Welcome Back Josh!

Well.  How have we gotten here?  How has it gotten this bad?  It’s been awhile since I’ve last written about my beloved Browns.  This year has been extra painful.  The signs of a competitive team were there.  It all came crashing down thanks to Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts.  In the second quarter of the Browns week three matchup with Indy, the Colts rattled off 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.  The halftime score was 28-7 Colts.  The Browns were able to make it a game but ultimately ended up falling short, mostly in part to the fact that Hue Jackson is quite simply the worst head coach of all time.  The Browns were mounting a comeback in the second half, slowly chipping away at the game — when this asshole blows all his timeouts prior to the fourth quarter even starting.  They managed to get within one possession, but it was simply too late.  Without any timeouts, Brissett ran out the clock for a 31-28 Colts win.

Week 3 was it.  That was the game that put it all in perspective.  They suck.  Miserably.  At times they look worse than last years 1-15 squad.  The talent is so barren at many crucial positions.

Last week was turmoil to the 10th degree.  The Browns allegedly botched a last minute trade deadline deal for AJ McCarron.  There has been a reported riff between the front office and coaching staff.  It all came to boil when the Patriots traded Jimmy Garappolo to the 49ers.  The Browns wanted him badly, and the coaches were upset that the front office was apparently home unaware of the Jimmy G trade.

Image result for jimmy garoppolo 49ers

Luckily last week was their scheduled bye week after a beatdown in London.  0-8 is where this squad stands.  No end in sight, or is there?

Josh Gordon is back!  The only good news of the season to date. Gordon has been conditionally reinstated, and allowed to participate in team activities.  He’s able to hit the practice field on 11/22, and eligible to play by week 12.

Boy do we need a weapon.  A guy who can run the fuck by you, around you, or through you.  Gordon can do it all.  He’s just a supreme athlete.  Naturally better than everyone else.

Image result for Josh Gordon preseason

The last time Josh attempted a comeback was in 2016.  He attempted to comeback after missing two seasons due to suspension.  He played in one preseason game — and he made a miraculous catch with Brent Grimes all over him.

After two years of sitting on his ass:

I’m not expecting Josh to return to his 2013 form.  It was that year, in which he looked like a future hall of famer.  However, I do have hope that he can still be very good and contribute.  He has natural gifts, and he’s not going to be stoned this time (allegedly).

The Browns will have second year wideout Corey Coleman returning by week 11 to solidify the beat up receiving group.  Lets hope that Njoku, Johnson, Crowell,  Coleman, and Gordon can be true weapons for Kizer.   Kizer has all the ability, and none of the talent around him to succeed.  The group isn’t great, but those guys are all weapons.  They should all be able to contribute and carry a portion of the load.

Image result for Corey Coleman

This season has been miserable so far.  8 weeks to go, and a shot to wipe the slate clean.  The Browns will open up the second half against the Lions this week, at Ford Field.  Should be a tough game considering the Lions are coming off a big (not really) win at Lambeau Field.  It’d be great if they could squeak out a couple of wins to end this thing off right, but I won’t hold my breath.  The goal is 4.  Get to 4-12 if it all possible.  If not, go 1-15. 2-14, or 0-16 to lock up the first pick and go from there.

Fuck me.

Bruins Beat 10/19

Another day, another bout of injury news for the Bruins.  Just getting absolutely hosed by the hockey gods early into the 2017 campaign.  Seems like every day that the Bruins are issuing an injury update on a new key player.  Now, is the loss of Ryan Spooner completely detrimental?  Absolutely not.  Ryan Spooner is a prime example of a player that has “all the tools”, and no “toolbox”.   He’s above average to good skating ability.  He’s got decent vision, hands, and produces on powerplay.

Ryan’s biggest issue is his head.  There are times in which he is invisible for games at a time.  He seems to get rattled easily from coaching, and is completely unwilling to sacrifice his body to make plays.  Spooner is slotting in as the B’s third line center and generally on the second powerplay unit.  Occasionally, he looks like an elite player and will slot in to play on the top powerplay.  Not overly concerned with the loss of him, but it takes out a player that has at least shown a small ability to score at decent clip.

This was mentioned briefly yesterday as it broke in the afternoon, but with today being a game-day I wanted to address it.  This is worrisome.  The Bruins go as far as Tuukka Rask takes them.  It’s that simple.   Rask is the most over-scrutinized athlete in Boston.  The guy is easily a top 10 goalie in the NHL.  He finished 2016 with 65 games played, tied for the most in the NHL for goalies.  Part of this is how unreliable Bruins backup goalies have been the past year.  Backup Anton Khudobin finished 2016 with an underwhelming .904 save %, and a 2.64 goals against average.  These numbers are respectable considering he started the year 0-5, and was sent to Providence to find his game.

So far, it looks like Rask will miss at least this next game as Bruce Cassidy confirmed that he will be out this evening.

 

Image result for Bruins logo  vs. Image result for vancouver canucks logo

Forwards:                                               

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Schaller-Kuraly-Backes

Agostino-Nash-Frank Vatrano

Defense:

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Miller-McQuaid

Goalies: 

Anton Khudobin

Zayne Macintyre

Nothing too special with the lineup tonight.  Bergeron is still listed as a game time decision, so someone else may have to step into that top line center role. Backes will be making his season debut, after recovering from Diverticulitis.  Will be good to have both (hopefully) back in the lineup.

Forwards:

D. Sedin-H. Sedin-Granlund

Baertschi-Burmistrov-Boeser

Gagner-Horvat-Vanek

Dorsett-Sutter-Virtanen

Defense:

Del Zotto-Tanev

Hutton-Gudbranson

Pouliot-Stetcher

Goalies:

Anders Nilsson

Jacob Markstrom

The Canucks come in with a 1-2-1 record so far.  They are a team expected to finish in the bottom 10 of the league, if not bottom 5.  They do have some quality young players mixed in with Hall of Fame veterans.  Bo Horvat is one to keep an eye on as young lethal goal scoring center, and Brock Boeser who currently leads the Canucks in points at 4.

Overall, we’re going to need a full 60 minute effort from the boys to wrap up 2 points.  While Vancouver definitely sucks, they are a team who can compete with anyone on any given night.  It also helps to have two future Hall of Famers (Sedins) on your top line.  Despite all this, I think the Bruins find their game and pull out a 3-1 victory in front of the TD Garden crowd.

 

Quickly before I go, remember how excited I was that Cehlarik was called up yesterday? I certainly do:

 

Let’s go B’s!!!!!!

Flash Watch 2017 Edition

Mid-week last week, Browns fans were hit with a little nugget regarding the future of one Josh Gordon.  Today via Bleacher Report, we were hit with a bit of news regarding Flash, “Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon reportedly has a “better than 50-50″ chance of being reinstated during the 2017 season”.

FUCK.  I cannot fall for this again.  I can’t do it.  Every single time without fail, I fall for Josh’s charade.

