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NHL trade, free agency buzz – What we're hearing ahead of the 2022 draft – ESPN

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MONTREAL — The NHL’s general managers met on the eve of the 2022 NHL draft. What their meeting lacked in rules changes or policy news, it made up for with post-meeting news and buzz on trades, free agents and other league matters.

Here’s a glimpse at what was said, and heard, in Montreal on Wednesday, including the latest buzz on pick trades, progress on deals for Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin, and what comes next for Evander Kane:

Prepare for players — and picks — in motion

The lead up to any draft includes some degree of trade talks.

This year, general managers sound braced for even more potential movement than usual. And that could start early in Thursday’s first round.

“I do think there’ll be quite a few trades this week,” Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher said. “And [then] what that means with draft slots. We’re open to moving [pick] No. 5 and yet No. 5 hasn’t been moved once in 20 years. Teams typically don’t move back or move out of a high pick. It happens infrequently, but I think everyone’s exploring, and maybe by virtue of the fact that it is a flatter draft, the other teams are more willing to consider moving back.”

There were only three picks swapped in the opening round of last year’s draft, but that was preceded by one blockbuster trade (Seth Jones going from Columbus to Chicago for Adam Boqvist — who’s three-year, $7.8 million extension with the Blue Jackets was announced on Wednesday — and three picks) plus a couple other significant moves as well.

How might this year be different? For starters, it’s the first draft since 2019 where general managers are congregating in the same building, with the opportunity to once again conduct business in person.

“The unpredictability of all of this certainly does get enhanced when we’re in close quarters like that,” Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said. “I think there could be a chance that those things happen.”

The NHL also remains, for the most part, a flat salary cap world. There will be a $1 million bump for next season — up to $82.5 million — but that’s hardly much reprieve for those teams already up against the ceiling. Cutting deals is a good way to create breathing room, and those clubs that require it are going into Thursday with strategy in hand, and some prior knowledge of what the competition is thinking, too.

“In your mind you want to imagine that everyone’s gonna get together in there and you’re gonna sit until you strike [something],” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said. “But I think there’s a lot of communication that goes on well before. Everyone, by this time, knows what all the other teams are trying to achieve. Now is more about executing it and plans being put into place and there being some activity. With the large majority of teams very close to the cap, there’s always jockeying and different things that are happening and cap space is very scarce throughout the league.”

Will it stretch all the way to Montreal and the No. 1 pick in the draft? The Canadiens have first crack at this season’s pool of prospects and GM Kent Hughes said on Wednesday if the draft were on that night, he’d be using his first overall selection on a player. Could that change by Thursday?

We’ll be watching to find out.

“I think there’s always a lot of [trade talk] leading into a draft,” Hughes said. “Some years, it translates into a lot of movement and other years it doesn’t. But I would imagine by the end of tomorrow night the draft order will be different than what it is today.”


Penguins close with Kris Letang, not Evgeni Malkin

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said he expects to get something done “real soon” with defenseman Letang, who is a pending unrestricted free agent.

“We have a few details we’re still working through,” Hextall said, adding that he would be surprised if Letang didn’t return to the Penguins on a new deal. There have been rumblings that Letang, 35, would sign a three-year extension, but late word is that it could go longer. He’s spent all 16 seasons of his NHL career with the Penguins.

Hextall was less optimistic about talks with pending free-agent center Evgeni Malkin. The general manager said he couldn’t say if the Penguins would get Malkin signed before the start of free agency on July 13.

“They’re at a different stage right now. We’re just going to continue to work with his representatives and hopefully get Geno under contract,” Hextall said of Malkin, who has also played 16 seasons with Pittsburgh.

Malkin made $9.5 million in salary last season. Letang made $7.25 million.


Canucks won’t ink J.T. Miller before draft

Vancouver Canucks GM Patrik Allvin had to laugh when asked if he could get a contract extension done with the star forward before the NHL draft.

“I guess it’s about 24 hours? So I’m not super optimistic,” he said.

