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Win or lose, Anton Khudobin has reached legendary status – Yahoo Canada Sports

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Anton Khudobin isn’t the sexiest name out there when you consider the stars in this year’s Stanley Cup Final between the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. But he might be the most lovable.

Since being pressed into service during the Stars’ first-round series against the Calgary Flames, it has been a whirlwind for the 34-year old netminder, who once lived in Saskatoon, Sask., with a billet family and has bounced around four pro leagues (KHL, ECHL, AHL and now the NHL) before reaching this moment. He is arguably the best feel-good story of the postseason in a year when good news is seriously welcomed any time we can get it.

Khudobin has been a driving force in the Stars’ quest to capture Lord Stanley’s mug for the first time since 1999. “Dobby” has been the go-to guy in the playoffs despite taking a back seat in the regular season to Ben Bishop, who battled a mysterious ailment through camp and only played one of the three round-robin games, suited up once against Calgary, allowing four goals, and once against Colorado, giving up four goals in 13 minutes before hitting the showers. Khudobin has made the most of the opportunity, posting a 12-6 record alongside a .920 save percentage and 2.62 goals-against average.

The 34-year-old saved his best work for when it mattered most, going 4-1 with a .950 SV% and 1.69 GAA against the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final, capping it off with another viral moment after finishing them off.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="That tweet has been seen nearly 60,000 times, reaffirming that, yes, Khudobin is thriving in 2020 and we are all here to see it.&nbsp;” data-reactid=”24″>That tweet has been seen nearly 60,000 times, reaffirming that, yes, Khudobin is thriving in 2020 and we are all here to see it. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Praise for the Kazakh has gone beyond what his past and present teammates have said about him. His personality and “memeability” has already caused some on Twitter to change their display names, ranging from “Anton Khudobin stan account” to “I would kill a dude for Anton Khudobin.”&nbsp;” data-reactid=”25″>Praise for the Kazakh has gone beyond what his past and present teammates have said about him. His personality and “memeability” has already caused some on Twitter to change their display names, ranging from “Anton Khudobin stan account” to “I would kill a dude for Anton Khudobin.” 

Extreme, but the passion is there for the potential Conn Smythe winner. 

Of course, Khudobin wouldn’t be enjoying this level of success and newfound fame without the support of his teammates, one of whom also has a good case for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

It's hard not to cheer for Anton Khudobin. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It’s hard not to cheer for Anton Khudobin. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Miro Heiskanen is fourth in playoff scoring — and tops among all D-men — while matching up against the best of the best for 25 minutes a night. Jamie Benn has shown off his leadership qualities throughout the postseason while leading all Stars forwards in points with 18. Denis Gurianov and John Klingberg have also kept the Stars shining all summer. 

But the fate of the Stars against the high-powered Lightning is going to rest heavily on the thick shoulders of their spiritual leader, who with a little more magic could become the first goalie since Cam Ward (whom Khudobin once backed up) in 2006 to win the Conn Smythe Trophy while finishing with a GAA above two. The highest GAA recorded by a Conn Smythe Trophy winner was 3.00, recorded by Ken Dryden with the Canadiens in 1971.

No matter what happens in the Stanley Cup Final, “Dobby” has left his mark on the game — or at the very least, on the Internet.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports” data-reactid=”42″>More NHL coverage from Yahoo Sports

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Vikings trade Yannick Ngakoue to Ravens for multiple picks – Sportsnet.ca

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for draft picks on Thursday, less than two months after acquiring the fifth-year pass rusher in a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ngakoue is tied for fourth in the NFL with five sacks in six games, including two forced fumbles, but the Vikings entered their bye week with a 1-5 record and thus more incentive to focus on the future than stay competitive in 2020.

“This was an opportunity that I felt would accomplish both the short and long term as we move forward, but these decisions aren’t easy to make,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said.

With Everson Griffen gone via free agency and Danielle Hunter injured since the beginning of training camp with a potentially season-ending neck injury, the Vikings on Aug. 31 sent a second-round draft pick in 2021 and a conditional fifth-round selection in 2022 for Ngakoue. He wanted to leave the Jaguars after accumulating 37 1/2 sacks in four years and called his arrival in Minnesota “a breath of fresh air.”

