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TRAIKOS: Picking winners and losers a futile act after flurry of NHL trades – Toronto Sun

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For what it’s worth, the St. Louis Blues added a defenceman who did not play a single game in the playoffs at last year’s trade deadline — and then won the Stanley Cup.

So deciding which teams won or lost with the moves they did or did not make prior to Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline is a futile act. Not that there wasn’t a lot to chew on.

From Tampa Bay spending a first-round pick on a forward who has eight goals this season to the Penguins, Capitals and Hurricanes getting involved in a mini-arms race to Ottawa accumulating more picks than they know what to do with, here is a look at the flurry of activity that was deadline day.

DEADLINE DUDS

What was the biggest move on deadline day?

Was it 40-year-old Patrick Marleau joining the Penguins for one last shot at a championship? Was it Robin Lehner heading to Vegas to be Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup? Jean-Gabriel Pageau going to the Islanders?

If those are your options, then that tells you everything you need to know about a day that had a lot of trades – but was lacking in star talent.

Chris Kreider decided on re-signing with the New York Rangers, Dustin Byfuglien decided he still isn’t healthy (or motivated) to return to the NHL this season, and Toronto decided to hang onto Tyson Barrie for the remainder of the season. Even Zamboni driver-turned-emergency goalie David Ayres stayed put.

That left GMs to fight over a bunch of players who probably won’t end up moving the needle much.

There were no Ray Bouque available this year. No Rick Nash or Jarome Iginla. No actual stars. There were still teams that parted ways with first-round picks. But because so many who still believe they are in it – we’re looking at you, Buffalo – the lack of rentals affected the market.

SENATORS POSITIONED FOR FUTURE

The winners were ultimately the losers.

If you had to sell a player at the deadline, it meant that your season was lost. You were not going to win a Stanley Cup. You weren’t even going to get close to a playoff spot. But with the prices that teams were paying for short-term help (a first-round pick for Barclay Goodrow?) this was a really good time to be a seller.

And the Senators took advantage of the seller’s market better than anyone.

Ottawa, which already owned San Jose’s first-round pick, added another first- and second-rounder, plus a third (in 2022), a fourth (in 2021) and fifth (in 2021) in exchange for Pageau, Vladimir Namestnikov and Tyler Ennis.

Combined, the Senators have eight picks in the first two rounds.

As long as the team drafts and develops them in the same fashion as Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk, it might not be long before Ottawa is competing with Boston and Tampa Bay for top spot in the Atlantic Division.

VEGAS BETS ON THEMSELVES

If I were a hockey fan, I would pledge my allegiance to the Vegas Golden Knights.

In Year One, the team made the Cup final. In Year Two, they traded for Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. In Year Three, they continued to raise the bar by swapping out coaches when the team hit a speed bump and then – in true Vegas fashion – gambled on themselves by acquiring defenceman Alec Martinez from the Kings and Chicago’s Lehner at the deadline.

The message sent to fans and to the players is that this team intends on winning a championship. And with Lehner now battling Fleury for the net, there is no reason why they can’t do it.

HOLLAND TRADES FOR FAMILIARITY

When former Red Wings GM Ken Holland traded for Mike Green and Andreas Athanasiou on Monday, ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski joked it was only a matter of time before Holland dealt a third-round pick for his old office chair. But while familiarity likely played a part in bringing Green and Athanasiou to Edmonton, it was more than that.

Athanasiou is pretty much everything that Connor McDavid has been looking for in a winger: he’s fast, he can score (he had 30 goals last year) and as a pending RFA, he’s more than motivated to earn a big-time raise by performing in the playoffs.

Green, meanwhile, is not the same defencemen who once scored 31 goals or 76 points for Washington earlier in his career. But the 35-year-old can still move the puck, quarterback the power play and with Oscar Klefbom out adds much-needed depth.

Toss in the acquisition of Ottawa’s Tyler Ennis and it’s clear that the Oilers are thinking beyond the first round.

BUFFALO GOES ALL IN

It sure sounds like Sabres GM Jason Botterill, who has been on the hot seat ever since he gave up Ryan O’Reilly for basically nothing, is trying to save his job.

