Auston Matthews and Team North America set to play their final tune-up game versus the Czechs at 3 p.m. EST, Connor Carrick preparing to battle for a job at camp, Roman Polak happy to be back in Toronto, and more in the links.
“That was kind of the deal when I was leaving Toronto, that I was going to come back,” Polak said Tuesday after the Czech national team’s practice. “We were talking about it when Lou was trading me. We had a meeting, Lou was saying he wants me back and he was going to call me in the summer.”
Connor Carrick ready to battle for blue line job: ‘You have to try to find your game and find it early’ (National Post)
“It’s a big camp. I don’t think there is any way to go around it. The confidence (from last season) carries over, but at the same time, that was how many months ago? You have to try to find your game and find it early, listen to the coaching staff and make sure you are what they want you to be.”
It definitely takes the edge off in terms of nerves and all those sorts of things,” Carrick says of entering his first full season in Toronto. “Some familiarity with the coaching staff is huge. [Familiarity with] the personnel is even bigger, knowing some of the player’s ins and outs and how they like to play the game. At the deadline [when he was traded] there was a lot going on, but I’m glad that the trade happened when it did and not in the summertime. You didn’t have a chance to get nervous because you were playing the next night, so you just keep rolling instead of having all summer to think about it.”
Maple Leafs Organizational Draft (TSN1050)
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Toronto had a firmly above-average PK last year despite lacking any of the traditional pieces that we generally consider paramount to a good PK (elite goalie, stud defenseman, all-star two-way forward). That said, if we look at their top 12 players in shorthanded ice-time, at least six will not be on the team next season for sure.
Tyler Seguin replaced by Ryan O’Reilly on Team Canada (WCH2016.com)
“It’s never easy to lose a player because of injury, let alone a player of the caliber of Tyler, but once again, it speaks to the depth of talent in the country to be able to add a Ryan O’Reilly to our team,” said Doug Armstrong, general manager of Team Canada for the world Cup of hockey. “Ryan just won gold at Worlds alongside a number of our players in that dressing room, so we’re expecting him to [jell] quickly as we wrap up our pretournament against Russia. On behalf of the coaching and management staff, and all of the players, we want to welcome Ryan and wish Tyler a speedy recovery.”
Team North America still tinkering with lineup (WCH2016.com)
Coach Todd McLellan isn’t satisfied, however, and will make a few adjustments Wednesday. Center Connor McDavid likely will play with forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin after skating on a line with Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau on Sunday. “This is our last chance to tinker with lineups,” McLellan said. “Not that it won’t happen during the tournament, but as much as we’re looking for full lines, we’re looking for pairs.”
Playing in World Cup gives Auston Matthews ‘head start’ (Toronto Sun)
“I guess playing here helps, because you kind of get that head start,” said Matthews. “Going into training camp, being able to play at this high of a level, it’s kind of a taste of best-on-best hockey. So it gives you an edge going into the season.”