The pause, Kyle Dubas later confirmed, was not for dramatic effect.
But the delay was pronounced enough that commissioner Gary Bettman began asking the Toronto Maple Leafs if they wanted to take a timeout while deliberating what to do with the 15th pick during Tuesday’s virtual NHL draft.
Inside the makeshift war room at Scotiabank Arena, there was no debate about who to select. Russian forward Rodion Amirov was their guy. But the Leafs first had to weigh the merits of trading back, adding additional assets and likely settling for someone other than Amirov instead.
“There were a number of trade situations that we were considering,” said Dubas. “We were just contemplating all of the different scenarios that were coming in really from the time Winnipeg picked [at No. 10] right through to our pick right at the very end.
“Then in the end just made the pick right at the buzzer.”
The draft is no easy exercise when you’re a team trying to win now.
Amirov is already competing against men in the KHL and could eventually provide a big boost as someone capable of making an impact on a cost-controlled, entry-level contract. But that might be years away even if things go well. The 19-year-old is under contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa until spring 2021 and there doesn’t seem to be any thought he’ll be pushing his way into the NHL immediately afterwards.
In other words: His presence in the organization doesn’t do much for Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly and Mitch Marner, who announced the selection. At least not in the foreseeable future. That’s partly why Dubas spoke openly about flipping this 15th pick from the moment he acquired it in the Kasperi Kapanen trade with Pittsburgh and ultimately listened to offers right up until he was on the clock with the selection.
“By the time he’s kind of entering into his prime, it’s five years from now and suddenly a lot of the guys who are part of our core will all be nearing 30,” Dubas said of Amirov. “That’s kind of sad to think about, but that’s just the reality of the situation.”
At least he fits the profile of what Toronto should be drafting for right now. Dubas saw Amirov play live in the Canada/Russia Series nearly a year ago and has used the COVID-19 pause to comb over video of his games at various levels of the domestic league.
His speed is “amongst the best in the class,” according to the Leafs GM. Dubas came away from a recent call with the prospect believing he’s better off for having to fight his way through Salavat’s lineup as a teenager.
He’s currently producing as a top-six winger on a team that’s seen a number of players contract coronavirus.
“What we like about him is that, especially in international play and at the under-18 tournaments and various different events, he’s scored at a high level,” said Dubas. “When he’s been with Ufa at the MHL and VHL level he’s scored there. And now at the KHL level this year — not that this year played a huge factor in it — but he’s up at the top of their lineup in their top two lines, on their team, and he’s scoring there as well.”
Ideally, the Leafs project him doing the same thing in the NHL one day.
“I think we certainly envision him, because of his ability on and off the puck, to be able to play up with our top players,” said Dubas. “With his speed, with his play-making ability and his ability to drive possession and the puck in transition, that’s our expectation.”
Let’s consider it an open question as to whether his development timeline will mesh with the one the Leafs are on. As much as they’d love to sustain a long window of contention that requires the pipeline to continually be refilled, most Stanley Cup contenders sacrifice a huge amount of draft pick and prospect capital to get there.
Toronto is still in that chase position. Dubas acknowledged that he’d be willing to move some of the 10 picks he holds in the lower rounds Wednesday in order to provide more immediate help for his team.
“I think that we certainly know what we’re trying to do,” said Dubas. “We’re trying to get as good a read as we can on the market and free agency. If there are opportunities tomorrow to improve the team with some of those picks we won’t hesitate to do so.”
The Leafs clearly have their eye on some free-agent bargains, especially among the pool of restricted free agents who don’t receive qualifying offers before Wednesday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline. There are expected to be more of those than usual this off-season.
We should see a much more active trade market in the days ahead, too.
Those are areas where Dubas needs to make his mark to boost a talent-laden roster that’s lost in the first round of playoffs each of the last four years. The draft is exciting when your team has been down and out, but this is a group that’s shown lots of promise without the breakthrough.
