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Six potential trade fits for the Toronto Maple Leafs to replace Jake Muzzin – Daily Faceoff

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Mitch Marner was on the case.

Not long after his close friend, Jake Muzzin, left the Oct. 17 loss against Arizona with an apparent neck injury, Marner let the world in on the potential severity of it with his comments: “Obviously for him it’s just making sure that, if he does come back and play this year, or whatever happens, just make sure that he’s going to be able to do whatever he wants to do the rest of his life and enjoy the time with his family, his kids.”

It was one of those foreshadowing quotes that spoke volumes. A player’s life and well-being after hockey is always of paramount importance. Fast forward to this week, nearly a month later, when the Maple Leafs announced that Muzzin would be out for the foreseeable future with a cervical spine injury, to be re-evaluated next in late February before the March 3 trade deadline.

For Toronto, Muzzin’s injury is probably the best outcome in a worst-case scenario. They are down a blueliner who was acquired and paid to be a big part of a playoff run, but injuries have mounted, and at least now they have clarity and flexibility.

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GM Kyle Dubas said Monday that in the short-term, the Leafs will provide no shortage of opportunity for young defensemen Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren to step up and seize the moment. In the long-term, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Leafs will use all of Muzzin’s $5.625 million LTIR space to boost a back end that many viewed as already in need of reinforcement when Muzzin was healthy.

This is a burn-the-boats type of season in Toronto, where no stone should be left unturned. It’s now or never to make a dent in the Stanley Cup playoffs for this core.

So, who is available on the blueline? As Senators GM Pierre Dorion noted on Tuesdayit is the toughest position to trade for in the NHL.

Given the list below, Dubas may have to stray from his preference of not acquiring rental players, since there are seemingly very few defensemen with term available. Teams that have steady defensemen are in the business of hanging onto them, unless there is a significant premium paid. And it’s not as if Dubas, in the last year of his contract without an extension, should be thinking much beyond this season anyway.

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Aside from the obvious in Jakob Chychrun, who has been available for more than a year in Arizona and is set to make his season debut on Nov. 21, here are six potential fits for the Maple Leafs as the season moves on:

1. John Klingberg, Anaheim Ducks

Age: 30
Shoots: Right
Stats: 16 GP, 1 G, 7 A, 8 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $7 million AAV

With Muzzin’s injury, the Leafs have the ability to jump the market and acquire Klingberg. It’s been a miserable start for the rebuilding Ducks, who are tied for the fewest points in the league. He is a strong skater and defender, a really well-rounded player who would instantly improve the power play. The idea behind signing Klingberg to just a one-year deal in late July as he lingered on the free agent market was to see if there was a fit, but also realize that he is a potential flippable asset. Klingberg recognized that, as well, which is why he has a full no-trade clause in place until Jan. 1. With the Ducks retaining half on Klingberg, his contract would fit neatly into the Leafs’ LTIR cushion, and if the cap does increase – it may not be out of the realm of possibility that the Leafs could re-sign him. But the acquisition cost won’t be cheap. Klingberg will be fetching a first-round pick, plus more, on the rental market. He is also the best all-around defenseman available.

2. Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus Blue Jackets

Age: 26
Shoots: Left
Stats: 15 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $2.8 million AAV

Gavrikov is probably close to a stylistic opposite from Klingberg. Gavrikov is the quintessential defensive defenseman. He has size and reach, he blocks shots and he kills plays. He’s not quite worthy of the term “shutdown” guy, but he holds his own. If you look back in Toronto’s playbook under Kyle Dubas, a similar style of player has already been targeted and acquired in Ilya Lyubushkin, who has since moved on to Buffalo. In that deal last season, they also packaged Nick Ritchie to Arizona with a second-round pick for Lyubushkin. The acquisition cost is likely the same this time around and Columbus doesn’t have the same cap flexibility as Arizona to take on an undesirable contract. Gavrikov finds himself a few months away from free agency on a Columbus team going in the wrong direction. They’ve capitalized on the rental market with Toronto before and we could see GM Jarmo Kekalainen doing it again.

3. Matt Roy, Los Angeles Kings

Age: 27
Shoots: Right
Stats: 18 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 Pts
Contract: 1 more season remaining, $3.15 million AAV




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Roy is the only blueliner on our list who has term on his contract. Why does he make the cut? The Kings are one of the very few teams in the league with a surplus on defense. They have eight healthy defensemen right now if you include 19-year-old slide candidate Brandt Clarke and that does not include Jordan Spence or Tobias Bjornfot, who are ready to go in AHL Ontario. The real proof in the telling is in Roy’s ice time. After averaging 20:18 over the last two seasons, he has only cracked 20 minutes twice this season, averaging 17:50. It’s clear the Kings would preferably move on from Sean Walker first, who hasn’t looked the same yet after a major right knee injury. Walker has the same term left at a slightly lower cap hit. But Roy is the better defenseman right now. His game isn’t going to ‘wow’ anyone in any one facet, but the unassuming 2015 seventh-round pick is steady, reliable and not easily rattled.

4. Carson Soucy, Seattle Kraken

Age: 28
Shoots: Left
Stats: 16 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $2.75 million AAV

Of all the players on this list, Soucy is the one player who might not be available. Yet. The Kraken have exceeded expectations this season and bounced back in a big way after a tough expansion entrée. Their grasp on an early season playoff position may be tenuous in the Pacific Division, but they’re in the mix. That’s important for the franchise to establish a competitive baseline – and it means GM Ron Francis and Co. probably aren’t willing to be plucking off pieces from the roster. Especially those as versatile as Soucy. However, we know teams have gone well down the path with the Kraken on Soucy already. This 6-foot-5 classic late bloomer, who was signed to his current contract as a pending Group VI UFA in 2020, was picked from Minnesota in the Expansion Draft. He doesn’t have a lot of holes in his game. He can also play both sides of the blueline, which is important given Sheldon Keefe’s preference in proper lefty-righty pairs. For the reasons mentioned, Soucy is a player who might move closer to the March 3 deadline, and the Leafs wouldn’t be the only fit.

5/6. Nick Jensen OR Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals

Age: 32 / 31
Shoots: Right / Left
Stats: 18 GP, 1 G, 8 A, 9 Pts / 13 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 Pts
Contracts: Both Pending UFAs, $2.5 million / $5.1 million AAVs

There’s no question the singular focus for the Capitals this season is to make the Stanley Cup playoffs with a roster constructed for win-now mode. Injuries may make that impossible. Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie, Connor Brown and Carl Hagelin will all have missed significant chunks of time. And GM Brian MacLellan may have no choice when it comes to the deadline to move on from rentals if the Caps appear likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014. If that’s the case, there are two intriguing fits for the Leafs. Orlov might be the more expensive acquisition, but Jensen might have more suitors. Both are stylistic fits for Toronto because they both handle forechecking pressure well. That’s significant because the Leafs seem to have been overwhelmed by it at times in their recent first-round playoff exits. Orlov is more assertive, Jensen is more understated. Both are equally confident. Jensen’s contract has aged quite well, whereas Orlov probably had a higher ceiling years back and has seen his game plateau a bit, but is still playing at a high level.

Keep an eye on: Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild.

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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