In today’s Leafs Links, the insiders discuss the likelihood of the Toronto Maple Leafs adding to their goaltending depth before the deadline, the options that are available via trade, and the latest on the Taylor Hall sweepstakes.
On his weekly appearance on The Instigators, Elliotte Friedman suggested the Leafs have called Buffalo to inquire on pending UFA goaltender Linus Ullmark in case the injury news is worse than feared with Frederik Andersen.
The situation I heard his name in, and I don’t necessarily think it was anything like, “Let’s talk about a deal,” but I do think that Toronto, in doing their due diligence as they try to sort out in their net, has called Buffalo to ask what the Sabres are thinking there [with Ullmark]. I don’t know where that is going to go.
Frederik Andersen has an appointment today, and they’re hoping to get better clarity on what his situation is. If he is out for the year or anything like that, Toronto is going to get serious about what they have to do in goal. I do think they have touched base with Buffalo at least asking what their plans are with Ullmark.
“If we need to do this, would there be an option there?”
Friedman on the likely price of Ullmark:
I don’t think it is a first-rounder. I think there is some value there. Kevyn Adams can always say, “You are desperate, and let’s see what I can heist out of you.” That is his responsibility and he should do that. I just don’t know if I see that being a first-rounder.
We’ll find out about Andersen today, and then we’ll know if the Leafs have to go get another goaltender.
Friedman on the Leafs‘ deadline priorities:
It is a go-for-it year. Five on five, they’re really good. They just played Edmonton and Winnipeg back-to-back and played extremely well. I think they would like to get another forward to play with Tavares and Nylander. They are all of a sudden wondering if they have to get a goalie because of the injuries. Both Campbell and Andersen have been hurt.
Friedman on the Taylor Hall sweepstakes:
The one thing about Hall is, because he has such a big cap number, even though the Sabres are willing to eat some of it, they might have to wait until the cap number goes down. There are not a lot of teams with room. I can see that one being closer to the 12th as opposed to soon.
CJ: “I’m confident the Leafs will look different up front on April 13” (SN590)
Chris Johnston joined Leafs Hour on Thursday to discuss the team’s goaltending situation, whether they’re in the market for help in net, and the current state of the trade market across the league.
The Carolina Hurricanes have said they would move one of their goalies: Nedeljkovic or Reimer. You have a few goaltenders on expiring contracts like Linus Ullmark in Buffalo and Jonathan Bernier in Detroit, although [Bernier] is out with an injury right now.
Let’s face it: More or less, we are not talking about anyone that is going to be a big headline grabber. That is part of the argument not to do it. Totally depending on Frederik Andersen’s situation, but if you have reason to believe Andersen is going to be back to playing in a week or two or three, you might just try to get through it.
If Andersen can play, you are splitting starts with him and Campbell, the concerns about managing Campbell’s body is a little different if you have a goalie you are more than comfortable rolling out there with him.
I do think it is fair to say that Andersen wasn’t the same goalie last year or this year that he was in his first three years in Toronto, but I do think — especially this season, with the way his play trended — it is tied to the fact that he wasn’t healthy. If he comes back healthy, you might end up with a decent duo here.
Somebody asked Sheldon Keefe if he felt like he was walking a tightrope a bit with his goaltending, and he said, “Yeah, I do.” I don’t think there is any hiding from it. The problem is that there isn’t an obvious goaltender to go trade for that they can use their cap space on and go do it. Anyone they bring in, you are going to go, “Okay, but not great.”
Johnston on sorting out buyers vs. sellers ahead of the deadline:
It is murkier than ever. Two weeks ago, I was certain Nashville was going to be a seller. Now they have six or seven wins in a row. They have won enough games that it is not totally crazy for them to talk themselves into trying to make the playoffs again. Someone like Mikael Granlund — who I think is someone reasonable to tie to the Leafs — is on a one-year deal, but they might just keep him.
There are still going to be sellers. What Buffalo is selling is going to be expensive. To trade a Taylor Hall is easier to do closer to April 12th — the cap hit is less to take on. Every day that passes, he is $100,000 cheaper, or whatever it is.
