Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017 Stanley Cup Finals preview


           It's what we've been waiting for many months. It's the Stanley Cup Finals. 28 teams are playing golf, the other two are looking to win it all. They're the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will all come down to this question: who will lift Lord Stanley's Cup?

            Nashville Predators

            Conference finals: vs Anaheim Ducks in 6 games (Western)
P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators danced past the Anahiem Ducks to win the Clarence S. Campbell trophy. Pekka Rinne has been the best goalie in the playoffs. Even though forwards Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen are out for the playoffs, the Preds still have a very good chance at winning the first Cup in franchise history after making the first conference finals and Cup finals in history. They might be the 16th seed, but they look much stronger.

             Pittsburgh Penguins

             Conference finals: vs Ottawa Senators in 7 games (Eastern)
The defending champs couldn't put away the Ottawa Senators until Chris Kunitz became the hero in 2OT in game seven. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel all played well. Justin Schultz has turned into Kris Letang while Letang is out. Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzal have stepped up big time. Whether Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury is in net, the Pens have a stud saving goals.

              Prediction: Nashville Predators
It's their year. It's hard to pick against the defending champs, but a team hasn't repeated Cups since the Detroit Red Wings did so 20 years ago. It just doesn't happen any more. But, this easily could go 7 games, so it'll be very entertaining, like every Cup final.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

MLB news: Margot placed on DL by Padres


        
The San Diego Padres have placed OF Manuel Margot on the 10 day DL with a calf injury. They have also recalled utility player Franchy Cordero.

          Margot, 22, has a .259 batting average, four homers, 13 RBIs and five stolen bases in 185 ABs this season. He also has three triples. In two seasons in his career, Margot has a .257 batting average, those four homers, 19 RBIs, seven steals in 222 ABs. He's one of their top prospects, but needs to get on base more. It's been a small sample size, but Margot has a .295 OBP.

          Cordero, also 22, has never played in the MLB. He has a .289 batting average, seven homers, 23 RBIs, and eight steals in 173 ABs for the El Paso Chihuahuas. He has a .273 average, 36 HRs, 210 RBIs and 94 steals in 1905 ABs in his six year minor league career.

MLB news: A's place Hahn on DL


      The Oakland Athletics (or A's) have placed RHP Jesse Hahn on the 10-day DL (triceps) and have recalled RHP Jharel Cotton from Nashville (AAA).

      Hahn, 27, has a 3.81 ERA and 41 K's in 49.2 innings this year. He has a career 3.82 ERA with 198 K's in 266 innings for the A's and San Diego Padres.

       Cotton, 25, has a 5.68 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 38 innings this year for the A's. He has a 2.25 ERA and 13 K's in 12 minor league innings this year. He has a 4.14 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 67.1 career MLB innings over two seasons in Oakland.

        After being scratched in a start against the New York Yankees, RHP Kendall Graveman is also expected to hit the DL.

         Graveman, 26, has a 3.83 ERA in 47 innings this year, striking out 32 batters. He has a career 4.05 ERA with 221 strikeouts in 353.1 innings for the A's and Toronto Blue Jays. He was part of the huge trade that sent slugger Josh Donaldson to Toronto.

MLB news: Dodgers claim pair off waivers from Mariners


          The Los Angeles Dodgers have claimed INF Mike Freeman and RHP Chris Heston off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, and have optioned both to the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

           Freeman, 29, has hit .067 with a homer and an RBI in 30 ABs this year. He has a .135 batting average with that one homer and two RBIs in 52 ABs in his career for the Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.

            Heston, also 29, has allowed 11 runs in five innings this year, striking out three batters. He's struck out 151 batters in 193 career innings with a 4.57 ERA in his career for the Mariners and San Francisco Giants. He threw a no hitter in 2015 with the Giants.

Friday, May 26, 2017

MLB news: Dodgers place 2 on DL, activate 2 more

     The Los Angeles Dodgers have made a flurry of moves, due to injuries. They've reinstated RHP Kenta Maeda (hamstring) and LHP Adam Liberatore (groin) from the 10 day DL, and have placed LHP Luis Avilan (triceps) on the 10 day DL, and CF Joc Pederson on the 7 day concussion DL.