The 29-year-old forward sits one year away from unrestricted free agency. That status has led to widespread speculation that Miller could be moved this offseason, potentially this week.

Allvin said the team hadn’t indicated that the draft was a deadline to get a new contract done. “We haven’t said anything like that. We’re open,” the general manager said, adding that he had “good talks” with Miller’s agents.

“I guess anything can happen. We’ll wait and see here,” he said.


Oilers GM: Nothing imminent with Evander Kane

After getting his contract terminated with the San Jose Sharks for violation of the team’s COVID-19 policy, Evander Kane found a home with the Edmonton Oilers. Specifically, he found a home next to Connor McDavid, scoring 22 goals in 43 regular-season games and then 13 more in 15 playoff games.

At a time when Kane’s stock was lowest, GM Ken Holland threw Kane a lifeline with a $2,108,696 contract for the rest of the 2021-22 season. But securing his services beyond that will be difficult.

“We’re a week away. And at this stage of the game, anything is a possibility,” Holland said. “I’m not here telling you I’m close to any kind of a deal. You can wake up tomorrow and things [have] changed. But is there a possibility that he’s on the market July 13? Absolutely.”

The Oilers GM said he had “lots of talks” with Kane’s agent Dan Milstein. Multiple reports have indicated Kane is seeking a long-term contract that could rival the $7 million average annual value of his deal with San Jose.

Holland’s wager: That with the salary cap rising by only $1 million and other competitive teams facing cap crunches with their own players, the market for Kane might not be as robust as his camp hopes.

“Obviously we’re tight on the cap,” the GM said. “Many, many teams are tight on the cap. So I think we all have to get to a certain place, maybe the 13th of July, and figure out what’s going on.”

Then there’s the San Jose question. Kane and the NHLPA filed a grievance against the Sharks after the termination of Kane’s deal for “a breach of his NHL Standard Player Contract and for violation of the AHL COVID-19 protocols.” There is still no date set for a second hearing between Kane and the Sharks, and it’s not expected before free agency starts.

Holland said that complicates things as far as Kane and free agency.

“It is what it is. It’s unique. I don’t really know,” Holland said. “We’re really sort of winging it.”


The New Jersey Devils have made a significant offer in term and dollars to restricted free-agent winger Bratt. Sources tell ESPN that the club is waiting for a counteroffer from Bratt’s camp to get negotiations rolling.

“Bratt’s a tremendous player that we want to hold onto,” GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We’ve made Jesper an offer that shows the commitment that the [owners] have in him. You don’t make the offers that we’ve made with the intentions of not having the player.”

There is speculation that Bratt’s representatives could be in search of an offer sheet for the restricted free agent, rather than negotiating terms with the Devils. New Jersey has ample cap space to match any offer sheet.

One thing is clear: The Devils aren’t seeking to move Bratt at this time despite the difficulties in the talks.

“I have never had Jesper Bratt on the trading block,” Fitzgerald said.


Toronto lacking in cap space — and a No. 1 goalie

Toronto doesn’t have a clear-cut starting goaltender signed for next season. And they have limited room available in order to get that done.

CapFriendly projects the Leafs with about $6.4 million in space for 2022-23. A large portion of that will need to be invested in a goaltender. It just may not be with the team’s incumbent starter — and pending unrestricted free agent — Jack Campbell.

Despite ongoing discussions between the sides, Toronto has failed to settle on an extension with Campbell. The 30-year-old is coming off the first season of his career as a full-time starter, posting a 31-9-6 record, with a .914 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average.

After years of being a perennial backup, Campbell has played his way into a No. 1 job — and salary. The Leafs are aware that comes at a steep cost.

“Obviously it’s getting close to decision time for everybody,” Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said. “And especially for Jack, because it’s a life-altering event. It’s no secret goaltending is a priority for us. And so we’ll continue to speak with them here this week, through the weekend and be well prepared going into next week for where we want to go.”

