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"What are they doing?": Edmonton Oilers a loser of NHL free agency, NHL commentators say – Edmonton Journal

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The reviews are in from pundits and commentators outside of Edmonton on the first day of NHL free agency.

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And the reviews are not positive. Zach Hyman was considered a winner of the free agency period, but not the Edmonton Oilers, which had one of the most active and consequential days in team history.

Edmonton’s move included:

OUT:

Adam Larsson left as free agent, Ethan Bear traded, Jujhar Khaira left as free agent, James Neal bought out, Caleb Jones and third round pick traded.

IN:

Zach Hyman signed to a seven-year, $5.5 million per year deal, Tyson Barrie signed to a three-year, $4.5 million per year deal, Cody Ceci signed to a four year, $3.25 million per year deal, Derek Ryan signed to a two year, $1.25 million per day, RFA Warren Foegele acquired in a trade, Mike Smith signed two years. $2.2 million per.

Here is some of what the commentators had to say:

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Mike Brehm of USA TODAY had Hyman as a winner: “He played with skilled forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in Toronto. Now he’ll get a chance to play alongside Connor McDavid in Edmonton. Plus, the winger gets a seven-year, $38.5 million contract after averaging $2.25 million in his last contract.”

But Matt Larkin, The Hockey News on youtube had Edmonton as a loser: “I just don’t understand. What are they doing? … I’ll put the Zach Hyman deal aside. I’m willing to defend it. I think he’s going to actually be very helpful in the
short term.  You have to give him that term and money because it’s competitive to sign him. I think he’ll be a really nice fit
playing with McDavid… I think that move is totally fine but bringing in guys like Cody Cedi and with term, I just don’t understand what this team is doing. You’re bringing Duncan Keith. You lose Adam Larsson.  You trade away Caleb
Jones. You trade Ethan Bear… You’ve also resigned Mike Smith into his 40s now for multiple seasons.

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“I just can’t condone the decisions over all of this team… I  don’t know if this team is better. I don’t believe that they are but I could be wrong.”

Larkin added: “I do think that the Oilers could save their offseason. They could steal Tomas Tatar on a cheaper deal kind of like what they gave to Dominik Kahun last summer.”

Scott Burnside of The Athletic gave the Oilers a 4.5 out of 10 grade. “That’s some weird stuff going on for an Oilers team that was embarrassingly swept by Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs. Young defensive depth went out the door in the form of Caleb Jones (Chicago) and Ethan Bear (Carolina) replaced by 38-year-old Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, who was pretty good in Pittsburgh and is now an Oiler at $3.25 million for the next four years. Ceci is the kind of player, and that is the kind of contract, that fans in Edmonton will turn on in an instant… This is at best a blue line in transition and at worst in regression. Love Zach Hyman up front and the Oilers will love him too but not likely for the entirety of his seven-year deal at $5.5 million).”

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Commentator Josh Wegman of The Score, also had the Oilers as a loser:  “The Oilers general manager’s reputation has taken a turn for the worse over the past couple of weeks. The Oilers made a handful of questionable moves Wednesday, leaving them with one of the most suspect blue lines in the league… The Bear-for-Foegele trade isn’t entirely bad in itself, but the fact that the Oilers shipped out a promising, homegrown blue-liner to make room for Barrie and Ceci is bad optics. Outside of Nurse, this back end is littered with question marks… Holland did do well to improve Edmonton’s forward depth, bringing in Foegele, Derek Ryan, and Zach Hyman, but the latter’s seven-year deal worth $5.5 million per season is a massive overpay. The Oilers also didn’t address their issues between the pipes, missing out on all the top free-agent options and failing to pull the trigger on a deal for Kuemper.”

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Lyle Fizsimmons of Bleacher Report also had the Oilers as losers, says that Holland “made a series of moves Wednesday that could be labeled anywhere from optimistic to misguided… iI’s the defensive moves—particularly the Bear trade—that reminded fans of past moves that saw young assets bloom elsewhere. The Oilers traded Matt Greene, then 25, to Los Angeles in 2008 and saw him win two Cups with the Kings; dealt Jeff Petry, then 27, to Montreal in 2015 and saw him emerge into one of the league’s best blueliners and later help the Canadiens to the Cup Final this season; and dispatched Justin Schultz, then 25, to Pittsburgh in 2016 where he, too, went on to win a pair of Stanley Cups.”

