

Holland developed this kid in Detroit and obviously believes in him despite the shabby season he’s been having, saying Athanasiou has high-end skill and quote-unquote: “We hope his best years are ahead of him.”

The bottom line is McDavid has to be far more excited about the prospects of playing with the 25-year-old than any of the choices Tippett had to put on his line when McDavid returned from injury in L.A.

One thing for sure with Athanasiou. The guy can fly. And he’s put up points before. Last year, he scored 30 goals.

Job 1 at this deadline was to acquire a top-six forward to go with McDavid and Zack Kassian and the combination of Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto.

Holland did that despite the restraints of the Oilers’ salary-cap situation. And he kept his first-round draft picks.

Job 2 was to add an experienced depth defenceman rental. Green checks several boxes.

Again, he’s been having a horrible year with three goals and 11 points and a minus-32. At the front end of his career, he had 18, 31 and 19 goal seasons and 56, 73 and 76 point seasons with Washington.

This is a get-out-of-jail card for Green who, again, Holland knows well from Detroit and believes will be a good off-the-ice fit in terms of being the kind of guy he is, an excellent mentor for Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones and has had the offensive skills to service McDavid and Draisaitl as a right side puck-moving defenceman who can play the power play.

He has 20 regular-season games plus playoffs to reboot his career. And with the Oilers putting Kris Russell on long-term disability, they needed the depth defensively.

Ennis is a 30-year-old Edmonton native who gets out of jail in Ottawa and, with 14 goals and 33 points, helps the bottom six.

Again. Are the Oilers a better team for the final 20 games of the season than they were when McDavid returned to the lineup?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

E-mail: tjones@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @ByTerryJones

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The free agent market is sizzling, who’s left for the Blue Jays?

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With MLB’s 2022 Winter Meetings in San Diego this week, the number of free agent signings has reached a frenzied pace. As of this writing, 44 free agents have already signed deals worth a combined $1.9 billion so far this offseason, headlined by monster deals for Yankees OF and AL MVP Aaron Judge (nine years, $360 million), new Phillies SS Trea Turner (11 years, $300 million), and new Texas ace Jacob deGrom (five years, $185 million). That figure doesn’t include the reported five-year, $90 million guaranteed deal that Japanese star OF Masataka Yoshida apparently agreed to on Wednesday. The average free agent contract so far has been for 2.4 years and $44 million total value.

The Toronto Blue Jays have so far been unlucky in their free agent pursuits, highlighted by starter Kyle Gibson passing up the same one-year, $10 million offer made by Toronto to sign instead with the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays have also been mentioned in relation to starters Justin Verlander, Andrew Heaney and Jameson Taillon, as well as reliever Kenley Jansen and CF Cody Bellinger, who have all signed with other teams. All of their other AL East peers have been active this week signing and trading for players.

The need for a power-hitting left-handed bat to balance out the Jays lineup has been clearly defined as necessary to improve this club’s postseason chances following the Teoscar Hernández trade last month. A number of LHH OFs have agreed to deals already, including the above mentioned Masataka Yoshida, Joc Pederson, who accepted the San Francisco Giants $19.65 million qualifying offer (QO), and Cody Bellinger, who signed a one year, $17.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Remaining LHH free agent options in CF include Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Kiermaier. Should the Jays decide to keep George Springer in CF instead of moving him to right to reduce the wear and tear on his body, they could also look at left-handed hitters Joey Gallo or Michael Conforto in RF. Trading Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in a package for starting pitching or a CF like the switch-hitting Bryan Reynolds or Dalton Varsho might make sense if they were were able to sign one of Michael Brantley or Andrew Benintendi for LF, But those trades would both be costly in terms of the likely drain on an already bottom third ranked farm system.

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Further, with the St. Louis Cardinals signing free agent catcher Willson Contreras to a five year, $87.5 million contract, it appears less likely that the Cards might be a trade destination for one of the Blue Jays three catchers. One of Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk or Gabriel Moreno in a deal for switch-hitting OF Dylan Carlson or LHH RF Lars Nootbaar looked good on paper, but now seems less likely.

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Marner and Matthews stay hot, Samsonov earns shutout as Maple Leafs beat Kings

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Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record point streak to 21 games with a second-period goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

With Toronto in front 3-0, thanks to goals from Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander just 1:06 apart earlier in the second, Marner checked in with a slapshot marker after a Kings turnover inside their blue line.

