Winger agrees to eight-year contract with Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are locking up one of their franchise cornerstones. The team has agreed to terms on an eight-year extension with star winger Cole Caufield, the team announced on Monday morning.

The deal will run through the 2030-31 season and will carry an average annual value of $7.85 million per season.

Caufield is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 26 goals while dishing out 10 assists in 46 regular-season contests. The 22-year-old star’s season came to a premature end in January when he was forced to undergo shoulder surgery.

During the 2022-23 season, Caufield’s 26 goals were tied for the team lead and marked the second consecutive season in which he led the team in that category. At the time of his injury, Caufield was 11th in goals in the league, while also being ranked eighth in the NHL with 19 even-strength goals.

In his first three professional seasons, Caufield has racked up 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) while topping the 20-goal mark in each of his last two seasons. In addition, the star forward has also tallied 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 20 postseason contests, which all came during the 2020-21 campaign.

Caufield was originally selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Canadiens after a standout career at the University of Wisconsin.

Golden Knights vs. Panthers odds, NHL picks, Game 2 predictions from hockey simulation

The Florida Panthers attempt to even the 2023 Stanley Cup Final at one win apiece when they visit the Vegas Golden Knights for Game 2 on Monday. Florida allowed three goals in the third period on Saturday and suffered a 5-2 loss in the series opener, falling to 0-5 all-time in the Final. The Panthers were swept by Colorado in their only other appearance in 1996. Vegas, which also is in the Final for the second time in its history, has won all five of its home meetings with Florida since joining the NHL in 2017-18.

Opening faceoff at T-Mobile Arena is set for 8 p.m. ET. Vegas is the -140 favorite (risk $140 to win $100) in the latest Golden Knights vs. Panthers odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total goals scored is 5.5. Before making any Panthers vs. Golden Knights picks, be sure to check out the NHL predictions and betting advice from the SportsLine Projection Model.

This model simulates every NHL game 10,000 times, taking into account factors like current form, individual matchups, injuries and short- and long-term trends when making NHL picks. The model seeks the best values on the money line, puck line and total.

Now, the model has set its sights on Golden Knights vs. Panthers and just locked in its picks and Stanley Cup Final predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Here are the NHL odds and trends for Panthers vs. Golden Knights:

Golden Knights vs. Panthers money line: Golden Knights -140, Panthers +118
Golden Knights vs. Panthers over/under: 5.5 goals
Golden Knights vs. Panthers puck line: Golden Knights -1.5 (+185)
VGK: The Golden Knights have scored 11 goals in their last two games
FLA: The Panthers are 8-1 when scoring first this postseason after their Game 1 loss
Golden Knights vs. Panthers picks: See picks at SportsLine
Featured Game

Why the Golden Knights can win
Trailing in a game has not bothered Vegas very much this postseason. The Golden Knights are 8-3 when giving up the first goal and have posted nine comeback victories, one shy of the playoff record set in 2009 by Pittsburgh and matched by Colorado last postseason. Jonathan Marchessault is riding a six-game point streak after scoring his 10th goal of the playoffs in Game 1.

The 32-year-old right wing, who is one of six players remaining from the Vegas team that reached the Final in 2018, has netted eight tallies in as many contests and amassed 16 points over his last 11 games. Ivan Barbashev also has been hot of late, registering 10 points in his past nine outings. Captain Mark Stone continues to be an offensive force at home in the playoffs as he has recorded 14 of his 16 points at T-Mobile Arena after scoring a huge goal on Saturday. See which team to pick here.

Why the Panthers can win
Matthew Tkachuk has set a franchise playoff record with 21 points, which ranks him second in the NHL. The 25-year-old left wing, who was kept off the scoresheet in Game 1 for just the fourth time in 17 contests this postseason, scored four of his nine goals during Florida’s sweep of Carolina in the Eastern Conference Final — three of which were game-winners. Tkachuk has not disappointed since being acquired from Calgary last July as his 130 combined points (regular season and playoffs) are the fourth-most by a player in his first season with a franchise.

Carter Verhaeghe also has come up big for the Panthers, with three of his six playoff tallies being game-winners after only two of his career-high 42 during the regular season decided contests. After scoring only two goals in 20 regular-season games, Anthony Duclair has recorded four in 16 playoff outings and enters Monday having tallied in back-to-back contests. Brandon Montour has gone nine games without a point but leads all NHL defensemen with six goals this postseason. See which team to pick here.