That’s why they took so long to call Amirov’s name on Tuesday night. They love the prospect, but have only so much need for prospects right now. They certainly weren’t trying to add any spice to the made-for-TV draft.
“We try to reduce the drama here as much as we can here,” said Dubas. “That’s our goal anyway. We’d like to be more successful at it as we move ahead.”
Bills' Knox tests positive for COVID-19 – TSN
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss Sunday’s road game against the New York Jets.
The team said Saturday he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list along with three players in close contact with Knox — Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney (on the PUP list) and Nate Becker (on the practice squad). They, too, will miss the game.
This is the first positive coronavirus test for a Bills player since the season began. Each of Buffalo’s previous two games were moved from their initial dates because of the the outbreak in the Tennessee Titans organization.
The Bills will travel as scheduled Saturday afternoon and continue preparations for the Jets.
Buffalo has two remaining tight ends on its roster — Tyler Kroft and Reggie Gilliam.
Four players were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster — wide receiver Duke Williams, offensive lineman Jordan Devey, linebacker Andre Smith and cornerback Dane Jackson.
The team said backup linebacker Tyrel Dodson (hamstring) was placed on injured reserve.
The Bills were previously affected by a string of false positive tests in late August. They sent their rookies home in late July to work remotely after five players tested positive.
Kershaw shines against Rays to put Dodgers back on course toward World Series glory – CBC.ca
Clayton Kershaw’s glittering career lacked two of the most satisfying accomplishments: a win deep in the World Series and a championship ring.
He took the mound Sunday night with the Los Angeles Dodgers shaken, and Kershaw steadied his team with a gritty performance, plus one particular delivery home that will long be remembered.
Now with one more victory, the Dodgers would claim their first title since 1988.
Kershaw beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the second time in six days, escaping a fourth-inning jam with a quick reaction throw to cut down Manuel Margot trying for a rare steal of home, and the Dodgers held on for a 4-2 win and a 3-2 Series lead.
He’s stealing home and they ̶d̶o̶n̶’̶t̶ see him! 😳<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WorldSeries?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WorldSeries</a> <a href=”https://t.co/VfJ62CJWsa”>pic.twitter.com/VfJ62CJWsa</a>
“Well, it’s happened to me before, at least one other time that I can remember,” Kershaw said. “Carlos Gomez tried it against me in Houston one time. You know, I work on that with the first basemen.”
Max Muncy, looking on from first, was ready.
“I was fortunate enough to see one or two guys break hard, so I knew what to expect when he broke,” Muncy said. “I sprinted toward Kersh and said, `Home! Home! Home!'”
Mookie Betts and Corey Seager sparked a two-run first inning, and Joc Pederson and Muncy homered off long-ball prone Tyler Glasnow, whose 100 mph heat got burned.
His scraggly dark brown hair dangling with sweat, Kershaw was cruising when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed the 32-year-old left-hander in favour of Dustin May after getting two outs on two pitches in the sixth inning.
The mostly pro-Dodgers fans in the pandemic-reduced crowd of 11,437 booed when Roberts walked to the mound, well aware of what happened with the bullpen the previous night, when closer Kenley Jansen wasted a ninth-inning lead in a stunning 8-7 loss.
Those boos quickly turned to cheers as the LA rooters saluted Kershaw, a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, as he walked to the dugout. Kershaw improved to 13-12 in post-season play, including 4-1 this year.
May, Victor Gonzalez and Blake Treinen combined for two-hit scoreless relief. May got five outs, Gonzalez stranded a pair of runners in the eighth by retiring Randy Arozarena and Brandon Lowe on flyouts, and Treinen got three outs to become the fourth Dodgers pitcher with a post-season save.
“Kersh, a lot of credit goes to him for what we’ve been able to do in this World Series,” Treinen said. “There’s a tough narrative on him. He’s a phenomenal pitcher on the biggest stage.”
