Posts Tagged ‘Islanders’

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With the season in the books, NFL free agent rumors are all ready swirling in. Team _____ has interest in player _____ will be blowing up websites for weeks to come. With that being said, he are a few upcoming free agents, flying under the radar, that could prove huge dividends.

Andre Brown- Heres a player whose used to being on the free agent market. The 27-year-old running back has been on five teams since joining the league in 2009. Most notable, Brown had a fairly good year this season with New York Giants. After returning from a broken leg in week 10, the NC State product ran for 492 yards and 3 touchdowns. At 6’0 230 lbs, Brown can provide very good value as a change of pace back for teams in desperate need of a bruiser in the backfield. The Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Cleveland Browns should all have this big back on their radar.

Dexter McCluster- With high profile names like Eric Decker and Jeremy Maclin up for grabs, many wont even realize that the former Chief playmaker is on the market. Despite this, teams in need of a fast, dynamic, and explosive player like McCluster should covet his value. The 2013 Pro Bowler provides those qualities not only at wide receiver, but also in the backfield and the return game. In addition to Kansas City, the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers should all take a look at the playmaker.

Jared Allen- He finally made it out. After years of trade rumors, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is free to play where he pleases. Luckily, plenty of teams are in need of pass rushers.  Despite a subpar 2013 season, Allen has notably been an absolute monster on the defensive line. In the 2011 season, Allen recorded 22 sacks, recovered 4 fumbles, and had an overall 46 tackles. Look for the Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, and New England Patriots will definitely be taking a look.

These are just some of the tons of sleeper free agents on the market. Who do you guys think is being undervalued? Let us know in the comments!

The NHL is issuing a roster freeze for the Olympic break, starting on Friday. Many people are considering this to be a quasi-trade deadline, and GM’s are looking to make moves to help their team toward the playoffs, or rebuilding mode. Let’s take a look at the top trade targets, and see if they are going to be moved or not.

Marian Gaborik, Columbus: Gaborik has serious talent, scoring at least 60 points 6 times over his career with Minnesota, New York, and Columbus. He has an expiring contract, and we aren’t quite sure if he’s gonna stick around in Columbus. The news on him has been more from the injury front, as he’s recovering from a broken collarbone. But when he is healthy, he’s an asset that many teams can look to for offense. I would expect teams like Montreal, New Jersey, Minnesota, or Los Angeles to consider a deal for him.

Thomas Vanek, N.Y. Islanders: He already has been traded this season, but recent news suggest that there may be another deal in Vanek’s future. He was offered a long term deal from the Isles’ front office, and turned it down in favor of his impending free agency. He’s in all likelihood the top offensive target on the trade market. However, considering that teams know he would be testing free agency, it may be a deterrent to trade for him, when they can simply offer him a contract this summer. The Isles would want to trade him, but finding a partner may be a challenge. Minnesota is a top destination for him, according to rumors.

Matt Moulson, Buffalo: The other portion of the Vanek trade, Moulson, is in a very similar position as Vanek. They are the same age, and set to be an unrestricted free agent come July. He is very good offensively, and is responsible in the defensive side as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides to stay with Buffalo, and give them some veteran presence up front among all the up-and-coming youngsters. But it would be less of a shock if he decides to test free agency, and sign elsewhere. The Sabres would be well off to trade Moulson to a contender, and continue to build to the future.

Ryan Miller, Buffalo: Miller is the glue to the Sabres’ roster, as of now, due to him stopping more pucks than counterpart Jhonas Enroth, and providing the Sabres’ offense a chance to score enough to win. However, the landscape in the front office in Buffalo has been in flux since the beginning of the year, and Miller said recently that he doesn’t know what’s going to happen. He has a no-trade clause, meaning he can pick and choose 8 teams to not be traded to. No word on who those 8 are. But Miller will be a highly sought after asset, and teams in need of goaltending will inquire about him, such as Toronto, Philadelphia, Washington, or Winnipeg.

Steve Ott, Buffalo: Yet another Sabre on the list, because he’s a valuable commodity and expiring contract. Ott brings a grinder presence and much needed leadership to any team, and isn’t very expensive. Teams in need of playoff-ready forwards should be hunting after this guy, much like San Jose or Washington. However, he has a steady position with the Sabres, and they would likely want to keep him around. Don’t be shocked if he stays put this season.

