Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez: The Big Fight Preview - everything you need to know
Five world titles and two unbeaten records: it's all at stake Saturday in what could be 2021's fight of the year.So, Saturday's anticipated clash between WBA, IBF and The Ring junior-welterweight champion Josh Taylor and his WBC and WBO counterpart Jose Ramirez for all the marbles promises to be something to behold.
The offseason has arrived with roughly half of the league finished up after missing the playoffs and several more joining them following their first-round eliminations. It’s time to examine what those teams need to accomplish over the coming months. Next up is a look at San Jose. © Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The Sharks were supposed to be a team that was set to contend. That was the idea behind the Erik Karlsson trade three years ago and while they did that in 2018-19, they missed the playoffs entirely a year ago and weren’t much better this season. Their veteran core struggled mightily and while they had a bit of cap space to add some mid-round picks at the deadline, they don’t have a lot of wiggle room to significantly shake up their core. With that in mind, GM Doug Wilson’s checklist for the summer is somewhat restricted with seven of their eight highest-paid players having some form of trade protection.
Sami Jo's Podcast: Episode 8 – Wally Kozak
Olympic Gold medal-winning coach, Wally Kozak shares his philosophy on coaching, the role of mentorship and how we can all be better teammates. Wally Kozak coached Canada’s 2002 Olympic gold medal-winning team. More than that, he’s spent a lifetime in hockey, teaching, mentoring and growing the game at every level in Canada and overseas. Respected throughout the hockey community, he shares his philosophies on the role of coaches and leaders in our society. A full transcription of the podcast can be found below.View the original article to see embedded media.
One thing the flattened salary cap did last offseason was increase the number of players that were non-tendered to avoid salary arbitration. With the Upper Limit staying at $81.5M, that’s likely to be the case again this summer. San Jose has one of those players in winger Ryan Donato who is owed a $2.15M qualifying offer in July.
The Sharks acquired the 25-year-old in October for a third-round pick, a reasonable price to pay for someone that has shown some flashes of being an impact NHL forward, albeit mixed in with some inconsistent play as well. Unfortunately for Wilson, Donato provided more of the latter than the former, finishing up his year with six goals and 14 assists in 50 games while averaging 12:37 per game.
Rick Tocchet to interview for Blue Jackets HC role
One of the most in-demand coaching candidates this offseason is Rick Tocchet, who has already been linked to the New York Rangers, Seattle Kraken, and Buffalo Sabres. Now the Columbus Blue Jackets have been added to the list of potential teams.The reason Tocchet quickly parted ways with the Coyotes at the end of the season was to start taking interviews and it appears as though his name is on the shortlist of almost every vacancy in the league. Of course, wherever he ends up, Tocchet will be looking to turn around his head coaching career after struggling to find any real success at each of his first two stops.
In a normal year, he’d be likely to get another opportunity given his previous stretches of being a productive top-six piece. Give him a small raise and go from there. But in this cap environment, it’s hard to envision Donato getting $2.15M on the open market. Bottom-six forwards were largely squeezed out a year ago and with teams as cap-strapped now as they were then, that’s not likely to change.
As a result, if San Jose wants to retain Donato, they need to try to work out a new deal before free agency opens up in late July. Offer a cut in pay to see if he wants to stick around – that’s perfectly legal despite the qualifier that’s owed – with the understanding that if an agreement can’t be reached, he’ll be non-tendered. It’s a bit of a heavy-handed approach but don’t be surprised if many other teams take a similar approach with some of their RFAs.
Add A Goalie
It was only a few years ago that Martin Jones looked like their long-term goalie of the future and his $5.75M AAV through 2023-24 potentially being a bargain. No one’s saying that now. The 31-year-old posted a .896 SV% for the third straight season, a rate that is well below average for a backup let alone a starter. All of a sudden, forget about the old thought of it being a bargain contract. Now, Wilson may need to give serious consideration to buying him out. If you’re curious as to what that would cost, the cap hit would range from $1.667M to $2.917M over each of the next six seasons. That’s a steep price to pay but it would give them a bit of space to try to add a better option.