How else to explain why a team that is six points out of a playoff spot became buyers on Monday? This should have been a day when Buffalo traded away Rasmus Ristolainen, Jimmy Vesey and the many UFAs who could be out the door a month from now.

Instead, Botterill decided to acquire Wayne Simmonds and his expiring contract from the Devils in exchange for a fifth-round pick, and then flipped Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues to Pittsburgh for Dominik Kahun.

Simmonds is everything Buffalo has been missing this season: he’s gritty, he’s competitive and he is high on character. The only problem is he might be joining the Sabres two months too late to make an actual difference.

METRO IS NEW DIVISION OF DEATH

The road to the Stanley Cup looks like it will go through the Metropolitan Division.

While Washington added defenceman Brenden Dillon and forward Ilya Kovalchuk before the deadline, Pittsburgh got significantly better by acquiring Jason Zucker, Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues.

The rest of the division spent Monday trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Though there were rumblings that the New York Islanders tried to reunite Wild forward Zach Parise with Lou Lamoriello, the GM still managed to add a scoring touch with the addition of Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who then signed a six-year extension. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, upgraded their centre position with Florida’s Vincent Trocheck and added to their depleted defence with Rangers’ Brady Skjei.

Even the Flyers got involved, by picking up Anaheim’s Derek Grant and Montreal’s Nate Thompson.

It’s tough to say which is the more improved team going forward. But with Boston and Tampa Bay making minimal changes, don’t be surprised if a team out of the Metro reaches the final.

MAPLE LEAFS STAND PAT

The biggest move that the Maple Leafs made was the one that they didn’t make. And it could be one that GM Kyle Dubas regrets.

Tyson Barrie had the potential of bringing Toronto back a first-round pick. But moving the puck-moving defenceman had the potential of causing the Leafs to fall out of a playoff spot.

The latter might have been the reason why Dubas, who’s only move on Monday was re-acquiring depth defenceman Calle Rosen from Los Angeles, decided to keep his underachieving roster intact.

Maybe the long-awaited return of Morgan Rielly will help Toronto turn the corner. But unless Toronto can find a way past Tampa Bay or Boston in the first round, hanging onto what is essentially a rental defenceman in Barrie could prove costly for a cap-strapped team that is without a first-round pick in this year’s draft.

MARLEAU GETS ANOTHER KICK AT THE CAN

Patrick Marleau was so ineffective for the Maple Leafs in last year’s playoffs that the team had to package a first-round draft pick to the Hurricanes in order for them to accept his $6.25-million salary, which he was bought out of. Eight months later, Marleau was playing so well for the Sharks (10 goals and 20 points in 58 games) that the Penguins were willing to deal a conditional third-round pick for the 40-year-old winger.

“I happened to talk to (Sharks head coach) Bob Boughner this morning and he said he’s playing as good as he did three years ago there,” Senators head coach D.J. Smith, who coached Marleau in Toronto, told me on Monday. “He didn’t see any dip in his game. Thought he was skating great. He’s big and he’s strong and with what Boogie said today, if he continues to play at that level that tells me he’s going to really help that team.”

ARE PANTHERS WAVING WHITE FLAG?

It’s not often that a team that is a couple of points out of a playoff spot trades away one of its top players for future assets. It’s even more rare that the team trades him to someone they are battling with over a playoff spot.

But that’s what Florida did on Monday, when the Panthers sent a second-line centre in Trocheck to Carolina for a package that included pending UFA Erik Haula, pending RFA Lucas Wallmark and a pair of prospects.

Florida is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings with 70 points. Carolina is in eighth place with 74 points.

On paper, Trocheck makes the Hurricanes better. But you could also argue that the trade makes the Panthers better – both for today and for the future. After all, Trocheck might be a better centre than Haula. But in a quantity versus quality debate, Haula and Wallmark have combined for 23 goals and 52 points this season, which is more than Trocheck’s 10 goals and 36 points.