Michael Cammalleri, Calgary: One of the few bright spots on the Flames’ offense, Cammalleri is having a tough season, with only 21 points in 39 games. But he has the speed and offensive talent to be able to get things done on offense. His contract expires this off-season, and the Flames are attempting to extend the 31 year old, and keep him around. In all likelihood, if he doesn’t agree to terms by the trade deadline, he would likely be traded to a team who needs offense. The New Jersey Devils have been rumored to have serious interest in Cammalleri, in lieu of an offensive struggle.

Ales Hemsky, Edmonton: He’s been on and off the trade market for quite a while now, but the Oilers have kept him around with shorter deals. Now, the 30 year old is mentioning that he wouldn’t be shocked if he was traded before the deadline. We have heard that before from Hemsky’s camp, but he’s still in Edmonton. But considering the wave of offensive talent that the Oil possess, and having a defensive sieve behind them, it wouldn’t shock anyone if the Oilers dealt Hemsky for a good defensive defenseman. There aren’t any rumors swirling yet, but look for teams to think about trading defense for Hemsky come deadline time.

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey: His presence on this list is near blasphemous, but it’s there because Marty’s talked about it. Marty recently has been relegated to second banana guarding the Devils’ goal behind Cory Schneider, and obviously isn’t terribly happy about playing less. He has mentioned that he would consider a trade to a place where he’d play more, but in all seriousness, he won’t be traded anywhere. He’ll be 42 during the playoffs, and has started to show his age, with his save percentage dipping under .900 for the first time, well, ever. But I doubt he’ll get traded anywhere.

Jaromir Jagr, New Jersey: He’s slightly older than Brodeur, but significantly more useful. He’s the leading scorer for the Devils, and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. His veteran presence has been invaluable to the Devils, who are grooming younger players for the long run, and would be good for any contender as well. However, the Devils are still very much in the hunt, despite being further out than most teams, and Lou isn’t one to be a seller come deadline time. Expect Jagr to remain with New Jersey at least until after this season.

Ryan Callahan, N.Y. Rangers: We’ve taken a look at Callahan’s situation earlier on the site, and not much has changed since then. It still seems unlikely that the Rangers would give Callahan the massive extension he wants. GM Glen Sather has mentioned that they would likely have a decision on him before the roster freeze for the Olympics. We shouldn’t be surprised if he gets dealt, or if he doesn’t. The team most likely to move on him is Buffalo, his hometown team, or Columbus, who has been rumored to have talked to the Rangers about Callahan.

We looked earlier at what complaints there are to the Stadium Series. However, there are many benefits to these games as well.

First, and most obvious, is money. The NHL is taking big matchups out of their 20,000 seat arenas and placing them in 50,000 seat stadiums. That adds tons of tickets, at higher prices, to the sales for each of the home teams, in this case the Kings, Devils, Islanders and Blackhawks. Along with the ticket sales, each team has more merchandise, such as jerseys, t-shirts, hats, etc. to sell to the fans at the events, and at sports stores all over the country. TV and advertising to the public can be found everywhere, and it brings in sponsorship money that no other sport can do, due to the lack of innovation possible for baseball, basketball, and football, at least in the way outdoor hockey is. The lockout prevented revenue from coming in, so therefore more money this year will help their cause and bottom line.

Besides the obvious financial gain, this opens up opportunity for teams who wouldn’t have hosted a Winter Classic. The Kings and Ducks don’t play in a wintry type of area, and would never land the game. This gives them a chance to host such an event, as well as opens up for other teams in warmer climates to be able to host this event. Also, smaller-market teams like the Islanders and Devils are able to participate in these games, giving them a chance to enter the spotlight, which they don’t normally have. Sure they will have bigger market teams featured as well, but having a bigger market teamed up with a smaller fan base can create some kind of animosity or rivalry, which adds more to the love of the team, and brings the fans in to the arena to see that team play.

The fans are big winners here too, because it gives them more opportunity to see their team, and opens up lots of seats for newcomers to the game, to be able to enjoy hockey’s finest events. Fans of those teams who don’t often get awarded the Winter Classic get a chance to see their teams outdoors for a change. They can all come home from this massive party and say that they’ve been to an outdoor game.

The watering down of the special event is an issue, but there are benefits as to why the NHL decided to bring this in. As much as it may be too much of a good thing, and it was reflected in the fans’ reluctance to sell out the L.A. game and the later N.Y. game, it still brings in tons of new opportunity to a growing league.  

