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NHL Rumors: Williams, Maple Leafs, Oilers, Rangers, More – The Hockey Writers

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In today’s NHL rumors, there is news on who and how many team Justin Williams turned down before rejoining the Carolina Hurricanes, the Edmonton Oilers may make one particular forward available in an attempt to grab a useful rental, and Lias Andersson opens up about his issues with the New York Rangers.

Williams Returns to Carolina, Turns Down Leafs

There were rumors an announcement might be close and it didn’t talk long before Justin Williams has made up his mind regarding his NHL career this season and has returned to the Carolina Hurricanes. But, he didn’t just get offers from the Hurricanes.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 24: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals and Justin Williams #14 of the Carolina Hurricanes shake hands after the Hurricanes defeated the Capitals 4-3 in the second overtime period in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Williams signed a $700k deal with $1.3 in bonuses for the remainder of this season but there is speculation he may have turned down an offer by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun revealed that the Toronto Maple Leafs made a pitch to land Williams and Boston looked into it but Williams was keyed in with the Hurricanes.

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Considering their depth up front and injury issues on the blue line, it’s a bit surprising to hear the Maple Leafs were going after him.

Related: Alexei Yashin Trade Revisited

Oilers Ready to Offer Up Puljujarvi

Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic that in the Oilers efforts to make the playoffs and be competitive, they are prepared to move Jesse Puljujarvi.

Ivan Provorov, Jesse Puljujarvi
Edmonton Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi, and Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Matt Slocum)

Holland said there are three choices. First, to move him for a rental, second to move him at the NHL Draft and finally, to wait and see if he changes his mind next season or wants to stay in Europe. Of the option to trade Puljujarvi as a rental, Holland explained:

“One, do you want to trade him in a rental? He’s a 21-year-old player who was the fourth-overall pick, do you want to trade him in a rental deal and get someone on the short term and they’re gone and that asset is gone?

… his agent have made it very clear to me last summer that he didn’t want to play for the Oilers. So, I’m going to proceed along that way.

source – ‘LeBrun: Q&A with GM Ken Holland on Oilers’ deadline plans and why the regular season is important, until it isn’t’ – Pierre LeBrun – The Athletic – 01/07/2020

But, it sounded as though Holland would only consider the rental option if the rental coming back was exceptional.

Related: Oilers News and Rumors: McDavid, Holland, Yamamoto, More

Lias Andersson Breaks Silence

In a Swedish-language interview with Aftobbladet, Lias Andersson finally started talking about what was going on between he and the New York Rangers organization. He didn’t tell all, but he certainly hinted at his unrest and some physical and mental struggles.

Lias Andersson Hartford Wolf Pack
Lias Andersson Hartford Wolf Pack (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He explained, “I have a small lower body-injury that I’m trying to take care of.” But, he added, “There is a career that’s more important – and that’s friends, family and my health.”

Basically, Andersson hinted at the struggles he was facing mentally and that he needed a break. He realizes that this break could cost him his NHL career saying, “There’s been a lot of incidents that have affected me personally, thing that have made me feel bad mentally. Hockey wise it might be an idiotic decision, but I have to think about my personal life as well.”

He’s hoping it doesn’t mean he’ll miss hockey over the next year and one half but he understands that’s a risk and he can always find other places to play if he’s alienated himself from the NHL.

The New York Rangers have yet to comment and it is believed are still looking for a trade partner.

Related: NHL Rumors: Blackhawks, Predators, Jets, More

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Blue Jays’ Chris Bassitt announces birth of child to cap ‘perfect weekend’

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The Toronto Blue Jays had a memorable few days in New York, thanks to a three-game sweep of the Mets, but that’s not the biggest reason starting pitcher Chris Bassitt is all smiles these days.

Bassitt and his wife, Jessica, welcomed their second child over the weekend, with the veteran right-hander reporting that both mother and baby are doing well.

“Perfect weekend complete,” Bassitt wrote on Twitter. “Momma and Colson are doing great.”

Jessica went into labour Friday, while her husband took his normal turn in the Blue Jays’ rotation. Bassitt channelled all of his “dad strength” in that outing against the Mets, firing 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball with eight strikeouts in a 3-0 Toronto win. In a cruel twist from the universe, the start of the game was delayed more than 90 minutes due to inclement weather.

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Once his outing was over, Bassitt rushed back to Toronto via private plane to be with Jessica for Colson’s birth. He made it in plenty of time, tweeting Saturday morning that the baby hadn’t arrived yet.

The 34-year-old will now be able to enjoy a few days with his family, as the Blue Jays placed him on the paternity list Saturday. Reliever Jay Jackson took his place on the 26-man roster.

Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt dominated the Mets in his outing Friday. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Blue Jays pitcher Chris Bassitt dominated the Mets in his outing Friday. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Bassitt’s Blue Jays teammates gave him even more reason to cheer by eking out a 2-1 victory Saturday before getting the brooms out with a 6-4 win in the series finale.

Brandon Belt was the hero Sunday, connecting for a go-ahead, two-run home run in the seventh inning after Toronto squandered an early 4-0 advantage. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also went deep for the Blue Jays, while Whit Merrifield delivered a two-run double in the second inning.

Next up, Toronto welcomes the Houston Astros to Rogers Centre for a four-game series that begins Monday. Bassitt is listed as the probable starter for Wednesday’s contest.

 

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Rory McIlroy (T-1) falls back on short game, stays positive with chance at Memorial

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DUBLIN, Ohio – Rory McIlroy will set out Sunday afternoon at Jack’s Place looking to secure the second leg of the “Legends Slam” with a swing that’s well short of perfect and no shortage of would-be spoilers lurking.

