As the top-scoring defenceman at the 2020 World Junior Championship, Rasmus Sandin is making the most of his opportunity with Team Sweden. And when he comes back to North America, he may have an opportunity to return to the NHL “sooner than later,” according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
“Because he played six games earlier in the season, I do think at some point later this year we’re going to see him get in more games with the Maple Leafs,” Johnston said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
A Toronto Maple Leafs‘ first-round selection in 2018, Sandin played six games for the parent club in October, collecting two assists, five shots and an even rating with a 12:13 average ice time. The 19-year-old also has two goals and 12 points in 19 games with the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
If Sandin reaches the 10-game threshold at the NHL level, this season would count as the first year of his entry-level contract, thus making him eligible for restricted free agency following the 2021-22 season. But if he finishes the season with nine or fewer NHL games, Sandin’s contract would slide an extra year — and his $894,167 cap hit would not count against Toronto’s salary cap until next season.
“I don’t believe the Leafs believe that’s a priority,” Johnston said regarding Sandin playing fewer than 10 NHL games and preserving a year of his entry-level contract.
Maple Leafs News & Rumors: O'Ree, Simmonds, Hallander & More – The Hockey Writers
In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll report on Willie O’Ree’s new book about his life and hockey. I’ll also update how two young Swedish prospects are currently doing in the Swedish Hockey League.
I’ll also share the news that Auston Matthews has invested in a Swedish rollerblade company. Finally, I’ll report that Michael Hutchison, a goalie most Maple Leafs fans certainly remember well – if not happily – re-signed with the team today. I’ll share reasons why the organization signed Hutchison later in this post.
Item One: Willie O’Ree Publishes New Book About His Life
An article in the Globe & Mail today contained a short review of Willie O’Ree’s new book Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL’s First Black Player. What was most interesting to me was that Jarome Iginla wrote the foreword for the book, and the book jacket contains tributes to O’Ree from P.K. Subban, Grant Fuhr, and new Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds. (from “‘I’ve been blessed’: Willie O’Ree’s new book reflects on his time as the NHL’s first Black player,” Globe & Mail, 30/10/20)
Simmonds recalls learning about O’Ree when he was growing up in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto. Simmonds’ parents made a special point of pointing out the history of hockey and especially teaching their son how important O’Ree was to the Black community.
As Simmonds put it, “With what he went through, for him to continue on the path to play, made him a trailblazer not only for Black players but for players of other ethnicities as well. He really means everything to me.”
For those who might be interested in reading the book, it is filled with O’Ree’s stories as told to Canadian journalist and filmmaker Michael McKinley. It shares O’Ree’s journey from growing up in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to his NHL play, and then to his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
It also places O’Ree’s life and story squarely into the middle of the history of the civil rights movement by covering his experience facing segregation in the United States, including both the cheers and also the tirades from racists who attended NHL games.
In the end, after the difficulty of his life, O’Ree, who now lives in San Diego, California, shared his goal of working with McKinley to write the book. O’Ree noted: “In the book, I wanted people to know more about my hockey career. I wanted them to know what I have been involved with.”
Looking back, he summed up his life, “So many wonderful things happened in my lifetime, and I had never had an opportunity to share them. I’ve been blessed.”
It should be a good read.
Item Two: Two Young Maple Leafs Prospects Playing Well in the SHL
Even though most hockey in North America is on hold, the Maple Leafs have prospects playing in Europe as a way to continue their development. Two of these are young Swedes Filip Hallander and Pontus Holmberg.
Maple Leafs fans will recall that Hallander was a player general manager Kyle Dubas was seeking at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. However, Hallander went to the Pittsburgh Penguins as the 58th-overall selection. Dubas was able to retrieve him when Kasperi Kapanen was traded this offseason.
Hallander is a 20-year-old left-winger who’s now playing with Lulea (SHL). This season he started slowly, but he’s beginning to warm up on the score sheet. He’s shooting a ton and now has scored a goal and four assists in nine games. His reputation is that he’s good at puck possession and is willing to shoot the puck on net. He’s also known to have a high hockey IQ and is also good defensively. He plays with intelligence on all three zones of the ice.
Hallander will be coming to North America to start playing with the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies soon – perhaps even this season. He fits a typical profile for a young Swedish forward – he’s smart, skilled, and is sound on both offense and defense.
It might take him a number of seasons, but the Maple Leafs will need to replenish its core of forwards sooner or later. It will be no surprise if Dubas sees Hallander as a valuable future roster piece.
Like Hallander, Holmberg was selected in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but he was a Maple Leafs selection during the sixth round (156th overall). Holmberg is a 21-year-old left-winger who also plays some center.