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Coming up this week, we have 3 outdoor games from the NHL. That’s 3 times as much as we’ve seen in any given month in NHL history.

This past off-season, the NHL introduced this idea, of a set of 4 outdoor games, and gave the reason of wanting to spread the love and get more teams playing outdoors. They must have missed the boat a little bit, because 3 of the 7 teams participating have already played outdoors in a Winter Classic. Also, by the time we get to the Wednesday night game in New York, the “special” aspect of the outdoor game will be lost on most hockey fans, especially Rangers fans, who will have seen their boys in 2 outdoor games in a week.

First, we have Los Angeles’ branch of the Series, where Dodger Stadium will host the Kings and Anaheim [Mighty] Ducks. On the field of the Stadium, aside from the NHL rink, there is street hockey, a stage for KISS, and a beach. A beach? Next to ice hockey? Yeah. A beach. This games’ special aspect, is that they are playing outdoors in a warm climate. Game time temperature is said to be in the 60’s or 70’s Fahrenheit. I think it’s neat, but it’s not original. The Kings and Rangers played a preseason game at Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas before, and it was rather hot that night. It will be neat having people show up in shorts to watch an outdoor game, but we know that the technology is there and will work, so this ends up being gimmicky.

Next, we go to Yankee Stadium in Bronx, NY, for 2 games between the 3 New York teams (one’s New Jersey, but everyone outside the tri-state area calls them together). This series is, I think, just to say they played hockey at the legendary Yankee Stadium. The fact that they have 2 games there is just to get all 3 teams in the area involved. The Devils/Rangers match will have more of a Winter Classic-y feel to it, being an afternoon game in the biting cold, but the Islanders/Rangers match will be less “special” because the Rangers had gone through this experience 3 days earlier, and it’s the second game at the Stadium. Not to downplay the rivalries being present, the Devils’ game will probably be more exciting for the fans, due to it being the first game there, and that rivalry has been more present recently. If the series stopped with just that game, it’d be more fine. Now it just leaves it incomplete, with the Devils and Islanders only getting one game, as opposed to the Rangers, who get 2. I know the Rangers are the big team in the area, and they got there first, in the Original 6, but we should at least even things out and make it less obvious that the NHL has a love affair with Henrik Lundqvist.

Finally, we stop at Soldier Field in Chicago, home of a certain football team known as da Bears. The Chicago Blackhawks will host the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 2nd in the most unnecessary outdoor game ever. Spreading the love would include two teams that have NOT played outside before. These are two teams that have, multiple times in the Penguins’ case. Chicago has hosted before. Sure, they are changing venues. But NBC seems to have every Penguins or Blackhawks game on, when not showing the Flyers or Rangers, at least. There is no novelty here, even if they change venues to Soldier Field. Nothing new, as of now, to make it worth the NHL’s while to try and make this “special”. Fans of any team outside the Blackhawks and Penguins would probably be upset that their team isn’t getting a fair shot. This is just the most obvious case of trying to dig more into two big fan bases for more money.

The Winter Classic, and to some extent the Heritage Classic, are fantastic for the league, and should be continued. That once per season for each the US and Canada puts on a good show for the sport, just look at this year’s Winter Classic. But the Stadium Series is just full of gimmicks that aren’t quite so novel, and waters down the product of outdoor hockey. I hope we never see something like this again, or else it might spell the end for desire of outdoor hockey, and then no one wins.

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Per tradition, the New York Knicks are set to have their Martin Luther King day matinee against their cross-town rival, the Brooklyn Nets. With the renewal of their rivalry hours away, lets take a look at some of the greatest moments in the long-lived rivalry.

Kidds Four Point Play- After spending years in New Jersey, Jason Kidd spent his final year as a player wearing Orange and Blue for the New York Knicks. In his first game at the Barclays Center, Kidd had a time machine game, putting up 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. Of those points, none were bigger than his three with 24 seconds left to give the Knicks the lead. He was fouled during the shot, sending him to the line where he failed to complete the four-point play. The Knicks took the win 100-97 in one of Kidd’s last great games.

The Tim Thomas Tirade- In game two of the 2004 playoffs, with tensions already high, Nets Center Jason Collins committed a flagrant foul against Knicks Forward Tim Thomas. Thomas was injured on the play and would not return to the game. In his postgame interview, Thomas would proceed to rip everyone from Collins to his own teammates. His most memorable comments came against Nets Forward Kenyon Martin, where he proceeded to call Martin “Fugazi”. Martin and the Nets responded by beating down the Knicks at MSG to sweep the series.