How to make Golden Knights vs. Panthers picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the goal total, as the simulations have the teams combining for 6.2 goals. It also says one side of the money line has all the value. You can only get the model’s pick at SportsLine.

Golden Knights are dominating the Stanley Cup Final, plus another NFL gambling scandal

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

In Game 1, the Golden Knights fell behind, went ahead, gave up their lead and then finally took over. In Game 2, they went straight to taking over.

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Vegas scored twice in the first period and twice more in the second, leading the Panthers to pull goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in an eventual 7-2 thrashing that puts Vegas up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final.

Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring on a power play, and Alec Martinez doubled the lead later in the first.
Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden made it 4-0 early in the second before Florida pulled Bobrovsky. He allowed four goals on 13 shots faced. Alex Lyon took over and ended up allowing third-period goals to Marchessault, Michael Amadio and Howden.
Lyon allowed three goals on just 15 shots faced, so head coach Paul Maurice can’t be feeling too confident in either option.
Florida did score a pair of third-period goals via Anton Lundell and Matthew Tkachuk to at least take something positive home, I suppose.

The Golden Knights have had nine different scorers already this series, the most ever through two games of a Stanley Cup Final. Their offensive firepower and depth is simply overwhelming the Panthers, writes our Austin Nivison.

Nivison: “The Golden Knights’ depth has given them an advantage throughout the playoffs, and that has been the case through the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final. All four lines have been effective at generating offense against the Panthers.
Vegas has dressed 18 skaters so far in the series, and 15 of them have recorded a point… This comes after every single player recorded a point against the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final.”
Honorable mentions
One day after winning the Memorial, Viktor Hovland caddied for a former college teammate at a U.S. Open qualifier.
Five-star 2024 linebacker prospect Sammy Brown committed to Clemson.
And not such a good morning for…

The NFL is investigating Colts cornerback/returner Isaiah Rodgers for possible violations of the league’s gambling policy, the latest episode in an offseason that’s been full of betting-related issues.

Rodgers, 25, reportedly placed “hundreds of wagers,” including on the Colts, through an acquaintance’s account. NFL rules prevent players from gambling on the NFL ever, as well as on any sport at team facilities or while traveling with the team.

Rodgers posted an apology to Twitter, saying he will “work hard to make sure that those mistakes are rectified through this process.”
In April, the NFL suspended five players — four from the Lions and one from the Commanders — for gambling violations. In May, the NFL reportedly began investigating a second wave of violations.
Those investigations and suspensions came after Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season for gambling on the NFL. He was reinstated in March.
Rodgers, 25, has played three seasons in Indianapolis after the Colts picked him in the sixth round in 2020. After primarily being used as a kick returner as a rookie, he became a significant part of the defense with three interceptions in 2021 and nine starts in 2022.

Not so honorable mentions
Alek Manoah got pulled in the first inning against the Astros as his tough season continues.
Mike Soroka’s initial return to MLB from an Achilles injury didn’t last long.
It might be tough for HBO to find a team for “Hard Knocks.”
Kyrie Irving trying to recruit LeBron James to Dallas 🏀
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Kyrie Irving wants to team up with LeBron James, but maybe not in the way you expected: Irving reportedly wants James to come to Dallas, reaching out personally to James to gauge his interest

Irving is an unrestricted free agent this summer (though owner Mark Cuban has stated his desire to build around Irving and Luka Doncic) while James remains under contract with the Lakers. James can opt out of his contract after next season, though he has expressed a desire to play with his son Bronny — who will be playing college ball at USC.

The big problem? Going for James is nearly impossible without including Doncic. As our Brad Botkin pointed out, the chances of anything happening here are slim — even if Dallas tries to build a trade package around their No. 10 pick.

Mandatory minicamp storylines: Quarterback questions, rookie impressions 🏈
We’re three months and one day away from the NFL regular season, and things are beginning to pick up, even if just a bit. Nine teams begin mandatory minicamp today, and there are storylines abound, especially at the game’s most important position: quarterback.

