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The Blackhawks Could Solve the Toronto Maple Leafs Problems



With the Toronto Maple Leafs looking forward to the playoffs and trade deadline, they should consider making a splash, making a deal with the Blackhawks.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the best goaltenders in the National Hockey League in Frederik Andersen. There is no denying his skill, speed, and reflexes. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for their backup who has been inconsistent and unreliable.

When the Maple Leafs make it into the postseason and it appears like that is where they are headed, they will want a rested starting goalie prepared to handle a heavy load.

Because Michael Hutchinson has not inspired confidence in his team, Kyle Dubas may have look externally for help. Since he should avoid dealing with the Nashville Predators, the Chicago Blackhawks could be a place to end that hunt.

The Blackhawks are no longer the dynamic powerhouse who won three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015).

They are currently battling just to make the playoffs, sitting well outside qualifying for them this year. If the Blackhawks continue to play at this pace, their general manager, Stan Bowman, will be forced to reevaluate his team and make some difficult decisions.

That likely includes trading away some players in order to recoup assets and make the team competitive in the future.

On the block for those deals should be one of their goaltenders.

Chicago has two stoppers of interest. Corey Crawford isn’t the same player he once was, but still knows what it takes to win. Robin Lehner may have usurped Crawford for the starting role on the team, which would make him even more desired by other clubs.

If the Leafs were to go after either of these two, it would greatly improve their goaltending tandem, meaning that Andersen’s load could be lightened leading up to the postseason.

Crawford,  who is 35, started 22 games this year and won seven of them. He has a .906 save percentage with a goals-against-average (GAA) of 3.09. Lehner, now 28 years old, has a .922 save percentage with a GAA of 2.92. He has the fifth-best save percentage for all goalies with at least 25 starts this season.

Why It Should be Lehner

The more ideal choice for the Leafs is Lehner for obvious reasons. He is now the superior goalie, seven years younger, and more affordable. This also means that the package the Leafs would have to put together would need to be stronger to acquire Lehner.

Things get more complicated than simply putting together a compensation package for a goaltender once the cap comes into play.

Both men are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, which makes them both ideal trade candidates. Crawford has a $6 million AAV and Lehner’s is $5 million according to CapFriendly.

In order for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring one of these goalies into the mix, they would need to shed salary. Most likely, this would mean that Cody Ceci would need to be included to make the money work.

It’s fitting since the Leafs should be trying to deal Ceci before the deadline.

Financially, moving Ceci and Hutchinson would be sufficient to get under the cap for Lehner.

At least another player off the Toronto Maple Leafs roster would need to be sacrificed to get Crawford. However, to be clear, the Blackhawks would need a lot more from the Leafs to get that deal done.

For Crawford, the Leafs shouldn’t be willing to part with any top prospects. If they could get Lehner and sign him to a team-friendly extension, it’s definitely worth Dubas entering into negotiations with Bowman.

Toronto is rumored to be willing to give up Jeremy Bracco, but Chicago may also want players the ilk of Rasmus Sandin or Timothy Liljegren.

For a UFA player either player would be a ridiculous ask, however.

Getting this deal done, would tie the Leafs up with $10-million invested in their goaltending this year and possibly the same going forward.

That would make re-signing players next season more difficult, but it may be worthwhile since it would give the Leafs two starting goalies, a luxury most teams don’t enjoy.

What Else Could Be at Play

The Toronto Maple Leafs have also been tied to the New York Rangers for their backup goalie, Alexandar Georgiev. Obviously, a trade with Chicago would put those rumors on ice.

Georgiev remains an interesting trade target because of his play and that he too is slated to be a UFA. He currently has an AAV of $792,500, which means that it is unclear what he will be demanding on his next contract.

It could also cost the Leafs a similar trade package to what they’d have to give up to get Lehner.

If Dubas doesn’t trust Hutchinson any longer then he needs to seriously consider finding a way to bring his team a goaltender.

