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.
For Oilers, Archibald’s selfish anti-vaccine stance is not worth the risk – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — One is a player who opted to honour his commitment to his new team in Edmonton. The other, just another selfish anti-vaxxer who is betting on himself, somewhat foolishly.
One is a player the general manager staked his reputation on, with much pedigree and a handful of Stanley Cup rings. A guy who came to town billed as a leader, and then backed it up when he rolled up his sleeve despite obvious misgivings about being vaccinated.
Sure, Duncan Keith should have gotten vaccinated a month sooner. But give him some credit for putting the team — society and the Oilers — ahead of himself. Even if he waited until the 11th hour to do it.
Then there is depth winger Josh Archibald, who will be replaced by Game 1 of the regular season if he doesn’t give his head a shake. He is from that young, conspiracy-oriented demographic that has been suckered in by far-right disinformation, and tweets about idiocy like “the plandemic.”
“I’m happy that he’s going to be part of our team this year, fully vaccinated,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said of Keith, a player Holland had seriously dug in on to convince him to get vaccinated. Mike Smith took some work, too, we are told, but now both are vaccinated and ready to do what they were brought in to accomplish.
The other player is more selfish than that.
Archibald is a nice, fourth-line penalty killer in a normal season. He’ll get you 10 goals a year. But for this, the third COVID-affected NHL campaign, an unvaccinated Archibald just isn’t worth it.
Holland and head coach Dave Tippett sat down with Archibald on Tuesday and spelled out how many games he would miss and what it would mean to be Canada’s only unvaccinated NHL player. It would cost him up to 40 per cent of his $1.5 million salary. Maybe more.
Now Holland sits, and hopes that Archibald changes his mind before the GM has to send him to AHL Bakersfield. He is virtually untradeable, as Archibald could not play games in Canada for a U.S.-based team, and poses a risk that no fourth-liner can justify.
“There are a team or two out there that have made the decision that unvaccinated players are not welcome at training camp. I have not made that decision as of this time,” Holland said on Wednesday. “I think the player is going through the process to decide. It’s a difficult decision. I’ll give [Archibald] the appropriate time, and I’ll see where I’m at in a week, 10 days from now. We’ll see.”
Editor’s note: With overwhelming consistency, research has shown vaccinations against COVID-19 are safe and effective. Residents of Alberta who are looking to learn more about vaccines can find up-to-date information here. Further details on COVID-19 and the country’s pandemic response are available on Canada’s public health website.
In a strange twist of fate, Keith — who received his vaccination in the United States only this week — is in quarantine until next Friday, while the unvaccinated Archibald is undergoing daily testing while attending Edmonton Oilers training camp.
But here’s the reality of all this: A Canadian team simply can not have an unvaccinated player on its roster.
By Holland’s math, an unvaccinated player who must serve a 14-day quarantine every time he comes over the U.S. border and into Canada, would miss “30-plus games” this season. He’d also miss a ton of practice time, and would lose one-200th of his pay for every day missed due to the federally mandated quarantine.
It would be impossible to hold his place on an NHL roster.
“After you quarantine for 14 days, if we’re playing well you’re not just taking someone out to put that person in,” Holland said. “The number of times we cross the border, it’s going to be very difficult.”
Had Keith and Smith not relented, the Oilers’ season would have been derailed.
Related reading: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Alex Stalock contracted COVID-19 before the shortened 56-game season. Now, the 34-year-old is likely going to miss the 2021-22 season due to a heart condition.
Now that Holland has his starting goalie and No. 3 defenceman in the fold, why on earth would you want an unvaccinated, 13:33-minutes per game player flying on the same charter and inhabiting the same dressing rooms as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl?
Between the peer pressure, the risk of lost salary, and the ridiculous nature of his stance, I expect Archibald to relent and get the jab. Let’s face it: It’s a business, and there is no moral high ground in sport.
“In July I heard talk that there were 80, 90 unvaccinated players,” Holland recounted. “We had a Board of Governors meeting (Tuesday), and Bill Daly said we’ll be in single digits of players unvaccinated going into the season. So, basically, 70, 80, 90 players eventually made the decision to get vaccinated.”
Some because they didn’t want to lose the salary, and some because they put their team and others before themselves.
