Posts Tagged ‘Rangers’

Baseball season is right around the corner, and with baseball comes fantasy baseball. People often look for those under the radar sleeper picks to break out and have a great season, then subsequently claiming you knew it all along. Well, we’re gonna look at the top 5 breakout players from each league, and  keep them in mind for your fantasy drafts and pools, and we shall keep the bragging rights to ourselves.

Jackie Bradley, Outfield, Boston Red Sox – The defending champs have been rather quiet this off-season, because they have a great team put together. Anchoring the outfield this season will be the 23 year old Bradley, who appeared in just 37 games last season, dealing with injury and switching between the majors and AAA Pawtucket. He’s got some competition for the starting job, but I wouldn’t expect Grady Sizemore to earn the job over Bradley. Despite Bradley’s struggles last season adjusting to the game, he’s got tremendous upside, and should flourish at Fenway this season.

Danny Salazar, Starting Pitcher, Cleveland Indians – Baseball fans got their first real good look at Salazar during the AL Wild Card game against the Rays. We saw both the good, where he breezed through the first 2 innings, topping 100 mph on his fastball occasionally, and the bad, where he couldn’t get out of the 4th inning. This year, he will get a permanent spot in the Tribe’s rotation, where he can continue to progress, and show his potential. He can only impact games he pitches, but expect him to make a lot of hitters look silly.

Nick Castellanos, Third Base, Detroit Tigers – The Tigers started last season with the corners of the infield manned by the one-two punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. With the trade of Fielder to Texas, Cabrera moved over to first, and Castellanos is getting his first shot at an MLB starting position. He was a late September call-up, playing in just 11 games, but showed promise in that and his time in AAA, hitting .276 with 18 HR and 76 RBI. He’s just 21 years old, and has a great offensive team around him to help him grow as a Major Leaguer.

Kole Calhoun, Outfield, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – With the Angels moving Peter Bourjos to St. Louis, it freed up a spot in the outfield for Calhoun, who has been up and coming for the Halos for quite some time. The 26 year old played in 55 games last season, hitting .282, and an OPS of .808. He isn’t confirmed 100% starter just yet, but it’s expected that they will give the vast majority of starts in left to Kole, who we can probably expect a very solid year, surrounded by offensive power-houses in the Angels lineup.

Jurickson Profar, Second Base, Texas Rangers – The former number 1 prospect in all of baseball had a tough rookie season, hitting just .234 in the 85 games he played, but this will be his first full season at his natural position, with Ian Kinsler being sent off to Detroit. He has tremendous upside, and showed versatility, playing in 4 different positions over the season. Texas has a very potent offense, and we can fully expect Profar to be a big part of it at the top of the order.

Junior Lake, Outfielder, Chicago Cubs – Among the first players from the Cubs’ stacked farm system, Lake showed promise from center, playing in 64 games, and hitting .284 with 6 home runs. He probably won’t kill teams on his own, but he’s going to be a good threat near the top of the order on the North Side. In combination with the other young guns for the Cubbies like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, he will be a very good piece for the Cubs for years to come.

Billy Hamilton, Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds – If you haven’t seen YouTube videos on this guy yet, then get watching them, and then keep this guy on high priority in fantasy drafts. He stole 75 bases in AAA last year, and has stolen over 100 in previous seasons in the Reds’ system. He was handed the starting job with the departure of Shin-Soo Choo, and will have a chance to put his much talked about speed on full display. Provided he can get on base, and that hasn’t been a problem for him, he will be a huge pest on the basepaths for years to come.

Scooter Gennett, Second Base, Milwaukee Brewers – This 23 year old came in midway through the season, and put on a great show, hitting .324 and garnering an OPS of .834 in 69 games. He did so well, he stole the starting job from mainstay Rickie Weeks, and is now part of one of the top up and coming double play combos with fellow youngster Jean Segura. He will be an essential part of the lineup, getting on base consistently and keeping the carousel moving in front of power threats such as Ryan Braun. Expect good things for Scooter this season.

Zack Wheeler, Starting Pitcher, New York Mets – The talk of the town in New York (when not complaining about the Yankees) was Matt Harvey, until he went down with Tommy John surgery. Among the other pitchers on the rise for the Mets is Wheeler, who was acquired from the Giants for Carlos Beltran, and he showed potential in his 17 starts in the majors this past season. Manager Terry Collins says he expects 200 innings out of Wheeler, and if he pitches to his potential, he will be a great #2 to Harvey’s #1 for years to come in Flushing.

Anthony Rendon, Second Base, Washington Nationals – This sophomore had a solid first run in the majors, appearing in 98 games, hitting .265 and an OPS of .725. This year, he has the starting spot for himself, and will continue to improve on last year’s campaign this season. With a tremendous young squad around him, he should be counted on to hit near .300 this season, and be an essential part to the Nats’ continued rise in baseball. Get used to hearing his name in conjunction with Bryce Harper as the young guns in DC.

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The MLB off-season is coming to a conclusion this week, as pitchers and catchers are set to report, and Spring Training games are just around the corner. This will give us our first look at some of the big new acquisitions in their new homes. We would like to figure out who won free agency, which we won’t actually know until the season is well underway. But we can speculate, and we will do that here:

Winner: Robinson Cano – Obviously the most sought after free agent this season, he demanded a historically large deal, 10 years and upwards of $200M, and got one. At age 31, his old team, the Yankees, were very hesitant to give him the long term deal that he desired. The gap was wide and nearly impossible to bridge, with the Yankees wary of the $189M luxury tax threshold. That’s when the Mariners jumped in and gave him the numbers he wanted. Most, if not all experts agree that the deal won’t be worth it over the term of 10 years, with his value doomed to diminish with age and a more pitcher-friendly home ballpark. But Cano got what he wanted, and won’t have to work another day in his life after he’s done raking in this dough.

Loser: Seattle Mariners – They locked up $240M over 10 years to Cano, which makes sense, considering he’s the top player in a premium position of second base. However, they bolstered their lineup around Cano, with Corey Hart, who’s missed the last season with an injury, and Logan Morrison, who has yet to hit his potential with the Marlins, which is saying something. With all the money they spent, they could have used it on more depth, as opposed to just spending most of their budget on one player. They are supposedly in on Nelson Cruz, which would probably get them out of the loser category, but as of now, they spent a lot of money on a little bit of improvement.

Winner: New York Yankees – Of course, the Yankees went on a spending spree. Last time they missed the playoffs, in 2008, they went and spent nearly $400M that off-season, and went on to win the World Series the following year. They missed the playoffs in 2013, and this year neared half a billion (with a B) in contracts signed during the winter. The notables include Masahiro Tanaka (7 years, $155M plus $20M posting fee), Jacoby Ellsbury (7 years, $153M), Brian McCann (5 years, $85M, option for 6/$100M), Carlos Beltran (3 years, $45M), and Hiroki Kuroda (1 year, $16M), along with a couple of smaller role-player acquisitions. It’s difficult not to improve when you go out and sign 4 of the top 6 free agents on the market (according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan). They got who they wanted, and prevented others from getting those guys. Oh yeah, and they aren’t paying A-Rod $25M

Loser: New York Yankees – Due to their spending spree, the Yankees once again eclipsed the $189M luxury tax threshold, something they were looking to avoid. Looking away from that, they spent lots of money on older players. The youngest players in the starting lineup, McCann, Ellsbury, and Brett Gardiner, are all 30 years old. Despite addressing big issues, such as Robinson Cano’s departure, they still have many issues to deal with. Their infield is full of question marks, whether you look at Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter returning from playing combined 32 games, Brian Roberts (missed 456 games the last 4 seasons) taking over for Robinson Cano’s departure, and the gap at third vacated by a platoon last year. The back end of the rotation includes a couple of players who haven’t started regularly in years, like Michael Pineda and David Phelps. Their bullpen includes David Robertson and a bunch of no-names. They have many issues that they didn’t quite cover.

Winner: Arizona Diamondbacks – Despite having a quieter off-season, the D-Backs made a couple of key trades, to improve their team subtly. The three-team deal between them, the White Sox, and the Angels landed them Mark Trumbo, a fearsome power hitter to protect MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt. They also got closer Addison Reed from the White Sox. Just yesterday, they signed innings-eater Bronson Arroyo for 2 years. None of these 3 are marquee names, but all of them are key pieces in improving this team. No one said you had to make large splashes in order to take a step ahead.

Loser: Cincinnati Reds – Another team with a quieter off-season, but they needed to make moves in order to gain back ground on the Cardinals and Pirates. They lost key players Shin-Soo Choo (Texas), Ryan Hannigan (Tampa Bay), and Bronson Arroyo (Arizona), and made too much noise not trading Brandon Phillips. To compensate for that loss, the Reds signed…well…not really anyone worth mentioning. They are calling up speed-demon Billy Hamilton to replace Choo in center-field. They are also considering putting flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman in the rotation. All of this will add up to the Reds missing the playoffs, and taking a step back in the NL Central.

Winner: Texas Rangers – The first big splash of the winter came in Texas, when Prince Fielder jumped into a swimming pool was traded for Ian Kinsler. The big guy will man first for the Rangers, while second base will be covered by top prospect of years past Jurickson Profar. Also coming to the Lone-Star State is Shin-Soo Choo, who will hit near the top of the order, and get on base for the big Texas bats to hit him home. Along with a few other smaller signings, the Rangers improved mightily and will put up a good fight against the A’s for the AL West.

Loser: Matt Kemp – With the emergence of Yasiel Puig in Tinseltown, the Dodgers’ outfield is now super-clogged with Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Matt Kemp. With no DH spot to platoon to, and with multiple injuries hampering his performance significantly, Kemp is likely the choice to be left out. He’s owed $128M over the next 6 years, so his albatross contract is not one easily picked up by anyone with a budget. There have been rumors fluttering about, but nothing significant has arisen. As it stands, Kemp’s playing time would be diminished gradually until he proves his worth over the other 3 outfielders.

Winner: The Fans – Baseball season is right around the corner. When you go outside after dusting the ol’ glove off and start throwing the ball around, you’ll see what I mean.

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.

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Ryan Callahan was born in Rochester, NY, just a 6 hour drive from Madison Square Garden, where he’s captain of the team that drafted him 10 years ago. He’s considered the heart and soul of the New York Rangers, as an excellent two-way forward that can score and create offense with ease.

And the Rangers are considering trading him.

Currently, Callahan is in the last year of a 3 year deal, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at seasons’ end. Word is, from the NY Post, that Callahan is looking for an extension in the neighborhood of 7 years and $42 million. The Rangers, who just gave a hefty extension to Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh, as well as holding massive contracts from Brad Richards and Rick Nash, are getting handcuffed with the salary cap. Next year, according to capgeek.com, the Rangers will owe 10 players $42M+ against the salary cap, leaving them less than $30M to put together the rest of their roster.

If Callahan and the Rangers indeed agree with those terms, that would be 11 players owed $48M+ against the cap, which is an awful situation that the Rangers would rather avoid. However, it’s very likely that if Callahan would hit the open market right now, he would very easily reach those numbers or more.

That’s why the Rangers are thinking about trading him.

However, as much as it’s difficult to put that kind of strain on the salary cap, Callahan is indispensable to the Rangers. He’s captain, among the top scorers, and an excellent defensive forward, the kind of player the Rangers love. If money weren’t an issue, there is no doubt that he’s a Ranger for life.

While it is currently impossible for the Rangers to give Callahan that deal, because they simply don’t have the cap room, they do have 2 compliance buyouts this coming off-season to attempt to make room for him. The Brad Richards contract is looking a bit like a dud, with his contract expiring in 2020, when he’s 40, and getting a cap hit of $6.667M per season. Richards will not be nearly as productive as Callahan for the next 6 years, with Richards 5 years the elder, and his play declining at times. If I had the choice, I would choose Callahan over Richards, without any second thoughts.

I know it’s not as simple as that, because the Rangers would still be paying Richards, should the scenario I proposed take life. But the Rangers shouldn’t be giving the notion of trading a staple of their franchise like Callahan any thought. He’s too valuable to the team in order to be traded. This is a grand pickle that GM Glen Sather has presented for him, and there is no easy solution. But the Rangers should do everything they can to keep 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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The old saying goes, offense puts fans in the seats, defense wins games. But to really get a good team together, they really have to play together in the right style and system.

The New Jersey Devils are a good example to follow here. I know they are in 5th in the Metropolitan, just wait, I’ll explain.

There is a reason that this team, who’s among bottom 5 in goal scoring, has a winning record of 20-18-11. They have a system and mission objective every game, and keep to it.

Their previous 5 games, before last night’s defeat in the shootout (a point I’ll make later on), they went 3-0-2, and had a common theme in each of the 5 games; they dressed 7 defensemen. Not only that, they had perfectly serviceable wingers as healthy scratches, they deliberately dressed 7 D-men. Why? It works with their system. The Devils pride themselves on team flexibility. They often have 2 natural centers on the ice, for example, Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus, or Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias. Just like that, 7 defensemen opens up for flexibility, with some guys like Eric Gelinas and Marek Zidlicky, who are power play specialists, to Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov, who are great killing penalties, and Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, and whoever else, who can play well anywhere.

Also, the Devils have always been a notoriously stingy defensive team, always defending first, and attacking when they are allowed a chance. It’s why Cory Schneider’s record doesn’t match his other stats, and it’s why the Devils have fewer goals scored. The slam-dunk point to make here, is that in the shootout, what many call a skill competition, the Devils have a grand total of 1 goal in 25 shooters, and have lost all 8 shootouts this year. They are still very much in contention for a playoff spot, and their team chemistry and system are exactly why.

Looking at the opposite end, you can have all the talent in the world, and still look miserable on the ice. The Edmonton Oilers are a prime example of that. They have a sparkling young core of talent, led by a number of high draft picks like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, I could go on for a while. They always seem to have an offense that could potentially outscore their mistakes. Unfortunately for them, that requires a scoring level that rivals the Blackhawks (as of this article, the Oilers actually have let up more goals than the Hawks scored, and the Oil have played one more game). Their defense has been a blaring issue since day 1 of their rebuilding mode after their miracle Cup Finals run in 2006. Their goalies have been an issue, despite just trading for Ben Scrivens in a series of trades. They don’t seem to have a defensive structure, though, and are too offensively minded to be able to win games.

The New York Rangers also had their struggles. Many experts had them rivaling the Penguins in the division, but that hasn’t been the case. They had a coaching change, and brought in Alain Vigneault, who previously coached the dynamic offense in Vancouver. The team was built for the style of John Tortorella (current coach in Vancouver, coincidentally), which was more defensive and systematic. The adjustment period was apparent, and people even started questioning goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and if he’s still got it (he does, ease up Ranger fans). But they have it figured out, seemingly, gotten healthier, and they are now toward the top of the Metropolitan, where many said they belong.

Systems and team chemistry is what brings the Cup home to your city. It doesn’t matter if your team signs the next big superstar winger who can score a million goals, if he doesn’t fit the system in place, and doesn’t mesh with the other team members, as much as a million goals will help as well. Trust me, I grew up watching the Devils in their hay-day, and they still didn’t have an offense back then and won 3 Cups in 8 years, due to the notorious Neutral Zone Trap they employed night in and night out. That system worked, and they won without the big flashy stars.

Your team can too, if the shoe fits.