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NHL Rumors: Canucks, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Sharks, Kraken, More – The Hockey Writers

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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.

Frederik Andersen Toronto Maple Leafs
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

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.

David Poile Nashville Predators
David Poile, Nashville Predators, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

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.



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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca

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It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics

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(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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Masters 2021: Tiger Woods says he'll miss Champions Dinner, running up DJ's bill – Golf Channel

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Dustin Johnson will host his first Champions Dinner on Tuesday night in the Augusta National clubhouse, and he’ll be joined by several past Masters champions.

One former winner who won’t be there is five-time champ Tiger Woods, who is still home in South Florida recovering from a serious car accident in February near Los Angeles. Justin Thomas, who is still working toward his invite to the prestigious dinner, said Woods texted him Friday night and was “bummed” to not be at the Masters this year.

Woods then tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he’ll miss one of his favorite nights of the year.

“I’ll miss running up @DJohnsonPGA’s bill at the Champions Dinner tonight,” Woods said. “It’s still one of my favorite nights of the year.”

Johnson responded to Woods’ tweet, saying: “Will miss having you here. This week isn’t the same without you.”

The PGA Tour announced that the club would leave a seat open for Woods at the dinner, though the tweet has since been taken down.

Johnson will serve a menu including filet mignon, sea bass and peach cobbler.

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