If however, Florida misses out on the playoffs, then those two prospects (Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen) better be worth it.

mtraikos@postmedia.com

twitter.com/Michael_Traikos

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Bandwagon or 'mental anguish': Calgarians say they'll root for Edmonton in NHL playoffs – CBC.ca

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The Battle of Alberta ended with the Calgary Flames getting knocked out of the series on Thursday — making Edmonton the sole Canadian team left in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The Edmonton Oilers emerged victorious in the NHL’s first playoff Battle of Alberta in 31 years. It was a tough loss for Calgarians who were rooting for their home team, but some say they’ll get over the rivalry and root for the Oilers in the fight for the Stanley Cup.

For Flames fan Austin Hill, it comes down to Canadians cheering for their own teams. 

Flames fan Austin Hill says he’ll cheer for the Edmonton Oilers now. (Charlotte Dumoulin/CBC)

“Definitely have to get behind the Oilers,” he said. “When your local team gets eliminated, you have to put your support behind the next Canadian team. It’s the right thing to do.”

It’s bittersweet, though, as the Red Mile on 17th Avenue — the centre for a lot of cheering from bars and restaurants — was quiet Friday morning. 

“I really wanted to feel the energy of Calgary, be down here, 17th, feel the Red Mile,” Hill said. 

“I would love to see the Oilers and [Connor] McDavid do a playoff run. That would be amazing. That would be a great time for the Oilers and Alberta as well.” 

Diehard fans like Brian Baker, who watched the game at the Saddledome, had to take the day off to recover from the loss. 

Brian Baker watched Thursday’s game at the Saddledome. (Charlotte Dumoulin/CBC)

“It was a great game until overtime, and then I didn’t like the ending at all. I had to take today off to recover from the mental anguish of seeing the Oilers go on,” he said. 

“They [the Flames] had a good season. Nothing to complain about there. It would have been nice to see them go further.… I would like to see a Canadian team continue on.” 

Some might call it jumping on the bandwagon, but others call it being a part of a community. 

Australian Thomas Stefoulis, who previously lived in Calgary for a few years, says he thinks Albertans can get past their rivalry, albeit begrudgingly. 

“It just leads to feeling that sort of a sense of community, which I think is very valuable. So even if people want to be bandwagon fans, that’s totally fine. Get involved for the day, get involved in the game. It’s just important for keeping community alive,” he said. 

Kate James-Loth is new to Calgary but already knows where her loyalties lie. (Charlotte Dumoulin/CBC)

Other Calgarians won’t be rooting for the Oilers, or anyone else, for that matter. 

“I feel like because it’s kind of done in the city with the Flames being out, I will probably stop watching,” said Kate James-Loth, who is new to the city but got swept up in the playoff excitement and tuned in to the games. 

“I have to be loyal now that I live in Calgary.” 

With an early end to the series, in Game 5, it’s still unclear who the Oilers will face next, the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues.

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Jays Win a Close One – Bluebird Banter

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Blue Jays 4 Angels 3

My first Apple TV+ game and there was good and bad. I liked the cleanness of the video. I liked the field noise.

I hated the commentary. They didn’t seem to know anything about the Blue Jays. Talked about Kirk’s speed (speed doesn’t slump), talking about Star Wars way, way too much. The sideline woman talked too much, for my liking.

And they missed action on the field. The Jays’ first run scored while they were showing some set-piece. And they talked to people dressed in Star Wars gear while the game was going on, instead of showing the play.

The game?

A heck of a good game.

Alek Manoah was good, maybe as great as he’s been all season, but good. He gave up a couple of solo homers (Jared Walsh and Tyler Wade taking him deep). And he was hurt by some poor defense. Raimel Tapai had a single get through him, giving the runner an extra base and setting up the Angels’ first run.

Manoah went 6, allowed 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned, 0 walks and 9 strikeouts.

He was also helped out by a nice play by Bo Bichette. In the fifth inning, with Mike Trout on third, Walsh ground one at Bo. Bo threw home and Trout was just barely out. Called safe on the field, the replay showed that he was out by the slimmest possible margin. I was surprised that they overturned the call on such a close play.


