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Two-year deal for Nurse just what Oilers' doctor ordered – Edmonton Sun



One of Ken Holland’s favourite sayings is “everything is a risk.”

So, with the Edmonton Oilers’ general manager signing Darnell Nurse to a two-year extension, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, probably in the $11.2 million range, that takes the defenceman to unrestricted free-agency in July 2022. He could walk on the Oilers then if they can’t come up with a long-term deal for seven or eight years for considerably more than $5.6 mil per season.

But Holland, who signed Zack Kassian when he was entering UFA country to a four-year, $12.8 million deal a week or so ago, will roll the dice on Nurse’s UFA status. He’ll deal with that later for now buying two years of Nurse’s salary arbitration rights when his contract could be in somebody else’s hands.

The Oilers were probably using Winnipeg defenceman Josh Morrissey as a comparable after he signed an eight-year deal for an average cap hit of $6.25 million but this is a palatable alternative for Holland. Nurse, who just turned 25, may feel he’s worth considerably more than that long-term but also loves being an Oiler, loves being part of the core, and is very tight with captain Connor McDavid. He’s likely not keen to see if the grass is greener somewhere else when he hits UFA status.

Sources say Nurse’s camp has absolutely no problem with this two-year deal and the average cap hit because it doesn’t reflect any UFA years. They know they’ll be back at the bargaining table after the 2020-21 season but when a new U.S. TV deal kicks in, the team cap ceiling will be going up considerably, ergo, more money for UFA players.

Nurse, who is one of the alternate captains, signed a two-year bridge deal for $6.4 million total in 2018. Right now, he’s playing almost 23 minutes a game. He’s got 24 points in 55 games and is minus 2. Nurse and Ethan Bear are generally the team’s shutdown pair.

While there are some warts to his game, like most young D-men, he’s a terrific puck-transporter, he’s very tough, he’s athletic, and at worst he’s a No. 3 defenceman. His new deal elevates him to the top of the pay grade for the blue liners, ahead of the $4.16 million Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson make. Kris Russell’s cap hit is $4 million .

The Oilers now have to sign the shocker of the season, Bear, who made the team at camp and is averaging 21 1/2 minutes a game.

“Bear has caught us all by surprise, he’s a really calm, effective player,” said a veteran NHL scout.

The Oilers will likely try and get Bear on a bridge contract, maybe two years at $5.5 million. He’s finishing up his entry level deal at $720,000.

Holland, always a long-range planner, was thinking of Nurse and others when the team bought out veteran defenceman Andrej Sekera last summer rather than pay him $5.5 million for four more years. They are on the hook for $2.5 mil next year, then $1.5 mil and $2.5 mil in dead money for Sekera but by buying out Sekera, it allowed them the financial freedom to bring in forwards Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald on one-year, UFA contracts. It also allowed Holland to have a spot for Bear at cheap money. If they hadn’t said goodbye to Sekera, who quickly signed in Dallas, it’s unlikely Bear would be on the team.

After this season, forwards Sheahan, Archibald, Sam Gagner, Joakim Nygard, Gaetan Haas are UFA. They won’t be signing them all. On defence, Matt Benning and Bear are restricted free-agents. Goalie Mike Smith is also UFA July 1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Larsson are UFA on July 1, 2021. Same with Russell and Alex Chiasson.

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Jays (Finally) Win One – Bluebird Banter



Jays 6 Orioles 1

It is about time.

This is just a space holder for the recap, my tennis went long.

Ross Stripling was amazing. Just 1 hit allowed in 6.1. He threw 72 pitches and was in control.

And the offence finally broke through for 6 runs in the 8th (imagine the Hallaluah chorus playing here). And George Springer got his 1000th hit.

Life is good again.

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Here are the Raptors games you don’t want to miss in the 2022-23 season –



The Toronto Raptors will open their 2022-23 NBA season on Oct. 19 at Scotiabank Arena. Their regular season will conclude on April 9 at home against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Here are some things to highlight in the Raptors’ schedule this season.

Facing off against familiar foes

As has become customary, former beloved Raptors — especially those from the 2019 championship team — are likely to receive heroes’ welcomes upon their return to Toronto. If you’re looking to join in on the festivities, here’s a list of notable players and their arrivals back at Scotiabank Arena:

Demar DeRozan: In his second season with the Chicago Bulls, DeRozan is scheduled to pay two visits to Toronto: First on Nov. 6, and then on Feb. 28.

Serge Ibaka: Now with the Milwaukee Bucks, Ibaka is slated to return to Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 4 and the season finale on April 9.

Kawhi Leonard: The 2019 Finals MVP missed all of last season recovering from a partial tear in his right knee. He will, hopefully, be available when his Los Angeles Clippers come to town on Dec. 27.

Kyle Lowry: The return to Toronto for perhaps the most beloved Raptor of all time, and his Miami Heat, will be on Nov. 16 and March 28.

Norman Powell: Now a member of the Clippers, Powell will be accompanying Leonard when Los Angeles visits Toronto on Dec. 27.