There is one player left on a Canadian team who puts himself before everything else, and his name is Josh Archibald.
Kiermaier on getting hit by pitch by Blue Jays' Borucki: 'Oh yeah, it was intentional' – Yahoo Canada Sports
The Tampa Bay Rays clinched a spot in the postseason on Wednesday, but that was the secondary story against the Toronto Blue Jays.
During the game prior, Rays centrefielder Kevin Kiermaier was the centre of attention as he from Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk, which the Rays refused to hand back to the visiting club. Less than 24 hours later during the series finale between the two AL East teams, Kiermaier re-entered the spotlight as he was struck by a pitch thrown by Blue Jays reliever Ryan Borucki in the eighth inning.
Borucki was ejected after the umpires met to review the struck batter, which then caused Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo and a very red-faced pitching coach Pete Walker to storm onto the field.
Walker was also tossed from the game for his outburst.
Kiermaier didn’t let up after the 7-1 victory, focusing on the late-game dramatics.
“Oh yeah, it was intentional,” “Pretty much almost went behind me. I thought it was a weak move, to be quite honest. It’s over. It didn’t hurt by any means, so I don’t care. Whatever. We move on. We got a series win, and I hope we play those guys, I really do.”
When Kiermaier was asked why he wants to face the Blue Jays again, it was mysterious to say the least. “The motivation is there,” he said. “That’s all that needs to be said.”
Despite Kiermaier being so sure it was intentional, Montoyo had a different idea of what happened, but was certainly sympathetic to the Rays’ reaction.
With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, Toronto is on a hot Wild Card race with fellow divisional rivals Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The two clubs involved in the ruckus will not face each other again unless the Blue Jays earn a spot in the postseason and are able to beat their opposition in that single-game playoff matchup.
As if the MLB postseason wasn’t dramatic enough, now there’s an underlying narrative ready to boil over at any moment if the two face each other in a series.
More from Yahoo Sports
Eichel stripped of Sabres captaincy, placed on LTIR – TSN
Jack Eichel is no longer captain of the Buffalo Sabres.
Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Thursday morning Eichel has been stripped of the ‘C’ after three seasons in the role.
“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this, Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres,” Adams said. “From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”
Adams added the Sabres will not have a captain this season.
Adams also confirmed that Eichel will start the season on long-term injured reserve as he remains in a holding pattern with the team on how to best treat his neck injury.
“I think we would all agree that we were hoping to avoid surgery…unfortunately, yesterday Jack did not pass his physical. At this point, Jack is not willing to move forward with what our doctors are suggesting…we will continue to work toward a solution,” Adams said.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported Wednesday that there is nothing close on the trade front for Eichel, who has been looking for a trade throughout the off-season.
“Well, it’s tough to pinpoint a timeline but we do know there is ongoing discussions with Jack Eichel’s agent Pat Brisson and Kevyn Adams, the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. They’re on good terms, they have an excellent relationship,” Dreger said on Insider Trading. “We also know that Jack Eichel will start the regular season on LTIR. Now, he saw a team of specialists over the course of the off-season. Some encouraged the artificial disc replacement surgery; however, the Buffalo Sabres remain adamant that the fusion surgery is the best option.
“It’s possible that Eichel gets traded and has the disc replacement surgery under the blessing of a new club, but there’s no guarantee and it doesn’t seem like anything is real close on that front.”
Eichel was limited to 21 games last season due to the neck injury and there has been a long-standing dispute with the team this summer over how to treat the injury.
The 24-year-old centre has been the subject of trade talk since the end of last season and his former agents released a statement in July trying to spur a trade. He switched agents to Pat Brisson in August.
“What’s critically important to make sure is clear is that we’re in control of this process,” Adams said in July, prior to the statement from Eichel’s then-agents. “We have a player under contract. We don’t feel any pressure.
“If there’s a deal out there that we feel is the right thing for the Buffalo Sabres, that’s going to help us improve – whether that’s improve right away or improve down the road, those are all the things weigh – we’d be open to it. But we’re not in a position where we feel we’re just going to do something to do it. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Eichel had two goals and 18 points in 21 games last season and has five years remaining in the eight-year, $80 million contract he signed with the Sabres in 2017.
He had served as captain of the Sabres since 2018.
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