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LHP Jon Lester

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    August 10, 2018 7:39 am IST
    The NHL’s best rarely make it to free agency.

    Teams tend to re-sign their top players [url=http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kevin-hogan-jersey]http://www.redskinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kevin-hogan-jersey[/url] , keeping them off the market and on their rosters. That leaves a slew of solid veterans and journeymen available to the highest bidders trying to find a forward to play on a second or third line, a defenseman to be in a second pairing or perhaps a backup goaltender.

    John Tavares this year is considered a top target, assuming the New York Islanders and their new leaders can’t persuade the 27-year-old center to stay with the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009. He had 84 points last season, two shy of his career high.

    Trying to show Tavares how serious they are about winning, the Islanders hired Stanley Cup-winning coach Barry Trotz and Stanley Cup-winning president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello. New York can sign Tavares to an eight-year contract, too, one year more than any other team in the league can give him. The Islanders can invest $80-plus million to help convince their franchise star to stay.

    Tavares, though, may want to take his two-way talents elsewhere because he has made it to the playoffs just three times in his nine-year career [url=http://www.newyorkyankeesteamshop.com/authentic-gleyber-torres-jersey]Gleyber Torres New York Yankees Jersey[/url] , advancing only once. If the five-time All-Star chooses to leave, he has plenty of choices. Toronto, Boston, San Jose, Dallas and Tampa Bay are believed to be among his options. Tavares can command a seven-year contract for perhaps more than $70 million from any of the teams trying to lure him away from the Islanders.

    Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said the Tavares situation is holding back other free agents, not knowing how high he will set the bar for salaries, and delaying trades.

    ”I think it’s holding up the hockey world a certain amount,” Hextall said Friday.

    Some other names to watch ahead of free agency, which begins Sunday:

    JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK

    The Maple Leafs would love to keep him at the right price [url=http://www.milwaukeebrewersteamshop.com/authentic-keon-broxton-jersey]Keon Broxton Milwaukee Brewers Jersey[/url] , but they might have to let him go to potentially to have enough money to bring Tavares back home. The 29-year-old winger had a career-high 36 goals last season, his sixth in Toronto and ninth in the league.

    DAVID PERRON

    The 30-year-old winger picked a good time to have a career year, with a career-high 50 assists and 66 points with the Vegas Golden Knights. He added nine point during their postseason run.

    JAMES NEAL

    The three-time All-Star had a career-high 11 postseason points during the Vegas run to the Stanley Cup Final. The 30-year-old winger keeps himself in great shape and leads on and off the ice.

    PAUL STASTNY

    The 32-year-old center had a career-high 15 playoff points, helping the Winnipeg Jets reach the Western Conference final. The one-time All-Star would be a solid Plan B for teams that whiff on their shot to sign Tavares.

    MIKE GREEN

    With Washington keeping John Carlson off the market, the 32-year-old Green may be the best defenseman available. Green had a neck injury last season in Detroit and that may concern some teams.

    MICHAEL GRABNER

    The 30-year-old winger finished with 27 goals last year to rank third among potential unrestricted free agents. He had only two for New Jersey in the final 21 games.

    TYLER BOZAK

    The 32-year-old Bozak has spent his entire career with the Maple Leafs, who may not be able to afford the solid center with 365 career points.

    JOE THORNTON

    Teams may hesitate to sign Thornton, coming off knee surgery with his 39th birthday on Tuesday, but the center with great hands could be a great fit for a contending team looking to add depth and a veteran presence.

    DAN HAMHUIS

    With slim pickings on the blue line, the 35-year-old defenseman will be in demand after missing a total of just five games the last two seasons in Dallas.

    CAM WARD

    The 34-year-old goaltender won 23 games last season [url=http://www.authenticsphiladelphiaeagles.com/cheap-dallas-goedert-jersey]Dallas Goedert Color Rush Jersey[/url] , the most of any potential unrestricted free agent, despite playing for the lowly Carolina Hurricanes.



    AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.



    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Saturday’s sweltering conditions at Wrigley Field were the worst he’s experienced during a major league game.

    The Minnesota Twins were in no position to disagree.

    Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario, Bobby Wilson and Max Kepler all left early because of heat illness on a scorching afternoon, and the Cubs beat the Twins 14-9.

    Rosario homered in the top of the fifth inning, then was pulled from left field shortly after fielding a hit by Anthony Rizzo in the bottom half. The Cubs said it was 96 degrees at the time with a heat index of 107 – that’s a calculation of how hot it actually feels, with the humidity factored in.

    ”That was a pretty brutal day,” Maddon said. ”If you put that on AstroTurf, that would have been like the worst ever.”

    There was a short break in the sixth after Wilson drew a walk. A couple of cups of water were brought out for him to sip and douse himself to cool off. Wilson eventually scored and was replaced at catcher after the inning ended with the score tied at 9.

    ”I just couldn’t catch my breath,” he said. ”My heart was fluttering. I felt dizzy. Started getting a headache. Just couldn’t even hold a conversation in the dugout.”

    All three Twins players were treated with IVs.

    Jason Heyward had four of the Cubs’ 20 hits [url=http://www.authenticsneworleanssaints.com/cheap-marcus-davenport-jersey]Marcus Davenport Color Rush Jersey[/url] , Ben Zobrist had three RBIs and Chicago had a pair of five-run innings. The Cubs rallied from 3-0 and 7-4 deficits and have scored at least 10 runs in three straight games for the first time since April 2003.

    Albert Almora Jr. had three hits and drove in two runs as the Cubs won their third in a row. He exited in the fifth after experiencing leg cramps related to dehydration.

    Joe Mauer had two hits and three RBIs for the Twins.

    Plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt worked with a towel draped around his neck and frequently left the field between innings.

    ”It was just tough,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. ”We couldn’t keep them off base. There were a lot of singles. They kept hitting them in the right spot.”

    Chicago broke open a tie game with a five-run seventh.

    David Bote led off with a walk and Ian Happ doubled off reliever Trevor Hildenberger (1-2). It was Chicago’s 15th hit to that point – and first extra-base hit despite the wind blowing out.

    ”Home runs are pretty cool,” Almora said, ”but the way we produced runs today was special.”

    After pinch-hitter Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked to load the bases, Heyward hit a soft liner that just scooted over the head of shortstop Ehire Adrianza – with the infield playing in – for an RBI single and a 10-9 lead Baez hit a grounder up the middle, just out of Adrianza’s reach with the infield playing in, for two more runs.

    Justin Wilson (2-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.

    STRONG DEBUT

    Willians Astudillo, primarily a catcher in the minors, made his major league debut – replacing Rosario – and wound up playing center field for the Twins [url=http://www.authenticsbuffalobills.com/cheap-josh-allen-jersey]Josh Allen Jersey Elite[/url] , his first time at that spot as a pro. He hit an RBI single in his first at-bat.

    ”I just went out and had fun,” Astudillo said through a translator. ”It’s just great to be here.”

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    Twins: CF Byron Buxton (fractured left big toe) has been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester since June 19 and there’s no timetable for when he’ll be activated from the DL. Buxton was hitting .206 with a homer and four RBIs in nine games with Rochester before Saturday. If he continues to struggle, there’s a chance he could be optioned to Rochester when his rehab assignment ends on July 8.

    Cubs: RHP Carl Edwards Jr. (right shoulder inflammation) threw 19 pitches and got two outs during a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa on Friday. Maddon said the reports were positive and that his ”velocity was normal.” Edwards is expected to pitch again either Sunday or Monday.

    UP NEXT

    LHP Jon Lester (10-2, 2.18 ERA) opens the July schedule after winning all five of his June starts, compiling a 1.13 ERA during that stretch. RHP Lance Lynn (5-6, 4.81) starts the finale of the three-game series for the Twins.

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