No one has more questions (or potential solutions) than the 49ers, who feature two former first-rounders, but have Mr. Irrelevant leading the race for now. Let our Tyler Sullivan explain:

Sullivan: “Brock Purdy is in line to be the team’s starter in 2023, but the quarterback is recovering from right elbow surgery and has only recently resumed throwing. With that in mind, Purdy likely won’t see the lion’s share of work at minicamp, thrusting either Trey Lance or Sam Darnold into the primary role, which has been the case throughout OTAs. If Lance can flash the talent that made him the No. 3 overall pick just a few years ago, it’ll be interesting how that could set the stage for training camp, especially if Purdy is still not 100%.”
Elsewhere, former 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with his own injury issues in Las Vegas, and the Commanders are turning to Sam Howell.

As for two of the most pleasant surprises of 2022, the Seahawks and Lions are hoping to take the next step with loaded rookie classes. Time for first-rounders Devon Witherspoon and Jaxon Smith-Njigba in Seattle and Jahmyr Gibbs and Jack Campbell in Detroit to show what they can do.

Oklahoma softball reaches WCWS finals as winning streak hits 51 games 🥎
Syndication: The Oklahoman
Oklahoma softball has won six national championships (including the last two), produced legend after legend and recorded some of the greatest seasons in college softball history. This team might just be the best ever — not just in program history, but the sport’s as a whole.

The No. 1 Sooners beat Stanford, 4-2, to run their winning streak to a D-I record 51 games and advance to the Women’s College World Series finals.

Our Chris Bengel took a look at some of the most notable winning streaks in D-I history, and while this isn’t quite 111 straight from UConn women’s basketball or 88 straight from UCLA men’s basketball, it’s still plenty impressive.

This streak is longer than the longest winning streak in D-I football, also by Oklahoma (47 from 1953-57), and well past the longest winning streak in D-I baseball (34 by Texas in 1977 and FAU in 1999).
At 59-1 this season, Oklahoma is on pace to have the best record in D-I softball history.
Their lone loss this season was back on Feb. 19 to Baylor .
Oklahoma will face No. 3 Florida State in the finals.

WNBA Power Rankings: Aces still top, but a new No. 2 🏀
We knew the Aces were going to be a powerhouse this season, and at 6-0, they absolutely are. It’s the best start to a season since the Lynx began 9-0 in 2017, and Las Vegas is nearly halfway to the longest winning streak to start a season ever (the 2016 Lynx started 13-0).

Long story short, the Aces are still comfortably No. 1 in Jack Maloney’s WNBA Power Rankings.

But it’s the No. 2 team we have our eye on at the moment. The 6-1 Sun jumped the Liberty for second in Jack’s rankings, and they have their star forward to thank:

Maloney: “The Sun may not always play the prettiest or most entertaining basketball, but they just keep on racking up wins. They added two of them this week to improve to 6-1, which is second only to the undefeated Aces. Alyssa Thomas, who set a franchise record with 16 assists in their win over the Lynx, continues to do it all. She’s on pace to join Candace Parker as the only players in WNBA history to average at least 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists per game for a season.”
Here’s Jack’s top five:

  1. Aces (prev: 1)
  2. Sun (prev: 3)
  3. Liberty (prev: 2)
  4. Sky (prev: 5)
  5. Mystics (prev: 4)
    Here are the full rankings.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺
⚾ Mets at Braves, 7:20 p.m. on TBS
🏀 Fever at Sky, 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏀 Sparks at Storm, 10 p.m. on CBS Sports Network

Gary Bettman says the NHL is still committed to keeping Arizona Coyotes in Phoenix area despite hurdles

In May, a $2.1 billion Tempe proposal, which included a 16,000-seat arena for the Arizona Coyotes, hotels, a shopping district, restaurants, and real estate, was rejected by the city’s voters. Still, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated that the league is still committed to keeping the Coyotes in the Phoenix area and is continuing to look for alternative spots to build a new arena.

“It’s a good market, and if we can make it work, we’ll make it work,” Bettman said during a Stanley Cup Final media availability in Las Vegas.

“The Arizona Coyotes are going to explore what their other options are in the greater Phoenix area and we’re going to monitor that closely,” Bettman added. “Our hope is that one of the options that is being explored and considered will come to fruition.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also revealed that there have been conversations with Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith regarding having a potential NHL franchise in Salt Lake City.

