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The Philadelphia
19-09-2018 08:17 AM
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The Philadelphia
hongwei28
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When John Tavares‘ contract ran out with the New York Islanders Alan Page Jersey , he took the opportunity to talk with other teams.

”I felt like I owed it to myself to see what else was out there,” Tavares said.

Tavares’ exploration led him to rediscover his childhood affinity for the Maple Leafs, and his confidence in Toronto’s future led him to sign a monster $77 million, seven-year contract. The Islanders were left with nothing, a mistake other NHL franchises seem determined not to make.

Don’t wait. Sometimes not even a day.

On Sunday, when Tavares’ departure left a void on Long Island, the Sharks signed Logan Couture, Coyotes signed Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Kings signed Drew Doughty and Lightning signed Ryan McDonagh to long-term deals. None of them would have been free agents until July 1, 2019, and this was the first possible chance to ink extensions that begin more than a year from now.

It’s worth every penny to San Jose, Arizona, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay to get those contracts done now rather than risk a key player even exploring unrestricted free agency like Tavares did.

”If you wait too long and you get into the situation where they have the potential to walk or explore the UFA market, that can be challenging times,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said.

The Ottawa Senators are trapped in such challenging times. They made a contract offer to Norris Trophy-winning captain and 2019 free agent Erik Karlsson, but it’s not a great sign that the real negotiating is only just beginning.

”We’re not going there,” GM Pierre Dorion said. ”We don’t really want to talk about roster players, contract negotiations Andy Levitre Jersey , trades, all these things, but I think we owe it to our fans and we made a promise at the town hall that we would make a contract offer to Erik Karlsson and we’ve done so.”

Tick, tick, tick. Even a year away, the pressure is on the Senators to sign Karlsson long term or trade him before the deadline so they don’t end up like the Islanders.

The Coyotes made sure they wouldn’t be in that spot by locking up Ekman-Larsson to a $66 million, eight-year deal that the soon-to-be 27-year-old defenseman called ”a no-brainer.” Arizona GM John Chayka calls it ”a huge moment for our entire organization” because there’s now no fear of losing Ekman-Larsson for nothing.

”A superstar-caliber player has the option to basically go to any of the 31 teams and felt the loyalty, felt the belief in what we were doing enough to sign on long term,” Chayka said, adding that the Coyotes had to convince Ekman-Larsson with actions that they were moving in the right direction.

The Kings convinced Doughty of that so much, he knew all season he was going to re-sign. He’s building a new house in the LA area, is getting married this summer and is ready to start a family in a place he wants to stay for essentially the balance of his career.

”I never wanted to leave there, to be honest,” Doughty said. ”It will be nice not to answer the question, `Hey are you coming to Toronto? You’re coming to the Leafs, right?’ No, I’m not coming to the Leafs, everyone.”

Doughty signing for $88 million over eight years sets the bar for Karlsson Arden Key Jersey , who could face similar questions if he goes into the season without a future contract like Tavares did. Over the past week, Tavares began wondering if he would play for his hometown Maple Leafs, a bond too deep for the Islanders to overcome.

Couture grew up not far from Toronto, but he never entertained that possibility because he signed a $64 million, eight-year deal with the Sharks. Couture respected Tavares’ choice and made his own without much difficulty.

”We have some very good players: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns, Martin Jones, Evander Kane – very, very good players – Joe Pavelski,” Couture said, rattling off core players all signed long term. ”I want to win. That’s my goal as a hockey player. I believe that San Jose has and will continue to have a very, very good chance at winning in the future. That’s why my decision was so easy.”

It was just as easy for McDonagh, who signed a $47.25 million, seven-year deal with the Lightning, who acquired him at the trade deadline. McDonagh was comfortable with Tampa Bay, which went through an almost-Tavares situation two years ago with captain Steven Stamkos before signing him on the eve of free agency.