The Leafs have Petr Mrazek under contract for the next two seasons after Dubas inked the veteran last summer to a three-year, $11.4 million pact. Mrazek was injured for much of last season and was streaky when he did appear, going 12-6-0 with an .888 SV% and 3.34 GAA.

Mrazek missed the end of the Leafs regular season and first-round playoff series against Tampa Bay with a groin injury. Dubas has remained impressed by Mrazek’s resiliency and doesn’t doubt he can rebound.

“Many times during the year, [Mrazek] steps out in front of everyone [in the media] and accepts when he hasn’t played to the level that he feels he’s capable of,” Dubas said. “If I’m forecasting and betting on him, do I bet that he was the goalie he was last year in the 20 games? Or do I bet he was the goalie he was for the 270 [games] before, which was a .910 save percentage guy that gave his team a chance to win? I’d probably bet on the larger sample, and that’s where Petr fits into it at this time.”

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Eugenie Bouchard happy to feel the burn after successful return to tennis – Sportsnet.ca

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Her first match left her exhausted physically and mentally, but Eugenie Bouchard couldn’t be happier.

After a 17-month layoff recovering from right shoulder surgery the native of Westmount, Que., is back playing tennis at the Odlum Brown VanOpen.

“The goal of surgery and coming back is to be able to play exactly how I want to and how I was playing before,” the 28-year-old former world No. 5 said Monday.

“This is what we do as athletes. The point is not to practice all the time, the point is to play.”

Bouchard opened the tournament Sunday night, teaming up with fellow Canadian Kayla Cross to defeat Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti and Elisabetta Cocciaretto in a doubles match.

“I was exhausted,” Bouchard said with a smile. “I started feeing tight in my body, my muscles were getting sore.

“It’s just that mental focus. To play in a match is different than practice. It’s about getting those reps in over and over again. I’ll get the endurance from that and be able to get back to playing matches totally normal, but it’s one baby step.”

Bouchard plays her first single match Tuesday against Arianne Hartoro of the Netherlands, a player she knows nothing about. Bouchard knows there may be bumps along the road and accepts being an underdog.

“Expectations are really low, expectations are on the floor,” said the two-time Canadian Press female Athlete of the Year. “My actions and my personal standards are high but in terms of results, we don’t know what to expect.

“I’ve never had to come back from surgery before, I’ve never had such a big injury. For me, it’s really ground zero.”

The Odlum Brown VanOpen ends Sunday. The tournament, which returns after missing two years due to COVID-19, has attracted 135 players to the Hollyburn Country Club battling for a combined purse of over US$274,360.

The men’s tournament, which has a top prize of $21,600, has been an ATP Challenger Tour event for several years. For the first time this year the women’s competition is a WTA 125 tournament with a $15,000 top prize.

Bouchard, who received a wild-card entry into the tournament, last played March 2021 at the Monterrey Open where she hurt her shoulder in a first-round match against Zhu Lin.

Bouchard became the first Canadian to advance to the singles final at Grand Slam in 2014 when she lost in the final at Wimbledon to Petra Kvitova. She also reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and French Open that year.

Since then, Bouchard has battled multiple injuries, including suffering a concussion after a fall in the dressing room at the U.S. Open.

Dealing with the injuries and time away from the game has been a learning experience.

“I’ve learned a lot in life and been through some really hard moments,” she said. “It’s really tested my patience having to be out for so long. It’s not like when you retire and you’re at peace with stopping. This is like a forced step. It’s hard to accept mentally.

“It made me realize how much I love tennis. There are so many other great things in life beside tennis, but it’s what I want to do now and for the next few years.”

Vancouver resident Rebecca Marino, who is also playing in this year’s tournament, understands the challenges Bouchard faces.

Marino burst onto the WTA Tour and reached a career-high No. 38 in 2011 before quitting the sport in 2013 due to depression. She returned to tennis in 2017 then missed another 18 months with an injury.