Last month, Bettman said that he was “terribly disappointed by the results of the public referenda regarding the Coyotes’ arena project in Tempe” in a statement.

The Coyotes were attempting to move to Tempe after the franchise lost its home in Glendale — the Desert Diamond Arena — at the conclusion of the 2021-22 NHL season. The team had called that arena home for 18 years. The franchise then relocated to the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena on the campus of Arizona State University, as they have shared the arena with the school’s men’s hockey team.

The Coyotes are scheduled to call Mullett Arena home for the next two seasons with an option for a fourth year. The 2022-23 season marked the first for the Coyotes at Mullett Arena.

The franchise originally began playing in Phoenix after relocating from Winnipeg in 1996.

Flyers trade Ivan Provorov to Blue Jackets as part of three-team deal

The Philadelphia Flyers are embarking on their first offseason under new general manager Danny Briere and aren’t wasting any time getting to work. As part of a three-team deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, the Flyers are trading defenseman Ivan Provorov to the Blue Jackets, the teams announced on Tuesday.

In return, the Flyers are receiving goaltender Cal Peterson, defenseman Sean Walker, defenseman Helge Grans, a 2023 first-round pick (No. 22 overall), and a 2023 second-round pick from the Kings. The Blue Jackets are also sending a conditional second-round draft choice in either 2024 or 2025 to the Flyers as part of the deal.

Flyers minor league defenseman Kevin Connauton will also be headed to the Blue Jackets, while the Kings will receive winger Hayden Hodgson from the Flyers as part of the trade. In addition, the Kings will retain 30 percent of Provorov’s contract.

Provorov has tallied 65 goals and 152 assists during his seven professional seasons since the Flyers selected him with the No. 7 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. The Russian defenseman is coming off a season in which he scored six goals and dished out 21 assists in a full 82-game slate.

Provorov still has two seasons remaining on his six-year, $40.5 million contract that he signed back in 2019. He has an annual cap hit of $6.75 million.

The veteran defenseman made headlines in January when he refused to wear Philadelphia’s Pride uniforms during warmups and stayed in the locker room. Provorov cited his religious beliefs as his reasoning for not wearing the Pride jerseys.

“I respect everybody’s choices,” Provorov said following the game. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Petersen looked like he was going to see significant action in the Kings’ crease this past season alongside Jonathan Quick, but ended up being sent down to the AHL in November after struggling to start off the year. The 28-year old has a 44-42-10 record, a 2.92 goals-against-average, and a .905 save percentage in 101 career games, and has spent all five of his NHL seasons in Los Angeles.

Walker, 28, is a veteran defenseman that has recorded 67 career points (16 goals, 51 assists) in five seasons with the Kings. Meanwhile, Grans is a defenseman that was selected with the No. 35 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft by the Kings and spent the 2022-23 season with the AHL’s Ontario Reign.

Panthers vs. Golden Knights odds, NHL picks, Game 3 predictions from hockey model

The Vegas Golden Knights hope to move within one victory of the first championship in franchise history when they visit the Florida Panthers for Game 3 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final on Thursday. Vegas, which reached the Final in its inaugural 2017-18 season but lost to Washington in five games, dominated the first two contests of this series at home as it outscored Florida 12-4 en route to a pair of wins. The Panthers still are seeking their first Stanley Cup Final victory as they fell to 0-6 all-time with Monday’s 7-2 defeat.

Opening faceoff at FLA Live Arena is set for 8 p.m. ET. Florida is the -125 favorite in the latest Panthers vs. Golden Knights odds from Caesars Sportsbook, while the over/under for total goals scored is 6. Before making any Golden Knights vs. Panthers picks, be sure to check out the NHL predictions and betting advice from the SportsLine Projection Model.

This model simulates every NHL game 10,000 times, taking into account factors like current form, individual matchups, injuries and short- and long-term trends when making NHL picks. The model seeks the best values on the money line, puck line and total.

