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Toronto Raptors are latest team to be hit hard by COVID-19 and NBA protocols – TSN

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TORONTO – Earlier in the week, and just before the NBA released its schedule for the second half of the season, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse expressed his concern over the sheer volume of games headed his team’s way, while also making sure to knock on wood.

At the time, Toronto was one of just four teams that hadn’t missed a game due to postponement – meaning its remaining slate would be lighter than most – but with the league hoping to squeeze the rest of the campaign, play-in games and playoffs into a tight window, Nurse knew that these next few months were going to be hectic.

“I think that the schedule feels heavy,” he said ahead of last Tuesday’s contest. “This year already, it’s felt heavy and I think it’s going to be even heavier. I think we’ve been fortunate – let’s hope we can get to this break without having any postponements or cancellations, but we’ve been fortunate.”

With just a few games to go before the upcoming all-star weekend, the Raptors had been fortunate, all things considered. Every team’s been impacted by the COVID-19 virus and the NBA’s health and safety protocols in some way, but Toronto nearly made it to the halfway point with minimal disruptions to its schedule – aside from the notable exception of having to move its operations across the continent and play its home games in Tampa, of course.

However, with a chaotic few days for the organization serving as yet another cruel reminder, in these times, things can change quickly.

On Sunday morning, the NBA announced that the contest between the Raptors and the Chicago Bulls – initially scheduled for later that evening – had been postponed. As a result of positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the organization, Toronto would not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with the game, according to the league. This, coming two days after the team played Friday’s game – a 122-111 win over Houston – without Nurse, five members of his coaching staff, and Pascal Siakam, who were all unavailable due to the health and safety protocols.

Knowing what we know now, it’s fair to wonder whether that game should have taken place at all. In hindsight, the easy answer is, no, it should not have been played. But even without the benefit of hindsight, privately, there were at least a few people within the organization that expressed some trepidation about taking the court that night.

That wasn’t their call to make, though. It’s up to the league to determine if a game needs to be cancelled, and with enough players and personnel returning negative tests throughout the day, they felt comfortable giving both clubs the green light.

“One way to think about it is, we get tested twice in the morning, and so if those tests come back negative, that kind of gives you the clearance to participate in activities that day, and then you can even do some testing later in the day if you’re concerned about it,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said ahead of Friday’s game. “Once the negative tests came back this afternoon, I think that gave the NBA the comfort that at least for today, we’re clear.”

The question most people still have – not just as it pertains to the Raptors’ current situation – is, what goes into the contact tracing process?

According to sources, at least one of Toronto’s coaches tested positive ahead of Friday’s game, with the rest of the front-of-the-bench staff told to isolate from the team because they were considered close contacts. There was enough concern over Siakam’s status that he entered the protocol, as well. The Raptors did not play or practice on Thursday, but why weren’t the players or coaches that shared the court – or the locker room – with the aforementioned individuals in Miami on Wednesday also deemed to be close contacts?

Similar questions emanated from both the Raptors and Nets locker rooms after a game in Brooklyn earlier this month, when Kevin Durant was pulled from the starting lineup just prior to tip-off, allowed to enter the game in the first quarter, and then ruled out again in the second half – all in the name of contact tracing.

“You can probably imagine it’s just the natural course of how groups work,” said Webster, who was asked about the protocol on Friday. “So, if your department or whatever group you’re with at work, if someone within that group had an exposure you go back and say who did you hang out with and who were you around the most? Who do you sit with on the plane? Who do you sit with on the bus?”

These incidents were unavoidable once the NBA and its players’ association decided to go forward with this season – playing basketball in the midst of a global pandemic and outside of a contained environment, like the Disney bubble that allowed them to finish the 2019-20 campaign safely. With teams travelling around the United States and playing in different markets, some of them in front of a limited numbers of fans, this was inevitable – players and staff were going to contract the virus and games were going to be lost.

Sunday’s game between the Raptors and Bulls was the 34th postponement of the season. It was the 30th time that a team could not dress the minimum required number of players.