Margot singled leading off the ninth, but Austin Meadows struck out, Joey Wendle flied out and Willy Adames struck out.
Thirty of the previous 46 teams to win Game 5 for a 3-2 lead have won the title, but just six of the last 14. Teams that wasted 3-2 leads include last year’s Houston Astros.
Los Angeles did not have an obvious candidate to start Game 6 on Tuesday, when Game 2 winner Blake Snell starts for Tampa Bay,
Walker Buehler, the 26-year-old right-hander who has supplanted Kershaw as the Dodgers’ ace, is waiting in the wings for a a Game 7, like a Hollywood understudy ready for a leading role.
With a 175-76 regular-season record, five ERA titles and an MVP, Kershaw ranks alongside Dodgers greats Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser. He won World Series openers in 2017 and again this year, but he faltered in Game 5 in both 2017 and 2018 and has never won a title.
A Dallas native pitching near his offseason home, Kershaw shut down the Rays on two runs and five hits with six strikeouts and two walks. He is 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 15 2/3 innings over two starts in this Series with 14 strikeouts and three walks. Kershaw also set a career post-season record with 207 strikeouts, two more than Justin Verlander’s previous mark.
Provided a 3-0 lead, Kershaw allowed Tampa Bay to pull within a run in the third when Kevin Kiermaier singled, Yandy Diaz tripled on a ball down the right-field line that skipped past Betts and Arozarena’s single. The 25-year-old Cuban rookie asked for the ball after his record 27th post-season hit, one more than San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval in 2014.
“I didn’t have my stuff like I did in Game 1,” Kershaw said. “My slider wasn’t there as good as it was, so fortunate to get through there.”
Kershaw escaped a first-and-third, no-outs jam in the fourth after Margot walked leading off, stole second and continued to third when the ball got away from second baseman Chris Taylor for his second big error in two games. Hunter Renfroe also walked, but Wendle popped out and Adames struck out.
With Kiermaier at the plate, Margot bolted for home as Kershaw raised both hands over his head in his instantly recognizable stretch position. While many pitchers might have panicked and perhaps balked, Kershaw coolly and quickly stepped off the rubber and calmly threw to catcher Austin Barnes.
Barnes grabbed the ball and got his mitt down on the Margot’s outstretched hand while the runner’s helmet tumbled off and cut his own lip.
Margot went on his own, manager Kevin Cash said, and became the first runner caught stealing home in the Series since Minnesota’s Shane Mack in Game 4 in 2001.
Globe Life Field’s roof was closed on the cool, rainy night, as it was for Game 3, and the visiting Dodgers broke on top within 10 pitches against Glasnow, a lanky 6-foot-8 right-hander who appeared to be overthrowing.
Glasnow allowed four runs and six hits in five innings, leaving him 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in the Series. The two home runs raised his total to a record nine in a single post-season.
Betts doubled on a 99 mph fastball leading off and scored two pitches later when Seager pulled a curveball into right field for a single and his 19th post-season RBI. This Series joined 1932 as the only years with runs in four straight top of the first innings.
Seager advanced on a wild pitch, Muncy drew his 20th walk of the post-season and after a two-out wild pitch, Cody Bellinger hit a grounder that was stopped with no play by Lowe, the second baseman positioned on the right field grass. Seager scored the Dodgers’ 58th run with two outs this post-season and became the first player to cross the plate in each of the first five Series games since the Yankees’ Derek Jeter in 2000.
Glasnow tied a Series record with two wild pitches in the 34-pitch inning and set the mark with three in the game.
Pederson hit a 428-foot opposite-field drive to left on a fastball at the letters for a 3-0 lead in the second.
Glasnow retired eight straight before Muncy homered in the fifth to make it 4-2. He became the record ninth Dodgers player to homer in the post-season, one more than the 1989 Oakland Athletics of Bash Brothers fame.
Wilson runs wild before injury, 49ers crush Pats – TSN
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
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