Jonas Valanciunas: The well-liked New Orleans Pelicans centre and his team will be visiting on Feb. 23.

January could prove to be a pivotal month

Looking at each individual month of the schedule, January stands out since it features both the longest homestand the team will enjoy as well as the start of its longest road trip.

For six games and 11 days between Jan. 4 and Jan. 14, the Raptors will play in the friendly confines of Scotiabank Arena as they look to kick off the new year with some wind in their sails. The Raptors will face Milwaukee, New York, Portland, Charlotte twice (but not on a back-to-back) and then Atlanta during that period.

Beginning on Jan. 25 and then lasting seven games and 12 days until Feb. 5, the Raptors will be on their longest road swing of the season with stops in Sacramento, Golden State, Portland, Phoenix, Utah, Houston and Memphis.

The contests against Golden State and Portland will be back-to-backs and are one of 12 back-to-back sets the team will play this season (two fewer than last season).

Given the scheduling quirks in January, it could be important month as a means for the Raptors to rack up wins during the homestand and test themselves out on the road still with plenty of runway until the post-season.

Other games of note

Here’s a quick list of other notable games to keep an eye on:

Nov. 23/Dec. 16 — versus Brooklyn: It’s unclear if Kevin Durant will still be a member of the Brooklyn Nets when they make their trips up north, but if he is, that will surely be a scene at Scotiabank Arena.

Nov. 26 — versus Dallas: The NBA’s brightest young star, Luka Doncic, and his Dallas Mavericks are coming to town early in the season. As a bonus, Canadian national team stud Dwight Powell also plays for Dallas.

Dec. 5 — versus Boston: The eighth annual Giants of Africa Game celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela.

Dec. 7 — versus Los Angeles Lakers: LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers make their annual visit to Toronto.

Dec. 18 — versus Golden State: Canadian Andrew Wiggins and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors make their only trip to the Six.

Dec. 29 — versus Memphis: Raptors fans will be in for a treat as high-flying point guard Ja Morant will make his only trip to Toronto, but more importantly, Canadians Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke will be playing on home soil once again.

Jan. 6/Jan. 22 — versus New York: R.J. Barrett and the New York Knicks will be in Toronto in January.

Jan. 8 — versus Portland: Dame time is well and good, but the real attraction with this match is the opportunity to see London, Ont., native Shaedon Sharpe live. The most mysterious pick in the 2022 draft, no one really knows what kind of player he may be.

Feb. 10 — versus Utah: Canada’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker and the Utah Jazz will take on the Raptors in Toronto.

March 14 — versus Denver: Two-time defending MVP Nikola Jokic and Canadian star guard Jamal Murray will be in town with the Denver Nuggets to take on the Raptors.

March 16 — versus Oklahoma City: A game after hosting Murray, the Raptors will invite in another of Canada’s best in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort when they face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

March 22 — versus Indiana: With three Canadians on the Indiana Pacers roster (Oshae Brissett and rookies Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard), this Wednesday night in March should be a special one at Scotiabank Arena.

March 24 — versus Detroit: Canadian veterans Kelly Olynyk and Cory Joseph feature on this young, exciting Detroit Pistons team, but the storyline that will likely be on Raptors fans’ minds when the Pistons visit will be if Dwane Casey will, once again, get the best of his former team.

U.S. national television games

Lastly, for those who care about this kind of thing, the Raptors announced they will be on U.S. national television four times (twice on ESPN and twice on TNT). Additionally, Toronto will play on NBATV five times this season.

The Raptors will appear on two more U.S. national television games than last season.

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Czechia pulls off major upset over U.S., advances to WJC semifinal vs. Canada –



Czechia completed a 4-2 upset win over the previously unbeaten United States on Wednesday to punch its ticket to the semifinal of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton.

After the United States’ Logan Cooley opened the scoring just over 12 minutes into the game, Czechia responded with three straight tallies to take control of the contest against the defending champs.

Jan Mysak, Petr Hauser, Matyas Sapovaliv and Jiri Kulich all scored for Czechia. Kulich also recorded two assists.

Matthew Berard of the U.S. was assessed a five-minute major and a match penalty for slew-footing early in the third period. Czechia was unable to capitalize on the man advantage.

Later in the third, Czechia’s Stanislav Svozil received a five-minute major and a match penalty of his own after initiating a knee-on-knee hit with Cooley. The third-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft would remain in the game after the collision.

The U.S. capitalized on the man advantage courtesy of Carter Mazur to cut the deficit to 3-2. Kulich would later add an empty netter

Luke Hughes of the U.S. sustained an apparent lower-body injury early in the first period, he would exit the game and return for the start of the second frame.

Czechia is set to play Canada in Thursday’s semifinals. Sweden plays Finland in the other semi.

Czechia, which hasn’t won a medal at the event since 2005 when it captured bronze, went 1-0-1-2 in the round-robin stage.

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