           Maeda, 29, has a 5.08 ERA in 44.1 innings this year, striking out 44. He has a career 3.80 ERA with 223 K's in 220 innings over two seasons, both with the Dodgers. He's been out for two weeks.

            Liberatore, 30, has one strikeout in 1.1 innings this year, allowing one run (6.75 ERA). He has a career 3.79 ERA with 77 K's in 73.2 innings over three seasons with the Dodgers. Liberatore has also missed two weeks.

             Pederson, 25, has a .200 batting average, two homers and 11 RBIs in 105 ABs this year. He has a career .222 average, 53 homers, 133 RBIs and 10 steals in 1019 ABs over four seasons in L.A.

             Avilan, 27, has a 3.00 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 15 innings this year. He has a career 2.98 ERA with 193 strikeouts in 232.1 innings with the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

NHL news: Ott retires, hired as Blues assistant coach


      
  Steve Ott will no longer play in the NHL, it seems. The 34 year old has retired from the league, but was hired by the St. Louis Blue to be their assistant coach.

          Ott played his final season this year, with seven points (three goals and four assists) in 53 games mainly for the Detroit Red Wings, but played a few of those games with the Montreal Canadiens. In his career, he had 288 points (109 goals and 179 assists). He's mostly known for taking lots of penalties. He had 1555 PIM in his career. He played for five teams in his career. They're the Habs, Wings, Blues, Buffalo Sabres, and the Dallas Stars, who Ott played his first nine seasons with.

           The Summerside, P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island), Canada native was traded three times over the course of his career. The Stars traded him to the Sabres along with Adam Pardy for Derek Roy. The Sabres traded Ott to St. Louis in the infamous Ryan Miller trade. Ott and Miller went to St. Louis for Chris Stewart, William Carrier, Jaroslav Halak, a 2015 first round pick and a 2016 third rounder, which became Jack Roslovic and Linus Nassen respectively. Ott signed a one year deal with Detroit in 2016, but was traded to Montreal for a 2018 sixth rounder.

              "Steve was a competitor on the ice as a player and a person among his teammates and I expect him to bring that energy in this role. He was highly respected as a player and a person among his teammates and I believe that he will be a huge asset to our staff," Blues head coach Mike Yeo said in a statement.

               "I am very proud of my playing career and will devote the same work ethic to my coaching career," Ott said in a statement. "The Blues organization is very special to me and my family and I'm excited to take the next step in my hockey career with this franchise."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MLB news: Mariners acquire Aplin, Orioles acquire Sardinas


      The Seattle Mariners have acquired OF Andrew Aplin from the Houston Astros for a PTBNL or cash considerations.

       Aplin, 26, has never played in the majors. He has a .250 average with a homer and a stolen base in 84 ABs for the Fresno Grizzlies (AAA) this year. He has a career average of .245 with eight homers, 88 RBIs and 47 steals in four years at AAA.

        To make room for Aplin, who was optioned to Tacoma (AAA) on the 40 man roster, RHP Chris Heston was DFA'd. Heston, 29, has pitched in five innings for Seattle this season, striking out three batters, but has a horrid 19.80 ERA. He has a career 4.57 ERA in 193 innings, striking out 151 batters in four seasons for the Mariners and San Francisco Giants. In 2015, he threw a no-hitter as a member of the Giants, against the New York Mets.

         In other MLB news, the Baltimore Orioles claimed INF Luis Sardinas off waivers from the San Diego Padres. Sardinas, 24, has a .163 average with an RBI and a stolen base in 49 ABs this year. He has a career .229 average, four homers, 31 RBIs and 10 steals in 441 ABs with the Padres, Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers. He's liked for his versatility. He can play 2B, SS and 3B. Since the O's had 39 men on the 40 man roster, they didn't need to DFA anyone, so Sardinas became the 40th man.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MLB news: pair of star middle infielders activated off DL


        The Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies got a significant part of their team back on Tuesday. The Mariners activated 2B Robinson Cano off the DL, while the Rockies activated SS Trevor Story.