One of Gordon’s mentor’s, Tim Montgomery, has since come to say, “he’s coming”.  I would love Josh Gordon back on this football team.  I think he has a great chance to become a fraction of what he was under Hue Jackson.  Jackson is a questionable in-game coach at best, but he is a fantastic motivator & leader — maybe he can get something out of Josh.  That’s the optimist in me, and the fucking SUCKER who is falling for the Josh Gordon trap again. How do I fall for this on an annual basis?  Glad you asked:

 

2013 Josh Gordon that’s fucking why.  He “flashed” first ballot Hall of Fame potential.  He showed insane athletic ability at such a young age — and did it playing with Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer, Alex Tanney, and Jason Campbell.   Josh Gordon finished the 2013 season with 87 catches, 1,646 yards, and 9 touchdowns.  He did this playing in only 14 of 16 games.  He was suspended (shocking)  for the opening two games of the year.

Image result for 2013 Josh Gordon

Do I want Gordon back on this football team?  Abso-fucking-lutely.  Gordon has everything it takes to be a great wide-receiver in the NFL.  First, he is a monster –currently he is listed as 6’3″, 225 lbs.  With that massive frame, he is out of this world fast. He can blow by any corner in the league and make it look like he’s not trying a la prime Randy Moss.  He is a great route runner — Gordon has an uncanny ability to see spots in coverage to break his route for whatever shit bag quarterback is playing at the time. Obviously he has stellar hands to compliment his athletic prowess.  Do I think he will be peak Josh if he does comeback?  Absolutely not.  If the Browns can get 50% of 2013 Gordon, that would be a major win. God knows what his contract situation is at this point, so I won’t even bother to go into details on that.   They desperately need play-makers on offense as now they’re effectively down to ZERO.

Reports were out that he was planning on being released from rehab on 9/21.  Josh dropped a hint via his snap chat:  

Who knows what that means?  I take it the reported 9/21 release date was false.  Either way, I just hope that whatever happens both Josh and the fans can get some closure.  All I want is another 10 or so games of him as a Brown. Finish it off right, and he can go off to whatever team he wants to go to.  Come on home Josh.  One last kick at the can.

Image result for Josh Gordon weed

Cleveland Browns Week 1 Post Game Wrap Up

Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season is officially in the books — and just has its been since 2004, the Cleveland Browns will walk away 0-1. The NFL is a pass/fail league, and the Browns failed.  This year though — it was different in so many ways.   Lets take a look at how the game unfolded.

The Browns first offensive possession left many doing the whole “here we go again” routine.  In three plays, the Browns netted -9 yards and had to bring out the punting unit to kick it away from their own 2. In typical Cleveland Browns opening day fashion, the Steelers got penetration right through the A gap and blocked the punt.  Normally you’d see the ball fly out of end-zone, but this one landed in the back of the end-zone with back spin forcing it die rather than going out of bounds.  The Steelers recovered to take an early 7-0 lead.   At this point, Browns fans had to be heading out to mow their lawns.

 

This special team mishap turned out to be the games most critical play.  From this point on, the Browns played toe to toe with the Super Bowl contending Steelers.  Late in the first quarter, rookie QB DeShone Kizer led a 12 play, 62 yard drive to tie the game at 7. The Browns chose to strike mostly through the air as the ground game struggled.  Isaiah Crowell was bottled up by the Steelers for the whole game.  Once inside the 5, Kizer snuck his way into the end zone for his first professional score.

Once the game was tied up, the Steelers vaunted air attack got going.  Roethlisberger orchestrated a 7 play, 91 yard drive — ending with a 4 yard touchdown reception by TE Jesse James.  Going into the half, the Steelers had the lead 14-7.  Considering the start, things were going well for the Browns.  The defense stifled arguably the NFL’s best offense. Le’Veon Bell was a non-factor, and the Browns were able to put pressure on Big Ben.

Early in the 3rd quarter the Browns made it 14-10 with a Zane Gonzalez 24 yard field goal.  The Steelers, however, came right back down the field with a methodical 6 play, 75 yard drive that ended with another Jesse James touchdown catch.  It looked to be slipping away from the Browns in typical opening day fashion.

Kizer threw his first interception on the following possession:

It was  a rookie throw, through and through.  Kizer eyed his receiver down the whole way and tried to float one on his back shoulder.  Watt made a beautiful play, ending the the Browns drive which was surely going to be a drive that would end in three points. Roethlisberger began his march down to the Browns’ death.  Picking apart the weak secondary until Browns safety Derek Kindred intercepted a tipped ball near the Browns own goal line.  There was life still.

Kizer went on to lead an 8 play, 73 yard drive with time slowly winding down in the fourth quarter.  On fourth down from the Steeler 3 yard line, Kizer threw a frozen rope into the hands of Corey Coleman to cut the Steeler lead to 5.  In a gutsy play call, Isaiah Crowell converted the 2 point play on a draw from a shot gun set.  21-18 was the Steeler lead.

Finally on the last possession, Antonio Brown and Big Ben stuck the finally dagger into the Browns.  Ben chucked up a 40 yard bomb to Brown, who caught it in traffic above Browns defenders.  That was it.  The Steelers ran out the clock for the win.

 

Quick Thoughts Heading into Week 2:

  1. Kizer looks good.  Real good.  Tangible hope at the QB position.  Hue Jackson and Kizer need to work on releasing the ball quicker.  Kizer took 7 sacks.  5 or 6 were because of DeShone holding onto the ball too long.
  2. Get the running game going.  Crow only had 33 yards on 17 carriers.  This team should be built around the run game with a rookie under center.  They were able to neutralize the Steelers running attack all day, but couldn’t get anything going with Crowell either.  This was the difference in the game.
  3. Need some playmakers to emerge.  Good effort from Corey Coleman being a reliable target for Kizer.  Coleman caught 5 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.  We need more options to step up for the kid.  Tight end Seth DeValve was a nice check down option, as was rookie Tight End David Njoku.  Second year receiver Ricardo made two big catches and Britt had major drop.  Look for Duke Johnson to become more prevalent in the passing game as the season moves on.
  4. Whatever Coach Greg Williams brings to this defense keep on bringing it.  The Browns defense was absolutely flying to the ball yesterday.  I cannot remember a Browns team that swarmed the ball as fast.  A major factor in the D’s big day was definitely rust on the Steelers offense and I would like to see great pursuit and tackling carry over week to week.

Whats up next?Image result for Ravens

The Browns will travel to Baltimore to take on the 1-0 Ravens.   The Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-0 in Week 1.  It seems that the 1 team the Browns always play within the division is Baltimore.  I am predicting a tight affair this coming Sunday.  Ultimately, a Ravens team with a healthy Joe Flacco should be able to come up with a win at home.  It’s early, but the Browns may have themselves a favorable schedule coming up. They’ve got the Colts, who were battered by the hapless Rams 46-9.  Following that is the Bengals who were shutout by the Ravens and the New York Jets who are just miserable.

Final Score Prediction:

28-20 Ravens.

Bottom Line: I am optimistic about this bunch after what I saw on Sunday.  I see a team whose defense can keep them in games, and an offense that showed they could make crucial plays in high leverage situations.

Go Browns!!!!

Browns Final 53 Man Roster

The NFL’s deadline for cutting rosters to the final 53 was Saturday by 4 pm EST.  Throughout the day, there were many moves made throughout the league.  This year was a bit different than normal as instead of breaking up the cuts throughout camp, there was one massive cut on the final day.  It actually made for many interesting trades, cuts, signings, etc.

The Browns were quite active the past week when it came to roster transactions.  Earlier in the week, they cut 2-time Pro-Bowl CB Joe Haden.  It was a move that surprised many outside the Browns.  Haden’s play had severely declined over the past two seasons with injuries hampering his ability to be a lockdown corner.  Gone are the days of him putting A.J. Green in a blender.  Throughout the preseason, Haden was getting roasted on a regular basis.  The Browns tried to trade him, but his contract made it impossible.   Haden signed a three year deal with the Steelers less than 24 hours later.

Image result for joe haden burned

The very same day the Browns traded former first round pick Cameron Erving to the Kansas City Chiefs.  In return, the Browns received a 5th round draft pick in 2018.  Getting anything in return for Erving is a miracle — he may be one of the worst Offensive Lineman I have ever seen.  He was terrible at center and worse at the guard position.  It didn’t work out here, and the Browns finally moved on.  Take a look below.

Image result for Cam Erving cowboys

Now to the roster cuts —  The most notable cut on the team was QB Brock Osweiler.  The team parted ways with the $16 million dollar man after showcasing off in camp for trades.  They gave him a shot in camp to A) Possibly win the starting job or B) showcase himself for a potential trade.  Shockingly, he failed at both.  His $16 million dollar cap hit, coupled with miserable play made a trade impossible.  They cut his sorry ass and in a “you can’t make this shit up” move he re-signed back in Denver for $900 K.  So long Brock, we hardly knew ye.

Image result for brock osweiler browns

On Saturday, the Browns were not done making moves.  Before the final cut they traded a 6th round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for WR Sammie Coates.  Not a flashy move by any means, but the Browns biggest hole at this point is  at the wide receiver position. Coates brings experience, size, youth, and potential to the Browns receiving corps.  Will he be a number 1 receiver?  Probably not. Coates will be given more of an opportunity to produce at more consistent basis than if he was with the Steelers.  Coates finished last year with 21 receptions, 435 yards,  and 2 touchdowns.  Coates started the season red hot before breaking multiple fingers mid-season his production fell off.

 

With these trades in place, the Browns cut down their roster to 53.  Lets take a brief look at the players that got the axe:

 

Offense:

  1. QB-Brock Osweiler
  2. RB-Terrence Magee*
  3. WR-Jordan Leslie
  4. WR-Rannell Hall
  5. TE-J.P. Holtz*
  6. OL-John Greco
  7. OL-Anthony Fabiano

Defense:

  1. DL-Xavier Cooper
  2. DL Tyrone Holmes
  3. MLB-Kenneth Olugbode
  4. OLB-Deon King*
  5. CB-Najee Murray*
  6. CB-Marcus Burley
  7. CB-Darius Hillary
  8. FS-Kai Nacua

Specialists:

  1. K-Cody Parkey

*denotes Practice Squad

Nothing of note in the list of cuts, other than Osweiler.  Jordan Leslie flashed potential in this years final preseason game but ultimately Sashi Brown felt better with acquiring receivers through trade and the waiver wire.  One of the few positives of finishing dead last in the NFL is first waiver priority.  The Browns had their pick of all of the players waived around the league.  Sunday brought in the first crop of waiver claims.  The Browns immediately claimed Seahawks camp standout Kasen Williams.  He had stuck out throughout camp making highlight reel catch after highlight reel catch.  He presents a vertical deep threat for Kizer.  However, he is a bit slower than most receivers and not as polished a route-runner.  It looks like with Britt, Coleman, Coates, Williams, and Louis — the Browns will be able to stretch the field.  It is a patch-work receiving group, but there is potential for production.

In less than one weeks time, the Browns 2017 campaign will kick off against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Based on the improvements seen on the field during the preseason, 2017 should bring a more competitive season.  The head says the Browns will win 6 games max, the heart says this is the year they’ll be 8-8/9-7.  Either way, in time I believe this team will be a playoff contender and I am more excited than ever to watch the Browns lose.

Go Browns!!

The Future is Here

2017 will bring yet ANOTHER starting QB for the Cleveland Browns. DeShone Kizer, the Browns’ second round pick, will be the teams 27th starting QB since re-joining the league in 1999.  It has been continued futility for the Brownies as a whole, but the quarterback position has been an absolute mess.

On Wednesday, Hue Jackson named the rookie as the starter for preseason game number 3 against this year’s “you heard it here first” team in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Jackson left the window open to fall back on his decision by not really tabbing him as the game 1 starter, and said “we are very excited about seeing DeShone in the role of starter for this week, as he is certainly positioning himself well to earn the starting job heading into the regular season.”  Leaving that fall back option just in case he really blew chunks against the Bucs.

Saturday brought a glimmer of hope for the Cleveland Browns that they haven’t seen since coming back in ’99.  Kizer showed actual legitimate potential at the quarterback position.  His numbers are not spectacular by any means, but they reflect positive steps at the game’s most important position.  Kizer finished 6 of 18 for 93 yards — no touchdowns and 1 interception.  Not glamorous numbers by any means, but in the monsoon, Kizer was 5 of 7 on third down and had numerous drops throughout the game.  Most notability by veteran stiff Kenny Britt on third down and Rannell Hall as well.  Hall caught a TD, but could not keep his feet in bounds to complete the catch.  Kizer demonstrated budding chemistry with second year wideout Corey Coleman, completing multiple third down conversions.

The play that stood out the most was one he didn’t make.  On first down from their own 1 yard line, Hue Jackson gave Kizer a test.  Kizer dropped back to air it out from his own endzone — seeing the pocket collapsing, Kizer used his athleticism to roll out the pocket and throw the ball away all with a defender in his face.

Kizer showed incredible poise and pocket awareness in his first start, and third game played overall.  He has an uncanny ability to move throughout the pocket, while keeping his eyes downfield.  In his first preseason game against the Saints, he put this trait on display.

On this third and fifteen from his own 47, Kizer felt the pressure from the interior d line, threw a pump fake, and stepped in the pocket to hit Richard Mullaney 52 yards down field.

Later in the same game facing a 4th and 2 with under 2 minutes to play and down by a score, Kizer stood in the pocket and threw a bomb to Jordan Payton.  Payton caught the pass in perfect stride for the game winning score.  Kizer took a shot as he threw but was still able to throw a missile about 45 yards hitting Payton in stride.

Early Monday morning it was announced via conference call that Hue Jackson named Kizer his starting quarterback for the regular season.  There is excitement about this football team — the defense hasn’t given up a touchdown since the 1st quarter of the opening preseason game and it finally looks like their may be hope at the Quarterback position.

Every DeShone Kizer play from Week 3 vs. Buccaneers:

 

Lets take a quick look at the 2017 Cleveland Browns schedule:

1 Sun, Sep 10 0006864_pittsburgh-steelers-8-logo-magnet_600  L Not much to predict here.  The Browns may keep it competitive, but the Steelers win easily. Apply this to week 17 as well.
2 Sun, Sep 17 L Tough to predict this one in all honesty.  Injuries are piling up on the Ravens, and Joe Flacco has yet to practice.  If he plays, the Ravens win at home.
3 Sun, Sep 24 W The Colts are not good.  With Andrew Luck, I still think this young Browns defense can beat up the offensive for Indy — and Indy’s defense blows.  Browns pickup their first win of the new campaign.
4 Sun, Oct 1 W Many are predicting a bounce back year from Andy Dalton’s crew.  Fools gold as always with these guys.  They lost two MAJOR pieces on their Offensive Line in the off-season.  Browns young defense feasts for a win.
5 Sun, Oct 8 W Three in a row for the boys in the turd colored pants.  Who knows who’ll be quarterbacking the J-E-T-S suck suck suck by this point?
6 Sun, Oct 15 L That D is too good.  Watt and Clowney are going to have themselves a feast on DeShone.  Texans win.  It could potentially be close if Tom Savage is still the starter at this point.
7 Sun, Oct 22 L Mariota, Murray, Walker this trio is absolutely filthy.  Titans win easily.
8 Sun, Oct 29 L When the Vikes want to, their defense has top 5 potential.  I see them living up to this hype against a young Browns offense.  Browns lose in London.
9 BYE WEEK
10 Sun, Nov 12 W The Lions are just meh.  They’ve got a decent offense with Stafford, Tate, and Jones, but I don’t see them being completely unstoppable.  Browns win by the skin of their teeth.
11 Sun, Nov 19 W Another team I haven’t the slightest clue who will be playing quarterback at this point in the season.  Seems like Bortles is on a short leash.  If Henne is starting, Browns win easily.  If Bortles is playing, Browns win easily.
12 Sun, Nov 26 L Typical second half of the season loss to the shitty Bengals.  It happens every year, and this year will be no different.
13 Sun, Dec 3 L Toss up.  I am seeing people predicting the Chargers to win the AFC West.  They’ve got some good young pieces on defense in Bosa, and Ingram.  If Keenan Allen can stay healthy, he and Rivers will coast to a victory.  If the injury bug bites I can see it being closer. 
14 Sun, Dec 10 L Loss.
15 Sun, Dec 17 W Predicting all AFC North Matchups to split this season, other than Pittsburgh.  I think the Browns can beat this Ravens squad.
16 Sun, Dec 24 W Browns should be able to claim a W over the re-building Bears.  Hopefully Mitch is still the QB at this point, but the Bears MO is to have their QB hit a billion times every year (see Jay Cutler).  Browns win with their aggressive front 7.
17 Sun, Dec 31 L
Final Record: 6-10

A few things stand out when taking a quick peak at their upcoming schedule.  Depending on how the offense looks in competitive games, I can see the Ravens and Colts games being potential wins.  Joe Flacco still has not practiced and injuries are piling up on the Ravens.  The Colts may still be sans Andrew Luck, and even with Luck I do not foresee the Colts being a contender in 2017.  Week 5 against the Jets looks to be a sure win as the Jets will likely field the worst group of 22 football players since the 2016 Cleveland Browns.  A mid-season meeting with the Jags seems promising, and week 16 against the Chicago Bears could be a win as well.

Godspeed DeShone.

 

Image result for deshone kizer browns

 

English Premier League Preview Pt. 2

Onto Part 2 of the Season Preview — let’s not waste any time:

Manchester City:

Image result for Manchester City crest

2017: 3rd- 78 points

City are in the midst of a massive rebuild in their squad under coach Pep Guardiola. Gone are many of the players that were so crucial in City’s 2014 title season.  The great thing about rebuilding at City is money.  They have the money to buy pretty much any fucking player they want.  They’ve retooled their outside defenders by purchasing Kyle Walker from Tottenham, Danilo from Real Madrid, and Benjamin Mendy from AS Monaco.  They also splashed money on goalkeeper Ederson Moraes and young winger Bernardo Silva.

There are a lot of new faces to be inserted into City’s starting XI this season.  Pep Guardiola will be able to rely on world class veterans such as Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, and David Silva to compliment the new signings.  Look for City to push hard for a league title in 2018 — coming up just shy.

Predicted Finish: 2nd


Manchester United: 

Image result for Manchester United

2017: 6th- 69 points (nice)

Gone are the glory days for Manchester United — since manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, they have struggled mightily.   They’ve gone through 3 managers in that time (David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho) and have not legitimately competed for a title.

The second year for highly controversial manager Jose Mourinho hopes to be more of a success than his first.  Last season, United never threatened for the league title and finished just outside the Champions League spots.  However, United won the Europa League competition which grants the winner a spot in the Champions League.  They will have to win a playoff round prior to the group stage, but the Red Devils will most likely push through.

Mourinho has brought in a few signings this summer to bolster an already strong squad on paper.  They signed Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku from Everton for £90m, defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica for £31m, and Chelsea defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic for £40m.

Look for United to have a bolstered offense and improved defense in 2018.  I still think this is a squad that is fragile.  The spotlight and pressure will prove too much for them to handle.  They’ll have to avoid the bad stretch of results that sink their season every year. It’s no wonder why they are on their 3rd manager in 4 years.  I think United will finish outside the Champions League again — leading to the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Predicted Finish: 6th


Newcastle United: 

Image result for Newcastle United

Welcome back Toon Army!  Last time we saw Newcastle, they were being relegated in 2015. Last season, Newcastle was able to win the Championship outright and be promoted back into the Premier League. Newcastle have always had a solid side that can compete with very best of the top division.  They have a nice mix of solid young pieces and savvy veterans. Rafa Benitez, the current manager of Newcastle, is a world renowned coach leading the charge.

Last season, the Geordies ran through EFL Championship division without much trouble. I look for Newcastle to compete and ultimately survive comfortably in the Premier League this season.

Image result for Newcastle United

Predicted Finish: 12th


Southampton FC:

Image result for Southampton FC

2017: 8th-46 Points

Southampton FC are coming off a campaign in which they finished a very solid 8th in the Premier League.   Every year they compete at high level — and every year their young star players leave for bigger clubs such as Manchester United or Liverpool.  There is always so much turnover but they develop players to compete with the very best.

I look for another solid campaign from the Saints.  They have very good players at each position group.  They’ve got Italian striker Manolo Gabbiadini, English winger Nathan Redmond, Dutch centerback Virgil van Dijk, and English goalkeeper Fraser Forster.  Now, Virgil van Dijk has made it clear he would like to leave the club for a bigger team but so far there have been no updates on his move.  Even if he is lost, I am 100% confident they will fill his void.

Image result for manolo gabbiadini southampton

Predicted Finish: 9th


Stoke City FC:

Image result for stoke city

2017:  13th- 44 points

Stoke City are the perpetual middle of the pack finishers.  They are not going to push for a title —  but are not bad enough to be considered relegation candidates.  They have some crafty midfielders in Xherdan Shaqiri,  Joe Allen, and Ibrahim Afellay.  They have got England #1 goalkeeper Jack Butland and solid centerbacks in Ryan Shawcross, and Marc Muniesa.  However, they lack strength in the offensive end.  They have three strikers in Peter Crouch, Mame Diouf, and Saido Berahino.  None of these three are going to win any goal scoring titles.

Look for Stoke to finish around the middle of the pack as per usual.

Image result for Stoke City 2017

Predicted finish: 14th


Swansea City: 

Image result for Swansea City AFC

2017: 15th- 41 points

Swansea were on the brink last season.  They got off to a horrid start in the league, which led to them spending most of the first half of the season in the relegation zone.  They went through two managers in the span of 3 months.  Francesco Guidolin lasted until October 3rd and former USMNT’s manager Bob Bradley survived until December 27th. After hiring Paul Clement on January 3rd, the Swans managed to stave off relegation.