Next: A Controversial Trade Target With a Questionable Past

Clearly there are risks involved in getting a deal done with Chicago, but it’s something that Dubas needs to fully flush out before time runs out.

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Flames open road trip with win for Sutter against his former team –



LOS ANGELES — Sitting in the bowels of a Staples Center arena in which he raised two Stanley Cups, Darryl Sutter was asked about the drive to win another one.

“It’s, like, all that matters to me,” said the Flames’ singularly-focused coach. “You’re trying to translate that to the players, to get to that level that it takes. And the difference it makes in a career and their lives.”

The difference Sutter helped make in Los Angeles was recognized seven minutes into Thursday’s Flames win when he and Trevor Lewis were saluted in a Jumbotron video that drew a standing ovation from a sparse crowd of 13,241.

Guiding the Kings to the franchise’s first Cup win in his first season as their head coach in 2012, Sutter became just the 19th coach in NHL lore to win multiple titles when he won again in 2014.

He’s had a similar, early impact in Calgary where his Flames continue to be the talk of the league, improving their record to a best-in-the-west 14-4-5 with a 3-2 win over his former team.

He wouldn’t say it afterward, but you can bet it meant just a little bit more for him to see his club win one at Staples.

“Some of the players that went through here before told me they probably would,” shrugged Sutter of the video. “It’s good. Good for Trevor, and good for my family.”

Although he did his best to downplay it before and afterwards, this game was important to Sutter.

And the players knew it.

“We wanted to win it for our coach, we wanted to win it for Lewis and his return, and we wanted to get our first win in our division,” said Milan Lucic, whose second power play unit played a big role in the win, with two first period goals.

“Those are all important things for us tonight. It’s always nice to start a four-game trip off in the win column.”

Lucic went five-hole for the fourth time this season to put the Flames up 2-1 in a first period that also saw Andrew Mangiapane score with the man advantage.

“I looked up and saw defence and went back to it — it’s a high percentage shot,” said a smiling Lucic of the between-the-wickets shot that has helped him score the majority of his seven goals.

“If it misses it hits the pads and stays alive, as opposed to a shot in the glove. It seems to be working out. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I’d love to tell you how I set it up, but I don’t want the goalies to know what my thought process is. So we’ll just leave it at that.”

Not surprisingly, Lucic got the starting nod alongside fellow Kings alumni Lewis and Brad Richardson as part of Sutter’s gritty All the King’s Men Line.

“My buddies call us the Full Pension Line, which I thought was funny,” laughed Lewis of a nickname offered up by childhood friend and former Flame, Shane O’Brien.

“But whatever you guys want to call it.”

An Alex Iafallo redirection gave the opposition the opening goal for just the fifth time in 23 games — and first on the road — five minutes in.

Mangiapane responded with his 16th before Lucic struck.

Minutes after taking the lead Matthew Tkachuk did his best to resurrect his feud with Drew Doughty with a gritty shift on which he knocked the Kings defender down with a reverse hit before punctuating the whistle with a pair of net-side punches to Doughty’s face.

The second poke drew a penalty the Flames killed off as part of yet another perfect night that saw the unit stop both of L.A.’s man advantages.

Even scoreboard urging from Snoop Dogg couldn’t spur on the Kings.

Tkachuk wound up with the last laugh as he used Doughty as a screen to score his 11th of the season — a top-shelf beauty that stood as the winner early in the second.

“Whoever the defenceman was on that side I just tried to shoot it through him, and it worked out,” said Tkachuk. “I’m sure if you asked (Sutter) he wouldn’t want us to be extra motivated for him. He’d say he wanted us to come in here and get off on this road trip on the right foot and don’t worry about his homecoming. But it was big to get them the win.”

Alexander Edler’s first as a King narrowed the gap late in the second, setting up a third period push that saw Lewis make a key block after Jacob Markstrom made a stunning glove save on Victor Arvidsson’s point blast — one of 40 saves on the night.

