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Maple Leafs, Avs make blockbuster trade featuring Kadri, Barrie

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If you thought the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche almost seemed too quiet on free agent day … well, they combined for one whopper of a trade late on July 1.

It’s a lot to process, but here are the terms.

Maple Leafs receive:

  • Underrated right-handed defenseman Tyson Barrie, with the Avs retaining half of his cap hit on a deal that expires after next season. So Barrie only costs $2.75M on Toronto’s cap.
  • RFA center Alex Kerfoot. He’s a sneaky-good two-way player, but doesn’t have a deal yet.
  • The Avalanche’s 2020 sixth-round pick.

Avalanche receive:

  • The biggest piece is Nazem Kadri, a talented center who’s nonetheless become a lightning rod for controversy after being suspended for two consecutive postseasons. As controversial as Kadri can be, he’s an excellent forward who carries only a $4.5M cap hit through 2021-22.
  • Defenseman Calle Rosen.
  • The Maple Leafs’ 2020 third-round pick.

Maple Leafs work some magic

Personally, I’ve almost always been impressed with Kyle Dubas’ work as Maple Leafs GM, yet I’ve also been a little sad that we haven’t seen him be too creative, what with a team that’s largely been put in place for him.

Well, a cap crunch certainly forced him to use his brain, and the results are impressive.

Via Cap Friendly, the Maple Leafs now have about $11.1 million in cap space. They also still have some of their toughest work to do.

Most obviously, Mitch Marner is still an RFA who could conceivably eat up all of that $11.1M. The Maple Leafs have already seen the Montreal Canadiens throw out an offer sheet to Sebastian Aho, and while Toronto would gladly match something close to that $8.4M+ range if that’s what came Marner’s way, there’s no guarantee that Toronto would enjoy such a manageable challenge.

Of course, there’s also no guarantee that any other NHL team will tender a viable offer sheet during this offseason.

The Maple Leafs also need to sort out Cody Ceci‘s situation, and Kerfoot himself is an RFA whose situation must be settled. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Kerfoot is expected to file for salary arbitration, and the award could exceed $3M.

So, there’s still some uncertainty hovering around the Maple Leafs. The biggest factor revolves around sorting out Marner’s situation. To do so, Dubas might need to make even more moves, and you can’t totally rule out moving the rights to Kerfoot and/or Ceci as time goes along.

But, as is, the Maple Leafs are in a profoundly better situation on July 1 than they were even at the end of June.

One could argue that Barrie is Jake Gardiner‘s equal, nearly at Gardiner’s level, or even better. That might come down to personal taste. One thing that’s not debatable is that Barrie is a better fit. While Gardiner with Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin meant a glut of left-handed defensemen, Barrie is a RHD. This immediately gives Toronto better balance on defense, as RHD was their biggest weakness.

Now people can debate Barrie vs. Rielly, even.

About the only bummer is that Barrie’s contract expires after 2019-20, and considering his lofty point totals, he may end up being too expensive to keep around. Then again, who’s to say that Dubas doesn’t make another swap that buys Toronto some cost certainty?

The longer term discussion is interesting, yet as it stands, this is a fantastic boost.

One could argue that Kadri is a better asset than Barrie, particularly since his contract runs through 2021-22 at that affordable $4.5M clip. Still, with John Tavares and Auston Matthews firmly planted ahead of Kadri, and with William Nylander as at least a plausible option at 3C at times, Kadri was expendable. Even beyond the whole “Sometimes Kadri sees red, then loses his mind and gets suspended, including during the playoffs” thing.

Kerfoot is an intriguing talent if Toronto can keep everyone together, too, so this is promising stuff.

Avalanche add some certainty, still have a bunch of cap space

On paper, I’m more excited about the Maple Leafs’ side of the deal, at least potentially. Right-handed defensemen of Barrie’s caliber just aren’t available very often, and certainly not at a $2.75M clip, even if it’s just for one season. And, depending upon how Toronto can manage things with Kerfoot, the drop off at center might not be that steep for Toronto.

Don’t let all the disdain for Kadri fool you, though. He’s very good, and was almost certainly overqualified as a 3C this past season. The Avalanche seemed primed to part ways with Barrie, what with his contract up after 2019-20, and rising defensive prospects possibly set to usurp him anyway, including Cale Makar and Bowen Byram, in particular.

The Avalanche remarkably have $27.125M in cap space left over, according to Cap Friendly. Mikko Rantanen will take a huge bit out of that, possibly at a level comparable to whatever Mitch Marner makes, and Andre Burakovsky might not be cheap, either. Nikita Zadorov also lingers as an RFA, yet there’s a chance the Avalanche might get yet another piece … might they also look at former Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner?

