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NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Oilers, Ducks, Coyotes, Islanders, More – The Hockey Writers

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In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there are questions about the stability of the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending heading into the playoffs. But, does that mean the team will look to try and make an upgrade before the trade deadline? Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks have potentially added another name to the list of possible trade assets, the Arizona Coyotes could have an interesting name available and the New York Islanders may be looking for a replacement for Anders Lee. Finally, could the Edmonton Oilers try and make room for Evan Bouchard?

Don’t Expect a Maple Leafs Goaltending Change

James Mirtle points out in a recent Athletic article that there is some concern in Toronto when it comes to the goaltending and questions about whether or not Andersen — who rates out as having the second weakest playoff performance among goalies who have regularly started in the postseason since 2016-17 — is the man for the job this season. At the same time, Jack Campbell has proven to be a remarkably effective backup, but his health issues are a concern.

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

Does that mean the Leafs might look at a goaltender before the trade deadline? The answer is probably no.

Mirtle writes:

Due to cap considerations, any move to add a starter would likely necessitate sending Andersen the other way. But can the Leafs survive for two weeks without a starter? And would the risk be worth the potential reward?

At this point, I would be very surprised to see Dubas pull the trigger on something like that.

source – ‘Mirtle: What’s wrong with the Maple Leafs? And how much of it is on Frederik Andersen?’ – James Mirtle – The Athletic – 03/15/2021

Mirtle writes the Leafs are going to hope Campbell returns and if effective but also that Andersen can boost his previous playoff numbers.

Ducks Taking Calls on Troy Terry

The latest name to watch out of Anaheim is that of forward Troy Terry. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that sources say the Ducks are evaluating whether or not to trade the 23-year-old forward. Friedman suggests talk is that Terry could stand to benefit from a change of scenery and that while the Ducks aren’t shopping him, they are listening to offers.

An excellent college and AHL player, Terry hasn’t been able to transition that success over to the NHL. He’s often been a healthy scratch by the Ducks this season and has seven points through 22 games.

Oilers Won’t Trade Barrie to Make Room for Bouchard

There’s a bit of an outcry in Edmonton that defenseman Evan Bouchard isn’t getting much playing time. Some are suggesting the Oilers consider selling high on Tyson Barrie before the trade deadline and let Bouchard take his slot. Don’t expect that to happen.

Tyson Barrie Edmonton Oilers
Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Allan Mitchell of The Athletic writes:

Bouchard is going to play before the end of the season and he’ll be needed before the playoffs are over. Trading Barrie to make room for Bouchard runs counter with the job at hand: Making the playoffs and going as deep as possible.

source – ‘Lowetide: How will Oilers GM Ken Holland make room in the lineup for Evan Bouchard?- Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 03/15.2021

The Oilers do have more right-handed defensemen than they can actively play each night and it is possible Barrie moves on at the end of the season. That said, the Oilers want and need Barrie for their playoff push. GM Ken Holland is not about to trade him.

Related: Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors: Chiarot, Staal, Caufield & More

Clayton Keller’s Name Out There More Than People Think

According to Jimmy Murphy pf Florida Hockey Now, the Arizona Coyotes could hold a fire sale at the trade deadline and Keller’s name is out there. A source told Murphy the forward’s name has come up “more than you’d expect” but he stressed GM Bill Armstrong isn’t shopping the 22-year-old forward.

If Keller is dealt, it might not be during the season but something the Coyotes look at in the offseason around the NHL Draft.

Could Islanders Look at Taylor Hall?

With news that Anders Lee is on LTIR and the Islanders potentially needing to fill his spot with a top-line left-winger, connections are being made to Taylor Hall out of the Buffalo Sabres organization. It’s not a given that Hall is moved, but he could be one of the top left wing trade options at this year’s deadline.

Taylor Hall Buffalo Sabres
Taylor, Hall Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While he’s not the same kind of player as Lee, Arthur Staple of The Athletic sees Hall as a natural fit for the Islanders. He writes:

He’s not having a great year, with two goals and 16 points, but he’s the most skilled winger who could be on the market. He has a history with Jordan Eberle, and while he’s not a Lee-style player, few are. Hall also has an expiring contract and could be a pure rental, though a costly one — if the Islanders announce Lee is out long-term, no one’s going to run to help Lamoriello.

source – ‘What Anders Lee’s injury means for the Islanders at the trade deadline: Targets, cap space and more’ – Arthur Staple – The Athletic – 03/15.2021

As for what the return might be, Staple suggests that if the Islanders could somehow get the Sabres to take Thomas Hickey along with a first- or second-round pick (or two seconds), that could be a good deal for New York.



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Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now

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The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.

The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.

The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.

The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.

The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.

Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.

The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.

Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.

Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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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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