COVID protocol-related absences: 05/26/21
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. Here is today’s list: © Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports Colorado – Jayson Megna*Vegas – Brayden McNabb*As a reminder, inclusion on this list does not mean that a player has tested positive for Coronavirus or even that they have been confirmed as a close contact to another positive person.
Even if they don’t buy him out, the Sharks need to add another goalie, preferably a starter instead of another reclamation project. Josef Korenar had some good moments in his first taste of NHL action but he has another year of waiver exemption; he needs to be playing as much as possible in the minors and he’s not ready to push for full-time NHL duty just yet. As is often the case, there are quite a few goalies available in free agency and the trade market could feature a few more options than usual. They should be able to nab a reasonably-priced option and with the struggles they’ve had between the pipes lately, the right choice could yield a few more wins in the standings on their own.
Extension Talks For Hertl
If you were curious as to which of their eight highest-paid players doesn’t have any trade protection, it’s Tomas Hertl. He will be entering the final year of his contract next season so when free agency begins and the calendar flips to the 2021-22 season, the 27-year-old will be eligible to sign a contract extension.
While many of the top players in San Jose underachieved offensively this season, Hertl was one of the exceptions. He finished second on the team in scoring to Evander Kane and had he been healthy and played in all 56 games, he might have got the top spot. Nevertheless, his 19 goals and 24 assists in 50 games was good enough for the second-highest point per game average of his career, a pretty good showing.
John Tavares skates for first time since suffering frightening head injury
It is an incredible sight to see after Tavares was knocked unconscious partway through the first period in game one of the Toronto-Montreal series, and could suggest that a return to the lineup can come a lot quicker than expected.It is an incredible sight to see after Tavares was knocked unconscious partway through the first period in game one of the Toronto-Montreal series, and could suggest that a return to the lineup can come a lot quicker than many expected. The Maple Leafs have a commanding lead in the series after winning the last three and could eliminate the Canadiens Thursday night.
When Hertl signed a four-year, $22.5M deal back in the 2018 offseason, it looked like it might be a bit high considering he had only reached the 20-goal mark twice and never had more than 46 points in a season. Since then, however, he has certainly lived up to the deal, picking up 153 points in 170 games, well above a 46-point pace over a full regular season.
With that in mind, it’s likely that Hertl’s camp will be seeking an increase on his next contract, even with wingers taking a hit in free agency last summer in a marketplace that is likely to be more restrictive than usual for the next few years. Wilson will have to decide if the time is right to do that or to let the season play out first. One thing he can dangle now that he can’t next fall? He can offer to put in trade protection into the final season of his existing contract as he’s now old enough to have that protection in his deal (only UFA-eligible players can have it). Maybe he won’t be the only highly-paid player without that for much longer.
Redirect Cap Spending To Offense
The Sharks have been in the bottom ten in scoring in each of the last two seasons. Part of the reason for that is that they’ve dedicated a lot of money away from the forwards. By the time they round out their roster for next season, it’s going to be close to a 50/50 split in terms of money on forwards versus goalies and defensemen. It’s hard to improve offensively with that much money tied up in non-forwards.
Blues' Jacob de la Rose reportedly drawing interest in Sweden
The latest report indicates that a bidding war could be coming for De La Rose’s services, one that could convince him to leave the NHL behind. © Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Could Jacob de la Rose sign in Sweden? Swedish news source Expressen reports that De La Rose has officially received a three-year contract offer from Farjestad BK, a perennial powerhouse in Sweden. While Leksands finished higher that Farjestad in the regular-season standings this year, both clubs exited in the quarterfinals.
Granted, Karlsson and Brent Burns are supposed to help carry the load offensively but that simply wasn’t the case this season. Add a slumping Marc-Edouard Vlasic to the mix and their big three on the back end counts for $26.5M without much production from that group. In a perfect world, they could get out of one of those contracts which all run through at least 2024-25 but their high price tags and trade protection make that extremely difficult.