The only Welsh team in the premier league has some solid players at their disposal. Striker Fernando Llorente, midfielder Leon Britton, and defender Angel Rangel are all good enough pieces to compete with at a high level.  It is a matter of stability and coaching that seem to cause trouble for the Swans.  Star midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson is linked to leave the club, but if he does they should have the tools to survive.  I look for a big bounce back season for the Welsh outfit.

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Predicted Finish: 13th


Tottenham Hotspur: 

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2017: 2nd- 86 points

The second largest North London club are on the brink of a title. Spurs have all the pieces in place for a deep title run.  Last year, a scorching hot Chelsea derailed any title hopes by the mid-way point of the season in January. They are one of the biggest clubs in England, but aren’t likely to spend a lot of money on players like Manchester United or Chelsea.  They develop their talent from within and let me tell you it is some world class fucking talent.

The main pieces to Tottenham’s title hopes are English striker Harry Kane, attacking midfield superstar Dele Alli, and midfielder Christian Eriksen.  This team is loaded top to bottom.  They have world class French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and quality central defenders in Toby Alderwield and Jan Vertonghen.  This is the year they will put it all together and end a title drought since 1961.

 

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Predicted Finish: 1st


Watford:

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2017: 17th- 40 points

Other than having the coolest crest in the Premier League, there is not much to say about Watford FC.   They survived relegation by 6 points in 2017, and I would expect another tight battle.

Other than standout striker Troy Deeney, not many players star for Watford.  There are some midfield options in ex-Manchester United youngster Tom Cleverly and Etienne Capoue.

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Predicted Finish: 16th


West Bromwich Albion:

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2017: 10th- 45 points

It was West Brom’s most successful season in the Premier League last year. They finished exactly mid-table, but at certain points they pushed for the 8th and 9th spot.

West Brom is not an exciting team.  They don’t have world class talent at any position but are able to work so well as a unit managed by Tony Pulis.  Look for striker Solomon Rondon to have a big year as he is the primary goal scorer for the Baggies.  Youngsters Jonathan Lek, and Sam Field look to be promising under-20 options in the midfield.

Image result for West Brom 2017

Predicted Finish: 15th


West Ham United: 

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2017 Position: 11th- 45 points

It was a disastrous 2017 for the Hammers.  After stunning everyone in 2015 by qualifying for the Europa League, they crashed and burned last season.  French superstar midfielder Dmitri Payet forced a move away from the club in January.  After finishing 7th with 62 points in 2016, they finished 2017 with nearly 20 less points in the standings.

This summer, the Irons have spent a good deal of money looking to regain their form. They brought in Mexican superstar Javier Hernandez to play the striker role in a big time transfer move. They also brought in Marco Arnoutovic, a winger who spent the majority of his career at Stoke and also brought in former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart. Slaven Bilic was on the hot seat for most of the 2016-2017 campaign, and I would bet he will be in the same position this year.   The summer signings are a step in right direction and I expect a much more competitive campaign in 2017.

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Predicted Finish: 10th


There we have it.  Just a small preview of what’s to come this year in the Premier League. Just to recap my final standings are:

Prem
Key: Green – Champions League, Yellow – Europa League, Red – Relegation

 

 

The Premier League is fucking crazy hard to predict as it can be so up and down.  I look forward to an exciting season.  As an Everton FC fan, I will continue to post about the team as the season goes on.  Come on you Toffee’s!!

English Premier League 2017 Preview: Part 1

In the coming weeks, the 2017-2018 Premier League will kick off its campaign. Considering we are in such a dead sports period, I welcome the regular season with open arms.

Quick explanation of the basics for those who are not soccer regulars before we get started —  the league has a total of 20 teams competing for the title.  At the end of the season the team in first place wins the title.  Each win is worth 3 points in the standings, while a tie is worth 1.  The top 4 teams earn a spot in the UEFA Champions League, which is a tournament that the top teams in each of  Europe’s professional leagues compete for the title of European Champion.  The team who finish in the 5th position competes in the UEFA Europa League, which is a European runner up competition.

The bottom three teams are sent down to a league below the Premier League.  The top teams in the lesser league are then promoted to the Premier League. Often times the matches towards the end of the season that have survival, or relegation, on the line are the best.

In terms of off-season acquisitions, the main transactions that occur are transfers.  In North American sports, teams exchange players through trades or sign players via Free Agency.  In European soccer, the teams exchange money for player rights.  As an example, Brazilian superstar Neymar was purchased by French team Paris Saint Germaine from Barcelona for $228 million. After the fee is agreed, the player negotiates a contract with his new team.

I’m going to start Part 1 with a look at the teams that will be competing in the Premier League this year.


AFC Bournemouth:

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2017: 9th-46 points

Bournemouth are coming into this season having survived their first two years in the premier league.  They are a solid side for a team of their financial capabilities.  This summer they made a few signings to bolster the squad — striker Jermaine Defoe, goalie Asmir Begovic, and ex Chelsea youngster Nathan Ake.

The Cherries won’t be competing for the league title this year that is for damn sure, but they have a solid side.  They can beat the best teams on any given day, and should not be taken lighly.

Predicted Finish: 11th

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Arsenal FC:

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2017: 5th-75 points

Arsenal are one of the big boys when it comes to English soccer.  They are one of about five teams that are in contention going into each season, and have one of soccer’s most tenured coaches in Arsene Wenger. Last year was one of turmoil for the Gunners; they finished in 5th place, which is one position outside of qualifying for the Champions League.

The Gunners made a major move this off-season to make sure last season’s disappointment is behind them.   Wenger brought in french international Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon for £55m. Lacazette is a forward attacking player who looks to fill the gaping hole that has plagued Arsenal for years.  The Gunners have also held on to Chilean superstar winger Alexis Sanchez this summer when it looked like he was sure to be leaving for another club.

Arsenal are always going to be a competitive side who will be in title contention for the first quarter of the season.  They seem to teeter off as the season goes along — I look for similar this season but they will finish within the top 4.

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Predicted Finish: 4th


Brighton Hove Albion:

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I’ve got very little to say about Brighton Hove Albion.  They earned promotion from the second division this season.  2017-2018 will be their first season in the Premier League since their founding in 1901.

I wouldn’t expect too much from a team like Brighton.  It is going to be an up-hill battle for them to survive relegation.

 

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Predicted finish: 18th-Relegation


Burnley FC

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2017: 16th-40 Points

2016-2017 was an up and down year for Burnley.  For a team that was newly promoted, they got as high as 10th place mid-way through the campaign.  However, they came crashing down and finished in 16th just barely above relegation.

They lost a few key players in the transfer window –none bigger than their center back Michael Keane.  Keane moved to Everton FC this summer for around £30m. Losing young key players is always going to be a struggle for smaller clubs — I look for Burnley to struggle mightily in 2017.

Predicted Finish: 19th-Relegation

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Chelsea FC:

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2017: 1st-93 points

2016-2017 was a resurgent year for Chelsea.  After finishing in 10th in 2016, the Blues brought in Italian manager Antonio Conte.  They got off to a bit of a slow start, but in late October they took off.   A mid-season streak of 13 straight wins propelled Chelsea into the top position for the remainder of the campaign. Their streak was able to tie the most consecutive wins in the Premier League of all time.

