In today’s NHL rumors rundown, is the health of the goaltenders in Toronto a huge concern for the Maple Leafs? One insider digs deeper on what general manager Kyle Dubas might do if Frederik Andersen’s recovery is not where it needs to be. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks are making progress on an extension with Tanner Pearson while players from the Nashville Predators are moving down the trade bait board. The San Jose Sharks are open to adding salary at the deadline and are the Seattle Kraken playing a role in deadline deals? Finally, are the Montreal Canadiens still working on something?
Are Maple Leafs’ Worried About Health of Their Goaltenders?
TSN’s Darren Dreger was a guest on Overdrive and discussed concern that neither one of the Maple Leafs goaltenders are healthy — referring to in Andersen and Jack Campbell.” He does add that the organization isn’t concerned these are long-term injuries and there is an expectation Andersen will return to the ice soon.
Dreger did caution that the Leafs can’t go into the playoffs with Campbell and Michael Hutchinson as your one-two. He wonders if the team is at least having an internal discussions asking if there is a reason to improve the No. 3 goaltender. He doesn’t think there’s a heightened level of urgency to do anything, but the other hosts suggest the Maple Leafs are 12 days away from the roster being set. “If there’s a goaltender available that can give you a little more depth in that position, you have to look at it if you’re Toronto.”
Dreger added that if there’s no sign of Andersen by the 9th or 10th of April, the level of desperation likely changes for the general manager Kyle Dubas.
Tanner Pearson Negotiations Going Well
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that the Canucks are confident that something will get done on a Tanner Pearson contract extension and that both sides are optimistic. It could involve Pearson taking a little bit of a pay cut as that seems to be the way things are going this season and with the market trends.
The Canucks are doing everything they can to try and keep Pearson. Seravalli says the team has identified him as a “glue guy” in their room and he’s extremely close with captain Bo Horvat. They want to get a deal taken care of before the deadline.
Predators Players Being Move Down Trade Bait Board
Seravalli also notes that Predators players who were rumored to be moved before the trade deadline may no longer be moved based on the recent run by Nashville and the poor play by the Chicago Blackhawks. With the Predators now in the fourth playoff spot in their division, names like Mattias Ekholm have slid down the board, with other players like David Savard taking his place.
General manager David Poile wants to give his team as much of a chance to make the playoffs as possible and the organization could wait until the very last minute to decide on moving their tradeable assets.
Sharks Open to Adding Salary in Trades
Pierre LeBrun reports in his latest piece for The Athletic that the San Jose Sharks are letting teams know that they’re willing to take on money as long as it comes with another asset or two in the process. He notes:
“The Sharks have more than $6 million in cap space and are seeking to leverage that into an asset or two. Keep an eye on them potentially being that third team in a complicated cap deal to facilitate trades.
source – ‘LeBrun: How the Kraken are impacting the NHL trade deadline and why the Flyers could add a goalie’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 03/31/2021
Canadiens Working on Another Deal
LeBrun notes that we shouldn’t be surprised if the Canadiens make another move before the deadline, one to specifically clear out salary cap space. He also notes that the Canadiens might have been working on another deal on the same day they acquired Staal from the Buffalo Sabres.
He suggests that other move either fell through or got put on hold and says, “I think a lot of the teams talking to Montreal seem to want to wait closer to April 12 to make a decision.” Artturi Lehkonen is a name to watch as he’s RFA after the season, 25 years old and could draw some interest from other teams.
Kraken Starting to Play Role in Deadline Deals
LeBrun also notes that Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis is becoming a popular man as the deadline rolls around. He writes, “Sources around the league say some teams are trying to feel him out to see what his price might be to appease some protection list issues ahead of the July expansion draft.”
The reason is because teams are worried that any additional assets they pick up — and spend a lot to acquire — could be plucked off the team by the Kraken at the NHL Expansion Draft. Those teams are calling Seattle first and trying to work out a deal where the Kraken either agree not to take the player they just traded for, or offer an asset to ensure Francis takes someone they’d be willing to lose.
What is the cost to do this? Apparently, Francis is letting teams know that Seattle wants a first-round pick and a prospect and maybe another piece to be told which way to look during the expansion draft.
Catch up on all the latest NHL Rumors
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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