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Overall, this is a fascinating trade between two young, exciting, rising, and well-run teams. We could very well be debating the merits of this one for some time, and heck, maybe a future Stanley Cup Final would be the ultimate lab to test the experiment?

In the cases of Colorado and Toronto, there’s also a “to be continued” element, as both teams have enormously important RFAs to re-sign. If this trade is any indication: buckle up.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Flames bounce back with Game 3 rout, push Jets to brink

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This time the Calgary Flames were able to take advantage of a shorthanded Winnipeg Jets team.

After dropping Game 2 on Monday, the Flames bounced back on Tuesday evening with a 6-2 rout in Game 3 of their qualifying round series to take a 2-1 series lead, pushing the Jets to the brink of elimination.

They will have a chance to close out the series in Game 4 from Edmonton on Thursday.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The Jets were once again without the services of star forwards Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, and the lack of firepower caught up with them in a big way on Tuesday. Nikolaj Ehlers did strike with an early goal (his second in as many games) to give them an early lead, but it would prove to be a short-lived advantage as Calgary’s Elias Lindholm scored the equalizer just 14 seconds later.

The Jets would never regain the lead.

The Flames ended up getting goals from six different players, and it was an especially big day for some of their top stars.

Sean Monahan finished with three points (a goal and two assists), while Mikael Backlund, Johnny Gaudreau, Andrew Mangiapane, and Lindholm all had two points, while Matthew Tkachuk and Milan Lucic also added goals.

Starting goalie Cam Talbot stopped 33 out of 35 shots in the win.

This was always going to be a tough series for the Jets to get through even before the injuries started to pile up in Game 1. They have a limited defense and were going to need Conor Hellebuyck to carry them in net. When you take two players as good as Scheifele and Laine out of the equation, it eliminates pretty much any room they may have had for error. Without them recipe is going to have to look exactly like Monday’s Game 2 win with great goaltending and just enough offense to scratch out a win. They did not get either of those elements on Tuesday.

It remains to be seen if Scheifele or Laine will be ready for Thursday’s game.

(8) Calgary Flames vs. (9) Winnipeg Jets (Series tied 1-1)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Flames 4, Jets 1 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Jets 3, Flames 2 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Flames 6, Jets 2
Thursday, Aug. 6: Flames vs. Jets*, TBD
Saturday, Aug. 8: Jets vs. Flames*, TBD

MORE:
• 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Return to Play: Round-robin standings, scenarios

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While the 16 teams in the qualifying round play for the right to move on, the No. 1 seeds in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference are still up for grabs in the round-robin format of the NHL’s return to play.

The round-robin schedule resumes on Wednesday with a pair of games (Tampa Bay vs. Boston in the East and Colorado vs. Dallas in the West) and here we take a look at the impact those games can have on the standings.

Boston is basically facing a must-win game on Wednesday if it wants to earn the top spot, while the best the Stars can do at this point is second place in the West.

Below is a look at the current round-robin standings and everything at stake on Wednesday.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Current standings

Tampa Bay Lightning (1-0-0, 2 points)
Philadelphia Flyers (1-0-0, 2 points)
Washington Capitals (0-0-1, 1 point)
Boston Bruins (0-0-0, 0 points)

Wednesday’s round-robin schedule

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins

Scenarios based on Wednesday’s result

Boston wins in regulation

  • All teams can still earn the No. 1 seed.

Tampa wins in regulation

  • Boston can finish no better than third.
  • The other three teams can still earn the No. 1 seed, but Tampa Bay controls its own outcome and would earn the No. 1 seed by beating Philadelphia.

Boston wins in OT/SO

  • All teams can still earn the No. 1 seed.
  • Boston would need Washington to beat Philadelphia in regulation on Thursday to make that outcome possible for them.

Tampa wins in OT/SO

  • Boston could finish no higher than second.
  • The other three teams could still earn the No. 1 seed, but Tampa Bay controls its own outcome and would earn the No. 1 seed by beating Philadelphia

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Standings

Colorado Avalanche (1-0-0, 2 points)
Vegas Golden Knights (1-0-0, 2 points)
St. Louis Blues (0-1-0, 0 points)
Dallas Stars (0-1-0, 0 points)

Wednesday round-robin schedule

Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars

Scenarios based on Wednesday result

Dallas can finish no better than second (Colorado and Vegas each have two points and because of their remaining matchup, one of them will get to four points. Dallas maxes out at four points and will lose any tiebreaker)

Avalanche win in regulation

  • DAL can finish no better than third.
  • Other three teams can still finish with No. 1 seed, but Colorado controls its own outcome and would earn the No. 1 seed by beating Vegas.