Now, the model has its sights on Panthers vs. Golden Knights and just locked in its picks and Stanley Cup Final predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Here are the NHL odds from Caesars Sportsbook and trends for Golden Knights vs. Panthers:

Panthers vs. Golden Knights money line: Florida -125, Vegas +105
Panthers vs. Golden Knights over/under: 6 goals
Panthers vs. Golden Knights puck line: Florida -1.5 (+196)
FLA: The Panthers are 0-6 all-time in the Stanley Cup Final
VGK: The Golden Knights have scored 18 goals in their last two games
Panthers vs. Golden Knights picks: See picks at SportsLine
Featured Game
Florida Panthers vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Why the Panthers can win
Despite his lack of discipline in the first two games, Matthew Tkachuk still is one of the top offensive performers in the league this postseason. The 25-year-old left wing is tied for second with 22 points, shares first place with four game-winning goals and has been kept off the scoresheet in only four of his 18 outings. Tkachuk tallied late in Game 2 after failing to notch a point in the series opener, so he could be revving up for a strong finish to the playoffs.

The Panthers have been receiving solid production from Anthony Duclair during their run as the 27-year-old left wing has registered 11 points in 17 playoff games after notching nine in 20 regular-season contests. Duclair is in the midst of his second three-game point streak this postseason, having tallied in back-to-back contests before recording an assist on Monday. Anton Lundell also has been a bright spot for Florida in the Final as he set up a goal in the opener and scored one in Game 2 after going six games without a point. See which team to pick here.

Why the Golden Knights can win
Nine different players have recorded at least one goal for Vegas thus far in the Final, with Jonathan Marchessault scoring three to give him a franchise playoff-record 12 tallies — 10 of which have come in his last nine games. The 32-year-old winger, who is one of six players who appeared in the 2018 Final for Vegas, extended his point streak to seven contests with two goals and an assist in Game 2. Jack Eichel, who is tied for second in the playoffs with 22 points, has yet to tally in the series. But he notched a pair of assists in each of the first two games and has registered a point in 13 of 19 contests during his first NHL postseason after ending the regular season with a nine-game streak.

Vegas’ defense corps has been contributing offensively in the series, accounting for three goals after totaling the same amount over the first three rounds of the playoffs. Center Ivan Barbashev, who won the Stanley Cup with St. Louis in 2019, also has been chipping in at a strong rate. The 27-year-old Russian is tied for third on the team with 17 points and has landed on the scoresheet in four straight contests and eight of his last 10. See which team to pick here.

How to make Panthers vs. Golden Knights picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the goal total, as the simulations have the teams combining for 6.5 goals. It also says one side of the money line has all the value. You can only get the model’s Game 3 pick at SportsLine.

Panthers are right back in the Final, plus Oklahoma softball completes historic three-peat

This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

The Panthers have been counted out before: when they were outside the playoff picture, looking in. When they snuck into the postseason but drew the record-setting Bruins. When they went down to those Bruins, 3-1, in the first round. And again Thursday night, when they trailed the Golden Knights 2-1 late in Game 3, already down 2-0 in the series.

But, just like we’ve learned from South Florida’s NBA team, we should never count out this South Florida NHL group.

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Matthew Tkachuk scored a 6-on-5 equalizer late in regulation, and Carter Verhaeghe nabbed the game-winner in overtime as Florida rallied to go from brink of elimination to right back in the thick of things with a 3-2 win over Vegas.

Brandon Montour opened the scoring early for the hosts, but Mark Stone knotted things later in the first period on the power play.
Jonathan Marchessault put Vegas up with another power play goal in the second period. He’s just the third player ever to have a power-play goal in three straight Stanley Cup Final games.
It looked like that would be the winner until Tkachuk tucked home a rebound 17:47 into the third period. His 11 goals this postseason are a franchise record.
Florida finally, crucially, got a penalty kill to start overtime before Verhaeghe rifled one past Adin Hill to give the Panthers their first-ever Stanley Cup Final win. They had been 0-6.
Florida is 7-0 in overtime games this postseason, and its most clutch star deserve enormous credit for that, writes our Chris Bengel.

Bengel: “Tkachuk is entering some very elite company after scoring his fifth game-winning goal in the 2023 postseason. The Panthers star sits among several of the sport’s all-time legends with five game-winning goals in a single postseason, a list including Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, and Jari Kurri… With the way Tkachuk has been playing in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, moving up the list wouldn’t be out of the question.”
Florida will look to tie things up tomorrow.

