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Oilers sign Devin Shore, Ryan Stanton to professional tryout deals –



EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have signed forward Devin Shore and defenceman Ryan Stanton to professional tryout agreements.

The 26-year-old Shore had five goals and seven assists in 45 games last season with the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Shore has 106 points (39 goals, 67 assists) in 288 career NHL games over five seasons with the Dallas Stars, Anaheim and Columbus.

The 31-year-old Stanton had two goals and three assists in 36 American Hockey League games with the Ontario Reign last season.

The six-foot-two Stanton has 27 points (four goals, 23 assists) in 120 career NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks.

Stanton also has signed an AHL contract with Bakersfield, Edmonton’s affiliate, for this season.

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Blue Jays’ big swing on Springer marks turning point for franchise –



TORONTO – After years spent trying to raise the roster’s floor, the Toronto Blue Jays are now raising the franchise’s ceiling.

A $150-million, six-year deal with free-agent outfielder George Springer that is pending a physical, according to an industry source, is certainly one way to do just that, marking a significant inflection point for the franchise.

The agreement is the richest in Blue Jays history, moving past the $126-million, seven-year extension Vernon Wells signed in December 2006, and is easily the club’s deepest free-agency plunge, nearly doubling the $82-million, five-year deal for Russell Martin in November 2014.

On the heels of the $80-million, four-year deal for Hyun-Jin Ryu last winter – the biggest outlay to a pitcher by the Blue Jays – this is a stride by president and CEO Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins back toward the upper third of the big-leagues, with room to grow.

Assuming that Springer’s salary is spread evenly at $25 million a year, the Blue Jays now have just under $100 million committed to 12 players for the upcoming season, with more moves to come. Factor in roughly $10 million for pre-arbitration eligible players, they can still make adds without blowing too far past their pre-pandemic projected 2020 spend of $108 million.

The financial efficiency of the current roster will diminish somewhat in the coming years when salaries for the club’s young core escalate as they become arbitration-eligible.

But assuming life regains more normalcy in 2022 and beyond and the Blue Jays deliver on their potential, revenue growth should keep pace with the escalating payroll, allowing them to not only make attempts to retain the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio before they become eligible for free agency after 2025, but to keep augmenting the roster, too.

In that way, going big now for Springer – an athletic centre-fielder with a strong, positive presence, seasons of 3.9, 4.5, 5.0 and 6.5 WAR as calculated by FanGraphs and a track record of post-season performance – makes sense.

There are some similarities between where the Blue Jays are right now and where they were in the late 1990s, with young, deeply talented rosters positioned to rejuvenate the business after a fall from grace.

Back then, former GM Gord Ash was forced to work around the indifferent ownership of Interbrew S.A., the major coup of signing Roger Clemens undermined when he asked out after the 1998 season, and the roster was never sufficiently reinforced with external adds.

Failing to leverage a talented young group featuring Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, Shannon Stewart, Alex Gonzalez, Chris Carpenter, Kelvim Escobar and Roy Halladay is a haunting missed opportunity, and failing to bolster the group now would have been similarly damaging.

In Springer, the Blue Jays are adding a proven elite performer to support Guerrero, Bichette, Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Danny Jansen and Nate Pearson, putting the 31-year-old in place to do a good chunk of the heavy lifting.

Beyond that, he makes the Blue Jays a much deeper club, and one thing they have aspired to is creating surplus on the roster, allowing them to better survive injuries and to mitigate against underperformance.

That’s why the report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic saying the Blue Jays would continue to explore adding Michael Brantley, Springer’s close friend and Houston Astros teammate, makes sense, even if as a left fielder/DH, he’s a positional redundancy.

For one, surplus creates the opportunity for trades and Gurriel, for one, has wide appeal given his abilities and a very efficient $14.7 million total price tag for the next three seasons. But the Blue Jays would also be fine carrying more talent than available at-bats, knowing the inevitable attrition of a major-league season will largely sort that out.

Such an approach has allowed the Los Angeles Dodgers to be a sustainable winner, which is what the Blue Jays hope to become. It was a telling moment at the trade deadline last summer when Atkins pointed to the now defending World Series champions as the model to follow.

“It’s never all-in at one time – it’s a steady growth,” he said Aug. 31, when asked to contrast the Blue Jays’ approach to that of the San Diego Padres. “They continue to build up their system. They’ve continued to make their 40-man roster more efficient and obviously very effective. It’s important to be measured, and there isn’t one juncture where, in our view, that you put all the cards on the table. For us it will be, hopefully, continuing to be able to build and have a system that continues to provide talent for us, and not just trade pieces. That’s our goal.

“We’ll hope to continue to be measured. At the same time, it’s not without making really significant deals that mean very, very high prices. But it’s too hard to say on when exactly that time will be where those bigger deals occur.”

That time arrived late Tuesday night and it’s a turning point for the franchise, a significant step after near-misses this off-season for Francisco Lindor and D.J. LeMahieu, among others.

The Blue Jays needed an add like Springer, not only to placate fans who eye-rolled their way through months of reporting that linked the team to every free agent of consequence, but also to be credible to their own players, to show them that they can get the help they need.