Days after signing Stamkos in 2016, the Lightning extended top defenseman Victor Hedman at the first possibly moment like they did with McDonagh. GM Steve Yzerman knows how to work ahead, which is often essential in today’s NHL with important players.

”(If you wait) Dont'a Hightower Jersey , you don’t really know how it’s going to go,” Yzerman said. ”We go into next year for both parties, we don’t know, and I think it’s worthwhile exploring the opportunity now.”



With the two best games of his career coming on consecutive days, designated hitter Evan Gattis has quickly transformed into the Astros‘ hottest hitter – and their current good luck charm.

He’s got a franchise record to prove it, too.

Gattis hit two home runs, including the first of back-to-back shots with Marwin Gonzalez during a seven-run second inning, and the streaking Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 13-5 on Wednesday night for their seventh straight win.

One night after homering and setting a career high with five RBIs, Gattis drove in five again, becoming the first player in franchise history to drive in five in consecutive games.

”It was fun to watch our guys respond to his continued damage at-bats,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. ”They’re taking his helmet off and rubbing it all over themselves and they’re trying to get as close to him as they can. They want whatever he’s eating, whatever he’s doing during the games.”

Jake Marisnick also homered, Carlos Correa had a two-run triple and Yuli Gurriel had three hits and three RBIs to help Gerrit Cole (8-1) win his sixth straight decision.

Gattis had a sacrifice fly in the first inning, hit a three-run home run off A’s starter Paul Blackburn (1-1) in the second then went deep again with a solo blast off Emilio Pagan in the seventh. Gattis also walked in the eighth.

”He’s white hot,” Cole said. ”Just a great approach right now. He’s obviously put the team on his back a little bit.”

Gattis’ 10 RBIs in two games also ties an Astros record, but the big slugger wouldn’t say he’s necessarily locked in at the plate.

”It never feels like it,” Gattis said. ”You’re about to go hit a ball with a stick and you’re going to get out 70 percent of the time. You have to enjoy the good stuff if you’re going to get mad about the negatives in the game.”

Cole allowed a season-high four runs over six uneven innings, including two home runs Kentavius Street Jersey , but benefited from the early cushion. The AL leader in strikeouts fanned six and yielded six hits with two walks.

That gives Houston three eight-game winners – Cole, Thursday’s starter Justin Verlander (8-2) and Tuesday’s winner Lance McCullers (8-3).

”Some undesirable results a couple times,” Cole said. ”Fastball command wasn’t poor but it wasn’t as sharp.”

The defending World Series champs moved a season-high 19 games over .500. This is Houston’s longest winning streak since taking seven in a row from Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2017.

Oakland outfielder Jake Smolinski became the first A’s position player to pitch in a game since utility player Tyler Ladendorf on June 3, 2016. Smolinski allowed a leadoff double to Max Stassi and a two-run home run to Marisnick in the ninth, then retired the next three batters.

”The one thing you really want is don’t get hurt and throw the ball over the middle of the plate, and he did exactly that,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ”He was up for it. He’s up for just about anything.”

Khris Davis homered twice for Oakland, his 18th and 19th of the season. Stephen Piscotty also went deep.

The Astros flexed their defensive muscle in the eighth after Matt Olson reached on an error. Marisnick made a leaping catch in center to rob Matt Chapman of a home run, then threw to second baseman Tony Kemp, who relayed to first to double up Olson.

QUICK EXIT

Blackburn retired only four batters and allowed eight runs before departing in the second.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: Chapman made another handful of stellar defensive plays at third base, one night after getting hit in the left hand by a 92.3 mph fastball from Astros reliever Collin McHugh.

UP NEXT

Verlander (8-2, 2.58 ERA) makes his 15th start in the series finale for Houston on Thursday. Among qualifying pitchers, Verlander leads the majors in ERA and is second in innings pitched (93 1/3) and third in strikeouts (113). Right-hander Frankie Montas (3-0, 1.25) goes for Oakland.



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