Oilers GM doesn’t anticipate a trade before training camp

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The Edmonton Oilers have enjoyed a mostly positive offseason, yet questions remain, particularly down the middle. GM Craig MacTavish didn’t outright deny such claims, but he told the Edmonton Sun that he doesn’t expect to make a trade, at least not until after he gets a better look at first-rounder Leon Draisaitl.

“There is no deal there right now, because like us, everybody else is very optimistic,” MacTavish said. “We’re all undefeated in July and August, but things change once the fur flies in October. We’re hopeful with the group that we have we’re going to be competitive.”

Hindsight-driven or not, the Oilers have received some criticism for their perceived tendency to rush high-end prospects to the NHL levels right out of the draft. While they allowed defenseman Darnell Nurse (seventh pick of the 2013 NHL Draft) mature, No. 1 picks Nail Yakupov (2012), Ryan-Nugent Hopkins (2011) and Taylor Hall (2010) all made instant jumps and have experienced growing pains. Some worry about the team continuing what seems like an unflattering pattern with Draisaitl, 2014’s third overall selection.

MacTavish doesn’t seem too pleased by such armchair GM talk, though.

“Anybody, whether fan, coach, manager, media, anybody that says that they can tell you definitively whether Leon Draisaitl is ready or is not ready before getting the information at training camp is naive,” MacTavish said. “That would reveal a very superficial understanding of the game of hockey. Fortunately, we don’t have to make that decision right now.

“In my mind, I feel he’s going to make a strong case. I’ve seen him play, he’s going to make a strong case, I’ll be shocked if he’s not going to make a strong case.”

The Oilers added stability to their forward group by acquiring the likes of Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot this summer, yet it seems like they’ll live or die by the play of their youngsters once again.

Maybe it will work out for them this time around, though?

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

Video will be added to give you better context for the goal, but until then, check out this GIF of the key moments:

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.