This week in the NHL, stories revolved around franchise players.
After a months-long standoff, the Buffalo Sabres finally traded franchise player Jack Eichel. Eichel and a conditional pick were traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for forward Alex Tuch, centre prospect Peyton Krebs, and two conditional picks that includes a first rounder. The Sabres did not retain any salary in the deal. Eichel is expected to undergo artificial disc replacement surgery soon and return to action as early as after the Olympic break.
The Eichel ordeal ended up being more bluster than bulk. Reports over the course of the saga would leave hockey fans believing teams would have to reduce their prospect pools to beer league call-ups if they wanted to be in the discussion. But at its conclusion, the only way Vegas can lose as a result of this deal is if Eichel cannot return to form following surgery, a risk the Golden Knights are prepared to take at this price. If Eichel is tearing up the league come Spring, Buffalo GM Kevyn Adams will not get a passing grade on this deal.
In other franchise player news, Carey Price is expected to soon rejoin the Montreal Canadiens. He was due to leave the players assistance program on the weekend. Price was recovering from off-season knee surgery when he entered the program on Oct. 7. He is expected to need further recovery time, as well as time to get into game shape before he returns to action. This is encouraging news for the Habs, who have been limping along to start the season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs locked up franchise defenceman Morgan Rielly last weekend. Rumours had circulated that the Leafs may not be able to afford to sign their number one defender due to cap constraints. Those rumours were squashed last weekend when the Leafs announced they had signed the 27-year old to an eight-year, $60 million contract extension.
The deal ensures Rielly, the longest serving member of the team, will be a Maple Leaf for his entire career. While the value of the contract may be questionable as it approaches its end, the Leafs are hoping for success in the early years. Now attention turns to whether they will be able to fit a new deal for Jack Campbell under the cap.
Week 13 of 16 in the 2021 CFL season featured four games.
On Friday, Rene Paredes was successful on four field goals, including a 47-yard strike, leading the Calgary Stampeders to a 26-13 win over the Ottawa Redblacks. The Stamps are surging at the right time, winning four of their last five. In the other Friday night game, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats beat the Edmonton Elks 39-23. It was a big game for QB Jeremiah Masoli, who threw 17 for 24, 357 yards and three touchdowns. He is 4-0 against his former team.
The most exciting game was the Saturday afternoon overtime nail-biter between the BC Lions and the Argonauts in Toronto. The Lions were down by one in field goal range with less than a minute left when Jimmy Camacho’s attempt was tipped by the defence and did not convert. The Argos ran down the clock, but their late punt was returned to field goal range, and once again Camacho missed the score. The kick cleared the end zone for the single point to send the game to overtime. In overtime, the Argos scored their touchdown attempt and converted the two points. The Lions were able to respond with a touchdown, but a miscue on the conversion ended it and the Argos won 31-29. With the win the Argos clinched a playoff berth.
On a rainy Saturday night in Montreal, the Saskatchewan Roughriders faced the Alouettes. It was a miserable game to watch, between the sideways rain and the lack of offence. With the 19-14 win the Roughriders clinched a playoff spot.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers enjoyed a bye week.
With a win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors improved to a 6-3 record on the strength of five straight wins. Fred VanVleet has been leading the way, playing 43 minutes against the Wizards and scoring 33 points.
Coach Nurse has been promoting a defence first stye and while the offence has not been dominating, it has been enough so far. Rookie Scottie Barnes has missed some games due to a sprained thumb that was due to be evaluated upon return to Toronto on Thursday. Pascal Siakam is expected to return from injury when the Raptors hit the road again mid-November.
Blue Jays Babble
The Atlanta Braves have won the 2021 World Series. The championship team was assembled by General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, who was the GM of the Blue Jays from 2010 to 2015. Anthopoulos was the architect of the Jays team that had their first playoff appearance in 22 seasons. That season ended with Toronto losing to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. Anthopoulos missed the championship-clinching game after testing positive for COVID-19.
With the season officially over, baseball fans can turn their attention to off-season tasks. The Jays were big players winter and are expected to continue that trend. President Mark Shapiro recently indicated he expects his payroll to increase.
Let the free agent spending begin!
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreational softball player and coach, and new ukulele-ist. Originally from NL and now based in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat or debate, as long as it remains respectful. She posts game time thoughts on twitter as @lori10habs.