My take

1. These commentators have varying degrees of knowledge and expertise about the Oilers and about the true talent of the players Edmonton move out and moved in. Nonetheless, I find it interesting what outsiders have to think. Quite often they get it right in evaluating Edmonton’s moves, but they also get it wrong. For example, last year the re-signing of Mike Smith was widely criticized but it worked out well.

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2. The comment I most agreed with came from Larkin when he said: “I  don’t know if this team is better. I don’t believe that they are but I could be wrong.” It’s excellent when any commentator recognizes the limitation of their her or his own knowledge, and the limitation of anyone’s predictive power in general, and owns up that they could very well be wrong. That’s a sign of wisdom.

3. I’m fascinated by those fans and commentators who aren’t expert in these players, who haven’t seen many of them play much this past season and certainly haven’t studied them closely enough to give an expert take on their value, yet come out with complete certainty on the merit of a trade.

For example, we can tell certain things about Foegele from his statistics and from what others say of him, but that’s not the kind of deep analysis needed to get a fair and accurate sense of his true talent. It’s the best we can do, and it’s fun to engage in this kind of judgement as fans and commentators, but how could we possibly be certain of our predictive powers regarding the outcome of a trade when our knowledge base is so incomplete?

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Even if we have a deep understanding of the value of a player, as many Oilers fans do with players like Larsson and Bear, it’s hard to know just how they’re going to perform next year. For one thing, so much depends on the player’s health and his usage. Will Larsson’s back hold up? Will Bear get thrown into the deep end, over his head, against the toughest competition?

But it’s also difficult to guess if a player like Bear will do what it takes and get the right coaching and opportunity to take a step up. And it’s also difficult to know how much more one more year of grinding will impact Larsson’s game.

4. The best we can do with players we know well is offer a probability, such as me guessing Larsson has an 80 per cent chance of playing as well as he did this past season and suggesting it’s a coin flip as to whether Bear will progress or regress this coming year. As for players I haven’t seen and studied thoroughly, such as Foegele, Keith, Ceci and Ryan, my guesses about how they’ll play are utterly crude, not anything I would state with certainty.

5. As for Larkin wondering what the Oilers are up to, that’s a fair question, but I think the answer is obvious: Edmonton was scrambling to fix its defence after Larsson unexpectedly left, and this is what made most sense to the organization. When you’re scrambling, it’s not easy. Ask any quarterback. Sometimes you get sacked, even concussed. Sometimes you’re able to improvise a touchdown pass.

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Canada’s Auger-Aliassime falls to Ruud in National Bank Open quarterfinals – Sportsnet.ca

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Felix Auger-Aliassime stood at the back of the IGA Stadium hardcourt with one hand on his hip and a look of astonishment on his face.

Casper Ruud managed to get his racket on an overhead smash late in Friday’s quarterfinal at the National Bank Open, the return floating over Auger-Aliassime’s head and inside the baseline. 

Auger-Aliassime scrambled back but his shot found the net. Nothing was working for him on this day — not even the tennis equivalent of a slam dunk — in a 6-1, 6-2 rout that lasted just 74 minutes.

“(My) first two matches were good, some positive things,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I never thought it would be ending like this today.”

The sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime entered play without dropping a set this week but he came out flat on an overcast afternoon. Ruud, the No. 4 seed from Norway, wrapped up the first set in a brisk 36 minutes and took the partisan crowd out of the match.

Auger-Aliassime, from Montreal, made 21 unforced errors to just eight for Ruud, who advanced to his third Masters 1000 semifinal of the season.

“It was a perfect day for me at the office,” Ruud said.

Auger-Aliassime was the last Canadian remaining in the draw. Ruud who will next play No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-1 winner over Nick Kyrgios.

Auger-Aliassime was hoping to become the first Canadian to reach the semifinals at this ATP Tour event since Denis Shapovalov in 2017. The last Canadian to win this tournament was Robert Bedard in 1958.

“It’s super disappointing to lose any tournament like this and especially here,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Unseeded players were scheduled to play in the evening quarterfinals. American T

In a match between two unseeded players, Britain’s Daniel Evans defeated American Tommy Paul 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 to advance.

Evans will next play Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who defeated British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the last of Friday’s quarterfinal matches.

Auger-Aliassime couldn’t get on track despite regular urging from the near-capacity crowd. He was shanking more shots than usual and his mistakes came at critical times. 

With a powerful forehand and effective two-handed backhand, Ruud was clinical in his attack and relentless with pressure. Auger-Aliassime was forced to his heels and had to settle for a defensive style.

The Canadian gave up two quick breaks in the second set before finally holding serve to get to 1-4. 

“To right away lose my service game, then another one … from three-love, it really felt like the worst possible outcome today,” Auger-Aliassime said. “At that point it gets really tough. 

“I tried my best, but he was also getting more and more comfortable and confident, so then things get much more difficult.”

Earlier in the day, Hurkacz took advantage of two double-faults by Kyrgios early in the third set for the first service break of their match. He rolled from there to end the Australian’s nine-match winning streak.

“Nick is a super opponent, he can make every single shot,” Hurkacz said. “He doesn’t really have that many weaknesses, if any. I was just trying to serve (well) and stay aggressive.”

There was no wasted energy from Kyrgios, who played like he had a cab waiting outside the venue. 

He’d usually bounce the ball just once and go right into his service motion. The pace of play agreed with Hurkacz, a six-foot-five right-hander who matched the Australian’s power game.

Both players had break opportunities but tiebreakers were needed to settle the first two sets. 

Kyrgios, who dispatched defending champ and world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the second round, slowed in the third set and his serve lost some of its zip. 

“I’m not a machine, I’m a human,” Kyrgios said. “My knees were sore, my back was sore, my abdominal (area) was sore. I was trying to stay moving, but I just stiffened up.”

Kyrgios entered play with wins in 15 of his last 16 matches, with the only defeat coming to Novak Djokovic in last month’s Wimbledon final. 

The semifinals are set for Saturday and the final of the US$6.57-million tournament goes Sunday. The winner will earn just over $915,000.

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Three Stars from Day 4 of WJC: Lysell, Sweden dominate all-European action – Sportsnet.ca

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Sweden made its presence felt in an all-European matchday at the 2022 World Juniors.

The Junior Crowns established their dominance in Group B with a convincing 6-0 win over Austria. They will fight for a first-place finish in the group stage with the United States on Sunday.

Without two of their best young forwards, Red Wings eighth overall pick in 2022 Marco Kasper and Canadiens second-rounder Vinzenz Rohrer, Austria struggled against the Swedes. The good news for the Austrians is that there is no relegation in this rescheduled version of the World Junior Championship. 

Slovakia salvaged their disappointing run in Edmonton by clinching their spot in the quarterfinal round.

The Slovaks — without the top two picks in the 2022 Draft in Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec — fell 5-4 against their Czech rivals then 11-1 against Canada earlier in the tournament. In their third game on Friday, Slovakia were held up by Latvia but finally took a 3-2 win in a shootout.

The loss means that Latvia will finish in the depths of the tournament. The Latvians can find solace in the fact that the country stood up to Slovakia and at least snagged away one point from their European counterparts.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 4 of the World Juniors:

3rd star: Isak Rosen, Sweden

Sweden had yet to score on the power play at Rogers Place yet but Rosen rose to the occasion with one goal and one assist.

After a first period where the Swedes had 21 shots but only one goal, Rosen added a second goal to his tournament tally and broke their power play drought.

The Austrians forgot about the winger near the right faceoff circle. Fabian Lysell located Rosen with a cross-ice pass of his own and the young winger bagged in the one-timer on one knee.  

Rosen later told Swedish media that this was an important goal for his country after they spent the pre-tournament and the first game of the WJC without scoring on the power play.

The Buffalo Sabres prospect is known for his strong shot but he also has quite the passing ability. Rosen used his physicality to impose himself and get Sweden another goal. 

The 19-year-old dispossessed Austria’s Tim Geifes along the boards and then found his captain Emil Andrae with a swift cross-ice pass to notch his country’s fourth goal of the game.