Many needs, however, remain.

The rotation requires a boost and the pending-physical deals with Tyler Chatwood on Monday and Kirby Yates on Tuesday, the latter for one year at $5.5 million with the potential for $4.5 million more in bonuses for appearances, per a source, demonstrate how they’re trying to protect themselves with a deep bullpen.

The Blue Jays also intend to add an infielder, while Brantley, a left-handed hitter, would help balance a lineup that’s nearly totally right-handed if signed.

No matter, after adding Springer, they are better, much better, in so many different ways.

The cost was steep and the back-end of such deals aren’t usually pretty, but that’s OK. Adding an extra year and the extra dollars is simply the price of doing business.

More important is that the Blue Jays didn’t play it safe, didn’t shy away from the risk, and rather than finding the reasons to say no when the moment of truth arrived, they turned the franchise in a new direction by saying “yes” instead.

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Three potential reasons why the Toronto Raptors have waived Alex Len – Raptors Rapture



Alex Len has just been waived by the Toronto Raptors, which is important because it is most likely signaling another transaction.

The Raptors were not making this move for cap space, as Alex Len was signed to a very small contract, but the team was using up all 15 contracts that the team is allotted. Therefore, another player is probably coming into the fold to replace Alex Len.

Yuta Watanabe being converted to a one-way contract.

Yuta Watanabe has been a pleasant surprise for the Toronto Raptors coming off of the bench this season. He picked up the Raptors’ defensive schemes very quickly and was able to come in off the bench. While he is not a flashy offensive player, his strong defense quickly turned him into a fan favorite with the team.

Alex Len being waived opens up an extra one-way contract spot, which would allow Yuta Watanabe to come in and take that spot. If Watanabe were to remain on his two-way contract, the Raptors would have to abide by the rule of only being able to play him for 50 games. If they were to do this, the Toronto Raptors must be very confident in Aron Baynes and Chris Boucher at the centre position.

A potential trade for another centre.

Toronto Raptors – Marvin Bagley and Chris Boucher (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Perhaps the team waived Alex Len to open up a contract spot for a potential trade. There are a few centres on the market, such as Marvin Bagley and Andre Drummond, and trading for a new centre may have needed the Raptors to take on an additional contract. This waiving could mean a lot of things in a possible trade, but the most important thing here is that it opens a roster spot.

Marvin Bagley is an intriguing player. He has had some injury issues, but his player progression timeline fits much better with Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and the other young players on the roster. Making a move for him would allow him to complement Chris Boucher’s skillset very well, and he still has a ton of time to improve, only being drafted in 2018.

The Raptors 905 stand out

The Raptors 905 has begun their training for the upcoming G league bubble, and the Toronto Raptors most likely did some scouting on their practice. The Raptors have always been known for their ability to use the G-League to develop prospects, so maybe someone like Dewan Hernandez or Henry Ellenson performed well.

Ellenson, in particular, was not bad offensively during the preseason games this season, but Yuta Watanabe’s outstanding play made him not make the team. Perhaps the team liked what they saw from Ellenson’s offense, and thinks that they can bring him in to provide more offense from the centre position while also bringing more size than Chris Boucher too.

Dewan Hernandez is an interesting player for the Raptors to consider. He had major injury issues during his first season with the team, but perhaps the team is thinking that he has bounced back well from his injury.

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As Jets build foundation, comeback win over Senators an important step –



WINNIPEG — When it comes to building this foundation, the Winnipeg Jets are going to need to spend a bit more time tightening the screws.

Becoming a more defensively-conscious and detail-oriented team was never going to be an overnight process for this group, but Tuesday’s rousing comeback from a two-goal deficit could represent an important step in that process.

No, this wasn’t a defensive clinic by any stretch of the imagination, but the Jets stuck with it after falling behind 3-1, scored with the goalie on the bench in favour of an extra attacker with 77 seconds left to play and then earned the bonus point when Andrew Copp sent Nikolaj Ehlers in all alone on Matt Murray during the three-on-three session.

Instead of having to listen to the outside noise that comes with a two-game losing streak even if the season is just three games old, the Jets earned a 4-3 overtime triumph over the Ottawa Senators and quickly changed the tone of the narrative.

“That’s the most important piece for any team, that the score on the clock doesn’t dictate your effort level, your compete level. Maybe more important than all of it is your belief,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “That’s the foundation that’s most important to our team — build that belief that the next shift can be better, the next game can be better… that you’re always giving yourself a chance to win.

“Those comeback wins, the late comeback wins, have a really nice impact on your team, right? You carry those for a number of games, you always feel that you have a chance.”

The Jets and Senators meet again on Thursday at Canadian Tire Centre as Winnipeg wraps up a three-game swing and the two clubs play for the second time in this three-game mini-series.

Somewhat surprisingly, given his speed and skill set, it was the first overtime winner of Ehlers’ career.

Or was it?

Not so fast, says Ehlers, dipping into his memory bank while tossing in a side order of humour for good measure.

“My first year here, an own goal against Colorado,” Ehlers deadpanned during the post-game Zoom session.