The Blueprint 2010- With the day rapidly approaching, Mikhail Prokhorov,  Jay-Z, and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets front office decided to make a statement about their impending move. They did so by placing a 22-foot billboard outside of Madison Square Garden with the Tagline “Blueprint For Greatness”. Tensions would continue to rise between the two owners until commissioner David Stern finally stepped in and squashed the situation. Despite being forced to take the Billboard down, the point was definitely made.

The Birth Of Linsanity- Febuary 4th 2012 will forever go down in sports history as the birth of Linsanity. With Iman Shumpert & Baron Davis out, Lin was finally given a chance to play by coach Mike D’Antoni. Against the New Jersey Nets, Lin went off, scoring 25 points, while adding 5 rebounds and 7 assists. From there the rest is history. Lin would go on to average 15 points, and 6 assists for the rest of the year, before going to the Houston Rockets in free agency.

At Long Last- The building was shaking. In front of a sellout crowd, the Nets and Knicks played their first game at the Barclays Center and they did not disappoint. Despite being delayed by Hurricane Sandy, the game felt like it was opening night. In an overtime thriller, Brooklyn prevailed with a 96-89 final score. With both teams putting up a good fight, this signified the beginning of the fight for New York.

There are plenty more classic moments that have taken place over this 40-year rivalry. Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

We’ve had some time to digest the Buffalo Sabres’ new alternate uniforms, or as we affectionately refer to it as the “Turd Burger” jersey. Originally, when revealed by Steve Ott over Twitter, we got our first impression of it. The knee-jerk reaction to it was overally poor. But is it the ugliest in the league? Let’s dive in.

Tampa Bay Lightning Alternate

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First, we see something that has been done by one other team in the NHL, and that other team trashed their third for a much better one. The main logo is absent from the front of the uniform, rather it has the team’s nickname, Bolts, across the chest (for those curious, the “Sens” were the other). Pile on top of that the black pits, the Tampa Bay on the butt, and black almost everywhere else where it’s unnecessary, as it takes away from the nice blue of the uniform, and you have a stinker. Sportslogos.net have it rated at 5.4/10.

Calgary Flames Home

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This is the worst primary jersey in the league. The only redeeming quality is that classic flaming C on the chest. The fact that it’s a black C is what makes it worse than the road jersey, which it’s in it’s classic red. Beyond the logo, those black armpits follow here, along with unique, and very ugly vertical striping on the sides. The numbers on the back are black on red, which is an ugly combination, and should not be repeated. Sportslogos.net gives it a 4.9/10.

New York Islanders Alternate

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I’ve seen this one live, and trust me, it’s not any better. Let’s start with this; the feature colors on this uniform are black and silver. NEITHER of those are featured anywhere else in Islanders HISTORY. Ever. Why they used those are beyond me, because it mutes a classic blue/orange combo that’s worked so well for so many years on the Island. Next, we look front and center, at what’s not a crest, but a college-style arched name over number, which should stick to college, if you ask me, as well as Dallas Stars upper management. The diamond pattern that the pants and jerseys create are neat, but don’t work when they aren’t together. Sportslogos.net rates this at 3.2/10.

Buffalo Sabres Alternate

turd burger

 

At least they used their own colors here. This design is unique to NHL history, with one side of the uniform a different color than the other, making it a little confusing when on TV. But here, it’s not quite done so well. The yellow kind of impedes on the back, making it look like a cape more than a transformation. The arm patch for captains and alternates is a hoot though. As is the font. I do not like the silver-tipped arms. Or the silver numbers. Or the white stripes everywhere. Or the “BUFFALO” over the main logo. That all being said, Sportslogos.net gives this a 3.0/10, worse than the Isles’ tragedy.

In conclusion, though, the Sabres’ Turd Burger has more redeeming qualities than that of the Isles’ third. We can ignore the first two entries on our list, because this is really a two horse race (yeah, it’s just there for the sake of adding content, or to show how wretchedly ugly these two are). The two-color thing is a very neat idea, and something that could eventually look good, after years of working on it in the lab, because this one is not very well done. However, the Sabres used their own colors, unlike the Islanders. The Isles’ gimmick with the arched name also ran out of style in the NHL once the Stars introduced it at the turn of Reebok in 2007. For those reasons, the loser of worst uniform goes to the Islanders’ disaster.

Now, if Ugly Bob received this jersey in the mail, and wore it, the world would explode. Why? Because he’s so goddamn ugly.

Do you agree? Comment with a response, this discussion can get fun.

Last week, we reviewed the top 10 free agent signings and how they are doing halfway through their first season with their new teams. This week, we’ll take a look at the 10 biggest trades, and see who won each deal.

Los Angeles Kings trade G Jonathan Bernier to Toronto Maple Leafs for G Ben Scrivens, F Matt Frattin, and 2014/15 2nd round pick: The first big trade of the offseason led to a big goalie swap between the Kings and Leafs. The Leafs got Bernier, who came in and took over the starting job from James Reimer, and has performed well at times, with a 15-14-4 record, and a GAA of 2.58. He also looked spectacular in the Winter Classic. Meanwhile, Scrivens has far fewer games played this year, thanks to Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones, and has a 7-5-4 record, but a GAA of just 1.97. His numbers are slightly better on average, but hasn’t played much because he’s not the number 1 guy like Bernier. Frattin hasn’t added much to this deal, not playing particularly well in Los Angeles, and the Kings do get a pick out of this. But overall, the trade got Bernier a starting job, and the Kings could have gotten more out of Bernier. Winner: Toronto

Vancouver Canucks trade G Cory Schneider to New Jersey Devils for 2013 1st round pick (Bo Horvat): This trade turned boos for Commish Gary Bettman at the Prudential Center on draft day into cheers. It also shocked everyone in the hockey world, especially Schneider and the Devils. Schneider immediately became the heir-apparent to living legend Martin Brodeur, who may retire this offseason (or never). Schneider and Brodeur have split the load so far, and Schneider has a 7-9-6 record, and 1.96 GAA. He’s been impressive for the Devils, and a bright spot for the future, should he sign an extension with the team. Bo Horvat was picked with the 9th overall pick by Vancouver, and still is in the CHL, but has a bright future ahead of him. We can’t tell now how he’ll be, but Hockey’s Future rates him as a 7.5 prospect (take it how you like). But Vancouver could have gotten way more out of Schneider. Winner: New Jersey.

New York Islanders trade F Nino Niederreiter to Minnesota Wild for F Cal Clutterbuck and 2013 3rd round pick (Eamon McAdam): Nino never quite fit in the Islanders’ system, always wondering when he’d get his chance with the big club. He never did. With Minnesota, he’s stepped up his game and performed well, with 9 goals and 16 assists, and a decent +/- of +9. He’s been part of the lead pack with the team, who is suffering from injuries to Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu up front. Clutterbuck, however, hasn’t quite found his groove, seemingly. in 42 games, he just has 8 points, and a +/- of -7, and even though those stats are just under par for his career, he needs to show he has more value. Winner: Minnesota

Buffalo Sabres trade D Andrej Sekera to Carolina Hurricanes for D Jamie McBain and 2013 2nd round pick (J.T. Compher): The Hurricanes weren’t very deep in defensemen, and still aren’t. But they felt the need to upgrade, and did. Sekera is having a good season so far, with 7 goals and 17 assists from the blue line, which is tops for Canes’ d-men. He’s proven valuable, while McBain has been struggling a bit. Though he is with Buffalo, his numbers are far worse, with just 3 goals and 6 assists. J.T. Compher remains in college, but the Sabres hope for big things down the road. Winner: Carolina

Boston Bruins trade F Tyler Seguin, F Rich Peverly, and D Ryan Button to Dallas Stars for F Loui Eriksson, D Joseph Morrow, F Reilly Smith, and F Matt Fraser: The Stars got the top guy in this deal by far, a 21 year old point per game player in Seguin. He’s leading the way alongside Jamie Benn, with 42 points in 44 games, and has been playing unreal since the trade. Peverly has been serviceable, just 21 points in 45 games, but has been doing what the team needs to succeed. Will the B’s regret this trade? Doubtful. Though Eriksson has had trouble staying on the ice, just 26 games, he’s been decent in those games played, with a +/- of +9, and 15 points. Reilly Smith has been a pleasant surprise, at 22 years old, and with 33 points so far in his first full season, he’s a bright spot for the Bruins’ future. The other pieces in the trade are just barely getting NHL action, but immediately, this trade benefits both sides. Winner: Dallas