The Flames play in Anaheim Friday as part of a four-game road trip that takes them through Vegas and San Jose.

“I think it’s really good for our team, and it’s another measuring stick to see where you are at when you get into the division part of it,” said Sutter before the game when asked about the trip against division rivals.

“This trip there are two we haven’t played and two we haven’t beaten.”

Make that one they haven’t beaten.

NOTES: The Flames sent Juuso Valimaki to Stockton to get some much-needed playing time, as the 23-year-old first-rounder has only been used in eight of the team’s 23 games this season.

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Prediction Time: writers' Div Finals picks –



TORONTO — The anticipation is building by the day as we get closer to our Eastern and Western Division Finals on Sunday.

A pair of longtime rivals are the final four teams standing and on Sunday we’ll find out which of those two make it to the 108th Grey Cup next week in Hamilton.

If you’re looking for sound, stable and successful advice, look no further than our Jamie Nye. Tied for first-place with Pat Steinberg with a 39-26 record, Jamie was the only one of the six writers that went 2-0 last week, wisely taking the Ticats and Riders to hold court at home. This week they’re both on the road, heading into Toronto and Winnipeg, respectively, to take on the first place Argos and Bombers.

Home field didn’t carry quite as much weight in the East with the pick-makers as it did in the West this week, despite the Argos’ 6-1 record at BMO Field. Just about everyone is on board with the Bombers hosting at IG Field, a place where they haven’t had the taste of defeat all season. The last time the Bombers lost at home was Sept. 27, 2019. That Week 16 loss to Hamilton came a couple of weeks before the Bombers traded for Zach Collaros.

The Riders have a hill to climb this week and they seem to recognize that. The Ticats have a hill of their own, having dropped three of their four meetings with the Argos this season, including their Week 15 encounter that clinched first in the East for the Double Blue.

We’re just days away from having answers and knowing who will be playing for the Grey Cup, setting up a true Sunday Funday.

» Head to Head: Who has the edge in the Eastern and Western Finals?
» CFL Pick ‘Em: Make your picks for the divisional finals!
» Weekly Predictor: Betting on the Ticats


The Argos might have one of the most underappreciated home field records in recent league history. Standing at an impressive 6-1 — the blemish coming in a meaningless end-of-season tilt with Edmonton — they won’t be an easy out at BMO Field. There’s pressure on each side to win of course, but there’s a little more on the Ticats, who beat the Argos in their first meeting on Labour Day, then dropped their next three meetings, with encounters No. 2 and 3 being one-point losses. Still, the majority of our pick makers think the Ticats can do it, coming off of a convincing win over Montreal last week. A traveling pack of supporters making the trip up the QEW might help pack the stands on Sunday and will try to even out that home field advantage.


Writers 66% Hamilton


The Riders get one last crack at the blue and gold riddle they haven’t been able to solve on Sunday afternoon. This edition of the Bombers might stand as one of the franchise’s all-time great teams, led by a defence that feasts on turnovers and miscues, and is steered on offence by Zach Collaros‘ calm and deliberate style of play. The defending Grey Cup champs come into this game as rested as can be, will have the support of a packed IG Field and have been focused on the next game in front of them since we kicked the season off back in August. The Riders will likely have to be close to perfect to take them down. Going into the game, it feels like a very tall order.


Writers 83% Winnipeg

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Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo misses game vs. Raptors for undisclosed reason –



Giannis Antetokounmpo was scratched from the Milwaukee Bucks‘ lineup against the Toronto Raptors for an undisclosed reason.

Antetokounmpo was not among the Bucks’ starters ahead of tipoff. Pat Connaughton was moved into his place in the starting lineup against the Raptors.

The 26-year-old is coming off a dominant performance against the Charlotte Hornets where he had 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a 127-125 victory. Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists through 21 games this season.

Milwaukee’s next game is on Saturday against the Miami Heat.

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