At some point, it is going to reach a point where teams have to make a decision one way or another. I think Vancouver is being closer to being a seller with some of their depth forwards. It is a weird market and a weird year. I still think there are going to be trades, but it’s not taking shape the way I would’ve guessed. Some teams have been stubborn, won a bunch of games, and have given their GMs some second thoughts.
Johnston on what the Leafs are most likely to do by April 12 and how committed they are to buying:
I am confident that the Leafs are going to look different up front on April 13th — maybe before, but certainly the day after the deadline. I still think they are willing to trade that asset if they have to. The pick they drafted Rodion Amirov with at 15th overall — they were willing to move that pick at the time before even making a draft selection. They just didn’t have a trade that made sense.
I am not identifying Amirov as a player they are necessarily going to move, but they have been willing to move from the top end of their prospect pool all along because they are all in on trying to win now while they have their players under contract. They know they have a good team and just want to make it better.
On TSN Overdrive, Darren Dreger threw some cold water on the notion of the Leafs pursuing a goaltender based on long-term health concerns with either Frederik Andersen or Jack Campbell.
Based on the information I get, they are not deeply concerned about the injury status of either. They are nagging things. My sense is on Freddy Andersen that they hoped he would be further along than he is now, but he is healing and getting better. They expect he should be able to return to the ice sometime soon.
Does that mean in the next week? I don’t know if they have that information yet, but they are comfortable that the rest he is receiving is remedying the situation. It is not believed to be a bigger issue or a longer-term problem.
… Is there at least reason to have an internal discussion on whether you need to improve your #3 and find whatever upgrade there might be on Michael Hutchinson? I think they’re having those discussions. I just don’t believe there is a heightened level of urgency to it.
Dreger on the teams active in the goalie market:
Who would be surprised if the Hurricanes use one of the goaltenders as a pawn in the trade market? I know that the Washington Capitals want to add a goaltender — they would prefer to add some experience at the position. Is Colorado set with their small acquisition? Maybe you could put Toronto in that category, but I just don’t get that sense from Leafs sources based on the health status of Freddy Andersen or Jack Campbell.
On Leafs Lunch, Pierre LeBrun provided his sense of how urgently the Leafs are pursuing goaltending options.
I think they have done their due diligence to some degree. I don’t know if that is a move they are going to make.
Would I do it if I were Kyle Dubas? No. I don’t think, with how little capital they have with the cap… And Jack Campbell has proven a lot. As long as you believe Frederik Andersen will be back and healthy, that is not a bad one-two punch.
Unless they are under the impression that they are not going to believe in Andersen again this year, that is a different question. As long as he is back and healthy at some point, knowing Jack Campbell is doing some special things, that is not where I would be using my salary cap leverage at this point if I am Toronto. I would be looking at another piece up front.
Scouring the TradeBait list for Leafs targets (MLHS Podcast)
In Episode 9 of the Maple Leafs Hot Stove Podcast, Ian Tulloch and Anthony Petrielli debated the options on the TSN TradeBait list, Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton’s fits in the lineup, the team’s goaltending situation (and if they should add another option), and much more.
Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now
The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.
The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 12, 2021
The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.
After acquiring Hall @ 50% & Lazar for Bjork, the #NHLBruins added $772K Cap Hit for remainder of year.
They have $24K of Projected Cap Space; $100K Annual Cap Hit that can be added, w/ 24 Active on Roster. Sending players to taxi would create more room.https://t.co/2o0hsHzUIy https://t.co/rXiRKKk3lt pic.twitter.com/I7ZRUSmSQp
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) April 12, 2021
The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.
The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.
Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.
The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.
Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.
Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca
It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.
“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.
It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.
But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.
It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.
“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”
Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.
Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.
“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”
But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.
When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.
Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.
“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.
Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?
It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.
“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.
“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”
It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.
But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.
You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.
What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.
“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?
“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”
Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.
Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics
(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.
For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.
The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.
Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.
“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”
The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.
Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)
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