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Sport The biggest X-factor for every NHL team: Eastern Conference edition
Union urges NFL to adopt daily COVID-19 testing for vaccinated players
There’s a decent chance that the COVID-19 pandemic will play more of a role during the 2021 NFL season than last year. We’re seeing relaxed protocols from the league as it relates to fully vaccinated players with Week 1 of the campaign slated to get going Thursday evening. It has already led to some COVID-related issues for teams. That includes star guard Zack Martin and the Dallas Cowboys with their opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mere days away. Despite being fully vaccinated, Martin tested positive for the virus and will miss the game.NFLPA president JC Tretter of the Cleveland Browns touched on this recently.
Every team has a handful of players that could significantly alter the course of their season.
They are the X-factors.
Not necessarily the best player, or even a new player, but somebody that could make-or-break how things go based largely on their own individual performance. Maybe they are taking on a new role, or an increased role, or trying to fill a spot vacated by a departing player. Or maybe it is just somebody that is ready to take a significant leap forward in their development or career.
Let’s talk about the biggest such player for each team, including a couple of potential breakout stars, some goalies (always an X-factor), and some returning players that missed significant portions of the 2020-21 season.
Carolina Hurricanes: 2021-22 NHL season preview
We continue to get you ready for the start of the NHL season by looking ahead to the Hurricanes and their biggest questions.• Record: 36-12-8 (80 points); first place in Central Division
We start here with the Eastern Conference teams.
Boston Bruins:. With David Krejci now playing in the Czech Republic between and . Coyle will probably get the first crack at that role. If he can handle it, that would give the Bruins the complete second line they need (and seemingly had with Krejci, Hall, and Smith).
Buffalo Sabres:. With ‘s future in doubt and Owen Power still at least a year away Dahlin is now the face of the Sabres franchise. And they still do not fully know what they have in him because he has had three different coaches who have tried to use him three different ways.
Carolina Hurricanes:. The Hurricanes completely overhauled their goaltending position with two veterans that have been injured in recent years. Big gamble for a Stanley Cup contender. Could be a good one, though. If it works.
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Columbus Blue Jackets:. Are they going to get the potential 40-goal scorer that puts the fear of God into opposing goalies, or the player that struggled and was benched at times after the trade? They need the former. Desperately.
Detroit Red Wings:. If he is as good as the Red Wings think he can be that would be quite the immediate boost to their rebuild. The perception of this pick has rapidly changed in two years.
Florida Panthers:. The best goalie prospect in hockey and the future of the position in Florida. How much do they really trust at this point? The sooner Knight takes over that spot, the better.
Montreal Canadiens:. The offer sheet forced the Canadiens’ . The funny thing is that Dvorak is probably the better player right now. So it might be an upgrade.
Veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara signs one-year deal with Islanders
Veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara is heading back to where it all began. © Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports The 44-year-old has signed a one-year deal to return to the New York Islanders, who drafted him 56th overall in 1996, the team announced Saturday. #Isles Transaction: The team has agreed to terms with defenseman Zdeno Chara on a one-year contract.https://t.
New Jersey Devils:. Hughes took a massive step forward in his second season, and if he can take a similar step this season the Devils will have a superstar on their hands.
New York Islanders:. The Islanders are rock solid from top to bottom, but they could really use another impact forward to make it so all of that pressure does not fall on . Wahlstrom is one player that has the potential to be that. He showed flashes of it last year.
New York Rangers:. Expectations are high in New York and the pressure is on for this entire group. They need Lafreniere to take a Hughes-like step in his second season.
Ottawa Senators:. He counts $6.25 million against the cap for another three seasons. He plays the most important position on the ice. If they want to improve they need more. Way more.
Philadelphia Flyers:. There might not be a single player in the NHL that will play a bigger role in determining the success or failure of a team.
Pittsburgh Penguins:. Goaltending is the single biggest reason the Penguins 2020-21 postseason ended in the first round. They are bringing back the same goalies with a thinner roster in front of them. Let’s see how that works out.
MLB to require vaccinations for players to participate in Arizona Fall League
Major League Baseball is requiring players to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to participate in the Arizona Fall League, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. It marks the first instance of an MLB vaccination mandate directly affecting players. © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Last week, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported that MLB was mandating vaccinations among non-playing team personnel in order for those individuals to be granted access to the field during postseason play.
Tampa Bay Lightning:. The Lightning . With the entire line of , , and moving on they are going to need that internal talent pipeline to keep flowing.
Toronto Maple Leafs:. He was great last year when he took over the starting job. Was it a fluke? Or something that he can come close to repeating? There is immense pressure on this team this season to do something, and Campbell is going to have to play a big role in that.
Washington Capitals:. They paid a steep price for him, but his style fits the Capitals perfectly and he really is an outstanding player. He played better than his box score numbers would indicate after the trade.
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