In light of Nikita Zaitsev’s decision to ask for a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs, there is a lot of news and
Item One: Newfoundland Growlers Capture ECHL
They were an expansion team, but the Newfoundland Growlers captured the 2019 Kelly Cup as the ECHL champions by beating the Toledo Walleye 4-3 on Tuesday. Not only was it the team’s first championship, but it was the province of Newfoundland and Labrador’s first professional sports championship in any sport at any level.
The Growlers were also the first team to claim the ECHL title in its first season of existence since the Greensboro Monarchs did it in 1990. Congratulations to the team for a remarkable accomplishment. The Growlers’ Zach O’Brien had 16 goals and 29 points during the playoffs and won the June M. Kelly Playoffs Most Valuable Player Award.
Item Two: Maple Leafs Lose Director of Sports Science and Performance
In a surprise move, it was reported that the Maple Leafs have lost
“Responsible for what we call our ‘off-ice programme’. That means everything that happens away from hockey, so overseeing medical, S&C (strength and conditioning), nutrition, psychology, rehab, scientific innovation and technology.”
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Bettle’s work has helped the Maple Leafs ice a team that is both in shape and that recovers from injuries more quickly. The team has been an NHL leader in keeping players on the ice. Tyler Ennis, specifically, was an advocate and notes that the work of the medical staff both helped him prepare for the 2018-19 season and return to the ice more quickly after he was injured. Ennis noted the breadth of resources he was able to access immediately after he signed with the team in July of 2018. He had his best season in several years, perhaps because of Bettle’s work.
Item Three: Dubas and Marner’s Agent Having Frequent Talks
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas apparently is trying to ensure he won’t have to relive last season’s William Nylander saga with Mitch Marner. It doesn’t take a
Dubas noted, “We’ve had a lot more discussion with Darren already than we had with Lewis Gross (Nylander’s agent).” He added, “This time last year, Lewis and I had not even had discussions… The discussions with Mitch, Darren and I, they’ve been going back to last year.”
Although Dubas has declared signing Marner is priority one, he has lots of pucks on the ice. Settling contracts with all the team’s RFAs is crucial but none of the three (Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, or Andreas Johnsson) should take up all the team’s attention. It’s a busy time for Dubas and Maple Leafs’ management.
Item Four: Will Kapanen Be Packaged with Zaitsev?
A number of
Pierre LeBrun (whose source with the Hurricanes is GM Don Waddell) suggested on TSN1040 radio that the Hurricanes might be interested in a trade involving Kapanen and Zaitsev, but only after Zaitsev’s signing bonus was paid. This
In yet another
Friedman noted that teams are always looking for
Friedman noted that the Vancouver Canucks might be interested.
In fact, Friedman doesn’t think the Maple Leafs will have to sweeten any Zaitsev trade much because he’s a right-handed defenseman, and those are rare. He also dismissed the idea of including either Kapanen or Johnsson as part of the deal.
However, one caution Friedman had for Zaitsev was that he believed Vancouver was a tough place to play and, if fan criticism was a factor in his decision to request a trade, the Canucks might not a good team for him.