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Mock 2021 NHL Expansion Draft – NHL.com

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The lists of available and protected players for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft presented by Upper Deck, which takes place Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, SN NOW), were released by the NHL on Sunday, and Seattle has until 10 a.m. ET the day of the draft to submit its selections.

The Kraken must choose one player from each of the 30 participating teams (the Vegas Golden Knights are exempt), including at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. Additionally, at least 20 of their selections must already be under contract for next season with an aggregate value that is between 60 to 100 percent of the $81.5 million NHL salary cap.

[RELATED: NHL Expansion Draft protected list for Kraken released]

As the hockey world awaits Seattle’s picks, NHL.com staff writers Dan Rosen, Tom Gulitti and Pete Jensen conducted their own mock expansion draft using all the rules the Kraken must follow. 

Here are their selections, which came in at approximately $71 million, followed by an explanation for each position:

GOALIES (4)

Dustin Tokarski, Buffalo Sabres; Malcolm Subban, Chicago Blackhawks; Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild; Braden Holtby, Vancouver Canucks

Holtby would more than likely enter training camp as the No. 1 goalie, but the door would be open for Kahkonen to become the starter at some point in the season.

No matter who would emerge as the No. 1, the rotation would give Seattle a veteran with Stanley Cup Playoff experience and an up-and-comer.

Holtby, who turns 32 on Sept. 16 and won the Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018, had a tough first season with Vancouver, going 7-11-3 with a 3.67 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage. But the Canucks struggled defensively, allowing 3.34 goals per game (26th in NHL), so it’s possible Holtby could regain his form.

Kahkonen, who turns 25 on Aug. 16, was 16-8-0 with a 2.88 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and two shutouts as a rookie with Minnesota this season.

Either way, this would be quality goaltending for a little more than $5 million next season (Holtby at $4.3 million, Kahkonen at $750,000), which allows the Kraken to spend wisely elsewhere too. 

Subban would be No. 3 on Seattle’s depth chart and a tradeable commodity. Tokarski could start in the American Hockey League and be called up as needed.

FORWARDS (16)

Christian Fischer, Arizona Coyotes; Joonas Donskoi, Colorado Avalanche; Blake Comeau, Dallas Stars; Devin Shore, Edmonton Oilers; Frank Vatrano, Florida Panthers; Austin Wagner, Los Angeles Kings; Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators; Nathan Bastian, New Jersey Devils; Josh Bailey, New York Islanders; Colin Blackwell, New York Rangers; Evgenii Dadonov, Ottawa Senators; Brandon Tanev, Pittsburgh Penguins; Dylan Gambrell, San Jose Sharks; Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay Lightning; Alexander Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs; Mason Appleton, Winnipeg Jets

Having depth at center is a good way for any team to start, and that will be a strength for the Kraken with Johansen, Gourde, Kerfoot and Gambrell.

Selecting Johansen means picking up the remaining four years on his contract ($8 million average annual value), but there is value in having a true No. 1 center in his prime (Johansen turns 29 on July 31) to build the offense around. Johansen also might benefit from a change of scenery. After scoring 64 points (14 goals, 50 assists) in 80 games in 2018-19, he dipped to 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 68 games last season and 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 48 games this season.

Gourde would thrive in a bigger role with Seattle after scoring 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games as Tampa Bay’s third-line center this season, and he brings invaluable experience from winning the Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons. Kerfoot and Gambrell slot in perfectly behind him.

Seattle isn’t as deep at wing, but it has good options for its top two lines with Vatrano (18 goals this season), Donskoi (17 goals this season), Dadonov (three seasons with at least 25 goals) and Bailey (35 points this season). The Kraken will also have some forwards beginning to tap their potential such as Appleton (set NHL career highs with 12 goals, 13 assists and 25 points this season) and Blackwell (also set NHL career highs with 12 goals, 10 assists and 22 points), and grit and experience from Tanev and Comeau.

DEFENSEMEN (10)

Haydn Fleury, Anaheim Ducks; Connor Clifton, Boston Bruins; Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames; Jake Bean, Carolina Hurricanes; Gabriel Carlsson, Columbus Blue Jackets; Dennis Cholowski, Detroit Red Wings; Brett Kulak, Montreal Canadiens; Justin Braun, Philadelphia Flyers; Vince Dunn, St. Louis Blues; Brenden Dillon, Washington Capitals

Two potential gems for Seattle in this mock expansion draft are Dunn, a strong all-around defenseman who won the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019, and Bean, who has a much higher ceiling after scratching the surface this season for the Hurricanes. Dunn was limited to 43 games this season because of injury but averaged an NHL career-high 0.47 points per game. Bean scored 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 42 games as a rookie despite playing mostly on the third defense pair.