Like just about everything else in basketball, in sports, or in life right now, this is a fluid situation. All of Toronto’s players and staff have been asked to quarantine at their respective homes in Tampa, only leaving to undergo testing a couple times per day. The league will monitor the results of those tests closely and determine what the next steps look like.

The Raptors have two more games scheduled before the all-star break – Tuesday against Detroit and Thursday in Boston. As of Sunday afternoon, no decision had been made in regards to those contests, but given the circumstances, it’s hard to see them being played.

Do the math. They have 17 players on the roster. Two of them, rookie Jalen Harris and recently signed big man Donta Hall, are on assignment in the G League bubble. Siakam was already in the protocol and had been ruled out, which means that at least seven other players have either returned positive tests or are in contact tracing. Then you factor in the coaching staff, which was down to four available members – including acting head coach Sergio Scariolo, who only avoided contact tracing because he had just cleared quarantine after returning from leading the Spanish National Team in FIBA qualifiers overseas – on Friday.

Postponed games are re-scheduled on a case-by-case basis. If there isn’t time to make up all of them, some teams could end up playing fewer than the planned 72 contests, according to recent reports. If the Raptors are in fact sidelined until after all-star, their next scheduled game would come against Atlanta on March 11 – ironically, the one-year anniversary of Rudy Gobert’s positive test bringing last season to a halt.

First and foremost, you hope that everybody within the organization is safe and doing well. When they’re healthy and able to get back on the court, you look forward to watching them play again. When will that be? That remains to be seen.​

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2021 NHL Draft winners and losers: Ranking every team’s first round – The Athletic

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Just 289 days after we put one draft in the books, here we are for another.

After an unconventional season spent scouting these players predominantly by video, learning about them predominantly over phone calls and text exchanges with sources, hundreds of viewings and conversations, and tens of thousands of words, my coverage of the 2021 draft concludes this weekend with my complete evaluations of all 32 (that’s new!) teams’ draft classes and likely almost (almost!) all of the 224 players that will be chosen.

That starts with this breakdown of Friday’s 31 selections, offering pick-by-pick analysis of the first round.

This analysis does not evaluate any of the trades, nor the teams that didn’t pick. Instead, it will rank each of the teams that did pick based solely on their choices relative to my draft board, considering factors like organizational fit, the available players, and each prospect’s expected range.

This is also not an evaluation of the total value the teams got out of their pick(s) but rather of the relative value they mined compared to where they picked. As such, teams with higher picks, or multiple first-round picks, are not guaranteed favourable grades.

As always at The Athletic, the ranking will also be sorted into the following tiers:

Winners: Teams I believe won out over their competition with sleuth, home-run-level selections relative to where they picked.

Overtime winners: Teams I believe did well with where they were slotted, even if they might not have picked the exact player(s) I would have.

Overtime losers: Teams I believe could have done better but might, in time, be happy with their pick(s) regardless.

Losers: Teams I believe will regret taking the player(s) they chose.

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Janine Beckie's 2 goals carry Canada past Chile for 1st Olympic soccer win – CBC.ca

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Janine Beckie’s two goals gave Canada the boost it needed to earn its first Olympic soccer win in Tokyo, 2-1 over Chile on Saturday.

The victory all but guarantees the Canadian women a quarter-final berth coming off a 1-1- draw against highly ranked Japan in their tournament opener.

They face Britain on Tuesday at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium to close out Group E action. Britain beat No. 37 Chile 2-0 in their opener.

Chile came out aggressive early in Saturday’s match, delivering a corner kick within the first minute. But the Canadians took over possession and produced several scoring opportunities.

  • The first was a close call in the seventh minute as Kadeisha Buchanan took a pass from Beckie in the box. After Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler made the save, the ball ricocheted off Buchanan’s arm and crossed the goalline. But following a review the goal was called off.
  • Ten minutes later, Christine Sinclair went up for the ball against two Chile defenders in the box but was stepped on by Daniela Pardo, causing her to go down. Following a review, Canada was awarded a penalty kick. With Beckie taking the opportunity to score, she hit the goal post and missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring.

