Maple Leafs up ante in East by making trade with Blackhawks
By Stephen Whyno
Kyle Dubas made it clear he was not reacting to trades by division rivals in making the Toronto Maple Leafs’ latest move.
They certainly all go hand in hand in a competitive Eastern Conference.
The Leafs acquired forward Sam Lafferty and defenseman Jake McCabe from Chicago on Monday, in the aftermath of division-rival Tampa Bay making another pre-deadline splash and not long after NHL-leading Boston added size and toughness to bulk up for the playoffs.
Toronto sent a conditional 2025 first-round pick, a second-rounder in 2026, prospect Pavel Gogolev and forward Joey Anderson to the Blackhawks for Lafferty, McCabe and conditional fifth-round picks in 2024 and ‘25. Chicago is retaining half of McCabe’s salary.
Dubas, in his fifth season as Leafs general manager, said talks with Chicago counterpart Kyle Davidson predated trades by the Lightning and Bruins, but isn’t downplaying the value of keeping up knowing how difficult the first couple of rounds will be this spring.
“We have to focus on ourselves and worry about ourselves and know it’s going to be really tough,” Dubas told reporters in Seattle. “We’ve been through it before, and we know that these are elite, elite competitors.”
The Leafs look to again be on a crash course to face the Lightning in the first round of the playoffs, after losing to them in a seven-game series last year. Tampa Bay on Sunday paid a hefty price for forward Tanner Jeannot, sending young defenseman Cal Foote and five draft picks — including a first in 2025 — to Nashville.
The Lightning won the Stanley Cup back to back in 2020 and ’21 and went to the final in 2022. This move could set them up for another deep run, no matter the cost.
“The reality at the trade deadline is you’re going to have to overpay,” Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said at a news conference Monday in Tampa. “A lot had to go our way for us to accumulate such a critical mass of good players all at once. My job, my responsibility as the custodian for this group is to sometimes take risks to maximize our return for this era.”
Lafferty and McCabe to Toronto continued the flow of talent from sellers in the Western Conference to contenders in the East. Also Sunday, New Jersey acquired big winger Timo Meierfrom San Jose, and NHL-leading Boston got defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway from Washington on Thursday.
“Everybody wants to put all the really good players in the East on trades,” Fitzgerald said with a chuckle. “It’s amazing.”
Previously, the New York Islanders got 30-goal-scoring center Bo Horvat from Vancouver and the Rangers acquired prolific offensive winger Vladimir Tarasenko and hulking defenseman Niko Mikkola from St. Louis. The Leafs already traded for Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly and depth forward Noel Acciari to boost their chances of winning a playoff series for the first time in nearly two decades.
But getting through the Atlantic Division with the Lightning and first-place Bruins and the East at-large with one of the Carolina Hurricanes, Devils or Rangers likely waiting in the conference final won’t be easy.
“The East, it’s a powerhouse,” Fitzgerald said Sunday night. “It’s really a powerhouse.”
And that’s even before the Rangers get Patrick Kane from Chicago, the last highly anticipated trade before the deadline Friday that is hinging on New York’s salary cap situation. But Fitzgerald also pointed out the Lightning are still the best of the East until someone beats them.
The Leafs would like to do that, and McCabe — signed for two more seasons after this one — certainly strengthens the blue line that has been one of their weaknesses. Lafferty, also under contract beyond this year, gives Toronto more forward depth.
The same goes for Jeannot with Tampa Bay in a trade similar to BriseBois getting Brandon Hagel from Chicago at the deadline a year ago. BriseBois in previous years acquired defenseman David Savard (2021) and forwards Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman (2020) and lifted the Cup each time.
Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde, an assistant for the Lightning during their three trips to the final, told reporters in Ottawa: “I’ll never question Julien BriseBois.”
Based on history, he’s not wrong, and Tampa Bay might not be done.
“Never say never,” BriseBois said. “The focus has been on this trade the last little while. Now that we’re able to bring that to the final line, we’re going to reconvene today and look at whether there are other opportunities out there worth exploring.”
Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon said the same thing Sunday after acquiring 2019 Cup-winning forward Ivan Barbashev from St. Louis, and other rivals in the West are positioning themselves for additional moves given how wide open the conference looks. Edmonton is on the lookout for help on defense and has been linked to Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, Minnesota has been stockpiling draft picks to make a splash and the L.A. Kings could get a goaltender if Seattle doesn’t beat them to the punch.
Winnipeg acquiring winger Nino Niederreiter from the Predators on Saturday woke up the West, and Dallas responded by getting four-time 20-goal scorer Evgenii Dadonov from Montreal, freeing up almost half a million in cap space in the process to crack the door open for more movement.
“It helps us if we are going to do any future moves,” Stars GM Jim Nill said at a news conference in Dallas. “If there’s something out there that can help us, we have the assets (and) we think it’s the right value, we’re looking at it.”