2017-2018 will look to be a bit tougher for the Blues.  Last year, Chelsea played fewer games than most of the top teams because they did not qualify for the Champions League in 2016.  This year, they will have to compete in the Champions League while defending their domestic title.

Chelsea have made a few summer signings, but most important being Alvaro Morata for £58m from Real Madrid.  Morata is a pure goal scorer who looks to replace Chelsea mainstay Diego Costa.  Not many changes are needed for the defending champs as they are stacked in almost every position.  Look for Chelsea to defend their title until the very end.

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Predicted Finish: 3rd


Crystal Palace FC:

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2017: 14th-41 points

Crystal Palace survived 2017 to live to fight another day in the Premier League.   They were staring at relegation for about half of the campaign.  After firing manager Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce was able to bring the team back to life in February.

Look for Palace to rebound in 2018 — they are a team that has some solid pieces. Striker Christian Benteke, midfielder Yohan Cabaye, and defender Mamadou Sakho are all quality pieces to build a team around.  In addition to these three, they have an emerging winger in Wilfried Zaha who has been linked to move to bigger clubs in the summer (Manchester United).  Palace have the depth to finish in the upper half of the Premier League table — new manager Frank de Boer will look to build off the momentum gained at the end of the 2017  season.

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Predicted finish: 8th


Everton FC:

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2017 Position: 7th-61 Points

 

The transformation of Everton FC has nearly been as drastic as a NY Jets rebuild.  The club’s first year under new Dutch manager Ronald Koeman was successful in some ways. The club started out unbeaten in their first 6 Premier League games, but plateaued as the season wore on.

It’s been a wild summer on the Blue side of Merseyside.  Everton brought in 22 year old goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, 22 year old defender Michael Keane, 22 year old striker Sandro Ramirez, 24 year old midfielder Davey Klassen,17 year old striker Henry Onyekuru, and Manchester United all time goal scorer Wayne Rooney.  Wayne Rooney is making his return to where his storied career started nearly 13 years ago.

Many players have been brought in to forge a new identity for the club since most of the players from the old Roberto Martinez regime have moved on.  There may be some growing pains with so many new faces being brought in, but in time this squad will be competing for Champions League.  They will be playing in the Europa League this fall to get their feet wet in continental play.

Image result for wayne rooney everton return 2017

Predicted Finish: 7th


Huddersfield Town FC:

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Look, I am not going to pretend I have a fucking clue about Huddersfield Town.  I just know a team of this size will struggle in the Premier.  Huddersfield earned promotion through Playoffs in the league below.  The top 2 teams are automatically promoted, and the next 4 compete in a 4 team tournament to see who earns the last promotion spot.

Look for these guys to struggle mightily through the year.  Survival would mean massive success.

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Predicted Finish: 20th-Relegation

 

Leicester City FC:

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2017: 12th- 44 points

The fairy tale is over for the Foxes.  After one of the most mesmerizing title runs in sports history in 2015-16, 2016-17 was an equally as hard of a come down.  Leicester were in the relegation zone as late as February.  The club fired its championship winning manager Claudio Ranieri, and brought in Craig Shakespeare.

2018 will be another tough campaign for Leicester as they look to survive in the Premier League yet again.  Striker Jamie Vardy returns a year older and star winger Riyad Mahrez looks to be staying for the time being.  On a positive note, this year they will have a less crowded schedule as they did not qualify for either the Europa League or Champions League.

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Predicted Finish: 17th

 

Liverpool FC: 

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2017: 4th-76 Points

Fuck these guys.  Liverpool are coming off a successful 2017 campaign in which they qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2013-2014.

Liverpool are a solid team offensively with the likes of midfielder Phillppe Coutinho, attacking midfielder Sadio Mane, and striker Roberto Firmino.  Liverpool continues to struggle on the back end.  Both goalies (Loris Karius, and Simon Mignolet) are average at best.  The outside defenders (Alberto Moreno and James Milner) are average to below average.  This leads to a side that can give a lot of goals to a good attacking team.  They do have solid central defenders in Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip.  It is going to be tough for Liverpool to maintain Champions League status with one of the weaker back-ends in the top 6.

Predicted Finish: 5th

 

NHL Expansion Draft Preview-Western Conference.

The NHL offseason is officially underway!  Yesterday we had a blockbuster trade that flew under the radar as most people were bitching about some shirt Draymond Green was wearing.  Really, who gives a fuck?  Let’s take quick look at the deal the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lighting made yesterday quickly before my Western Conference Mock Expansion Draft.

The Montreal Canadiens Acquired LW Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 2018 6th round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning.  In return, the Lightning acquiried Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2018 2nd round.  Low key blockbuster!  Tampa had been having Drouin troubles for about 3 years now, and they finally dealt him after years of speculation.  The questions remains — why the fuck are the Lightning trading Drouin within the division?!

Drouin is a 22 year old left wing that was originally drafted 3rd overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.  The kid is a sniper, and 2016-17 was his breakout season.  He registered 21 goals, 32 assists, and 53 points on the year.  He will likely slot into Les Canadiens top 2 lines as a goal scorer.  Shortly after the deal went through it was announced that Drouin signed a 6 year $33 million contract extension.

Sergachev is an 18 year old Defenseman drafted 9th overall by Montreal in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and was arguably the Habs’ top prospect.  He spent all of 2016-17 refining his game in the Ontario Hockey League (Major Juniors).  Sergachev dressed in 50 games for the Windsor Spitfires registering 10 goals, 33 assists, and 43  points last season.  Look for him to make the jump to the NHL or AHL this season.   The conditional 2nd round pick hinges on Mikhail’s games played; if he plays 4 ,the picks are exchanged. If not, both teams retain their original picks.

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^ Get a load of these two smug pricks.

With that out of the way, lets kick start my Western Conference Mock Expansion Draft!  I was already proven wrong by the Pittsburgh Penguins shortly after the cup final.  Goaltender Marc-Andre Fluery waived his no-trade clause, and he will be exposed instead of my predicted goalie Matt Murray.

 

Oh well…

 

Central Divison:

Image result for Chicago Blackhawks logoForwards they will expose: C Marcus Krueger, RW Jordin Tootoo, C Andrew Desjardins, C Michael Latta, RW Thomas Jurco, LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie, C Dennis Rasmussen

Defenseman they will expose:  Michael Rosival, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Viktor Svedberg

Goalies they will expose: Jeff Glass

Vegas Selects: D Trevor Van Riemsdyk

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Surprise! Vegas takes another Dman.  The younger, shittier brother of Toronto Maple Leafs star James Van Riemsdyk will likely be taken from the Hawks.  He has experience playing in big time games with big time players.  He’ll likely bottom out as a solid bottom pairing defenseman. He’s only 25, so Vegas will give him a shot.  He’s coming off a 5 goal, 11 assist, and 16 point season in  2017.  He also finished with a career best +17 +/-.