“It’s frustrating to miss a penalty to be able to put the team up early on in the game, would have been ideal, but it happens. You can’t score if you don’t shoot, so I stepped up to take it and I’ll continue to step up and take them,” Beckie said.

“My job for this team is to score goals. And you know, Nichelle Prince is incredible at putting the ball on a play for me, Ashley Lawrence, Christine [Sinclair], I have players around me that create scoring opportunities for me. So, to be able to reward the team with two goals is great. We came here to win. And so, to be able to help by scoring two goals makes me happy.”

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In the 39th minute, Beckie got an opportunity to redeem herself, as a cross from Prince was knocked away by Endler, and the Canadian took full advantage for a 1-0 lead.

WATCH | Canada’s Janine Beckie puts home opening goal against Chile:

Canada takes a 1-0 lead over Chile with a goal by Janine Beckie in the 39th minute. 1:22

Coming out of halftime, it was Beckie who struck again, capitalizing from an Ashley Lawrence through ball, getting past Endler in a one-on-one situation and scoring with ease to put Canada up 2-0.

Beckie now has five Olympic goals. She scored three at the 2016 Rio Games, where Canada won bronze for the second consecutive Games.

Canadian coach Bev Priestman had expected a tough challenge from the Chileans, who were making their Olympic debut.

“I think it’s exactly what I expected the game to be. I’ve always said that this game was never an easy game,” she said. “We made it difficult for ourselves at times. But at the end of the day, we could have had four goals … so I’m overall happy we came here to get three points. That’s exactly what we did.”

WATCH | Beckie doubles down with another goal minutes into 2nd half:

Forward Janine Beckie scores early in the 2nd half as Canada takes a 2-0 lead over Chile. 1:13

In the 49th minute, Beckie had another opportunity to complete the hat trick but was unsuccessful.

The missed chance gave Chile life as a Shelina Zadorsky penalty in the box allowed for Karen Araya to score on a penalty kick to cut Canada’s lead to 2-1 in the 57th minute.

Chile had a chance to tie it in the 72nd minute when a shot from in close banged off the crossbar.

Priestman praised the play of Julia Grosso and Jayde Riviere, who made their Olympic debuts on Saturday, Grosso in the midfield and Riviere on the back line.

Their contribution was further evidence of Canada’s depth, which Priestman and her team will need in the Olympic tournament, particularly when they leave the comfortable indoor Sapporo Dome.

“I will be calling on the depth I think, for players to go three nights is a big ask. And we’re going to go back to the heat now, out of the lovely air-conditioned dome that we’re currently in,” she said.

Kailen Sheridan started in net in place of Stephanie Labbe, who suffered a rib joint injury during her heroic performance against Japan. Labbe was injured challenging an attacker inside the penalty area. She was down for several minutes but stayed in the game to stop a Japanese penalty shot. The 24-year-old Sheridan replaced her in the 58th minute.

The Canadian team has 12 members of the teams that won bronze under former coach John Herdman in the previous two Olympics.

Eight teams will advance from the 12-country round robin to the knockout stage. The final is set for Aug. 6 at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.

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2021 NHL Draft day one recap: Trades! Trades! Trades! and more Trades! – Pension Plan Puppets

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Wow. What a day we had! Day one of the 2021 NHL Draft began with many, many, trades. 12 players and 11 picks – including three first round picks for this draft – were traded before the draft began. Let’s look at the pre-draft trades first:

New York Rangers trade Pavel Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for Sammy Blais & a 2022 2d round pick.

Buffalo Sabres trade Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Robert Hagg, a 2021 1st round pick (13th overall), & a 2023 2nd round pick.

Arizona Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson & Conor Garland to the Vancouver Canucks for Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, a 2021 1st round pick (9th overall), a 2022 2nd round pick, and a 7th round pick.

Columbus Blue Jackets trade Seth Jones, 1st round pick (32nd overall), & a 2022 6th round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Adam Boquist, 1st round pick (12th overall), 2nd round pick (44th overall), and a 2022 1st round pick.