Honorable mentions
The Braves rallied to beat the Mets again, with Ozzie Albies crushing a walk-off three-run home run.
The Broncos added Frank Clark.
Seahawks rookie Derick Hall signed an unprecedented contract.
Here’s the future of Big Ten football scheduling.
Ricardo Pepi is reportedly heading to PSV.
Not so honorable mentions
Diamondbacks-Nationals was postponed due to poor air quality.
Alex Verdugo got benched for not hustling.
Oklahoma softball wins national championship again 🥎
Getty Images
Another game, another win. Another year, another national championship. No. 1 Oklahoma softball defeated No. 3 Florida State, 3-1, to sweep the Seminoles in the Women’s College World Series finals. It’s the Sooners’ 53rd straight win (extending the all-time record) and third consecutive national championship.

Mack Leonard put the Seminoles up 1-0 with a solo home run in the fourth inning, but Cydney Sanders and Grace Lyons went back-to-back in the fifth to put Oklahoma up 2-1. Oklahoma made it 3-1 on a sixth-inning RBI single from Alynah Torres.
One day after a complete-game shutout, Jordy Bahl got the final nine outs of the game. In the Women’s College World Series overall, Bahl pitched 24 2/3 innings and gave up zero runs.
Oklahoma finishes the season 61-1, the best single-season record ever. The Sooners join UCLA (1988-90) as the only teams to three-peat.

Vikings will release Dalvin Cook: Where could he land? 🏈
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What’s long been expected is finally happening. According to reports, the Vikings are releasing longtime running back Dalvin Cook, who immediately becomes the top available player at the position.Cook, 28, posted his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl season in 2022 and is the only player with at least 1,100 rushing yards in each of the past four seasons.

However, Cook also posted the lowest yards per rush (4.4) of his career, and of the 22 players with at least 200 carries last year, Cook ranked 20th in success rate.
The biggest issue, though, is the money: Cook was going to count roughly $14.1 million against the salary cap in 2023, $15.6 million in 2024 and $14.5 million in 2025.
By releasing Cook, the Vikings will clear up $9 million in cap space in 2023 and take on $5.1 million in dead money.
As our Cody Benjamin writes, there are clear pros and cons to this move for Minnesota, but this was always the likely outcome.

So, where to next? Our Jordan Dajani has potential landing spots for Cook, and No. 1 is…

Dajani: “Dolphins: He’s a Florida native — born in Opa-locka and played his high school ball at Miami Central. … The Dolphins don’t necessarily have a need at running back… but that won’t stop head coach Mike McDaniel from exploring this opportunity. He found success with the San Francisco 49ers scheming for the run, and wants Miami to run the ball better than it did in 2022.”
A few other reasons Miami could be the next stop?

The Dolphins are reportedly one of the frontrunners.
Cook had 83 yards from scrimmage — including a game-clinching 53-yard touchdown run — against Miami in 2022.
Cook hinted at joining the Dolphins in an Instagram post.
You can follow the latest Cook rumors here.

Champions League final preview: Finally Manchester City’s time? ⚽
Getty Images
There hasn’t been a treble winner from England this millennium. Manchester City are one match from changing that. The Citizens — with the Premier League and the FA Cup already won — go for European glory when they face Inter in the UEFA Champions League final tomorrow in Istanbul.

Manchester City are massive favorites, and for good reason: there’s record-setting goal scorer Erling Haaland, a defense that has allowed just five goals in 12 Champions League matches and, of course, the brilliant Pep Guardiola managing it all — though he has some hiccups on his Champions League resume.

But don’t underestimate Inter, a team that’s been as impressive as any in this competition. Our Chuck Booth has keys to victory for both teams, and Inter might just have one key advantage:

Booth: “City are a team that can stop you no matter what you try to do, so the best way to slow them down is by matching up in midfield. Inter are a team that can do that due to their balanced midfield and organized defense. Being able to slot in Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic, and Hakan Calhanoglu, Simone Inzaghi has quite a crew of midfielders, and it’s one that will only get deeper if Henrikh Mkhitaryan is available for the match. … Each midfielder brings different skills to the table but they’re also not afraid to play defense and sacrifice attacking numbers for the sake of the team.”
Still, our experts are unanimously picking Manchester City. Our James Benge explains:

Benge: “City have the quality and surety to assert themselves from the off and for all Inter’s midfield qualities, it is impossible to see this being anything other than a game where Guardiola’s side dominate the ball. In those circumstances, an early goal could lead to quite an underwhelming final, City trusting a defense that is one of the best this competition has ever seen to grind their way to a convincing and controlled victory. Pick: Manchester City 2, Inter 0”
Here’s more:

How to watch
Manchester City’s path here
Inter’s path here
Expert picks for the Belmont Stakes 🏇
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The final of the three Triple Crown races is this weekend — air quality-willing — as Belmont Park hosts the 155th Belmont Stakes.