The Vikings have Ifeadi Odenigbo in place at defensive end, and fourth-round draft pick D.J. Wonnum will now be in line to start at the other spot.

“What you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn’t always come true,” Spielman said.

Minutes after Spielman’s previously scheduled video news conference with reporters, NFL Network reported Hunter has decided to have surgery. The Vikings were initially hoping he’d be able to return with rest and rehabilitation, and Spielman said acquiring Ngakoue was not related to Hunter’s injury. Since then, outside linebacker Anthony Barr was also lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered on Sept. 20.

“You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don’t have, especially on the defensive side. That’s what the coaches are doing right now,” Spielman said.

With the trade deadline approaching on Nov. 3, the Vikings could try to trade some other high-priced veterans, with perhaps safety Anthony Harris, left tackle Riley Reiff or tight end Kyle Rudolph enticing another team to part with a draft pick or two. Spielman steadfastly refused to commit to a full-on rebuild.

“Our goal every week is to go out there and win football games. You have to balance out both. I still think we have a very talented team,” Spielman said.

The Vikings didn’t disclose specifics of the acquired draft selections. ESPN reported the Ravens will send a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick.

Both teams are on their bye week.

The Ravens (5-1) could use Ngakoue to enhance a pass rush that has been productive of late but could use the help. Despite getting seven sacks against Cincinnati two weeks ago, five of those came from defensive backs. Defensive end Calais Campbell was acquired via trade, also from Jacksonville, during the last off-season. He had three of Baltimore’s six sacks last week in a 30-28 win at Philadelphia, but Ngakoue ought to minimize the need to send extra rushers and allow the Ravens to generate more pressure from their front four, just as the Vikings were intending.

“A quarterback can’t throw the ball if he’s on his back. So, if you can’t get there with four, you send five. If you can’t get there with five, send six. That’s the way it goes,” pass defenceco-ordinator Chris Hewitt said.

The Ravens are fourth in the league in sacks per pass attempt.

“We are excited to add Yannick Ngakoue to our football team,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “Yannick is someone who we are very familiar with going back to the draft process years ago. He is an exciting player and a dangerous pass rusher who makes us better. Yannick grew up here. He’s the type of person we welcome in our building. Finally, we are not finished building this team, as we continue to chase our ultimate goals.”

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Report: Ravens acquire DE Ngakoue – TSN

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Yannick Ngakoue is on the move again.

The Minnesota Vikings have traded the defensive end to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2022.

 Through six games this season, Ngakoue has recorded 12 tackles, 5.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.

In his fifth year out of Maryland, Ngakoue was acquired by the Vikings from the Jacksonville Jaguars – with whom he spent the first four seasons of his career – at the end of August.

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Virtanen signs two-year, $5.1 million contract with Canucks – NHL.com

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Jake Virtanen signed a two-year, $5.1 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $2.55 million.

The 24-year old forward was a restricted free agent and avoided a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Oct. 28. He scored 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) in 69 games with the Canucks last season and three points (two goals, one assist) in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“Obviously there’s a bright future with the Canucks organization, so many young, talented players coming in and the moves that we’ve made, I think it’s going to be just a brighter future for our team moving forward,” Virtanen said. “I’m excited to see how it all pans out and how our team’s going to do and super excited to get things going.

“[Contract negotiations] felt like a long time but obviously super excited to get this done and be back with the Canucks for two more years. Just happy to get it done and get it over with and just focus on training and skating and the whole thing, being ready to go.”

With forward Tyler Toffoli signing a four-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 12, it opened up a spot on one of the top two lines, and Virtanen is hoping he’ll get a chance to play there.

“Obviously I’d love to play top six and have a bigger opportunity, more responsibilities,” Virtanen said. “That’s what I really hope I get. I want to be able to prove that to the team and my teammates that I can play up there and be consistent every night, making sure that I can play night in and night out. It’s an opening for me to try to jump up there. I’ve got to make sure I’m coming to camp ready to go.”

Selected by Vancouver in the first round (No. 6) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Virtanen has scored 95 points (50 goals, 45 assists) in 279 regular-season games and three points in 16 playoff games.

“Jake has continued to make progress on his two-way game and remains a contributor offensively, using his speed and size to generate chances,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “We look forward to him taking additional steps in his growth this year to help our team be successful.”

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report

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