Stars win in regulation

  • Second is still the best Dallas can do.
  • All other teams can still finish with No. 1 seed.

Avalanche win in OT/SO

  • DAL can still finish second.
  • But would need St. Louis to beat Vegas in regulation on Thursday
  • Other three teams can still finish first, but Colorado controls its own outcome and would earn the No.1 seed by beating Vegas.

Stars win in OT/SO

  • Second is still the best Dallas can do.
  • All other teams can still finish with No. 1 seed.

MORE:
• 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Maple Leafs even series with Game 2 shutout; Muzzin stretchered off

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For most of the opening 40 minutes, it looked at if Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo was going to steal another one against the Maple Leafs. After his 28-save Game 1 shutout, he followed that up by stopping 36 shots in Game 2, but the Columbus offense failed to provide any support.

Auston Matthews broke the goalless tie late in the second period as Toronto evened their best-of-five series with a 3-0 victory. Frederik Andersen, who wasn’t tested all that much, finished with 20 saves.

The Maple Leafs dominated across the board. They controlled possession (62%-38%), outshot the Blue Jackets at even strength (27-10) (via Natural Stat Trick), and benefited from the Blue Jackets handing them five power plays. But Korpisalo stood tall. Matthews finally provided the breakthrough after redirecting a Zach Hyman pass to finish a give-and-go.

Columbus’ penalty parade continued into the third period. Nick Foligno handed Toronto a power play just 53 seconds in. The Maple Leafs’ didn’t capitalize, going 0-for-5 on the day. The Blue Jackets were still clinging on to hope in finding a tying goal, but an offensive zone breakdown ended with an out-of-reach scoreline.

As the Blue Jackets pressed for an equalizer, all five skaters got caught in deep. That allowed Travis Dermott‘s clearance to go off the side boards and to an unmarked Tavares for a breakaway.

Said John Tortorella: “Toronto was really good. We sucked.”

Game 3 is Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Muzzin leaves on stretcher

With just under two minutes to go, Jake Muzzin had to leave the game on a stretcher. A cross-check from Pierre-Luc Dubois put the Maple Leafs defenseman off-balance and his head collided with Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s knee.

Muzzin was moving his extremities and communicating as he was being checked out.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Jake Muzzin,” said Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski. “No hockey game is as important as someone’s health so we’re thinking of him right now.”

“Very tough to see, especially with just how much you love that guy,” said Tavares afterward.

Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said Muzzin was taken to a local hospital and was responsive.

When Muzzin is ready to return, the Toronto Hub Medical Director will decide quarantine/testing protocols before he’s allowed to re-join the Maple Leafs.

“I’m not certain exactly what the protocol is in these situations,” said Keefe. “Our focus is and always will be on his well-being and that he’s okay.”

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (Series tied 1-1)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0
Thursday, Aug. 6: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets*, TBD
Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs*, TBD

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Hurricanes-Rangers stream: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL’s Return to Play continues with Tuesday’s Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup between the Hurricanes and Rangers. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Watch the Hurricanes-Rangers Game 3 stream at 8 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Andrei Svechnikov scored his first career hat trick, with all three goals assisted by Sebastian Aho, as Carolina defeated New York 4-1 on Monday. It was the first postseason hat trick in franchise history. Carolina has a 2-0 series lead after losing all four regular season meetings against NYR this year.

In Game 1, the Rangers fell behind just 61 seconds into the first. In Game 2, Carolina scored 4:32 into the first period to take another early lead. With the game tied 1-1, Carolina scored twice in the opening 2:22 of the 2nd period to jump out to a 3-1 lead. Carolina has not trailed in this series.

During the regular season, the Rangers scored 3.33 goals/game (5th in NHL). However, they have scored three goals total in the first two games of this series. New York is just 1-for-11 on the power play in this series (9.1%) after finishing the regular season with the league’s seventh-best power play unit (22.9%).

Igor Shesterkin will get the start in goal for the Rangers.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

WHAT: New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto
WHEN: Tuesday, August 4, 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
ON THE CALL: John Forslund, Mike Milbury, Brian Boucher
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Hurricanes-Rangers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers (Hurricanes lead series 2-0)

Saturday, Aug. 1: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 2 (recap)
Monday, Aug. 3: Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Hurricanes vs. Rangers, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Hurricanes vs. Rangers*
Saturday, Aug. 8: Rangers vs. Hurricanes*

You can watch all the NHL playoff streams on the NBC Sports app.

MORE:
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule