Free-agency predictions: Will Brayden Point and Darnell Nurse be extended?

Long night, early day. So, quickie late-night blog:

Once news broke that Colorado moved to 7x$7 million on Gabriel Landeskog and was willing to go to eight years, this one was over. Landeskog loves it there and wants to win. But it was a grind, legit stress.

Lets do some quick predictions:

EXTENSIONS

Brayden Point: The Lighting announce an eight-year extension just under $9.5 million (the AAV for both Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy). Like the other two, Point’s worth every penny. Tampa continues its history of extending players the year before their contracts expire.

Darnell Nurse: Reported Tuesday Edmonton was discussing a four-year extension for him. Both sides want to extend, but there is a debate about the term. We’ll see where it goes.

Carter Verhaeghe: Great year for the Panthers, and something gets done on Wednesday. Not sure yet on Sam Reinhart.

FREE AGENTS

Sticking with my previous picks, although zero guarantees I’m right.

Dougie Hamilton: New Jersey

David Savard: Montreal

Blake Coleman: The prediction is he gets 6×5. Now adding Boston as my guess.

Jaden Schwartz: Seattle

Brandon Saad: St. Louis, Islanders, Pittsburgh or Los Angeles

Kyle Palmieri: Haven’t heard a thing, which means the Islanders probably have him locked up.

Alex Goligoski: Minnesota

Derek Forbort: Boston

Zach Hyman: Edmonton

Ryan Suter: Dallas

WAVERING

Phillip Danault: Initially said Los Angeles takes surprise look. Vegas and Rangers also there.

Vladimir Tarasenko: Initially said Islanders or New Jersey. Not sure now.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

NEW

Alexander Wennberg: Seattle

Nick Foligno: Minnesota

Zach Parise: Islanders

Michael Bunting: Toronto

Nick Ritchie: Tough to pin down, a lot of interest

Brandon Sutter: Vancouver. A week ago, didn’t seem like this was going to happen, but that’s changed. Momentum.

Cody Ceci: Edmonton

Frederik Andersen: Arizona, Buffalo or Carolina

Antti Raanta: Carolina

Brian Elliott: Tampa Bay

Jonathan Bernier: New Jersey

In addition to Goligoski, Minnesota looks at Zach Bogosion and/or Jake McCabe. McCabe has been skating for three weeks.

My brain is too fried tonight to have a great feel on Philipp Grubauer, which affects so much of the goalie market. Same for Linus Ullmark.

TRADE

Ryan Strome: Seattle, Vegas or Ottawa.

Ethan Bear: Not sure, but with Tyson Barrie, Evan Bouchard and Ceci in Edmonton, there could be something here. I like Bear, and so do a few teams.

OFFER SHEET

Elias Pettersson: Vancouver was clearly rattled by the possibility of it… and have cleared a ton of cap room. I polled a few agents and executives to see if they thought it was really realistic. Mixed responses. Some yes, some no. But the Canucks thought yes, and their vote matters most.

See you Wednesday.

NBA play-in tournament officially returning in 2022

The NBA’s play-in tournament is back for at least one more season.

As expected, the league’s board of governors gave approval Tuesday to the plan that would bring back the event in April 2022. The format will be the same as it was this past season: the teams that finish seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th in each conference will play to determine the No. 7 and No. 8 playoff seeds.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had said on multiple occasions in recent weeks that he expected the play-in to return. It was utilized this past season for the first time on an experimental basis.

In other board of governors news Tuesday:

SCHEDULE

The play-in tournament being back crystallizes the schedule for next season. It was already known that training camps would open Sept. 28 and the regular season on Oct. 19. With the play-in, that now means the regular season ends April 10, 2022.

The play-in tournament will be April 12-15, the playoffs will begin April 16, and the 2022 NBA Finals are scheduled to begin June 2 — back in their customary spot for the first time since 2019.

The latest possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals would be June 19, and the 2022 NBA Draft is slated for June 23.

Teams have been working under the assumption of that schedule for several weeks.

ROSTERS

Two-way players will receive half of the minimum salary next season, or roughly $463,000. They will be permitted to be active for 50 games next season.