He couldn’t be happier.

For the third consecutive day at the Memorial, McIlroy leaned on luck and grit to keep pace with the co-leaders – Si Woo Kim and David Lipsky – at 6 under par with 10 other players within two shots of the lead. Betting lines will undoubtedly favor the world No. 3 against the other contenders, but the truth is he has no idea what to expect when he sets out in the week’s final group.


Full-field scores from the Memorial Tournament

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“I don’t think I hit a green from the eighth hole through the 14th hole, and I played those holes in even par,” McIlroy shrugged following his third-round 70. “Chip in on 12 [for birdie] and got it up-and-down from some tricky spots. I was really happy with how I scored out there and how I just sort of hung in there for most of the day.”

If McIlroy’s happy-to-be-here take doesn’t match with his world-beater persona, it’s the honest byproduct of a swing that he’s repeatedly said is a work in progress. Saturday’s round on a hard-and-fast course was the most-recent example of his very real struggle.

There was the chip-in for birdie at No. 12 from 25 feet and scrambling pars at Nos. 8, 11, 13 and 14. The major champion, whose career has been written with an overwhelming driver and sublime iron play, has now fully embraced the scrappy life.

“Embracing it,” he smiled. “There was a couple of shots out there when I missed the greens that I was sort of looking forward to hit. I think it’s embracing that challenge and embracing the fact that you’re probably not going to hit more than 12 or 13 greens out there. I think with how my short game’s been this week it’s something I’ve been able to fall back on, which has been great.”

To be fair, Rory is still Rory off the tee. He’s eighth this week in strokes gained: off the tee and second in driving distance, which at Muirfield Village is an accomplishment considering host Jack Nicklaus’ mission is to take driver out of the hands of the game’s top players.

Where the challenge has come is from the fairway and, despite his lofty status among the leaders, Saturday’s effort was his statistically worst of the week with just 7 of 18 greens in regulation and a loss to the field (1.71 shots) in strokes gained: approach the green.

Still, he’s the easy favorite with 18 holes remaining and for good reason. Other than Kim, who has four PGA Tour victories including the 2017 Players Championship, the next six players on the board have a combined four Tour victories.

“It’s a big tournament and I’ve got quite a bit of experience in that and you would like to think that gives you a little bit of an advantage,” McIlroy said. “Everyone’s going to go out there tomorrow and, regardless of where you are in the tournament, this golf course makes you a little uncomfortable anyway. So, everyone’s going to be feeling like that. With the way the leaderboard is and how bunched it is, it’s just going to come down to who can sort of hold their head the most coming down the stretch.”

 

 

 

Scottie Scheffler isn’t happy with what he’s been putting out on the course as of late, despite some solid results.

 

Considering his own assessment of his swing, keeping a positive outlook doesn’t seem to be a problem for McIlroy this week. It might have something to do with what has admittedly been a rough couple of weeks, which stretch back to his missed cut at the Masters. Or it might just be the opportunity.

When he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2018, it was two years after that tournament’s host and legend had died. For a player who grew up idolizing The King, it was a bittersweet accomplishment and a part of why Sunday at Muirfield Village is likely to mean more than the sum of its parts.

“To be able to walk up that hill from 18 and get that handshake from Jack would be pretty nice,” he said. “I won Arnold’s tournament a few years ago, but he had already passed by that time. So it would be so nice to be able to do it and have Jack be there.”

It’s been an interesting year for McIlroy both on and off the course, which at least partially explains a lightness in his step that had been missing. There was also a message from his sports psychologist, Bob Rotella, last week that appeared to resonate with the 23-time Tour winner: “You are going to win your fare share of golf tournaments. You tee it up to see what your fare share is.”

 

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Vladimir Guerrero Drives Home Winning Run, Jays Beat Mets

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Jays 2 Mets 1

Off the top, I’m pretty sure that’s the worst job we’ve seen from a plate umpire this year. He had no clue where the strike zone was. John Schneider got thrown out of the game after a particularly bad strike call on Vladimir Guerrero in the ninth.

Fortunately, Vlad still doubled down the third base line to bring in the winning run. Pretty amazing job after being down 1-2. George Springer had a one-out single and steal.

Our only other run came in the sixth. Brandon Belt led off with a double. Matt Chapman walked. Two outs later, Alejandro Kirk, singled home Belt.

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We had the bases loaded in the first but couldn’t get a run in. There were other chances but no luck.

In all we had 10 hits. Springer, Bichette, Belt and Kirk had two each. Chapman, Merrifield and Kiermaier had the 0 fors.


Jose Berrios was terrific. 5 innings, 4 hits, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts. 1 earned, scoring in the second inning, when he gave up a single to Starling Marte and a double to Daniel Vogelbach. But then he got three quick outs, and the Mets didn’t do much against him the rest of the way.

Trevor Richards, Nate Pearson (getting the win) and Erik Swanson (save #1 of the season), each pitched a scoreless inning. I didn’t understand pulling Richards after the one inning, but it all worked out. I think Pearson would have stayed out for another inning if the Jays didn’t take the lead.


Jays of the Day: Vlad (.310 WPA), Belt (.222), Swanson (.177), Berrios (.164), Pearson (.098) and Richards (.082).

The Other Award: Merrifield (-.376 for his 0 for) and Kiermaier (-.175 for his 0 for).

Tomorrow the Jays go for the sweep with Yusei Kikuchi (6-2, 4.47) vs. Kodai Senga (5-3, 3.44). It is to be a 1:30 Eastern start, but then today’s was to be a 4:00 Eastern start but the Mets had Al Leiter talking for 30 minutes about how great he was.

 

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