Edmonton Oilers trade F Shawn Horcoff to Dallas for D Philip Larsen and a 2016 7th round pick: This is a pretty minor deal, but the significance is that the Oilers traded one of their longtime guys for another young, unproven defenseman. Horcoff has been okay for the Stars, just 13 points in 45 games. But he’s 35 and obviously won’t put up numbers like he used to. Edmonton got Larsen, who hasn’t shown he’s got the goods yet, but still has upside at age 24. Winner: Edmonton, I guess

Anaheim Ducks trade F Bobby Ryan to Ottawa Senators for F Jakob Silfverberg, F Stefan Noesen and a 2014 1st round pick: People had a feeling Bobby Ryan would be unloaded from the Ducks, for cap reasons, and it happened this summer. Ryan this year for Ottawa, has 37 points in 47 games, and is second on the team in that stat. He’s the top go-to guy for  the Sens on offense, alongside Kyle Turris. But the cost for him was huge. Silfverberg is one of the top up and comers in the league, and despite an injury early in the year, he’s been valuable to the Ducks, with 12 points in the 26 games he’s played. The Ducks also picked up a prospect and the Sens’ first rounder next year, which would probably be between 10 and 20. This trade was huge, but came at big costs for both sides. Winner: Anaheim

St. Louis Blues trade F David Perron to Edmonton Oilers for F Magnus Paajarvi and 2014 2nd round pick: Perron was part of the future with the Blues, with good upside, but the Blues didn’t have room for him, and shipped him to Edmonton. He’s had a great year so far, with 34 points in 45 games, and has been valuable to the team’s offense. Paajarvi, however, has just 5 points in 26 games, and has been hampered with injuries. It’s not like the Blues are depending on him, but they could have kept Perron and had much more value, despite the upside Paajarvi brings. Winner: Edmonton

Buffalo Sabres trade F Thomas Vanek to New York Islanders for F Matt Moulson, 2014 1st round pick and 2015 2nd round pick: The Islanders began the year in win now mode, but seem to have hit a wall when G Evgeni Nabakov went down. Vanek is having another point per game campaign, though, and has started to gel with John Tavares, which is dangerous for anyone. Lately, the Isles have been picking it up, so they might not be out of it yet. Buffalo is out of it, but building toward the future. Moulson on his own wouldn’t be worth it. He’s played well, 28 points in 43 games with both the Isles and Sabres, but the picks to Buffalo are the kicker in this trade. Both will be free agents next season, so the picks tell the winner, with both likely leaving for greener pastures. Winner: Buffalo

Philadelphia Flyers trade F Maxime Talbot to Colorado Avalanche for F Steve Downie: The last trade we are looking at involves two rugged grinders switching teams. Downie is more of a playmaker, with just 3 goals and 16 assists, while Talbot has the more well-rounded game. Downie is a bit younger, but has has injuries in the past, playing in just 2 games last season for the Avs. Winner: Push

yank

Now that we’ve seen all of the negatives of the Alex Rodriguez story, lets look at the positive to come out of this ruling. The New York Yankees have reclaimed the $25 million salary that they were supposed to pay Rodriguez and are now free to spend it however they please. With that in mind, here are three ways the Yankees could decide to use that money that would benefit them.

 

It is no secret that Yankees are well below the championship caliber team that fans expect. They (officially) no longer have a starting third baseman, Mark Texeira is returning after missing the entire 2013 season, and Derek Jeter is a shell of his former self.  With all that being said, the number one thing the Yankees need right now is starting pitching. CC Sabathia struggled mightily last year, finishing with a 14-13 record and a career high ERA of 4.78. In addition, Ivan Nova was up and down all of last year and Hiroki Kuroda is 38 and also lost some of his momentum in the second half of last year. To make matters worse, the Yankees don’t even have a set #4 and #5 pitcher right now. Now they can look at this two ways.

The first way to look at this is to go for the big splash (in true George fashion) and sign Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. In 28 starts last season, the former Rakuten Golden Eagle went an astounding 24-0 with and ERA of 1.27. At only 24 years old, Tanaka has the potential to be the Yankees number one starter going forward. However, Tanaka does not come without risk. As the Yankees know, a lot of Japanese pitchers have struggled with their transition to the MLB. Daisuke Matzusaka, Hideki Irabu, and Kei Igawa are all perfect examples of that. Of course that doesn’t mean that Tanaka will not be the next Yu Darvish, it just means that he could also be the next Hideki Irabu.