Video: Who are some top defensemen available to the Kraken?

Giordano, who has one season remaining on his contract ($6.75 million AAV), could bounce back with a change of scenery. He has scored 57 points (14 goals, 43 assists) the past two seasons after scoring an NHL career-high 74 (17 goals, 57 assists) in 2018-19, when he won the Norris Trophy voted as the best defenseman in the NHL. Not only that, as Flames captain the past eight seasons, he would provide instant leadership to the Kraken.

Braun (100 games) and Dillon (75) would add NHL playoff experience to Seattle’s second and third pairs. Cholowski, the No. 20 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and Fleury, the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, would join Bean as potential long-term investments.

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Doping raises its head as BMX marred by crashes

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American swimmer Ryan Murphy stoked controversy at the Tokyo Games on Friday when he raised the spectre of doping after losing his second Olympic title to Russian rival Evgeny Rylov.

Murphy, who won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Games, said his 200 metre backstroke final was “probably not clean” after he lost to Rylov, competing as part of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The comments threw an unwelcome spotlight on doping for Tokyo 2020 organisers as the blue riband athletics competition got under way, on a day further marred by accidents on the BMX track, including a horrendous spill that saw 28-year-old American favourite Connor Fields rushed to hospital.

Held in Tokyo without spectators and after a year’s delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Games have been characterised by tumult and scandals from the get-go.

With China and Japan jostling for top spot in the medal tally https://graphics.reuters.com/OLYMPICS-2020/MEDALTALLY/rlgpdynkjvo/media-embed.html ahead of the United States, it hasn’t been a ratings boon for global broadcasters either.

Data from the opening ceremony and the first few nights show the Tokyo Games are so far the least watched Olympics in recent history across Europe and in the United States.

TV viewership is up in Australia and Japan, however.

COVID-19 infections have also risen, totalling 3,300 in Tokyo on Friday, after hitting a record 3,865 a day earlier, adding to the strain on the medical system.

The government broadened a state of emergency to four more prefectures and extended Tokyo’s until the end of August from Aug. 22.

‘THOUGHTS WOULD GET ME INTO TROUBLE’

Murphy, who won gold in the 100 metre and 200 metre Rio finals, surrendered both titles to Rylov in Tokyo.

“I’ve got 15 thoughts, 13 of them would get me into a lot of trouble,” he said when asked by a reporter if he had any doping concerns about his races, subsequently suggesting the 200m had been tainted.

Later, said he had no intention of making an allegation against his opponent. Rylov said Murphy was entitled to his thoughts given that there had been scandals.

The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from top sporting events in 2019. Those sanctions were then lessened by a sports arbitration court.

More than 300 Russian athletes are competing at the Tokyo Games as part of the ROC. While they are not allowed to compete under their own flag, they can wear their tri-colour uniforms.

In other swimming events, the medals were again spread between countries other than traditional powerhouses.

South African Tatjana Schoenmaker won the women’s 200 metre breaststroke in a world record time, while China won their first men’s swimming gold in Tokyo with Wang Shun’s victory in the 200 metre medley.

Emma McKeon won the 100 freestyle for Australia’s sixth gold in the pool, holding off Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey down the final straight to win by 0.31 seconds.

BILES’ STRUGGLES

In gymnastics, Zhu Xueying led China to the top two podium positions in the women’s trampoline as Canada‘s Rosie MacLennan was denied a golden hat-trick.

That sport has also been overshadowed by drama around U.S. star Simone Biles. On Friday, she spelled out her struggles to perform, days after pulling of competitions, but shed no clear light on whether she would take part in further events.

In fencing, the top four teams in the men’s team epee crashed out in the quarter-finals. One of the day’s biggest surprises, Japan, ranked eighth, defeated top-ranked France, who will miss out on a medal for the first time since 1992.

In badminton, world number three Nozomi Okuhara was beaten by number nine China’s He Bing Jiao. Another surprise was the entry of world number 59, Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon, into the men’s quarter-finals.

The final day of Olympic rowing also delivered thrills when Greece’s Stefanos Ntouskos upset the favourites in the men’s single sculls and Canada ended U.S. dominance of the women’s eights. Four-time Olympian Emma Twigg, of New Zealand, ensured her country kept a grip on the sport with another gold in the women’s single sculls.