One smaller move they could try to make to add some money to the pot for their forwards is to move out Radim Simek. His four-year, $9M contract is hardly excessive in terms of cost but he has had difficulty staying healthy and had a limited role when he did play this season. Finding a new team for him would give Wilson a little bit more room to try to add up front which, with their veteran defenders slowly down offensively, will be needed if they want to have a chance at working their way back into playoff contention.
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Related slideshow: Every NHL team's likely next retired number (Provided by Yardbarker)
Every NHL team's likely next retired number
There are fewer honors greater for professional sports players than a team retiring their numbers, guaranteeing that no one else will ever wear it again. Just about every team in the league has at least a handful of retired or honored numbers, and now we are going to take a look at the next player for each NHL team who should have his jersey placed in the rafters. We are excluding players whose number retirements are scheduled for this season or next season and looking only at players who have not yet been announced.
Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf (15)
When Getzlaf retires he is going to finish his career as the Ducks' all-time leader in games played, assists and total points while also being a Stanley Cup champion and longtime captain of the team. His peak may not have been as good as that of players like Paul Kariya or Teemu Selanne, but his overall resume is as complete as any other player the franchise has ever seen.
Arizona Coyotes: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23)
Playing in Arizona and on a team that has not made the playoffs often, it can be easy to overlook Ekman-Larsson. But he is an outstanding top-pairing defenseman and has been the Coyotes' best all-around player from almost the day he arrived. He is a constant threat to score 20 goals as a defenseman and is one of the most best offensive blue-liners in the entire league. At this point it still seems like a stretch to think he will one day have his number retired, but he might be the next logical choice in the future.
Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron (37)
Bergeron is one of the best all-around players of his era and an all-time great Bruin. In his 16 years (and counting) with the team, he helped the Bruins win a Stanley Cup, play in two other Stanley Cup Finals, won four Selke Trophies as the league's best defensive forward and was the driving force behind one of the best defensive teams in the entire league. He's a Hall of Famer and worthy of joining all of the Bruins' all-time greats.
Calgary Flames: Theo Fleury (14)
No player has worn the No. 14 since Fleury last sported it during the 1999 season. So it is kind of a mystery as to why it has not actually been put in the rafters next to Mike Vernon's and Lanny McDonald's. Fleury helped the Flames win the Stanley Cup as a rookie during the 1988-89 season and then went on to be one of the most prolific scorers in franchise history.
Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Staal (12)
It is easy to forget just how good Staal was in the early part of his career with the Hurricanes. He scored 40 goals two different times, was a dominant two-way player and helped bring the Stanley Cup to Raleigh during the 2005-06 season. He is the best player the franchise has had since it relocated to North Carolina and was the best player on the franchise's only championship team.
Chicago Blackhawks: Steve Larmer (28)
There are a lot of Blackhawks fans who think this should have already happened. He may not have the Stanley Cup clout that the current core of Blackhawks has (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith), but those players are all still active and years away from being in a position to have their numbers retired. Larmer is also one of the best players in franchise history and helped turn the team into a Stanley Cup contender in the early 1990s, including the 1991-92 season when it actually reached the Stanley Cup Final.
Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon (29)
Going far into the future here, but MacKinnon is probably going to be the next player to get this honor. The Avalanche have already retired most of the notable numbers from their championship era, and of the remaining core players from those teams (Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay) they probably did not play long enough in Colorado to warrant such an honor. MacKinnon, though, appears he is going to be with the Avalanche for the long haul and end up being one of the best players of his era. The Avalanche have a chance to bring the Stanley Cup back to Denver in the very near future, and if MacKinnon helps deliver that he will be an Avalanche legend.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash (61)
Nash does not get anywhere near enough credit for how good of a player he was. A former No. 1 overall pick, Nash became the Blue Jackets' first star player and finished as the league's leading goal-scorer in just his second season in the NHL. He was a yearly threat to score 40 goals and was an outstanding two-way player who also developed into one of the league's best penalty killers. The Blue Jackets were never really able to build anything significant around him, but it does not take away from the fact he is the best player the team has ever had.