If the Yankees decide against the Japanese star, they definitely have other things they can do with that money. One hypothetical scenario would be bringing in a solid starting pitcher with a solid relief pitcher for a total of less money than Tanaka would cost. Two starters that are immediately available are Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both have struggled in the past couple of years and are both likely to command no longer than two-year contracts. Garza in particular, with a career ERA of 3.84, but past AL east experience with his time with the Rays, would cost only around 8-12 million on a year for a short amount of time. With no need for commitment, either of these pitchers can be a good temporary fix to the starting pitcher problem.

As far as the relief pitchers, there is once again a decent crop of short contract players available. Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, and Fransisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez could all be had on 1-2 year contracts for about $12 million. These would all be good temporary players for the Yankees to have if they want to make a chase for the playoffs.

Now this third option may scare most Yankee fans. I is a terrifying notion that will be a new concept to those who love the pinstripes. Save the money. The 2015 free agent market is going to be filled with significantly better crops. Asdrubal Cabrera, Chase Headley, Max Scherzer, and James Shield will be highly coveted players who would fit the Yankees perfectly. Not spending money this year will all but guarantee no playoffs this year, but it may be worth it in the long hall.

What should the Yankees do? Go after Tanaka? Get some short-term player? Maybe save the Money? Let us know what you think it s comments.

Jonas Hiller

This week in hockey, goalies get hot, some teams are not, and a coach was fired for the first time in a team’s short history. A-Rod asks for his case to be heard, in this week’s Week in Review

Anaheim [Mighty] Ducks (3-0-0) – Jonas Hiller has now won 14 straight starts. The record, for you curious few, is 17 by Gilles Gilbert of the Boston Bruins in 1975-76. Also, the Ducks are approaching the record for points in consecutive home games to start the year.

Boston Bruins (1-2-0) – This week was the California swing for the B’s, taking just the game against the Sharks, a 1-0 affair. They became the only team this season to keep the Sharks from scoring at the Tank.

Buffalo Sabres (1-0-1) – Mikhail Grigerenko is refusing to go back to his junior team, after being demoted by the Sabres. Buffalo isn’t getting that year back on his entry-level contract, thus making this another thing that went wrong for the Sabres.

Calgary Flames (1-3-0) – They scored 5 goals this week. 4 of them came in one game, against the Avalanche. Guess which game they won.

Carolina Hurricanes (1-1-0) – Skinner-mania is back, to stay. Since December, he’s been more than a point-per-game player. He’s also one of two Canes near point-per-game status. They need secondary scoring bad.

Chicago Blackhawks (1-1-1) – Chalk this up as a pedestrian week for the reigning champs, who are now looking over their shoulder at the Blues, who are right behind them.

Colorado Avalanche (2-1-1) – They seemed to have played to the level of their competition this week, losing to Calgary and the Islanders, but beating the heating-up Senators and Wild. Seems to make sense.

Columbus Blue Jackets (3-0-0) – Don’t count the Jackets out of anything. 7th place in the Metro, but 5 points out of 2nd. That’s gonna get interesting in March.

Dallas Stars (0-4-0) – They laid a goose egg in their New York swing, and just when they thought they had seen enough of those 3, they lose to the Islanders again. So much for that surge…

Detroit Red Wings (1-2-0) – Tomas Tatar scored a goal the day after his father’s passing Saturday night in Los Angeles. I send some love out to him and his family.

Edmonton Oilers (1-2-0) – It’s not for a lack of offense that they aren’t winning. It’s goaltending woes. Right Bryz?

Florida Panthers (1-1-1) – Man, that game in New Jersey had a breakneck pace to it. Very exciting to watch firewagon hockey like that. Now imagine if they had actually spent more to be competitive…

Los Angeles Kings (1-1-1) – All of the sudden, the Kings’ offense isn’t tearing it up anymore. Quick gets back, and now you rely on the poor guy to win every game? Man they are spoiled in Lala-land.

Minnesota Wild (3-1-0) – 3 wins this week takes good advantage of Dallas hating New York teams. Too bad their only loss was to a team they are chasing, in Colorado.

Montreal Canadiens (2-1-0) – The losing team in each Habs game this week scored exactly 1 goal. Can’t win if you don’t score, I suppose.

Nashville Predators (1-2-1) – Busy week for the Preds, and it included hopping over the Jets, leaving them in the Central cellar. No wonder Claude Noel is out of a job.