Rosen will cross the pond to North America for the first time for the upcoming season. The wingers will play for the Rochester Americans of the AHL and be yet another addition to the young Sabres pipeline. 

Honourable mention: Slovakia’s Adam Sykora blew away the few fans in attendance with a flash of brilliance to get his country levelled 1-1 in the first period. He skated his way past a defenceman then made a give-and-go play with Jakub Demek to fool Lativian goalie Bruno Bruveris. 

Slovakia will try to channel the relief from their shootout win against the high-flying Finns on Sunday. On their end, the Latvians will hope to hold another close game on Sunday against Czechia.

2nd star: Emil Andrae, Sweden

A defenceman with two goals in a single game is always worth mentioning. Emil Andrae returned to the ice after a season-ending injury with HV71 and helped his team find another gear in the second period.

The 54th overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2021 was touted as a blueliner that can play on both sides of the puck and proved it against Austria.

Sweden’s captain scored twice in the span of 1:05 to keep the Austrians at bay and secure the victory.

The five-foot-nine defenceman took advantage of Rosen’s forced turnover to score his first goal. Andrae found himself in a perfect position to utilize his heavy wrister on the power play.

Andrae added his second goal from the point with another wrist shot directed in traffic to get Sweden up by four goals. The captain chipped in a late secondary assist in the third period to finish the game with three points and a plus-2 differential.

1st star: Fabian Lysell, Sweden

On an all-European afternoon, Fabian Lysell made his experience of North American ice felt. The winger made sure to remind hockey fans that the Boston Bruins drafted him in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

Lysell finished the game with one goal and one assist. He joins his teammates Rosen and Andrea as Sweden’s leading scorers with three points each.

The winger may have missed a penalty shot but he bounced back admirably with a goal a few seconds later.

From a very tight angle, Lysell found the tiniest bit of space above Austrian netminder Sebastian Wraneschitz’s shoulder to score Sweden’s fifth of the game.

The winger showed that his game isn’t too far away from the NHL and that he doesn’t mind getting his nose dirty. The Swede, who is used to North American ice playing for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, crashed Wraneschitz’s net early on in the game in an attempt to kickstart Sweden’s domination.

Lysell and his country-mates will need to keep the pace up as Sweden looks to take on the Americans on Sunday and the surprising Germans on Monday.

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Joshua Roy off to a hot start at the World Juniors – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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The Montreal Canadiens have several prospects in action at this summer’s World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton. In today’s episode of Habsent Minded Extra, I’m taking a look at how fifth-rounder Joshua Roy has become a key member of the powerhouse Canadians in their quest for gold.

He has played most of his minutes so far on the top line with Mason McTavish and Connor Bedard. That trio has been relied upon to drive offense for the team so far, and while their initial contest against Latvia was somewhat lukewarm, they exploded against Slovakia on Thursday night.

In a selfless act, Roy gave up a chance at a breakaway and his first goal of the tournament by passing to McTavish, and insisting that the latter take his attempt at notching the hat trick, which he did.

With the game well in hand for Canada in the third period, head coach Dave Cameron brought out the line blender. This saw Roy shifted down in the lineup to play with Islanders prospect William Dufour, and Senators prospect Zack Ostapchuk. An eyebrow raiser at first given Roy’s performance, but it yielded results almost immediately.

Roy scored his first goal of the tournament, and added an assist on an Ostapchuk goal to finish with four points against Slovakia, tying him for second in tournament scoring behind McTavish.

Whether that line blending sticks or not, Roy showed in this game is that he can produce wherever they put him in the lineup. With Dufour and Ostapchuk, he actually gets to play more of a similar trigger-man role that he’s used to in Sherbrooke, and it may even help his overall production.

His selflessness, and acceptance of a checking and puck retrieval role with the top guns means they can put him right back on that top line as well. After barely missing out on the roster for the ill-fated December 2021 tournament, he has established himself as a versatile tool for team Canada.

That versatility should earn him plenty of playing time for the remainder of this tournament, and could make him a no-brainer for a big role with the team when they reconvene in December for the next one.

Click the play button below to listen to my full thoughts on Roy’s hot start ahead of tonight’s game against Czechia.

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