“To come back, not having competed in a match, it’s really hard to replicate that match feel from practice to competition,” she said. “There’s a lot of nerves in your first event, there’s a lot of challenges.”

Bouchard played at the Odlum Brown event as a junior in 2012, the same summer she won the Wimbledon junior girls’ title.

Other tennis stars who have played at the event include Marino, Milos Raonic, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Leylah Fernandez, Johanna Konta, Kevin Anderson, Vasek Pospisil, Marion Bartoli, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Bianca Andreescu, Taylor Fritz, Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova.

Bouchard knows she’s at the start of a new journey, but isn’t sure where it will end.

“The goal of the surgery and coming back is to be able to play exactly how I want to and how I was playing before,” she said. “It (the first match) went well, and everything is great. Now the goal is to just accumulate matches and hopefully everything stays fine with my shoulder.

“The journey is as long as it needs to be. I love playing tennis. I’m just here to do what I can.”

BASELINES: Two seeds in the women’s singles draw were uprooted Monday. Heather Watson of Britain eliminated eighth-seeded Elisabetta Cocciaretto of Italy 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, while Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva of Andorra bounced seventh-seeded Misaki Doi of Japan 6-3, 6-2. … Rebecca Marino of Vancouver will play American Emma Navarro on Tuesday in her first singles match at Hollyburn Country Club. … Gabriel Diallo of Montreal is the first Canadian men’s player to advance to the second round of singles after he knocked off world No. 154-ranked Belgian Zizou Bergs 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5). Diallo is ranked at 553rd in the world. … Vasek Pospisil of Vancouver will play his first singles match on Tuesday against Felipe Meligeni Alves of Brazil.

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Canada finishes preliminary round undefeated, top of group with win over Finland at world juniors – CBC Sports

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Ridly Greig was a little banged up after helping Canada to a big win at the world junior hockey championship on Monday.

Not only did the Ottawa Senators’ prospect score and contribute an assist in the 6-3 victory over Finland, he blocked some big shots when the Canadians ran into third-period penalty trouble.

“Whatever it takes to win, whatever it takes to do anything for the boys or kind of get some momentum, I’m going to do it,” Greig said. “Whether it’s stand in front of a slap shot, I’m going to do it.”

Special teams were the difference maker on Monday, with the Canadians going 2-for-2 on the power play while Finland was 1-for-5.

The Finns got their second stretch of five-on-three hockey with less than five minutes left on the clock when William Dufour joined Ethan Del Mastro in the penalty box.

Finland pulled goalie Leevi Merilainen just as Del Mastro’s penalty expired and with the extra man Roby Jarventie put a puck in off the glove of Canadian goalie Dylan Garand to make it 5-3.

Dufour sealed the score at 6-3 with an empty-net strike 18:13 into the third.

The Finns had a prime opportunity to eat into Canada’s lead with a minute-long two-man advantage midway through the final period.

Donovan Sebrango was sent to the box for high-sticking and less than a minute later, teammate Will Cuylee was tossed from the game for a knee-on-knee hit.

Canada weathered being down two men, then chewed through the four remaining minutes of the major penalty without conceding a goal.

WATCH | Bedard, McTavish lead Canada past Finland: 

Bedard and McTavish stay hot in Canada’s win over Finland

14 hours ago

Duration 1:06

Mason McTavish set up Connor Bedard for a first period goal in Canada’s 6-3 round robin win over Finland at the world juniors.

“I thought our penalty kill was elite today, so many guys blocking shots. And that’s a great sign for a team that’s trying to win something,” said Canada’s captain Mason McTavish, who had a goal and two assists in the win.

“Finland, they’re a great team. I think they were 3-0 coming into this, their power play is ridiculous. So the fact that our PK stood up there with one of the best power plays in the tournament is huge for us.”

Connor Bedard scored and contributed an assist for Canada (4-0-0), while Dufour, Brennan Othmann and Tyson Foerester also found the back of the net. Olen Zellweger tallied three assists.

Joakim Kemell scored and contributed an assist for Finland (3-1-0) and Samuel Helenius rounded out the scoring.