New Jersey Devils (2-0-2) – The Ryder-Henrique-Clowe line is heating up, just as the Zajac-Jagr-Zubrus line is cooling down. Also, Schneider is stepping up as Brodeur is winding it down. Why can’t everything work at the same time for these guys?

New York Islanders (4-0-0) – Hold the phone. The Islanders are 7 points back from a playoff spot. Talk about playing inspired.

New York Rangers (3-0-0) – This concludes the first week in forever that none of the 3 New York teams recorded 0 regulation losses. No one thought this would happen ever this year.

Ottawa Senators (1-0-1) – They were ahead of the Leafs entering action on Sunday night. Man this race is getting packed with everyone.

Philadelphia Flyers (2-2-0) – Just when you thought they were the team to beat, they put up 2 duds against Tampa and the Rangers. This proves that they too are just as ready for a playoff spot as any team in this wide open race.

Phoenix Coyotes (1-2-0) – So the Avs’ play to the level of competition, the ‘Yotes don’t. They beat up on the Flames and lost to the Wild and Ducks. I guess they are that team that people play as expected against.

Pittsburgh Penguins (2-0-1) – This just in: The Penguins have (pretty much) clinched the Metropolitan division.

San Jose Sharks (1-2-0) – The only team with fewer home regulation losses, happens to be the only team ahead of the Sharks in the Pacific. Coincidence?

St. Louis Blues (2-1-0) – They finally lost a game, 2-1 in Vancouver. They can score with Chicago and be as stingy as Boston. They are a scary team.

Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0) – 5 goals on just 17 shots against Flyers goalie Steve Mason. That says something about the Bolts’ offense or the Flyers’ chronic goaltending issues.

Toronto Maple Leafs (1-3-0) – Coach Randy Carlyle was given a vote of confidence by GM Dave Nonis. The countdown begins.

Vancouver Canucks (1-0-1) – A win against the Blues is a big thing these days, because they are hard to come by. Now they can try and catch the Kings again.

Washington Capitals (2-0-1) – They reclaimed their spot in 2nd in the Metro, but that could change at any given moment, given the team we have in it.

Winnipeg Jets (0-2-0) – Paul Maurice is the new head coach in the ‘Peg after Claude Noel had his term as first Jets coach terminated. It may help, but the Jets are likely still a few moves away from looking any better.

Goal of the Week: Fast-forward to the 1:32 mark of this video to see a beauty by [Mighty] Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf:

 

In the box this week: Bruins’ Dougie Hamilton was actually exiting the box Thursday night in Los Angeles, when he played the puck from inside the penalty box. Take a look:

The ref said, “If you want to play from inside the box, then you can sit there another 2 minutes.” The Kings scored on the ensuing power play.

That is all for this week. Tune in next week for some more hockey. Till then, puck-heads!

New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks

 

The New Orleans Saints are coming into Seattle with something to prove. Most analysts, including Al six members of ESPNS “Sunday NFL Countdown” picked the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the New Orleans Saints last Saturday night. The Saints went into Lincoln Financial Field and defeated the Eagles by a score of 26-24 on a last second field goal. Now, those same Saints are going to be walking into Seattle to face the Seahawks and the 12th man. Does New Orleans have what it takes to beat the Seahawks? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

The Saints ended the year with the number two passing game in the league.  Unfortunately for New Orleans, Seattle has the best secondary in the league. With Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas leading the charge, the Seahawks gave up a mere 172 passing yards a game. With a lack of a running game, Drew Brees is going to be forced throw the ball plenty. That may be a recipe for disaster for New Orleans. Aside from week 17, Brees has been struggling as of late. In the first half of the wild card matchup against the Eagles, Brees threw another two costly interceptions against the leagues worst pass defense.

Another problem for the Saints is a man named Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, who just got his $50,000 fine reversed, will be a man on a mission. Last time he played Lynch played the Saints in the playoffs, “Beast Mode” pulled off one of the most famous runs in NFL history. Lynch will be looking to repeat destiny on Saturday and may just get his wish.

Lastly, the Seahawks will have Percy Harvin back for this game. At 100%, Harvin is a game changer that a lot of people seem to be ignoring. With his ability to play X, Z, and slot, the former Florida Gator should not be forgotten. Seattle has been saving him for the playoffs and it may just be time for him to lets loose.

Do the Saints have a chance? Their playing on the road, outside, against the best defense in the NFL. The chances are slim to none. They may keep it close, but Seattle will be moving on to the NFC championship game.

Final Score Seattle 34 New Orleans 21