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NHL trade grades: Maple Leafs get Ryan O’Reilly, their possible ‘missing piece’



The trade

Maple Leafs get: Ryan O’Reilly (50 percent of salary retained by Blues, 25 percent by Wild), Noel Acciari and Josh Pillar

Blues get: Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette, Toronto’s first-round selection in the 2023 draft, Ottawa’s third-round selection in the 2023 draft and Toronto’s second-round selection in the 2024 draft

Wild get: Maple Leafs’ fourth-round selection in the 2025 draft

Eric Duhatschek: So, what looks like a complicated three-way trade among the Leafs, Blues and Wild — which officially included nine separate pieces — really comes down to this: Toronto spent big to pick up the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Ryan O’Reilly, in a bid to end one of the most puzzling, frustrating, lengthy examples of playoff futility. An inability to win a round since 2004. An inability to win a championship since 1967.

Is O’Reilly the missing piece? Based on the evidence of this season alone, maybe not. He’s had an up-and-down time of it, with just 19 points in 40 games overall, looking as if the years are taking their toll on a heart-and-soul player who bleeds team and oozes leadership.

But he’s been better of late, after recovering from a broken foot and returning to the Blues’ lineup following a 14-game absence, and has managed three points in three games. Ultimately, the Leafs are banking on the fact that when the postseason begins, pedigree matters.

With O’Reilly on board, the Leafs make up a small bit of ground on the vast lead that the Tampa Bay Lightning have in playoff experience — and who’s kidding who? With two months to go in the season, it would take a miracle for Toronto’s first-round opponent to be anyone other than the battle-tested Lightning. One could argue that Toronto has questions in goal and on defense, in addition to the fact that they are a touch soft up front.

O’Reilly balances the scales a little and Noel Acciari, serviceable and experienced, is a useful depth add, though there is no point in overrating what he brings either. In 54 career playoff games, Acciari has seven points. He’ll battle for the Leafs in the trenches, but his contributions will mostly be in providing invisible minutes and the ability to push back when the likes of Pat Maroon and Corey Perry try to flex their muscles against a Leafs team with a softish bottom six.

The acquisition cost — not just to land O’Reilly, but to get the Minnesota Wild to soften the financial blow — ends up being four draft picks: a first, a second, a third and a fourth, spread out over four years. The third pick originally belonged to Ottawa, which Toronto acquired when they agreed to take Matt Murray and his contract off the Senators’ hands. One could still argue that Toronto’s biggest question mark remains in goal, and that when they do play the Lightning, the gap between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Ilya Samsonov will be cavernous.

There’s only value in surrendering that much draft capital if you win. Not so much if you lose. Could the Leafs have spent that elsewhere? Maybe. It all hinges on what O’Reilly ultimately brings to the mix — and if his presence ends that long, lengthy playoff drought.

The Blues get a player, Adam Gaudette, who has been almost a point-a-game player in the AHL but really doesn’t project as an NHLer anymore, plus 2019 fourth-rounder Mikhail Abramov. Minnesota essentially buys a fourth-round pick for retaining a quarter of O’Reilly’s salary.

Maple Leafs grade: B
Blues grade: B-plus
Wild grade: B

Dom Luszczyszyn: Four years ago, O’Reilly won the Selke Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup. That O’Reilly is probably not walking through the door for the Maple Leafs, not after his weakest season in years. The idea of the man is a bit bigger than what the man actually is, but the Leafs are still acquiring a strong, smart player with playoff pedigree. He’s just in need of a lesser role.

If you’re expecting a top-line center, like what O’Reilly had been for the past half-decade or so, chances are you’ll be disappointed. At age 32, O’Reilly’s game has dropped below that level this season as he’s struggled to produce anywhere near his usual rate. But the Leafs don’t need O’Reilly to be a top-line center; they already have two of the game’s best. They need someone who can lead the supporting cast, and that’s a role O’Reilly should be able to thrive in.

O’Reilly’s value has dropped every year since 2018-19, but he’s still projected to be worth 1.2 wins. That may even be modest, given some of the bad luck he’s faced this year compared to years prior and the context of his minutes. O’Reilly’s minutes are tougher than 97 percent of the league this season, but they surely won’t be in Toronto, where he’ll play either on one of the top two lines or in a lessened shutdown role in the bottom six. Either way, he should put up better numbers with the Leafs.

There is some concern with O’Reilly at both ends of the ice this season that make his acquisition a bit of a risk. He’s allowing chances and goals at the highest rate of his career and while he’s creating a lot of chances the other way, they aren’t going in. Relative to teammates, his impact on goals has been negative for two straight seasons. Maybe that’s bad luck, but it’s one reason to be cautious about calling the move a certified slam dunk.

The Leafs need it to be, because they paid a huge cost in draft picks to make it happen. Toronto shipped out first-, second-, third- and fourth-round picks to make the money work — a hefty price — and added Acciari as well. St. Louis did very well to get that much for a declining asset and should be commended for getting top dollar back despite a down season for O’Reilly.

That huge cost won’t matter if it works, and O’Reilly very well might be the piece that puts Toronto over the top. But it’s still a risk to essentially go all-in on a 32-year-old coming off an injury and playing well below his usual standards. O’Reilly’s reputation is sterling enough to make him a worthwhile target, and his playoff resume is obviously attractive to a team like the Leafs, who are desperate to finally take the next step. It’s time to see if he lives up to the hype and gets them there.

Maple Leafs grade: B
Blues grade: A
Wild grade: B

(Photo of Ryan O’Reilly: Bob Frid / USA Today)

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship



Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game



Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City



Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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