The Maple Leafs (17-5-6) won for the seventh time in eight outings and handed Los Angeles (14-11-4) its seventh loss in 10 games.

With Canadian pop star Justin Bieber among the 18,567 at Scotiabank Arena, Marner scored his 11th of the season. He has 10 goals and 16 assists in his 21-game point streak.

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Marner’s streak is now tied for 23rd all-time in the NHL with Dave Taylor, Adam Oates and Bobby Hull.

Marner also became the 10th different player in the past 35 years to string together a point streak of 21 or more games and the third active skater, behind Patrick Kane (26 games in 2015-16) and Sidney Crosby (25 games in 2010-11).

Well-rounded team effort leads Maple Leafs to second straight shutout win

Toronto goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout in a Maple Leafs sweater and the seventh of his career.

The Maple Leafs outshot their opponents 41-29.

Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves, kept his club in the game for the opening 25 minutes.

The Maple Leafs had outshot the visitors 19-7 when Engvall beat Quick with a wrist shot for a power-play goal 5:10 into the second period.

Twenty-six seconds later, Kampf employed linemate Alex Kerfoot as a decoy to score on a two-on-one rush started by Kerfoot to provide the Maple Leafs with a two-goal advantage.

Nylander checked in with his 15th of the season, and fifth in seven games, on a breakaway goal 40 seconds later. He also set up Auston Matthews for his 14th goal midway through the final period.

Maple Leafs tally three goals in 66 seconds to jump ahead vs. Kings

Kerfoot was good for two assists against the Kings.

Engvall’s night ended early in the third period when he was given a match penalty for intent to injure after he high-sticked Kings defenceman Sean Durzi, a former Toronto draft pick, in the back of the head in the neutral zone.

During the ensuing five-minute power-play, Los Angeles winger Adrian Kempe scored but the goal was rescinded after a video review determined the play was offside.

Maple Leafs’ Engvall receives match penalty for slashing Kings’ Durzi up high

BRODIE’S BACK

Maple Leafs defenceman T.J. Brodie returned to the lineup after a 12-game absence because of an oblique injury, playing alongside newcomer Conor Timmins. Toronto went 9-0-3 without Brodie.

 

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Marner and Matthews stay hot, Samsonov earns shutout as Maple Leafs beat Kings

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Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record point streak to 21 games with a second-period goal as the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

With Toronto in front 3-0, thanks to goals from Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander just 1:06 apart earlier in the second, Marner checked in with a slapshot marker after a Kings turnover inside their blue line.

Gotta See It: Maple Leafs’ Marner scores to extend point streak to 21 games

The Maple Leafs (17-5-6) won for the seventh time in eight outings and handed Los Angeles (14-11-4) its seventh loss in 10 games.

With Canadian pop star Justin Bieber among the 18,567 at Scotiabank Arena, Marner scored his 11th of the season. He has 10 goals and 16 assists in his 21-game point streak.

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Marner’s streak is now tied for 23rd all-time in the NHL with Dave Taylor, Adam Oates and Bobby Hull.

Marner also became the 10th different player in the past 35 years to string together a point streak of 21 or more games and the third active skater, behind Patrick Kane (26 games in 2015-16) and Sidney Crosby (25 games in 2010-11).

Toronto goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout in a Maple Leafs sweater and the seventh of his career.

The Maple Leafs outshot their opponents 41-29.

Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves, kept his club in the game for the opening 25 minutes.

The Maple Leafs had outshot the visitors 19-7 when Engvall beat Quick with a wrist shot for a power-play goal 5:10 into the second period.

Twenty-six seconds later, Kampf employed linemate Alex Kerfoot as a decoy to score on a two-on-one rush started by Kerfoot to provide the Maple Leafs with a two-goal advantage.

Nylander checked in with his 15th of the season, and fifth in seven games, on a breakaway goal 40 seconds later. He also set up Auston Matthews for his 14th goal midway through the final period.

Kerfoot was good for two assists against the Kings.

Engvall’s night ended early in the third period when he was given a match penalty for intent to injure after he high-sticked Kings defenceman Sean Durzi, a former Toronto draft pick, in the back of the head in the neutral zone.

During the ensuing five-minute power-play, Los Angeles winger Adrian Kempe scored but the goal was rescinded after a video review determined the play was offside.

BRODIE’S BACK

Maple Leafs defenceman T.J. Brodie returned to the lineup after a 12-game absence because of an oblique injury, playing alongside newcomer Conor Timmins. Toronto went 9-0-3 without Brodie.

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