Here are the horses, jockeys, trainers and owners in the nine-horse race, with favorite Forte running out of the sixth post position. Over at SportsLine, we have picks from all of our experts, including…

Devils send Damon Severson to Blue Jackets in a rare sign-and-trade move

The New Jersey Devils are signing defenseman Damon Severson to an eight-year, $50 million contract extension, and shipping him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a sign-and-trade move, which is rare in the NHL. In return, the Blue Jackets will send a 2023 third-round pick (No. 80 overall) for Severson’s services.

Severson was slated to be one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market when free agency opens on July 1. The veteran defenseman is coming off of a season in which he tallied 33 points (seven goals, 26 assists) in 81 games for the Devils. Severson recorded a career-high 46 points (11 goals, 35 assists) during the 2021-22 season.

He was originally taken with the No. 60 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft by the Devils. The blue-liner has spent his entire nine-year career in New Jersey and has recorded 58 goals and 205 assists during that time. He had signed a six-year, $25 million deal with the franchise in Sept. 2017.

Sign-and-trades are rare in the NHL, but this move marks the second consecutive offseason in which there has been one. Last summer, the Calgary Flames signed star forward Matthew Tkachuk to a eight-year, $76 million contract extension prior to sending him to the Florida Panthers.

One of the more noteworthy sign-and-trades in NHL history involved Marian Hossa when he was with the Ottawa Senators. In 2005, Hossa signed a three-year, $18 million contact with the Senators before the team traded him to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for then All-Star forward Dany Heatley.

Biggest storylines to watch in promotion’s return to Boston

Although the card has taken some hits in recent weeks due to injury cancellations, the buzz entering Saturday’s UFC 292 pay-per-view card at TD Garden in Boston remains hot and heavy.

Rising star “Suga” Sean O’Malley gets his first shot at UFC gold when he challenges bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in the main event while Chinese sensation Zhang Weili begins her second reign as women’s strawweight champion in a title defense against Amanda Lemos in the co-feature.

Even though fight fans won’t get to see originally advertised names like Henry Cejudo, Rob Font, Song Yadong and Cody Garbrandt this weekend in Beantown, there remains no shortage of big storylines to look out for.