 

Image result for colorado avalanche logoForwards they will expose: C Carl Soderberg, LW Blake Comeau, C Mikhail Grigorenko, C Joe Colborne, C Rocco Grimaldi, LW Matt Nieto, C John Mitchell

Defenseman they will expose: Mat Clark, Patrick Wiercoch, Mark Barberio

Goalies they will expose: Jeremy Smith

Vegas Selects: C Mikhail Grigorenko

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Some solid options from an abysmal organization.  Colorado will likely be one of the more active teams this off season.  After being one of the worst teams in the last 20 years, they got absolutely screwed out of the #1 overall draft pick.  Avalanche GM Joe Sakic will likely protect a large group of players merely to save them for trades that acquire future assets (Duchene, Landeskog, etc).  Vegas will scoop up 23 year old Grigorenko, a former 1st round pick of the Buffalo Sabres.  He’s never been able to really get it together in the NHL —  however this year he recorded his best numbers yet.  He finished 2017 with 10 goals, 13 assists, and 23 points.  Grigorenko is listed as a center, but can play wing as well.

Image result for dallas starsForwards they will Expose: C Cody Eakin, LW Curtis McKenzie,  RW Adam Cracknell, RW Brett Ritchie, LW Antoine Roussel, C Justin Dowling, Gemel Smith, C Radek Faksa

Defenseman they will expose: Dan Hamhuis, Greg Pateryn, Andrew Bondnarchuk

Goalies they will expose: Kari Lehtonen

Vegas Selects: LW Antoine Roussel

Image result for Antoine Roussel 2017

Solid pick right here for the Knights.  There is a fear in Dallas that they will have to expose Roussel for the Draft.  Consensus in the media says that Cody Eakin will be taken from the Stars.  I’ve already taken a shit load of centers, so lets go with Roussel.  Roussel is the text book definition of  “Depth/Secondary Scoring”.  He’s also extremely consistent — in his four full NHL seasons he’s finished with 29, 25, 29, and 27 points respectively.  He also brings an edge to his game.  Seen as an agitator, Antoine has amassed over 100 penalty minutes in all four of his NHL seasons.

Image result for minnesota wild logoForwards they will expose: C Eric Staal, LW Jason Zucker, C Cody Brassart, C Ryan White, RW Chris Stewart, RW Kurtis Gabriel, C Erik Haula

Defenseman they will expose: Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, Christian Folin

Goalies they will expose: Alex Stalock

Vegas Selects: LW Jason Zucker

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Zucker is the pick from most of the talking heads out there.  Zucker is coming off his best season – he posted a 47 point season on 22 goals, and 25 assists.  I wouldn’t expect 30+ points consistently since he’s more of a depth scorer.  Would be a solid add for Vegas, as he is only 25.

Image result for Nashville predators new  logoForwards they will expose: LW Cody McLeod, C Trevor Smith,  C Cody Bass, C Mike Ribeiro, C Craig Smith, LW James Neal, C Vernon Fiddler

Defenseman they will expose: Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin, Anthony Jaynen

Goalies they will expose: Marek Mazanec

Vegas Selects: LW James Neal

 

Image result for james neal game 6

Nashville could go either way when it comes to exposing/protecting forwards.  They don’t have many players that would be exempt.  I went with James Neal solely because the chatter seems to be that he would be exposed.  If I’m Vegas, I’m grabbing a guy coming off a deep cup run.  His numbers are starting to dip as he gets older  but he can still bring solid production.

Image result for St Louis Blues logoForwards they will expose:  LW David Perron, RW Ryan Reaves, C Kyle Brodziak, RW Dmitrij Jaskin, C Landon Ferraro, RW Nail Yakupov

Defenseman they will expose: Robert Bortuzzo, Chris Butler, Petteri Lindbhom

Goalies they will expose: Carter Hutton

Vegas Selects: RW Nail Yakupov

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The biggest bust in recent NHL history comes off the board from St. Louis.  Not much more to say.  He was selected #1 overall by Edmonton in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and he went into a horrendous situation with the Oilers.  He came out firing in the lockout shortened 2013 campaign.  He posted 17 goals, 14 assists, and 31 points in the 48 game regular season — not too shabby.  Since that time though, he’s been a disaster.  Multiple coaching changes and mismanagement has done him in.  This past offseason, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for a career ECHLer (That’s AA hockey, not even AAA).  He amassed only 9 points on 3 goals, and 6 assists in 40 games played with St. Louis.  The physical tools are all there.  He’s got incredible end to end speed, lightning quick release, and is not afraid of body contact.  Vegas will take Nail in what will likely be his last shot before he bolts for CSKA Moscow of the KHL.

Image result for winnipeg jets logoForwards they will expose: RW Joel Armia, LW Adam Lowry, C Marko Dano, RW Chris Throburn, C Mathieu Perreault, RW JC Lipon, RW Anthony Peluso

Defenseman they will expose: Mark Stuart, Julian Melchiori, Paul Postma

Goalies they will expose: Ondrej Pavelec

Vegas Selects: C Marko Dano

Seems to be the consensus that Dano will be scooped up by Vegas.  I’ll go with him since it seemed to be the unanimous pick with the beat writers.  I could see Mathieu Perrault being picked as well.  Dano is only 22 years old, and lacks experience at the NHL level. He was a former 1st round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks.  He only played in 38 contests this year, posting 11 points on 4 goals and 7 assists.

Image result for Anaheim Ducks new logoForwards they will expose:  C Chris Wagner, RW Jared Boll, C Antoine Vermette, RE Logan Shaw, RW Corey Tropp, LW Emerson Etem, LW Andrew Cogliano

Defenseman the will expose: Clayton Stoner, Sami Vatanen, Jeff Shultz

Goalies they will expose: Dustin Tokarski

Vegas Selects: Sami Vatanen

Image result for Sami Vatanen 2017

Tough decisions coming out of Anaheim.  So many defensemen and not enough protection spots.  They will have to leave Vatanen exposed as he is older than Hamphus Lindholm and Cam Fowler.  Both have more upside at this stage of their careers.  Sami is an offensive defenseman, who lacks size.  He can still play top four minutes and quarterback the power play.

Image result for arizona coyotes new logoForwards they will expose: LW Jamie McGinn, RW Brad Richardson, LW Jordan Martinook, C Alex Burmistrov, C Peter Holland, C Chris Mueller, C Tyler Gaudet

Defenseman they will expose:  Luke Schenn, Kevin Connauton, Jamie McBain

Goalies they will expose: Louis Domingue

Vegas Selects: Jamie McGinn

Image result for Jamie McGinn Coyotes

 

Beat writers have Vegas selecting Luke Schenn from Arizona.  Luke Schenn sucks.  Like a lot.  McGinn presents a solid bottom six forward who can kill penalties and pot a few goals here and there.  He’s on a shitty contract but Vegas can afford to take on his money.

Image result for Calgary Flames logoForwards they will expose:  RW Michael Frolik, C Matt Stajan, RW Troy Brouwer, LW Brandon Bollig, C Curtis Lazar, RW Alex Chiasson, Linden Vey

Defenseman they will expose: Matt Bartkowski, Deryk Engelland, Brett Kulak

Goalies they will expose: Tom McCollum

Vegas Selects: C Curtis Lazar

Image result for Curtis Lazar flames

Another 1st round bust gets snapped up by the Golden Knights.  Picked 17th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2013, he’s never produced at all at the NHL level.  He was traded to Calgary at the 2017 NHL trade deadline.  Provides Vegas with a forward prospect who may catch fire, but it’s unlikely.  He is a better option than most of the Flames exposed forwards – otherwise, he sucks.