Offensively? Well, we did enough. Barely enough, but enough.

We had 11 hits, 3 extra-base hits (all doubles). We scored:

  • 1 in the second: Bo started off the inning with a ground-rule double in the right-field corner. Teoscar Hernandez beat out an infield single. And Bo scored on Alejandro Kirks’ double-play ball. Not that we got to see it or anything.
  • 1 in the fifth: This time Kirk started it off with a double. Tapia singled him to third. And Lourdes doubled home Kirk (doubling home Kirk from third is about as good a description of Kirk’s speed as you will ever get). Something of a miracle happened that inning. We had two hits with RISP. That’s where the fun ended. With runners on second and third. Cavan (not Kevin as the announcer called him) lined out (bad luck for Cavan, he hit it good), George Springer popped out and Santiago Espinal struck out.
  • 1 in the seventh: Danny Jansen (pinch-hitting), had a one-out single. Bradley Zimmer pinch-ran (a good move as it turned out). Gurriel lined a single to left, Zimmer to second. Matt Chapman (also pinch-hitting) got an infield single to the second baseman and Zimmer came all the way home from second. He has amazing speed. Unfortunately, Springer struck out and Espinal hit a soft fly out.
  • 1 in the ninth: Kirk had an infield single (prompting the commentator to tell us that speed never slumps). Zimmer put down a nice sac bunt (but with all that speed at first, it didn’t have to be that good). And Gurriel singled to right, a ball that bounced past right-fielder Juan Lagares and Kirk scored. Again that would be all we’d get. Chapman struck out and Springer ground out.

Lourdes had 3 hits (can we hope he is out of his slump?). Kirk had 2 hits. Everyone else had 1 hit except for the 3 guys at the top of the order. Springer, Espinal (he did make a very nice play at third base), and Guerrero went 0 for 11, with 3 strikeouts, and 2 walks.


Our bullpen did a great job.

  • Yimi Garcia had a clean inning.
  • Trevor Richards’ clean inning featured 2 strikeouts. He gets his second win.
  • Jordan Romano picked up his 15th save. He struck out the side in the ninth, getting pinch hitter Shohei Ohtani for the last out of the game. I thought it was nice that Angels fans chanted MVP for Romano during the at-bat.

Jays of the Day: Gurriel (.573 WPA), Chapman (.172), Romano (.187), Chapman (.172), and Richards (.102). Tapia came close (.090) but that error cost him a JoD.

Suckage: The top of the order, Springer (-.259), Espinal (-.251) and Vlad (-.159). Manoah had the number too (-.119) but I don’t think that’s fair.

Tomorrow night the Jays go for their fourth win in a row. Yusei Kikuchi (2-1, 3.47) vs. Michael Lorenzen (5-2, 3.05). It is a 10:00 Eastern start.

Of note, Lourdes was miked up, but about all we got was him huffing his way into a double. I was hoping for more.

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Never mind the disallowed goal, Flames couldn’t keep up with the Oilers’ track meet – Sportsnet.ca

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The Calgary Flames built their reputation on Darryl Sutter Hockey – that heavy-forechecking, quality-defending style that smothers opponents and wins back pucks, which makes the burden of creating offence a struggle for their opposition. On the backs of that plan, the Flames allowed the third-fewest goals during the regular season. They were a force.

The Edmonton Oilers can be given no greater compliment than the way the Flames were reduced to playing in the Battle of Alberta, chasing more and more offence to try to keep up with an Oilers top-six that simply could not be stopped. There was a desperation there that we hadn’t seen from the Flames, and by Game 5 I kept thinking, “Just catch the pass and shoot it” rather than trying to rush a one-timer on a hot pass or on one that was in a bad spot. Their usual poise disappeared.

A look at a few of those fanned one-timers in Game 5:

By the end, little of the Flames’ identity was left, not the physical play, not the elite goaltending, or the line of Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk, which was arguably the best in the league in 2021-22.

The Flames played with offensive impatience, which left room for the Oilers to fly back the other way. Too often it became a track meet, and with that style imposed on the series, the Flames, ironically, were cooked. Rush chances were 11-3 for the Oilers in Game 5.