Columbus Blue Jackets trade a 2nd round pick (44th overall) to the Carolina Hurricanes for Jake Bean.

Also, not a trade but the New York Rangers will be buying out noted racist and hated teammate Tony DeAngelo.

Now, the picks:

1st – Buffalo Sabres – Owen Power (D) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: Mississauga, ON
2020-21 NCAA stats: 26GP – 3G – 13A – 16Pts
2021 Team Canada stats: 10GP – 0G – 3A – 3Pts
Awards: BIG10 All Rookie team, 2021 World Championship Gold Medal

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2nd – Seattle Kraken – Matthew Beniers (C) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: Hingham, MA
2020-21 NCAA Stats: 24GP – 10G – 14A – 24Pts
2021 Team USA Stats: 13GP – 2G – 3A – 5Pts
Awards: BIG10 All Rookie Team, 2021 World Jr. Championship Gold, 2021 World Championship Bronze

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3rd – Anaheim Ducks – Mason McTavish (C) – EHC Olten, Swiss Div. 2
From: Zürich, SUI
2020-21 SD2 Stats: 13GP – 9G – 2A – 11Pts
2021 Team Canada stats: 7GP – 5G – 6A – 11Pts
Awards: 2021 U18 WJC Gold Medal

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4th – New Jersey Devils – Luke Hughes (D) – USA NTDP
From: Canton, MI
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 56GP – 10G – 39A – 49Pts

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5th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Kent Johnson (C) – University of Michigan, NCAA
From: North Vancouver, BC
2020-21 NCAA Stats: 26GP – 9G – 18A – 27Pts
2021 Awards: BIG10 All Rookie Team

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6th – Detroit Red Wings – Simon Edvinsson (D) – Frölunda HC, SHL / Västerås IK, HockeyAllsvenskan
From: Onsala, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 28GP – 1G – 11A – 12Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 15GP – 2G – 7A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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7th – San Jose Sharks – William Eklund (LW) – Djurgårdens IF, SHL
From: Haninge, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 40GP – 11G – 12A – 23Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 4GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2021 Awards: SHL Rookie of the Year

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8th – Los Angeles Kings – Brandt Clarke (D) – HC Nove Zamky, Slovakia
From: Ottawa, ON
2020-21 League stats: 26GP – 5G – 10A – 15Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 5A – 7Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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9th – Arizona Coyotes – Dylan Guenther (W) – Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL / Sherwood Park Crusaders, AJHL
From: Edmonton, AB
2020-21 League stats: 16GP – 15G – 15A – 30Pts
2020-21 Team Canada stats: 7GP – 4G – 3A – 7Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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10th – Ottawa Senators – Tyler Boucher (LW) – USNTDP
From: Haddonfield, NJ
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 19GP – 12G – 7A – 19Pts

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11th – Arizona Coyotes – Forfeited

12th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Cole Sillinger (C) – Sioux Falls Stampede, USHL
From: Columbus, OH
2020-21 USHL Stats: 31GP – 24G – 22A – 46Pts
2021 Awards: USHL Rookie of the Year.

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13th – Calgary Flames – Matthew Coronato (RW) – Chicago Steel, USHL
From: New York, NY
2020-21 USHL Stats: 51GP – 48G – 37A – 85Pts
2021 Awards: 2021 Clark Cup, USHL Forward of the Year, USHL Most Goals

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14th – Buffalo Sabres – Isak Rosén (W) – Leksands IF, SHL
From: Stockholm, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 35GP – 9G – 8A – 17Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden Stats: 8GP – 7G – 2A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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We have a trade to announce….