Teams can have 15 players active for each game next season, with no more than 17 under contract.

Report: Panthers signing defenceman Montour to three-year, $10.5M deal

The Florida Panthers and defenceman Brandon Montour have reportedly agreed to a new three-year, $10.5-million deal, according to Daily Faceoff‘s Frank Seravalli.

The 27-year-old was set to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday with his one-year, $3.85-million deal signed with the Buffalo Sabres last off-season set to expire.

Montour was acquired by the Panthers at the 2020-21 NHL trade deadline from the Sabres in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick.

The native of Brantford, Ont., put up 14 points in 38 games with the lowly Sabres, before adding four points in 12 games down the stretch with the Panthers.

Montour went pointless in six games as the Panthers were ousted by the cross-state rival and eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of playoffs.

Types of trades that fit Blue Jays best ahead of 2021 trade deadline

TORONTO – In the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, Toronto Blue Jays executives have been consistent whenever they’ve been asked about their plans. In brief, they see themselves as contenders, want to augment their existing roster and view run prevention – GM speak for pitching and defence – as the likeliest path ahead.

And while it would be futile to attempt to predict the specifics of what the Blue Jays will do in these last few days ahead of July 30, it’s at least possible make informed guesses about the types of deals they’re likely to make. By listening closely to what the front office says, looking at what they’ve done in the past and checking in with sources around the industry, some hints are available.

Combined, they paint a picture of the kinds of deals the Blue Jays are most and least likely to make as the deadline approaches…

Top-ranked prospects for star rentals

Past deadline examples: Willie Calhoun for Yu Darvish, 2017; Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman, 2016; David Price for Daniel Norris, Matthew Boyd and Jairo Labourt, 2015; Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran, 2011.

2021 candidates for this type of deal: Max Scherzer, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Trevor Story.

Verdict: Probably not.

On Tuesday, the Blue Jays were linked to Scherzer, a future Hall of Famer with dominant stuff whose ten-and-five rights allow him to control his own fate. And if you’re the Blue Jays how could you not check on a pitcher this talented. They should be making preliminary calls on Bryant, Baez and Story, too. There’s no harm in asking, after all.

But with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants also seemingly interested in the 37-year-old Scherzer, the price will be high, so unless the Washington Nationals happen to love the Blue Jays’ farm system, it’s hard to see a fit for this kind of trade. Who knows, the Nationals may be using the Blue Jays to boost their own leverage here.

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Outbidding the rest of the league for a star rental can make sense if you’re a division favourite trying to increase your World Series odds. Or maybe if your core is aging the way the Blue Jays were in 2015.

It doesn’t make sense to part with top prospects when you’re on the fringes of the wild-card race hoping for the right to play a one-game series as the road team. Especially when you’ve got a young core in place for years to come.

And since this Blue Jays front office is measured in its decision making, it’d be a surprise if they part with a top prospect for a rental before they’re the ones leading the charge in the AL East.

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Prospects for valuable controllable players:

Past deadline examples: Kendall Williams and Ryan Noda for Ross Stripling, 2020.

2021 candidates for this type of deal: Yusei Kikuchi, Kyle Gibson, Merrill Kelly, Craig Kimbrel, Richard Rodriguez, Trea Turner, Jose Berrios.

Verdict: Maybe.

This category covers a lot of ground, so there’s no simple “yes” or “no” to be found here, but there’s no reason the Blue Jays shouldn’t be considering these deals. In fact, they completed one just last year, sending 2019 second-round pick Kendall Williams to the Dodgers for Ross Stripling.

With the likes of Kimbrel and Kikuchi potentially available this year, there are some difference-making players with team control remaining beyond 2021. And since they’re more than rentals, the Blue Jays would still benefit from deals like this even if their season ends sooner than they hope it will.

Of course, the prices for players with remaining control are going to be higher for that very reason. For instance, why would the Minnesota Twins part with Berrios when they can just as easily hold on and enjoy his pitching in 2022?