Athletics exploded into life with the women’s 100 metres round-one heats. Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou roared across the finish line with a blistering 10.78 seconds at a hot and spectator-less Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

Defending Olympic champion Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah ran a scorching 10.82 seconds to advance, while compatriot Shelly Anne Fraser-Pryce posted 10.84 seconds.

AMERICAN “AWAKE” AFTER CRASH

Reigning BMX champion Fields, who crashed heavily in the third run of his semi-final, was “awake” in hospital awaiting further checks to determine the extent of his injuries, an American team spokesperson said.

He was close to the front heading into the first steeply-banked corner at the Ariake Urban Sports Park and appeared to tangle with another rider, crashing heavily.

The semi-finals were marred by other crashes after a 45-minute rain delay, although the course was dry and did not appear to be a factor.

“I don’t think that the track or the weather had anything to do with the crashes,” Dutch rider Merel Smulders, who took bronze in the women’s race after her sister Laura also crashed in the semi-finals, told Reuters.

“I feel like there were a lot more crashes in Rio. But there were some bad crashes today and no one wants to see that.”

(Reporting by David Dolan and Mari Saito; Writing by Leela de Kretser and David Dolan; Editing by Stephen Coates and John Stonestreet)

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Pistons select Cade Cunningham with No. 1 overall pick in 2021 NBA Draft – Sportsnet.ca

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The Detroit Pistons selected Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.

Cunningham had been widely expected to be the first name called in New York, though Pistons general manager Troy Weaver wouldn’t reveal plans earlier this week and said the team would look at every scenario, including trades.

In the end, Detroit stuck with the 19-year-old mentioned as a potential top pick before ever stepping foot on the Oklahoma State campus.

The 6-foot-8, 220-pound point guard from Arlington, Texas, lived up to expectations with his size and fluid game to become a first-team Associated Press All-American. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists with a game that allowed him to hit from 3-point range, score off the dribble or find teammates out of traps.

Cunningham — the first player in Oklahoma State history to be picked No. 1 overall — joins a Pistons franchise that has won 20 games for two straight seasons and hasn’t finished better than .500 for five straight years.

Cunningham was the headliner of a class that included scorers, playmakers and potentially elite defenders at the top. That group included Southern California freshman big man Evan Mobley, Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs and Florida State freshman forward Scottie Barnes.

There are also a pair of preps-to-pros prospects in guard Jalen Green and forward Jonathan Kuminga, both of whom bypassed college basketball to play in the G League.

The draft is later than its traditional late-June slot for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the 2019-20 season. The 2021-22 season is scheduled to return to its normal schedule, with next year’s draft set for June again.

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NBA Draft 2021: Toronto Raptors select Scottie Barnes with the 4th overall pick – RaptorsHQ

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The Raptors have upended consensus in the 2021 NBA Draft, opting to select Florida State forward Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall pick. To say this was a complete shock is not entirely true — there was buzz the Raptors were at least somewhat intrigued by Barnes’ potential — but it also felt like Toronto would not take the gamble (e.g. it felt like Jalen Suggs at no. 4 was a lock).

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Barnes joins the Raptors just before his 20th birthday. He’s listed at 6’9” and 227 pounds, which puts him in the small forward category, by my math. Barnes spent one season at Florida State during which he averaged 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game across 24 contests. Admittedly, the numbers don’t exactly pop — Barnes only started seven games — but Toronto must love his potential.

Said potential is what our guy JD got at in his column here. Barnes has serious defensive skills, a player who can already guard almost every position via his strength, speed and know-how. The broadcast compared him to Draymond Green, which is not a bad place to be — particularly for a Raptors team that obviously values defensive ability and versatility. Like Green, Barnes has flashed an advanced play-making game for a forward, and he also has a limited offensive arsenal. Few are looking at Barnes, who shot 28 percent from three and 62 percent from the free-throw line, to be a lights-out gunner. Maybe he gets there in time, or maybe his skill-set is less dependent on his shot.

So then the risk: did the Raptors just get a player who can’t start for the current squad with OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam locked in at the small and power forward position? Could it be that Barnes only tracks as another second or third-ranked player on a championship calibre team? (If that; some are worried he’s the next Stanley Johnson.) In all, the question remains: will Toronto regret missing on Suggs?

Or do the Raptors have something else planned with regards to their roster construction? Right now it’s unclear, but we do know one thing for now: Toronto has selected Scottie Barnes in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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