The Detroit Red Wings trade picks 23, 48, and 138 to the Dallas Stars for pick 15

15th – Detroit Red Wings – Sebastian Cossa (G) – Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL
From: Hamilton, ON
2020-21 WHL Stats: 19GP – 1.57GAA – .941sv% – 4SO

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16th – New York Rangers – Brennan Othman (LW) – EHC Olten, Swiss Div 2
From: Scarborough, ON
2020-21 SD2 Stats: 34GP – 7G – 9A – 16Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 3G – 3A – 6Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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17th – St. Louis Blues – Zachary Bolduc (C) – Rimouski Océanic , QMJHL
From: Trois-Rivières, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 27GP – 10G – 19A – 29Pts
2021 Awards: Mike Bossy Trophy – Best Professional Prospect

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18th – Winnipeg Jets* – Chaz Lucius (C) – USNTDP
From: Grant, MN
2020-21 Team USA Stats: 25GP – 26G – 12A – 38Pts

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19th – Nashville Predators – Fedor Svechkov (F) – Ladia Togliatti, Russia
From: Togliatti, RUS
2020-21 League Stats: 53GP – 9G – 21A – 30Pts
2020-21 Team Russia Stats: 7GP – 4G – 6A – 10Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Silver Medal

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We have a trade to announce…..

The Edmonton Oilers trade pick 20 to the Minnesota Wild for picks 22 and 90

20th – Minnesota Wild – Jesper Wallstedt (G) – Luleå HF , SHL
From: Västerås, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 22 GP – 2.23GAA – .908sv% – 2SO
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 2GP – 2.40GAA – .923sv%

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21st – Boston Bruins – Fabian Lysell (RW) – Luleå HF, SHL
From: Göteborg, SWE
2020-21 SHL Stats: 26GP – 2G – 1A – 3Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 8GP – 3G – 6A – 9Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Bronze Medal

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22nd – Edmonton Oilers – Xavier Bourgault (C) – Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL
From: L’Islet, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 29GP – 20G – 20A – 40Pts

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23rd – Dallas Stars – Wyatt Johnston (C) – Team Canada
From: Leaside, ON
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 2A – 4Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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24th – Florida Panthers – Mackie Samoskevich (C) – Chicago Steel, USHL
From: Newtown, CT
2020-21 USHL Stats: 36GP – 13G – 24A – 37Pts
20201 Awards: Clark Cup

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25th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Corson Ceulemans (D) – Brooks Bandits, AJHL
From: Regina, SK
2020-21 AJHL Stats: 8GP – 4G – 7A – 11Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 6GP – 1G – 7A – 8Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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26th – Minnesota Wild – Carson Lambos (D) – Winnipeg Ice, WHL / JYP. Finland
From: Winnipeg, MB
2020-21 WHL Stats: 2GP – 0G – 0A – 0Pts
2020-21 Finnish Stats: 17GP – 2G – 9A – 11Pts

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We have a trade to announce….

The Carolina Hurricanes trade the 27th pick to the Nashville Predators for picks 40 and 51.

27th – Nashville Predators – Zachary L’Heureux (LW) – Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
From: Montréal, QC
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 33GP – 19G – 20A – 39Pts

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28th – Colorado Avalanche – Oskar Olausson (RW) – HV71, SHL
From: Stockholm, SWE
2020-21 League Stats: 43GP – 20G – 17A – 37Pts
2020-21 Team Sweden stats: 4GP – 0G – 0A – 0Pts

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29th – New Jersey Devils – Chase Stillman (C) – Esbjerg U20, Denmark
From: St. Louis, MO
2020-21 League stats: 8GP – 9G – 7A – 16Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 2G – 2A – 4Pts
20201 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal

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30th – Vegas Golden Knights – Zach Dean (C) – Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL
From: Grand Prairie, AB
2020-21 QMJHL Stats: 23GP – 10G – 10A – 20Pts

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31st – Montréal Canadiens – Logan Mailloux – SK Lejon, HockeyEttan
From: Belle River, ON
2020-21 Stats: 19GP – 7G – 8A – 15Pts

32nd – Chicago Blackhawks – Nolan Allan (D) – Prince Albert Raiders, WHL
From: Davidson, SK
2020-21 WHL Stats: 16GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2020-21 Team Canada Stats: 7GP – 1G – 1A – 2Pts
2021 Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal


Day one is over, after a nearly 5 hour round one draft.

Rounds 2-7 will begin at 11AM on July 23rd.

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