  1. Aljamain Sterling is quietly on the verge of bantamweight history
    From a disqualification victory to originally capture the belt in 2021 to a one-sided title defense against a one-armed TJ Dillashaw in which he never received credit, Sterling’s reign as 135-pound king has been much maligned. History, however, will likely be much kinder to exactly what Sterling is in the midst of trying to accomplish. Should Sterling defeat O’Malley on Saturday, he would pass two-time champion Dominick Cruz for the most title defenses (4) in UFC bantamweight history. He would also extend his winning streak to 10 fights dating back to a 2017 knockout loss to Marlon Moraes. And as Sterling enters what he has said will “99 percent” his final bout at the weight class, which should clear the way for rising teammate Merab Dvalishvilli to fight for the title, it might be time to take stock as to exactly what he has accomplished along the way. With 135-pound wins over former champions Renan Barao, Petr Yan (twice), Dillashaw and Cejudo, along with an 88-second submission of top contender Cory Sandhagen, Sterling has built a resume that is stronger than he ever gets credit for. Adding O’Malley to it should be the final straw in the “Funk Master” finally getting his flowers.
  2. Sean O’Malley looks to punch his ticket to crossover stardom
    Already one of the most unique personalities in UFC history, the 28-year-old O’Malley enters his shot at full critical respect to match the massive commercial acclaim he has been steadily building ever since his bold debut on the “Dana White Contender Series” in 2017. O’Malley, who has never shied away from the respect he holds for Conor McGregor as a breakthrough star, enters his first title shot in a similar position the Irish superstar was when he shockingly finished featherweight king Jose Aldo in their 2015 title bout. Even though O’Malley has recorded respectable wins on the come up and is fresh off a split-decision victory over a former champion in Yan, there remains no shortage of critics questioning just how good the dynamic striker truly is. Beating Sterling, whose biggest strength on the ground remains O’Malley’s biggest weakness, would likely change that conversation in a dramatic way. With his multi-colored hair, flashy tattoos and deep connection with the younger fanbase UFC covets in further developing, O’Malley appears ready to take his “Suga Show” to the global stage.
  3. It’s about time the women’s strawweight division got back to business
    For a division so historically deep with title-ready talent since its creation in 2014, the UFC’s 115-pound division has been strangely quiet at the elite level ever since Zhang regained her title by submitting Carla Esparza nine months ago. Yes, recent big wins from Tatiana Suarez and Yan Xianon (both over former champion Jessica Andrade) have prevented the overall conversation from growing stale. But quiet exits from former two-time champions like Rose Namajunas (who moved up to 125 pounds) and Esparza (who is expecting her first child in September) have reset the order atop the rankings. Zhang welcomes the 36-year-old Lemos on Saturday, a curious title challenger only in that she was finished by Andrade just last year. But to Lemos’ credit, the Brazilian quickly bounced back with two straight stoppage wins over Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez. Lemos is the decided underdog against the 3-1 favorite Zhang in a fight that has lacked buzz of any kind. Yet still, it’s nice just to see the title back up at stake as Zhang, 34, looks to continue her resurgence following a pair of title defeats to Namajunas in 2021.
  4. Will Irish eyes be smiling on red-hot welterweight Ian Garry?
    It’s no coincidence that O’Malley, with his Irish surname, is featured on Saturday’s card in the same city that McGregor once electrified the Boston crowd with a star-making knockout of Dennis Siver (before hurdling the Octagon and verbally accosting Aldo in the crowd). But another Irish fighter on the rise appears to have been strategically placed onto UFC 292 in hopes he can have his own breakthrough moment. Enter the 25-year-old Garry, who is not only 5-0 since making his UFC debut in 2021, the 12-0 striker has also sampled some of McGregor’s famous celebratory moves after recent big wins. Garry looks for his third straight finish in 2023 alone when he welcomes Neil Magny, a late replacement for the injured Geoff Neal. But fresh off a viral head kick of Daniel Rodriguez in May on ABC, Garry looks for his biggest win to date. He’s as brash as he is precise in his striking and a win over the always stingy Magny would be a validating moment in his meteoric rise.
  5. Chris Weidman’s courage knows no limits
    It has been two years and four months since Weidman’s right fibula and tibia devastatingly snapped in a 17-second loss to Uriah Hall. It’s the same exact injuries Anderson Silva gruesomely suffered on his left leg in his 2013 middleweight title rematch with Weidman. Most fighters would’ve called it a career after the injury, especially since Weidman, now 39, was already in the midst of his own career twilight after having lost six of his previous eight fights since 2015. Most fighters, however, don’t have the same resolve that has kept Weidman rehabbing and training to be able to go out on his own terms like this with a surgically repaired leg. The durable and sturdy Brad Tavares stands in his way as most fans will likely be watching with equal concern and admiration for the respected former champion as Weidman aims to prove to himself that he can still do this.

Mac McClung signing deal with Orlando Magic, per report

The Orlando Magic are loaded with young guards and are adding another to the mix. Mac McClung has agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the team, according to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The former Georgetown and Texas Tech standout is looking to stick with a team after logging just four NBA appearances through his first two pro seasons.

McClung only played one game for the Philadelphia 76ers last season but had plenty of success with the Delaware Blue Coats. The 2023 slam dunk champ notched 18.9 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.4 rebounds over 31 games for the 76ers’ G League affiliate. He shot 54.8 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from deep. It could be difficult for him to steal minutes from the lanky, athletic ballhandlers Orlando already has, though.

Markelle Fultz is fresh off a strong season in which he posted career highs in points (13.9) and assists (5.7) per game. Then there are Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs, who provided scoring support and much-needed defensive intensity off the bench last season. Anthony Black, the sixth overall pick from the 2023 NBA Draft, will join that trio of guards in 2023.

McClung has his work cut out for him if he wants to break into the rotation despite his success in the G League. He’s averaged 21.8 points per contest through 55 games split between the Windy City Bulls, South Bay Lakers, and Blue Coats.