Apparently, there was also a goal disallowed, but the things below are about how the Oilers got the Flames in a position where one play not going their way could mean the end of the series, and their season.

How did the Oilers do it?

McDavid-Draisaitl

I was tempted to skip over this obvious point because you, the reader, are well aware of what Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl do. But I just couldn’t. How could I? Everything about the Oilers hinged on this, with two players combining for **checks stats** – no, that can’t be right – **checks again** 29 points in five games. They set all kinds of records.

The Flames got much better at slowing down McDavid in Games 4 and 5, but it took all their focus and attention, which opened them up everywhere else.

Depth contributions from Kane, Hyman, RNH

In Game 5, Zach Hyman had one goal and two assists for three points, he was plus-4, he had seven shots, he played nearly 24 minutes, he led the team in hits, he had a big blocked shot, there’s just not much more I can say about this guy.

In the summer, I use a plastic oar to stir my kids’ kiddie pool and get the water going in a “whirlpool,” and that’s what happens when Hyman is on the ice. He’s an oar, and he gets the play going in the direction he’s skating whenever he’s out there.

With McDavid and Draisaitl sucking up all the attention – as they have in years past – the question was asked of the Oilers depth: when those guys see all the best defending, can you capitalize on your extra space or weaker opposition?

Hyman said yes. Evander Kane said yes; he’s on pace to threaten the all-time playoff goals record of 19 (he has 12, so if they Oilers play two more rounds … ?). Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had six points in five games; the Nuge said yes too.

McDavid and Draisaitl were like a collective boxer doing so much damage to the body in the early rounds that their opposition starts to drop their hands, while these guys were suddenly free to take shots at the head.

Good coaching

I thought Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft showed a willingness to be flexible and go away from what’s worked if it wasn’t working on a given night. Case in point: Kane had been on an unbelievable run alongside McDavid, as mentioned above. It would’ve been easy to leave him in that role, no matter what. This is speculation on my part, but I don’t think the Oil loved how Kane defended a Flames set breakout early in the game, followed by his positioning on the Andrew Mangiapane goal. Whether it was that or something else, Woodcroft bumped Kane off that line for Hyman, who did … all the things I mentioned in the section above. It was the perfect change in a game McDavid didn’t have an inch of room and couldn’t create much or drive play. Hyman did it for that line at times.

I also given Woodcroft credit for sticking with what would give the team the best chance in the big picture: Mike Smith over Mikko Koskinen. After Game 1, he could’ve bailed on Smith and been justified. Then Game 2 starts with two softies, where you’d think he’d have a hair trigger, but he stuck with Smith yet again. The roller coaster Mike Smith Experience includes the type of highs you need to get by great opponents, and Woodcroft gave their team the chance to see that through.

An exposed weakness, and a surprise goaltending slump

Flames coach Darryl Sutter gave a telling response in a post-game when he talked about their “inexperienced defence.” They don’t have guys who’ve seen deep runs playing D for them, and, in the end, the little defensive gaffes made just enough room for the Oilers (a miscommunication with Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm on the OT winner cost them) to expose them. In Game 5, the Oilers had 18 slot shots to the Flames’ nine.

The Flames needed goaltending to bail them out, but Edmonton has had Jacob Markstrom’s number all year. He ended up posting just an .852 save percentage in the series, and the crease was supposed to be where the Flames had a clear advantage. I haven’t heard it said much lately, but McDavid is in an awkward body position on that OT winner and doesn’t get a ton on it. They needed a few more saves from Markstrom.

When all is said and done, the Battle of Alberta was decided because the Oilers’ best players had their ‘A’ games, and that dictated everything that came next from the Flames. Calgary was reduced to counterpunching, when it had been used to coming out swinging.

In the NHL, the sport’s all-time greats almost always find their way to a championship, as at some level they become all their opponents can think about and the team around them is free to rise up. That’s what’s been happening for the Oilers, and no matter who their next opponent is, that game plan has every chance of being effective in yet another round.

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