LeBrun Notebook: Facing a salary cap crunch, Leafs discuss Patrick Marleau trade with Kings – Pierre LeBrun
"But what if the Leafs move Zaitsev in a larger deal as I mentioned above? Which brings me to Carolina. For the past year, I’ve been infatuated with the idea of a Leafs and Hurricanes trade because I’ve always felt they have compatible needs and piece that fit.Would Carolina take on Zaitsev if the ‘Canes could also get their hands on either of Kasperi Kapanen or Andreas Johnsson while trading the Leafs one of their three right-handed blueliners? Doesn’t that make sense for everyone? At the very least, it’s something to ponder."
LeBrun discusses how Nikita Zaitsev, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, would be a good fit for the Canes after requesting a trade out of Toronto. Hurricanes fans have to drool at the idea of getting Kapanen in a red sweater. The 22-year old scored 44 points this season in 78 games. The Canes have a numbers crunch on the blue-line and could part with anyone from Justin Faulk to Haydn Fleury this offseason.
"Is Cam Newton ready to go?Will he be ready, as he’s indicated he will be, for the start of the season after a second shoulder surgery in three offseasons? Can he return to the form he was at a year ago in leading a 6-2 start and continue to evolve as an efficient quarterback? Or will the 2015 MVP have another setback and force the Panthers to turn to third-round draft pick Will Grier or one of their other young quarterbacks? The future of coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney could depend on these answers after two losing seasons in the past three years."
There is no doubt the Panthers season hinges on the health of Newton’s shoulder. The Panthers have Grier, Kyle Allen, and Taylor Heinicke as competent back-ups should Newton not be able to play, but the ceiling for the 2019-20 Panthers descends quickly without Cam.
Meet the 2019 NBA Draft class (Part II): Jalen Lecque is a point guard ahead of his time – Darnell Mayberry
"The most explosive player in this year’s draft might be a 6-foot-4 point guard you’ve never heard of.His name is Jalen Lecque — and he’s coming out of high school.“When the NBA calls,” Lecque said, “you answer.”Fifteen years ago, Lecque would have been just one of many prep-to-pro hopefuls. But after the 2005 draft, the NBA banned high school players from jumping straight into its league. The edict spawned a wave that became known as college basketball’s “one-and-done” culture, funneling the best players through the NCAA for a one-year pitstop.Lecque, a New York native and a four-star recruit, found the last loophole that allows him to make the leap before the NBA’s anticipated abolishment of the rule, which mandates a draft-eligible player be at least 19 and one year removed from his high school graduating class. Lecque declared after playing a fifth year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire upon graduating. He turns 19 on June 13, seven days before the NBA Draft.“I wanted to at least look at it,” Lecque told reporters earlier this month at the draft combine. “I didn’t want to just dismiss it and say, ‘Nah, I don’t have a chance,’ because you never know. Guys get picked up (who) nobody knows all the time. I feel confident I can get picked.”"
"NC State WolfpackThe Wolfpack got Markell Johnson back recently, but incoming freshman Jalen Lecque (who played a prep year at Brewster Academy after graduating high school) decided to go straight to the NBA. It’s been clear for almost a year that Lecque wanted to go that route if possible, and NC State prepared as if he would go to the NBA. Kevin Keatts’ team barely missed the NCAA tournament last season and Lecque might have helped them get over the hump next season."
Losing Lecque is a massive blow to NC State in 2019-20. The only silver lining is that Keatts has had several months to prepare as it has looked fairly certain that Jalen was going to stay in the draft. Lecque was ranked as the No. 40 player in the 2019 class and the No. 8 overall guard. He would have given NC State a scorer to complement Markell Johnson and was Keatts’ first big recruit.
"Eligible Immediately4. Justin Pierce, 6-7, 215 pounds, SF, RS Jr., William & MaryCommitted to North CarolinaPierce can fill a variety of roles. He picked the Tar Heels over Notre Dame and Michigan. Averaged 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists.6. Christian Keeling, 6-4, 175 pounds, SG, RS Jr., Charleston SouthernCommitted to North CarolinaThe Tar Heels won Keeling’s services over Georgia Tech and Clemson. Averaged 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds and shot 38.0 percent from 3.27. Pat Andree, 6-8, 225 pounds, PF, RS Jr., LehighCommitted to NC StateThe perfect stretch-4 for a high-major program, Andree averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds and shot 41.9 percent from 3-point range.Sit-out Transfers (2020-21)17. Thomas Allen, 6-1, 184 pounds, SG, Soph., NebraskaCommitted to NC StateAveraged 8.7 points.44. Seventh Woods, 6-2, 185 pounds, G, Jr., North CarolinaIf Woods is able to graduate, he will be far more sought-after. Hyped recruit never quite carved out a role with the Tar Heels. Averaged 2.5 points and 2.1 assists."
The Tar Heels pull in two of the top 10 transfers in the 2019 class, including Keeling, who has never averaged less than 17 points a game. He will be relied on to provide scoring for a UNC squad losing Coby White.
"The reason the Panthers need Samuel to “make the leap” is because of the interesting way the wide receiving corps is currently constructed. D.J. Moore is clearly positioned to be the top threat and has the potential to be a very good player. There is then a cluster of four receivers who are cut from a very similar cloth in Jarius Wright, Chris Hogan, Aldrick Robinson, and Torrey Smith. They are each veteran players who are capable of running the right routes, picking up timely first downs, and producing somewhere between 300 and 500 receiving yards in any given season.But let’s face it — Wright, Hogan, Robinson, and Smith are not impact players. If a secret NFL laboratory mass produced perfectly capable but unspectacular wide receivers, these are the guys who would roll off the production line.That leaves us with Curtis Samuel.If Samuel can progress from “young player with potential” to “consistent impact player” the entire complexion of the passing game could change. If Curtis Samuel becomes a true weapon, pairing him with D.J. Moore, Greg Olsen, Christian McCaffrey, and a wily vet like Jarius Wright could put some serious pressure on opposing secondaries."
Samuel, the 40th pick in the 2017 Draft, has 54 receptions in two seasons with Carolina. He will not have a chance to excel without a stable quarterback situation, so it’ll be a storyline to monitor as the season progresses. The Panthers passed on JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cooper Kupp to take Samuel in the second round.