Putting one into the proper net instead of sneaking an intended pass past an unsuspecting Michael Hutchinson back on Nov. 12 of 2016 brought a smile to Ehlers’ face.

“Personally, it’s obviously very nice to not just get one in OT but get the first of the year,” said Ehlers. “The team, we battled our asses off to stay in the game and get a chance to get the tying goal.”

Even one point was far from a certainty for the Jets after giving up a pair of power-play goals (one from Josh Norris, his first NHL marker, and another from Alex Galchenyuk) and an even-strength redirection from Chris Tierney before the game was 32 minutes old.

To that point, Adam Lowry had the lone marker for the Jets and his line with Mason Appleton and Copp was one of the only groups generating much offensive-zone time or pressure.

But Maurice got out the blender for the second time in as many nights — and this shake-up got the desired result.

After reuniting Kyle Connor on the top line with frequent linemates Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, the Jets produced an offensive spark.

“That’s our safe place,” said Maurice.

Thanks to a power-play marker from Connor (which was set up brilliantly by Wheeler), the Jets made it a one-goal game going into the second intermission.

Connor is up to three goals in three games — and he could easily be at five (or more), given the looks he’s had.

“He hasn’t had a lot go for him around the net,” said Maurice. “With the chances he’s generated or getting, he could have twice (as many goals of) what he has. Kyle is scratching the surface here. He hasn’t been lucky here in his start and he’s putting up great numbers.”

Then with the goalie on the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Josh Morrissey ripped a shot from the point through a double screen and it was tipped in by Wheeler with 1:17 left in regulation.

That set the stage for Ehlers’ heroics.

“He can be so dangerous, such a dynamic player late in a game,” said Maurice. “Just the speed to get into that hole and make the play that finishes it. We need him. We need him to feel confident and healthy and strong — and when he is, he’s so very dynamic.”

The most stable part of the foundation for the Jets to this point has been goaltending — and that should not come as much of a surprise, given that the reigning Vezina Trophy winner is on the roster.

After giving up three goals in the opening period against the Calgary Flames, Connor Hellebuyck has been brilliant over the next five periods and change, allowing only two markers in the next 50 shots that he faced.

Were it not for the brilliant play of Hellebuyck during the second period on Monday against the Maple Leafs, the Jets would have been blown out instead of having a chance in a game they really had no business being in.

Jets backup Laurent Brososit held up his end of the bargain on Tuesday, turning aside 16 of 18 shots on goal in the first period and finishing with 38 saves against the Senators.

Last season was a challenging one for Brossoit, but this performance was one he can build on.

Sometimes, all a backup needs to do is give his team a chance to win.

In others, stealing the game is required.

This one probably falls somewhere in the middle of those two categories.

“Very hard worker, very dedicated. He’s a guy that’s always prepared, that’s the best way to describe (Brossoit),” said Wheeler. “When his number gets called, you know you’re going to get a great performance from him because he just works so hard in between starts. He prepares his body and his mind, and I just think he’s always ready.

“We’re very fortunate that we have a goalie with (Hellebuyck) that can man a pretty great and strenuous workload, but even more fortunate — especially in a season like this — to have a guy like (Brossoit) ready to step up when his number’s called, when he might not get as many starts as he’s capable of handling.”

Entering the busiest stretch of the season, with six games over the span of nine nights, the Jets weren’t icing an optimal lineup — not with defencemen Dylan DeMelo (birth of his child) and Tucker Poolman (COVID Protocol Related Absence) back home in Winnipeg and forward Patrik Laine sidelined after suffering an upper-body injury that has him officially listed as day-to-day.

That’s a reason, not an excuse for the loose coverage and slow pace that was evident in the Jets’ play during a 3-1 defeat to the Maple Leafs on Monday.

After another slow start, it would have been easy for things to go sideways for the Jets on Tuesday.

Rather than get bogged down and frustrated, the Jets dug in and found a way to elevate their collective level of play.

“We were a way better team tonight,” said Wheeler. “Score wasn’t quite indicative of that, but we watched some video (Tuesday) morning, it wasn’t the way we want to play the game. It didn’t really fit into the type of culture we’ve established here in Winnipeg. Staying connected on the ice, helping each other out, giving each other easy outs, just those little things that make the game easier for everyone. We were much better in that area tonight, I think we felt good about where we stood in the game, kept clawing our way back and got some big plays at key times.”

One of the oddities for the Jets so far is that despite holding a record of 2-1, they haven’t actually played a single second of hockey with the lead.

Yet, thanks to a pair of comebacks that required overtime, the Jets have been able to bank four of a possible six points.

Chasing the game is not a recipe for success that can be sustained, though having the ability to rally is something the Jets will certainly look to build on as they continue the process of trying to build a stable foundation.

“We have some things we can work on,” said Ehlers. “We haven’t had the best starts to our games, obviously, that’s something we’re trying to change.

“But it shows that we don’t give up. If you’ve watched the games, you can see that. We find ways and we work hard to stay in the game and give ourselves a chance to get that tying goal and get ourselves some points.”

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