Image result for Edmonton Oilers logoForwards they will expose: LW Benoit Pouliot, C Mark Letestu, RW Justin Fontaine,  RW Tyler Pitlick,  RW Jujhar Kjaira, RW Jordan Eberle, LW Zachary Pochiro

Defenseman they will expose: Eric Gryba, Mark Fayne, Griffin Reinhart

Goalies they will expose:  Laurent Brossoit

Vegas Selects: D Griffin Reinhart

Image result for Griffin reinhart oilers

Another major bust coming into Vegas!  Picked 4th overall in 2012 by the New York Islanders, Griffin hasn’t been able to make the leap. Nothing else of real value available from the Oilers– might as well load up on D prospects.  A chance to play for the Knights is exactly what Reinhart may need.  He spent all of 2017 playing for the Bakersfield Condors, the Oilers AHL affiliate.   His only real regular playing time in the NHL was in 2015-16 when he skated in 29 games for the Oilers.  He only notched 1 assist, and had a -6 +/- rating.

Image result for Los Angeles Kings logoForwards they will expose:  RW Dustin Brown, RW Marian Gaborik, C Kyle Clifford, C Jordan Nolan. RW Teddy Purcell,  LW Andy Andreoff, C Nick Shore

Defenseman they will expose: Derek Forbort, Zach Trotman, Vincent Loverde

Goalies they will expose:  Jeff Zatkoff

Vegas Selects: C Nick Shore

Image result for Nick shore 2017

Depth forward for the bottom two lines — can play center and wing at a decent level. He is not going to score a lot goals, or set them up for that matter.  He is good in the faceoff circle, kills penalties, and is strong defensively.  Nothing sexy about this pick. The other  options Gaborik and Brown are all on enormous contracts not worth taking on.

Image result for san jose sharks logoForwards they will expose: LW Mikkel Boedker, C Melker Karlsson, RW Joel Ward, C Ryan Carpenter, C Chris Tierney, C Michael Haley, RW Buddy Robinson

Defenseman they will expose: Paul Martin, David Schlemko, Dylan DeMelo

Goalies they will expose: Aaron Dell

Vegas Selects: LW Mikkel Boedker

 

Image result for Mikkel Boedker sharks

Coming off a career worst year, it is very likely the Sharks would be willing to expose Boedker.  He was signed as an Unrestricted Free Agent last summer by the Sharks.  He was slated to play alongside the likes of Jumbo Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture.  He is all over the map production wise but can generally top out around 50 points.  However, this year he only notched 26 in 81 games played.  Could be an easy target for the Golden Knights.

Image result for Vancouver Canucks logoForwards they will expose: C Markus Granlund, Reid Boucher, RW Derek Dorsett, C Jayson Megna, RW Jack Skille, C Brendan Gaunce, C Joseph Cramarossa

Defenseman they will expose: Luca Sbisa, Akex Biega, Erik Gudbranson

Goalies they will expose: Richard Bachman

Vegas Selects: D Luca Sbisa

Another defenseman rounds out the picks from Vegas.  It is absolutely vital that they load up on defense talent in the Expansion Draft and Entry Draft.  When it comes down to playing in the playoffs, solid D corps are crucial.  Sbisa is not a top 4 defenseman by any means, but he is a solid bottom pairing D man with experience.

 

 

There you have it.  My Western Conference mock Expansion Draft.  Keep in mind this shit may be way off.  There are so many variables at play here.  I got a lot of help from the beat writers mock  draft on the Washington Post, and a little hockey nerd site called capfriendly.com.  You can fuck around with exposing/protecting players yourself here:

https://www.capfriendly.com/expansion-draft

Here’s my final list I’m not going to do line combos because it’s fucking late, and I’m still sitting in the office like a hardo.

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Darren Helm, Tomas Plekanec, Bobby Ryan, Seth Griffith, Brock McGinn, Mike Cammelleri, Michael Grabner, Mikhail Grigorenko, Antoine Roussel, Jason Zucker, James Neal, Nail Yakupov, Marko Dano, Jamie McGinn, Curtis Lazar, Nick Shore, Mikkel Boedker.

Defenseman: Joe Morrow, Mark Pysyk, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Pulock, Derrick Pouliot, Luca Sbisa, Griffin Reinhart, Sami Vatanen, Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goalies: Phillip Grubauer, Michal Nuevirth, Joonas Korpisalo

 

Thus ends the second half of my two part mock expansion draft.  Hopefully 50% of it will actually true, but that is unlikely.  Stay tuned next week for a recap of the NHL awards, and expansion draft– both take place on the 21st in Las Vegas.

 

Stanley Cup Final Game 6 Recap

Well, there it is.  The Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2017 Stanley Cup Champions. They are the first team to win back-to-back cups since the late 90’s Red Wings. The Predators fought hard to force a game 7 back in Pittsburgh, but the playoff seasoned Penguins were just too much to handle.

For 58 minutes, Matt Murray and Pekka Rinne put on a goaltending clinic.  The action was end to end, with chances coming in abundance.  Matt Murray made 27 saves, had some assistance from his posts and officials.

Just under 2 minutes into the second period, Predators winger Colton Sissons banged home a lose puck into the yawning net.  It was a rebound that trickled through Murray’s five hole.  Unfortunately, the officials blew the whistle before the puck went into the net since it looked as if the puck was covered up.  Once the play is dead — it’s dead.  Does not matter that the puck went in, or was loose.  It sucks, but it is what it is.

The Predators continued to push hard to a go-ahead goal, but Murray was fantastic.  At the other end of the ice, Pekka Rinne was matching Murray save for save.  Despite being awarded 4 power play chances and one 5 on 3 advantage, the Predators could not beat Murray.  Before long there were only 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd period — surely this was going to go to sudden death overtime.

With just 93 seconds remaining, Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist corralled a loose puck in the right wing corner after a wacky bounce off the end boards.  Out of position from the bounce, Hornqvist banked the puck off of Pekka Rinne into the back of the net.  That was it.  Carl Hagelin added an empty netter with just 10 seconds left to play.  Pure joy and elation for the Pens, and heartbreaking defeat for the Preds.

Image result for patric hornqvist

Overall, the series was a bit of a let down.  Not taking anything away from the Predators, but they just did not match up well with Penguins.  Their forward group just did not pack enough of a punch.  They stood a fighting chance if Rinne stood on his head, and if he hadn’t shit himself in games 1,3, and 5 this probably goes 7 games.

Sidney Crosby was the 2017 Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP) winner.  In an all time hose job, he wins the award in back to back years.  Neither season he deserved it.  2015-16 should’ve been Phil Kessel, this year it should have been Jake Guentzel or Evgeni Malkin.

My pick has to be Guentzel —  he played in only 40 regular season games and finished with 33 pts on 16 goals and 17 assists.  In the 25 game playoffs, he managed to grab 21 pts on 13 goals and 8 assists.  Most of the goals came in clutch moments as well.  Feel bad for Guentzel but since the Penguins won the finals, Sid gets MVP.  Absolute joke.

Image result for sidney crosby conn smythe

 

On to the 2017 off season we go!  From now until July 6th, the NHL is going to be loaded with offseason events. On June 21st, we will have the NHL Awards Ceremony (who cares?) and the expansion draft.  Move two days later to 6/23, and we will have the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Chicago’s United Center.  Rounding off the events is the beginning of Unrestricted Free Agency on July 1st.

Now that 2017’s over, LET’S GO BRUINS!!