There’s less urgency for sellers in this market, which balances out the leverage and makes it all harder to predict, but any team looking to improve must stay involved on these players. Since the Blue Jays’ farm system includes plenty of highly regarded young players, they have the potential to bid on anyone they like. Where that leads is the really interesting part.

Lesser prospects for valuable rentals

Past deadline examples: Taijuan Walker for Alberto Rodriguez, 2020; Robbie Ray and cash for Travis Bergen, 2020; Jonathan Villar for Griffin Conine, 2020; Andrew McInvale with Joe Panik for Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson, 2021.

2021 candidates for this type of deal: Tyler Anderson, Michael Pineda, Jon Gray, Yimi Garcia, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, Brad Hand, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte.

Verdict: Definitely.

The Blue Jays’ playoff odds have dropped in recent days. And, yes, those losses are frustrating. At the same time, they still have a real shot to make the playoffs – 25.3 per cent according to FanGraphs and 38 per cent according to Baseball-Reference as of Tuesday.

One way to improve those odds without meaningfully harming the team’s long-term goals is to acquire rentals. It’s a little counter-intuitive because those deals only help in the short-term, but the cost is often lower for that very reason and it also preserves the Blue Jays’ flexibility heading into the winter.

So considering the depth of the Blue Jays’ system and the reality that only 40 players can get protected from the Rule 5 Draft this fall, the likes of Samad Taylor, Zach Logue and Kevin Smith are sure to draw interest from selling teams.

First and foremost, the Blue Jays must evaluate their own prospects accurately. Once they do, there’s the potential for some real traction on rentals between now and July 30.

Oleksiak claims bronze in 200m freestyle for record sixth medal at Summer Games

TOKYO — Canadian swimmer Penny Oleksiak has won a bronze medal in the women’s 200-metre freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics.

It’s Oleksiak’s sixth career medal, making her Canada’s most decorated summer Olympian.

Speedskater Cindy Klassen and dual Olympian Clara Hughes also have six medals each, while rowing’s Lesley Thompson-Willie and track and field’s Phil Edwards have five each in the Summer Olympics.

Oleksiak finished the first length in the lead at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre and held off a late push by China’s Junxuan Yang to finish third.

Australia’s Ariarne Titmus took gold while Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey took silver.

Oleksiak won her fifth career medal on Sunday when the Canadian team took silver in the women’s 4×100-metre freestyle.

Nationals’ Turner removed vs. Phillies after testing positive for COVID-19

The Washington Nationals say all-star shortstop Trea Turner was lifted from the team’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Turner was removed from the contest in the first inning.

The 28-year-old, who has been involved in trade rumours in the lead-up to Friday’s MLB trade deadline, has put up 18 home runs and 49 RBI while slashing .320/.368/.519 across 95 games this season.

Turner has spent the entirety of his seven-year MLB career in Washington.

Tuesday’s Blue Jays-Red Sox game in Boston postponed due to rain

Tuesday’s game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park has been postponed due to rain.

The game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader Wednesday, with Game 1 starting at 2:10 p.m. ET / 11:10 a.m. PT followed by Game 2 at 7:10 p.m. ET / 4:10 p.m. PT.

The Blue Jays lost 5-4 in the opener of the four-game series against their AL East rivals on Monday.

Jets, Canucks closing in on deal to send Nate Schmidt to Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks are closing in on a deal that would send defender Nate Schmidt to the Jets, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

The 30-year-old spent one season with Vancouver after three with the Vegas Golden Knights and four with the Washington Capitals before that.

He has four years remaining on the six-year deal he signed with Vegas back in 2018, which includes a modified no-trade clause and a $5.95-million cap hit. The Jets had previously been part of Schmidt’s 10-team no-trade list, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, meaning the defender is waiving said clause to facilitate the move.

In exchange for the blue-liner the Canucks are reportedly set to receive a 2022 third-round pick. In doing so, they’d receive precisely what they gave up to acquire Schmidt from the Golden Knights.

Through 54 games with Vancouver, Schmidt put up 15 points and averaged just over 20 minutes per night. His finest years so far have come in the three he spent in Vegas, the three in which he managed to top the 30-point plateau.