Canada’s Garand made 22 saves and Merilainen stopped 31 of 36 shots for the Finns.

Important result

The result was an important one for Canada, who finished the preliminary round atop Group A. They’ll face Group B’s Switzerland (1-3-0) in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Switzerland clinched its spot in the quarter-finals earlier on Monday with a 3-2 win over Austria (0-0-4).

Finland was disappointed with Monday’s result, said head coach Antti Pennanen.

“It was OK but it wasn’t enough. And we were angry after the game, that’s for sure,” he said.

A big goal early in the third whittled the Finns’ deficit to 5-2.

Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Topi Niemela fired a shot from the point and Kemell tipped it in from the slot for his third goal of the tournament.

Canada called for a coach’s challenge, arguing that the puck had gone off the netting before falling back to the ice ahead of the goal.

“The guys on the ice are generally the ones who can tell you what’s going on,” said head coach Dave Cameron. “My players were 100 per cent sure it went in [to the net]. So you trust your players.”

After an extended video review, officials determined the goal was good. The Canadians did not receive a delay-of-game penalty because officials said the review was “inconclusive.”

The Canadians dominated the middle frame, outshooting the Finns 20-5 and taking a 5-1 lead.

McTavish gave his country its second power-play goal of the game 16:17 into the period after Finland’s Rubin Rafkin was called for interference.

WATCH | Johnson scores highlight-reel goal:

Kent Johnson scores beautiful lacrosse-style goal at World Juniors

3 days ago

Duration 1:16

The Port Moody, B.C. native and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect put Canada up 2-1 against Czechia just before the end of the 1st period in their preliminary round matchup.

Zellweger sent the Anaheim Ducks’ prospect a pass from inside the blue line and McTavish uncorked a one-timer that flew over Merilainen’s shoulder stick side.

Thirty-one seconds into the second, Canada went up 4-1 after the Finnish goalie bobbled a shot by Joshua Roy.

Greig slid in on one knee to put the rebound in the back of the net with his third goal of the tournament.

Canada went into the first intermission up 3-1 after a late Finland goal.

A knot of players battled for the puck behind the Canadian net and Finland’s Kalle Vasisanen came up with it. He sent a pass to Helenius at the high hash marks and the L.A. Kings’ prospect got a shot up and over Garland’s shoulder with 57 seconds left in the period.

17-year-old phenom

Bedard put away his third goal of the tournament in memorable fashion 17:19 into the first.

Canada was penned in its own zone for an extended period, but the 17-year-old phenom showed no signs of exhaustion when he collected a cross-ice pass from McTavish at the blue line and sped into the faceoff circle.

He then ripped a blistering shot past Merilainen, pinging the puck off the inside of the crossbar to make it 3-0.

A power-play strike boosted Canada’s lead to 2-0 midway through the opening frame after Helenius was called for slashing.

Greig’s shot ricocheted off Merilainen’s pad but Foerester was in position to poke the rebound in from the top of the crease as he slid past the net.

Finland got off to a strong start, outshooting the host nation 4-0 across the first five minutes of the game.

It was Canada that opened the scoring, though, 6:21 into the first.

Defenceman Zellweger fired a long bomb from inside the blue line and Othmann batted it in past Merilainen.

The play was reviewed for a potential high stick but the goal — Othmann’s second of the tournament — was determined to be good after officials reviewed the video.

Reigning champion Americans also undefeated

The preliminary round wrapped Monday night with Group B’s Sweden (3-1-0) registering a 4-2 victory over Germany (2-2-0).

Sweden will battle Latvia (1-2-1) in the quarter-finals on Wednesday while Germany will face Finland.

The reigning champion Americans (4-0-0) also went undefeated in round-robin action and will play Czechia (1-2-1), the country commonly known as the Czech Republic, in the quarter-finals.

The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the medal games will go Saturday.