One deal that won’t happen before the deadline is San Jose trading Erik Karlsson, the two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman who is having a career renaissance and could win the award again at age 32. First-year Sharks GM Mike Grier knows it would be easier to make a big trade such as that in the offseason but could make a few more before Friday.
“Things happen fast this time of the year,” Grier said. “Teams are kind of prepping themselves up and it’ll pick up pretty quickly here, I would imagine, over the next few days.”
AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall in Tampa, Florida, contributed.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Stars stay alive with 4-2 road victory over Golden Knights
Dallas Stars celebrate after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals Saturday, May 27, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
By Mark Anderson in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — With Dallas’ season on the line, the Stars got two critical goals from a player who was a healthy scratch the first two games of the Western Conference final.
Ty Dellandrea’s goals came within a 1:27 span midway through the third period, and the Stars beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the Stanley Cup final to face the Florida Panthers.
“He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with,” said Stars goalie Jake Oettinger, who made 27 saves. “He deserves every opportunity he gets, and there’s no one happier for him than the guys in this room.
“It shows how special you are when you get taken out. He didn’t make it about him. He needed the opportunity to step up, and that’s what he did.”
The Stars escaped elimination for the second straight game and head to Dallas for Game 6 on Monday night down 3-2. Dallas is attempting to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after being down 3-0.
And look who’s back for the Stars? Captain Jamie Benn returns after a two-game suspension for his cross-check to the neck of Vegas captain Mark Stone in Game 3. That was the only game in this series that was decided early, and until Saturday the Stars hadn’t even had a multigoal lead.
“I know our group, and we weren’t happy about being in the hole we were in, and they decided to do something about it,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “And now we’re rolling.”
The only problem for DeBoer was waiting two days to play Game 6.
“Drop the puck,” he said.
DeBoer said before the game if his team won, the pressure would shift to the Knights. Now it’s up to them to respond after twice being a period away from playing in the Stanley Cup final and letting both opportunities slip away.
“I don’t think we brought our best the last two games,” Stone said. “We were still in a good spot to win the game. We’ve got to bring a little bit better effort and start playing a little more desperate.”
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said “it’s a very good question” why his team didn’t play with more desperation, but he also wasn’t thrilled with the Knights’ execution.
“We had 24 giveaways,” Cassidy said. “I’m not sure you’re beating the Arizona Coyotes in January with 24 giveaways. That’s no disrespect to Arizona, but it’s not the right way to play.”
Dellandrea found the right way to play and put together the first multigoal playoff game of his career. Jason Robertson and Luke Glendening also scored, and Thomas Harley had two assists.
Chandler Stephenson and Ivan Barbashev scored for the Knights, and Jonathan Marchessault had two assists to extend his points streak to four games. Adin Hill made 30 saves.
Dellandrea scored from the right circle to put Dallas ahead, the puck deflecting off Vegas defenceman Alex Pietrangelo with 9:25 left for a 3-2 lead. Then, Dellandrea scored from the slot with 7:58 remaining.
Dellandrea said the older players kept him motivated when he was temporarily sidelined.
“There’s no denying it’s hard,” he said. “I’m thankful for a good group of character guys, and you’ve just got to stay ready.”
The teams traded goals in the first two periods.
Jack Eichel battled two Stars players for the puck in Vegas’ offensive zone, and then Barbashev swooped in and made a fantastic move to glide past Oettinger and score with 6:24 left in the first period. The Stars wasted little time in answering when Glendening scored on a deflection less than two minutes later.
Dallas was robbed of what looked like a sure goal when Hill snagged a point-blank shot from Roope Hintz, who then threw his back in disbelief.
Like in the first period, the Knights had a goal in the second quickly answered by one from the Stars. Stephenson scored from the left circle at 16:40 of the period, and Robertson knocked his own rebounds 2:09 later to make it 2-2. Stephenson tied the Knights’ record with his eight playoff goal this year, and Robertson had his fifth of the series.
18-year-old Adam Fantilli scores as Canada advances to final of ice hockey worlds
TAMPERE, Finland (AP) — Teenage forward Adam Fantilli scored the go-ahead goal as Canada edged Latvia 4-2 and advanced to the final of the ice hockey world championship.
The United States plays Germany in the other semifinal later Saturday.
The 18-year-old Fantilli, who is expected to be one of the top picks in the NHL draft, fooled a defenseman before netting his first goal of the tournament with 11:04 to go as Canada took a 3-2 lead.
Samuel Blais, Jack Quinn and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada whose goaltender Samuel Montembeault made 20 saves.
Canada had to twice come back from a goal down to reach its fourth straight final.
Dans Locmelis scored 8:18 into the game to put tournament co-host Latvia 1-0 ahead on a rebound.
Blais one-timed a shot to the roof of Latvia’s goal with 4:28 to go in the middle period for his fourth goal at the tournament to tie the score at 1-1.
Rudolfs Balcers restored the lead for Latvia from the left circle only 1:06 later in the frame.
Quinn leveled 45 seconds into the final period when his shot was deflected into the net from the mask of goaltender Arturs Silovs.
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