Rivera opens Washington camp frustrated by vaccine hesitancy

RICHMOND, Va. — Ron Rivera opened Washington’s training camp Tuesday by expressing frustration about a lack of vaccinations among players, which has caused the cancer survivor to practice extra caution.

Rivera said he believed Washington is now over half the players in camp fully vaccinated. The NFL last week said 80% of players have started the vaccination process and that 27 of 32 teams had at least 70% of players either receive one vaccination shot or both.

Washington is not one of them — actually closer to 60% — and it has caused Rivera to take precautions.

“I’m truly frustrated,” Rivera said at his camp-opening news conference. “I’m beyond frustrated. One of the reasons I walked in with a mask on is I’m immune-deficient, so with this new variant, who knows? So when I’m in a group and the group’s not vaccinated or there’s a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons.”

Rivera was treated for skin cancer last year. His players’ vaccination hesitancy is one of many questions going into Rivera’s second camp as Washington’s coach.

Washington was one of two teams under 50% vaccinated in mid-July. Offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas was placed on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday.

The league sent a memo to teams Thursday telling them that an outbreak among nonvaccinated players could lead to forfeits with players on both teams not getting paid.

“It could be a huge, huge disadvantage,” he said, citing Denver’s virus outbreak last season that caused the Broncos to start a rookie receiver at quarterback. “Based on the rules, you’re risking not just your paycheck but other people’s paychecks, too, if there’s no game played. I think that’s something that we all have to think about.”

And it’s not like Rivera and his staff haven’t tried. Washington brought in Harvard immunologist Kizzmekia S. Corbett, who helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, to speak with players during minicamp in June. Third-year pass rusher Montez Sweat at the time said he doesn’t support the team’s attempt to persuade players to get vaccinated and “probably won’t get vaccinated until I got more facts and that type of stuff.”

“We have a group of guys that want more information and the frustrating part is we’re trying to provide it as quickly and as much as possible,” Rivera said. “They still have to make their own decisions.”

The football questions facing Washington include safety Landon Collins’ injury status, All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff’s long-term future, and the impending quarterback competition between free agent addition Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rivera favorite Kyle Allen and surprise playoff performer Taylor Heinecke.

Collins, who had surgery on his torn left Achilles tendon last fall, was not one of the players put on the physically unable to perform list Tuesday. Receiver Curtis Samuel and cornerback Greg Stroman went on PUP, while safety Deshazor Everett and defensive tackle Tim Settle were put on the non-football illness list.

Scherff is playing a second consecutive season on the franchise tag and is all but certain to leave before 2022 if he and the team cannot work out a multiyear contract.

Washington answered a couple of questions on the eve of camp, which begins in earnest for players Wednesday with the first full practice. Defensive tackle Jonathan Allen agreed to terms on a four-year extension through 2025 worth $72 million, and tight end Logan Thomas got a three-year extension beyond this season.

Rivera was glad to get those deals done.

“These are guys we believe fit us going into the future,” he said. “It gives them some stability, and it shows other players that we most certainly are working to keep our own. That’s how you build a team: You sign those guys and keep those guys around.”

Coming off an NFC East title at 7-9 and a loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, Rivera’s message to players is that “it’s go time.” That could include going to get a vaccine shot given the concern about rising virus rates for those who have not been inoculated.

“The thing that still looms over our head unfortunately is the whole COVID situation,” Rivera said. “As a football team, as individuals, we have to understand what’s truly at stake in terms of opportunities going forward, and we’ll see. We’ll see how it all unfolds, and to some degree this tells us a little about us.”

Nationals’ Strasburg out for season, to undergo surgery Wednesday

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez says right-hander Stephen Strasburg is slated to undergo season-ending surgery Wednesday for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.

Martinez said the hope is the 33-year-old will be ready for spring training next February.

Strasburg has made only five starts this season because of neck and shoulder issues, and hasn’t pitched since June 1.

The Nationals enter Tuesday’s action with a 45-54 record and are in danger of missing the post-season for a second straight year after winning the World Series in 2019.

With files from The Associated Press