He’s currently skating with the Vaxjo Lakers and is suddenly beginning to score, which has been unusual. He now has four goals and two assists in 11 games this season. The entire last season, he only scored seven goals and 17 points in 52 games.
Part of his success can be attributed to the fact that Vaxjo has a much stronger team. Part is that Holmberg is more comfortable in his role with the team. Right now, he’s playing for an NHL entry-level contract. However, he needs a good season for that to happen. Not every late-round draft choice is offered such a contract.
Maple Leafs fans will see if Holmberg’s scoring can be sustained. It obviously helps when a team isn’t constantly on its heels trying to protect against an offensive onslaught from a superior team game after game. When a team can mount some offense, positive things can happen.
Holmberg’s shown he’s a decent hockey player, but can he put up some points? If he can, he might become a good depth player in the Maple Leafs organization.
Item Three: Auston Matthews Is Getting Entrepreneurial
Yesterday, Elliotte Friedman tweeted that Maple Leafs star player Auston Matthews had become an investor in the Swedish roller-skating company Marsblade. He’s known to have put up between $1 and $1.5 million.
What’s Next with the Maple Leafs?
It seems as if Dubas is preparing the organization for the Seattle Expansion Draft scheduled for June 2021. Today, there was news the Maple Leafs had re-signed Michael Hutchison to a two-year contract. There’s no doubt that Hutchinson probably won’t play for the Maple Leafs anytime soon because he’ll be the organization’s fourth-string goalie. However, it’s interesting to see what the organization is thinking about these days.
It also, to my mind, shows some humanity on the organization’s part. Hutchinson was facing a season without a paycheque. Now he has one, so it’s a win-win for both the organization and for the player.
Everything has a purpose. If you’re a Maple Leafs fan and you’re scratching your head about why Hutchison was signed, think no further than it’s a temporary set up for the expansion draft.
Report: Hinch, Tigers progressing on deal – TSN
A.J. Hinch might be getting another chance.
The Detroit Tigers and the former Houston Astros bench-boss have made progress in finalizing a deal, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
The Tigers have made progress in finalizing a deal with A.J. Hinch to be their next manager, although the agreement is not yet completed.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 30, 2020
The report comes just a few days after Hinch’s season-long suspension stemming from the Astros sign-stealing scandal concluded when the World Series ended on Tuesday night.
Hinch spent five years as manager in Houston, going 481-329 in the regular-season and claimed a pair of American League pennants.
The Astros captured the 2017 World Series under Hinch, and registered three straight 100-or-more-win seasons.
At the age of 35, Hinch was named the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and spent parts of two season there in 2009 and 2010.
He was fired after losing 123 of his 212 games.
Hinch had a seven-year playing career as a catcher in the MLB and suited up 27 times for the Tigers in 2003.
His career also had stops in Oakland, Kansas City and Philadelphia.
Two tied for 36-hole lead at Bermuda Championship – pgatour.com
“This guy is pretty damn good for an old guy,” said Taylor, who shot an 81, one of nine players who shot in the 80s on the windswept day in Bermuda.
“He fought back and he made the cut, and not many 64-year-olds can do that in the world,” he said. “It was fun to watch him play.”
Funk is the oldest player to make the cut on the PGA TOUR since 65-year-old Tom Watson five years ago in the RBC Heritage at Hilton. The only other players 64 or older to make the cut since 1970 were Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead.
“And then Funk. You throw that in there, it doesn’t sound right, does it?” Fred Funk said. “I don’t know whether I compete, but making the cut was big.”
It wasn’t easy on a day like this, where the wind was so strong it was difficult to stand up, especially on some of the holes along the ocean.
“Today was really hard,” Armour said. “We didn’t know whether to say get up, get down, what to tell it. We couldn’t judge the distance very well and we had some balls going sideways out there and my ball doesn’t usually go sideways. And it would just get up in the wind and it would go 20 yards further left or right than you wanted it to.”
That made the performance by Clark even more remarkable, although the wind finally caught up with him when he took bogeys on the par-5 seventh and the par-3 eighth to fall back into a tie with Armour.
Clark wasn’t caught up in the late bogeys, especially the last one.
“We all were hitting 6- and 5-irons into a par 3 from 160, and I missed about a 5-footer,” Clark said. “It’s bound to happen. If I didn’t bogey those, it would be one of the best rounds of my career. But it’s pretty hard to play a round with 30 mph wind and not make any bogeys.
“I’m not looking at those last two bogeys,” he said. “I’m up there in contention, and that’s all that matters.”
The best round of the day belonged to Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who not only shot 66, he played bogey-free. He was three shots behind, while Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington used all his Irish experience in the wind for a 71 — two birdies, two bogeys, 14 pars — and was four shots behind.
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