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Three Stars from Day 6 of WJC: Bergmanis steals the show in Latvia’s historical win – Sportsnet.ca

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In a slate of games featuring the likes of Sweden, Finland and the United States, the showstopper of Day 6 at the World Juniors was Latvia.

The tiny country notched its first ever win in WJC preliminary round play and by the same token hopped over Czechia and Slovakia into third place in Group A.

Latvian captain Ralf Bergmanis scored a hat trick and his team downed Czechia 5-3. They will play a World Juniors quarterfinal game for the first time in the country’s history.

Needless to say, the young men in burgundy were quite thrilled.

Finland had no pity for Slovakia and continued their solid run in the tournament with a 9-3 win. The Young Lions were 5-for-7 on the power play, sending their next opponents Canada a message to stay disciplined for their final preliminary round game on Monday.  

Slovakia saw their chances to play a quarterfinal game crumble before their eyes in the next game. Sitting in the stands, Slovak players held their heads in their hands as Bergmanis scored his third goal from across the ice into an empty net.

The Americans outpaced Sweden for most of their battle for first place in Group B. Goaltending woes allowed the Junior Crowns to hope for a comeback but the red, white and blue weathered the late storm to clinch a 3-2 win.

The Swedes will play Germany on Monday and the winner will end the preliminary round in second place.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 6 of the World Juniors:

3rd star: Matt Coronato, USA

Coronato’s scoring ability is more than evident. If you give an inch, he’ll take a mile.

The five-foot-10 winger added two goals to his World Juniors tally and helped the Americans finish atop Group B. Coronato is now tied with his country-mate Carter Mazur as the tournament’s second-leading goalscorer with four.

The Calgary Flames’ 13th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft showed his eye for goal with his second marker of the night. Off a Swedish turnover, Coronato bagged the eventual game-winner with a sniper’s goal.

Coronato notched his first goal of the game in the second period when he pounced on a rebound from a shot by Logan Cooley. The soon-to-be Harvard sophomore made Sweden goalie Jesper Wallsted look bad by lodging the puck under his blocker and into the net.

2nd star: Kasper Simontaival, Finland

There’s no shame in being opportunistic, especially if it earns you points in return. Simontaival did exactly that to bridge the gap between the Finns and Slovaks. The winger finished the game with three points (two goals, one assist) including one assist on the power play. 

The LA Kings third-rounder in 2020 stood by the slot and pounced on a rebound to give Finland a power-play goal 34 seconds into the second period. The goal was later given to Roni Hirvonen, who had touched the puck last. 

Both players also combined in the first period, this time Hirvonen found Simontaival in the slot for the goal. 

Simontaival notched his second goal of the game in the third period when he was, once again, in front of the net. He redirected Aatu Raty’s pass in the back of the net and gave Finland an 8-3 lead. 

The 20-year-old even screened goalie Tomas Bolo for Finland’s ninth goal of the game courtesy of Kasper Puutio. Bottom line, sticking around dangerous areas is paying off for the five-foot-nine winger.

1st star: Ralfs Bergmanis, Latvia

Captain Latvia came through for the motherland. Charles and Nikolaj Boyle from Brooklyn’s 99th precinct would be proud.

Bergmanis opened his tournament account and finished the game as the hat trick hero, lifting his country into the knockout round. 

Bergmanis completed his hat trick in an empty net, from behind his own net. A rink-long shot sealed his team’s victory, as the disillusioned Slovak players watched their elimination from the stands.

[brightcove videoID=6310886309112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Latvia took a first-period lead and right as Czechia attempted the comeback with an equalizing goal in the second, the University of Vermont commit got to work. Bergmanis regained Latvia’s lead when his shot from the point in traffic found the back of the net. 

Bergmanis then gave his country a two-goal lead on the power play. From the point, the blueliner broke Frantisek Nemec’s ankles before beating Czech netminder Jan Bednar with a wrister. 

The 20-year-old is still undrafted but he sure made a lot of eyes look his way in one of the biggest games in Latvian junior hockey history. 

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