Detroit Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg (40)
You could make the argument that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk should probably both get their numbers retired together given their importance between the 2006 and 2015 seasons. They were the backbone of one of the league's best teams and among the best two-way players in the league during that time. I will give Zetterberg the edge as the player who followed Nicklas Lidstrom as team captain and for his 2008 Conn Smythe winning performance.
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid (97)
McDavid is going to be the NHL's best and most dominant player for the next decade and beyond. If the Oilers do not screw it up, he should help bring the Stanley Cup back to Edmonton at some point too. He will be with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey among the franchise's all-time greats.
Florida Panthers: Pavel Bure (10)
This might be a stretch because Bure spent only parts of four seasons in Florida, while several players have worn the number since he played there (including currently Brett Connolly). But there is no denying the impact Bure made. He was probably the most high-profile superstar to play for the Panthers and was the most dominant goal-scorer in the league during his time there. He finished as the league's leading goal scorer twice and averaged 0.70 goals per game with the Panthers (a 57-goal pace over 82 games). He did that during the lowest goal-scoring era in NHL history. Just for perspective, the next highest goal per game average in the NHL during that stretch was Jaromir Jagr at 0.57 goals per game (a 46-goal pace per 82 games).
Los Angeles Kings: Anze Kopitar (11)
Kopitar helped bring the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles during the 2011-12 season and then did it again two years later. While Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams and Drew Doughty got most of the accolades for those championship runs, Kopitar was the best player on all of those teams and has been the best player on the team since making his debut. He is one of the franchise icons for what he helped bring to Los Angeles.
Minnesota Wild: Mikko Koivu (9)
Technically the only retired number for the Wild is No. 1 — for their fans. When it comes to finally retiring a number for a player, Koivu seems like he will be at the top of the list. He has spent more than 15 seasons in Minnesota and been a truly fantastic player. He is the franchise leader in games played, assists and total points and has been a complete all-around player every year as well as the team captain for 12 seasons and counting.
Nashville Predators: David Legwand (11)
The Predators have yet to retire a number, but if anyone is deserving of such an honor at this point it might be Legwand, the original Predator. He was their first draft pick and is still the franchise's all-time leader in every major category including games played, goals, assists and total points (all by a significant margin). He was never a superstar, but he was an outstanding player who helped build the Predators into a formidable NHL franchise. That counts for something.
New Jersey Devils: Scott Gomez (23)
Gomez does not get enough credit for how good he was in the early part of his career. Between 1999 and 2007, he was an elite playmaker and one of the best forwards on a multiple Stanley Cup winner in New Jersey. Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias are the other key players from that era to have their numbers retired by the Devils, and Gomez was right there with them in terms of importance.
New York Islanders: Pat LaFontaine (16)
LaFontaine just missed the Islanders dynasty, making his debut with the team during the 1983-84 season (they lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final that year), but he is still one of the greatest players in franchise history and one of the best American-born players of all-time.
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist (30)
Lundqvist's short-term future with the Rangers remains in doubt beyond this season, but here is what is not in doubt: He is the best goalie the team has ever seen and has been the best goalie of his era. The only disappointing part of his tenure with the Rangers is that he did not win a Stanley Cup with the team. He did lead the Rangers to one Stanley Cup Final during the 2013-14 season and helped carry the team to contention almost every year he was their starting goalie.
Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson (65)
A true superstar during his time with the Senators, Karlsson won two Norris Trophies, was a runner-up two additional times (probably should have won the award in each of those seasons, too) and at his peak, he was the most impactful defenseman the NHL had seen since the days of Bobby Orr. He was that good in Ottawa. His best stretch came during the 2016-17 season when he almost single-handedly carried the team to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final...while playing injured. He was so good that postseason that he actually earned a Conn Smythe Trophy vote even though his team did not reach the Stanley Cup Final. That is respect. It is also dominance.
