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Raptors who travelled to Utah for game vs. Jazz test negative for COVID-19

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Members of the Toronto Raptors who travelled with the team to Utah to face the Jazz have tested negative for COVID-19, the team announced Friday.

Results for one additional person associated with the Raptors are pending.

Toronto emphasized that these results will not change its current protocols involving self-quarantine and practising social distancing.

The tests were performed after news surfaced that Jazz centre Rudy Gobert — who the Raptors played Monday — tested positive for the virus. Since then, Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has tested positive as well.

Gobert’s positive test results began a sequence of events that ultimately led to the NBA deciding to suspend their season as a means of helping to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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Rookie Watch: Rangers' Fox best in Metropolitan Division – NHL.com

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The play of several high-profile rookies, including forwards Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and Kaapo Kakko of the New York Rangers, the No. 1 and No. 2 picks of the 2019 NHL Draft, respectively, is one of the major storylines of the 2019-20 season. Each Monday, NHL.com will examine topics related to this season’s class in the Rookie Watch.

With the NHL pausing the 2019-20 regular season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, we continue our look at the top NHL rookies in each division. This week, the top six in the Metropolitan Division (player ranking on Dec. 3 in parentheses after team):

1. Adam Fox, D, New York Rangers (2): He’s third among rookie defensemen with 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists), first with 57 takeaways and plus-22 and tied for third with 92 blocked shots while averaging 18:54 in ice time in 70 games. Fox needs three more takeaways to pass John Carlson (60 in 2010-11) of the Washington Capitals for most in a season by an NHL rookie defenseman since the League began tracking the statistic in 2005-06. The 22-year-old ranks sixth in Rangers history in points by rookie defensemen behind Brian Leetch (85), Reijo Ruotsalainen (56), Ron Greschner (45), James Patrick (44) and Mike McEwen (43).

“I knew his strengths were going to be able to be influential at this level,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “I didn’t know to what degree, but I knew he was going to be a good player at this level, he was going to be a smart player who was going to generate some offense and get us out of our end. When you watched him in college you just knew this kid had that special ability that was going to translate.”

Video: NYR@MTL: Fox nets wrister through screen in front

2. Martin Necas, F, Carolina Hurricanes (4): The 21-year-old right-handed shot leads Metropolitan Division rookies with 16 goals and 11 even-strength goals in 64 games. Necas ranks seventh among all rookies with 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) while averaging 14:10 in ice time. The Hurricanes control 51.9 of all shots attempted at even strength with Necas on the ice, first among rookie forwards in the division with at least 10 games played.

“I know when I first came over here at 16 (from Russia) it was so hard for me,” Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov said. “The game was so much faster and more physical. I think last year helped him so much to get ready for the NHL. As far as his skill, he’s so fast. When he gets the puck, you expect he’s going to do something good with it and have a good moment.”

Video: CAR@TOR: Necas roofs backhander home from the slot

3. Elvis Merzlikins, G, Columbus Blue Jackets (NR): The 25-year-old is tied for second among goalies with five shutouts (Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights; Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins). He’s a big reason the Blue Jackets are tied with the Hurricanes for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Merzlikins is 13-9-8 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 33 games.

“Merzlikins played a lot of games by the way of the injury to Joonas Korpisalo and was lightning in a bottle for them on a team that is still in contention,” NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes said. “Especially considering the fact that Korpisalo was selected to the All-Star Game this year (but didn’t play because of injury). Merzlikins has taken the League by storm.”

Video: NYR@CBJ: Merzlikins slides across to stone Zibanejad

4. John Marino, D, Pittsburgh Penguins (5): Marino ranks third among division rookies with 26 points (six goals, 20 assists), 77 blocked shots and 37 takeaways while averaging 20:15 in ice time in 56 games. The 22-year-old had seven points (one goal, six assists) in a six-game point streak (Nov. 16-27), the longest among rookies this season.

“Marino (6-foot-1, 181 pounds) is big and strong, he can really skate, defends well, has a good stick, and he is brave,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s willing to take hits to make plays. He can hang onto the puck, take a hit and make a subtle pass, a four-foot pass that helps us get out of our end clean with possession.”

5. Mackenzie Blackwood, G, New Jersey Devils (NR): Blackwood leads rookie goalies in wins (22), starts (43), saves (1,328) and shots against (1,452). He is 22-14-8 with a 2.77 GAA, .915 save percentage and three shutouts in 47 games. The 23-year-old was 8-2-2 with a 2.28 GAA and .936 save percentage in his past 12 games prior to the NHL pause March 12.

6. Jack Hughes, F, New Jersey Devils (1): The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Hughes ranks first among division forwards in shots on goal (123) and average ice time (15:52) and is third among division rookies with four power-play goals. The 18-year-old, who has been asked to do a lot in his first NHL season in a top-six role, has drawn 16 penalties and ranks second among division rookies with 42 takeaways.

[RELATED: Top Atlantic Rookies | Top Central Rookies | Top Pacific Rookies]

Head to Head comparison

Hughes and Kakko each have spent much of the season learning what it takes to experience NHL success and though it may have taken longer than many have expected, there’s no doubt the future looks bright for each player. The Devils (average age, 25.7) and Rangers (average age, 26.0) are the two youngest teams in the NHL.

Kaapo Kakko, F, New York Rangers

Games: 66

G-A-Pts: 10-13-23

Shots on goal: 109

Average ice time: 14:16

Telling stat: Tied with Fox for fifth among rookies with 13 power-play points. 

Jack Hughes, F, New Jersey Devils

Games: 61

G-A-Pts: 7-14-21

Shots on goal: 123

Average ice time: 15:52

Telling stat: Ranks fourth among NHL rookies in face-offs taken (462) and sixth in face-off wins (167), leading all first-year players with 38 wins on the power play.

Morreale’s Calder Trophy frontrunners

1. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche: Leads rookies in points per game (0.88) with at least five games played, and all rookie defensemen in goals (12), power-play goals (four) and even-strength goals (eight). 

2. Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks: First among rookies with 53 points (eight goals, 45 assists) and 25 power-play points (three goals, 22 assists) in 68 games.

3. Dominik Kubalik, F, Chicago Blackhawks: First among rookies with 30 goals, 38 even-strength points and 157 shots on goal and third with 46 points in 68 games.

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Short Shifts Greiss offers food, supplies to people affected by coronavirus – NHL.com

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Thomas Greiss wants to do whatever he can to help people affected by the coronavirus.

The New York Islanders goalie offered to share food, order supplies or help anyone suffering during the pandemic in a post on Instagram on Saturday.

Instagram from @thomasgreiss1: More information

“Please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach or worry about doing without,” Greiss said in the post. “Don’t be afraid or embarrassed. Just send me a private message. We might not have it, but (we) will be more than happy to share whatever food or supplies we have.” 

Greiss’ good deed came after fellow Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov led his teammates in donating 3,000 N95 masks to Northwell Health system on Long Island that were delivered Thursday

“We are all in this together,” Greiss continued in the post. “Be kind to one another. This is temporary and [we’ll] get through this together.”

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NHL players help health care workers in fight against coronavirus – NHL.com

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NHL players have united to help health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers and Semyon Varlamov, along with his New York Islanders teammates, purchased and arranged delivery of N95 masks to hospitals in their market over the past few days to aid health care workers in the fight against the coronavirus.

The players arranged the purchase of the masks and the donations. The NHL season has been paused since March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Panarin, a forward in his first season with the Rangers, donated 1,500 masks to Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. They were delivered Friday.

“We are so grateful for Artemi Panarin’s incredibly generous gift of N95 masks to HSS,” said Dr. Bryan Kelly, the surgeon-in-chief at Hospital for Special Surgery. “Along with his teammates, Panarin also created a video thanking HSS for our commitment to helping NYC during this pandemic. On behalf of every clinical staff member at HSS, we would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Panarin for his generosity during this time. Additionally, we’d like to thank Jim Ramsay, head athletic trainer for the Rangers, for his help coordinating their efforts.”

Bobrovsky, who in his first season as Panthers goalie donated $100,000 to help BB&T Center workers stabalize their situations with no events at the venue, donated thousands of masks to multiple hospitals in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida area.

Varlamov, also a goalie in his first season with New York, led his Islanders teammates in donating 3,000 masks to Northwell Health system on Long Island that were delivered Thursday.

Tweet from @GiveToNorthwell: A heartfelt thanks to the @NYIslanders for supporting our Northwell Health #healthcareheroes with your delivery of N95 masks this week! pic.twitter.com/VKCHLZga1T

“A heartfelt thanks to the @NYIslanders for supporting our Northwell Health #healthcareheroes with your delivery of N95 masks this week!” Northwell Health Foundation tweeted from the @GiveToNorthwell account.

On Sunday, the Vegas Golden Knights announced that they would provide over 7,500 meals to doctors, nurses and employees of hospitals in their area. The program will be funded by various Golden Knights players and staff as well as the Golden Knights Foundation.

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