Philadelphia Flyers: Reggie Leach (27)
It might be a little late in the game for this one since 16 different players have worn the number since Leach last did, but he was a pretty significant part of Flyers history. Leach owns the franchise record for goals in a season (61) and won the Conn Smythe Trophy during their most recent Stanley Cup win in the 1974-75 season.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jaromir Jagr (68)
This has to happen. There was some bitterness with the way Jagr left the Penguins two decades ago, and he was still active playing for opponents as recently as a couple of years ago, but there is no way the Penguins cannot retire this number. Jagr helped bring two Stanley Cups to Pittsburgh and was one of the two or three best players in the league (sometimes the best) for his entire tenure with the team. At worst he is the third-best player in franchise history behind only Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.
San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau (12)
Both Marleau and Joe Thornton (19) are going to have their numbers retired at some point by the Sharks. It seems like a given. But Marleau might get that honor first because he was drafted by the team and is the franchise leader in games played, goals and total points. He never won the Stanley Cup in San Jose, but he did help the team reach the Stanley Cup Final during the 2015-16 season. Not only is he one of the Sharks' franchise legends, he is one of the most underappreciated players across the league for his era.
St. Louis Blues: Alex Pietrangelo (27)
Pietrangelo has been a rock on the Blues defense for more than a decade and was the captain of the first-ever Stanley Cup winning team in franchise history. That is exactly the type of player who gets a number retired by a team. He will one day join Al MacInnis and Chris Pronger among the team's all-time great defensemen who have their numbers retired for the Blues.
Tampa Bay Lighting: Steven Stamkos (91)
Stamkos has been the second-best goal scorer of his era, trailing only Alex Ovechkin. He is already one of the greatest players in Lightning history and is one of their biggest superstars. He now also now has a Stanley Cup win on his resume. When it is all said and done, he might be the greatest player in Tampa Bay franchise history.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews (34)
The Maple Leafs have either retired or "honored" several numbers of former players and have included pretty much every noteworthy player from their past. So we will look far into the future and go with Matthews, who has already shown that he is one of the best goal-scorers in the league. If he helps bring the Stanley Cup back to Toronto, his status among the team greats will forever be cemented.
Vancouver Canucks: Alexander Edler (23)
Edler has never really received a ton of national attention during his career, but he has been one of the best defensemen in the history of the franchise and a key piece during one of the most successful eras the Canucks have ever seen. Now that Henrik and Daniel Sedin have had their numbers retired, Edler might be the next logical choice in the future.
Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury (29)
When the Golden Knights acquired Fleury in the expansion draft he immediately became their franchise player. He has been the cornerstone piece of the team both on and off the ice in its first three years and helped backstop the team to the Stanley Cup Final in its first year of existence. He was one of their first players. He is their first superstar. He will be their first retired number.
Washington Capitals: Peter Bondra (12)
In the future you know Alex Ovechkin will have his No. 8 retired. That is a given. But that is still probably a decade or so away from happening, as Ovechkin still has several more dominant years ahead of him in the NHL. In the meantime, another Capitals superstar from their past is probably long overdue for having his number go to the rafters — Bondra. He is a 500-goal scorer and was an absolute superstar for the Capitals throughout the 1990s. He won two goal-scoring crowns for the Capitals and was one of the league's most dominant goal scorers between the 1990 and 2002 seasons. Given how great he was, it is kind of a surprise his number is not already retired by the Capitals.
Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler (26)
The current version of the Jets (the one that moved from Atlanta in 2012) has not retired any numbers, but they do have one obvious candidate for that honor in the future. Wheeler has been one of the league's most underrated players this decade and one of the top point producers in the league. He has been the face of the franchise, their captain, their leader and the team's all-time leading point producer. Seems like a slam dunk in the future.
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