         Cano, 34, has a .296 average, eight homers and 28 RBIs in 135 ABs this year. He has a career .306 batting average, with 286 HRs and 1,114 RBIs in 7345 ABs for the Mariners and New York Yankees. Before Cano was activated, C Mike Zunino and RHP Emilio Pagan were recalled from Tacoma (AAA), and 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Tuffy Gosewisch and RHP Chris Heston were optioned to Tacoma. Cano missed a short amount of time because of a quad strain.

          Story, 24, has hit .180 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 111 ABs this year. He has a career .251 average, 33 homers and 87 RBIs, plus nine steals in 483 ABs in two seasons, both in Colorado. The Rockies also optioned RHP Jeff Hoffman to make room for Story on the 25 man roster. Hoffman, also 24, has a 3.29 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 13.2 innings this year. He has a career 4.40 ERA and 39 Ks in 45 innings, all for the Rockies. Story has been out since May 9 with a shoulder injury.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MLB news: Walker placed on DL


    
The Arizona Diamondbacks have placed RHP Taijuan Walker on the 10 day DL (blister), and activated LHP T.J. McFarland from the 10 day DL.

      D-backs GM Mike Hazen told MLB.com that the injury wasn't serious. "I don't think it's going to be that long. This is something he's been dealing with for a few weeks now, and while it was making some progress start to start, it's still something he's been managing through."

      Walker, 24, was acquired this offseason in a big trade that sent SS Jean Segura to Seattle. He has a 3.46 in 52 innings this year, striking out 46 batters. He has a career 4.09 ERA in 409 innings with 368 Ks for the D-backs and Mariners.

       McFarland, 27, has a 1.35 ERA in 6.2 innings for the D-backs this year, striking out four. He has a career 4.17 ERA in 205 innings, with 129 Ks in his career for the D-backs and Baltimore Orioles.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MLB news: Braves acquire Adams from Cardinals


    
  The Atlanta Braves have acquired 1B Matt Adams from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Yepez. Let's get into details.

       Along with first base, Adams has played in left field this season. He seems to be able to play right field as well. But with star Matt Carpenter at first, and solid OFs Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty in the corners, the Cardinals mostly used Adams as a pinch hitter for the pitcher against righties. So, they didn't really need him. They didn't get much value in Yepez, but it's something.

       The 19 year old Yepez was never been apart of the Braves top 30 prospect list. He hit .275 with a homer, 15 RBIs and four steals in 142 ABs for the Rome Braves (single-A) this year. He's hit .281 with six homers, 54 RBIs and seven steals in his three year minor league career dating back to 2015.

        With star 1B Freddie Freeman out for a while, the Braves have been searching first base options. They called up Rio Ruiz, who hit his first MLB home run yesterday. They also signed former star James Loney to a minor league deal. But Adams seems to be the favorite to start the majority of the games until Freeman returns.

      Adams, 28, hit .292 with a homer and seven RBIs in 48 ABs for the Cardinals this season. He's played in six MLB seasons, all with the Cardinals, with a .271 average, 56 HRs and 217 RBIs in 1429 ABs. He appeared in the 2013 World Series for the Cardinals, hitting .136, without an RBI and striking out seven times in 22 ABs. The Cardinals lost to the Red Sox that series.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

MLB news: Rangers extend winning streak to 10 games


       This is getting ridiculous. After a 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers, the Texas Rangers extended their winning streak to 10 games. That's the longest winning streak for any MLB club so far in 2017.
      
        The Rangers offense has been awake. They've scored 64 runs on the streak, with at least four runs scored in every game. Their pitching has been solid, allowing just 27 runs. That's 6.4 runs scored per game and 2.7 runs allowed per game.

        Also, there's a new pitching hero every night. A different pitcher has won each game. Here's the list of winning pitchers in the last 10 games:

A.J. Griffin
Jeremy Jeffress
Sam Dyson
Keone Kela
Tony Barnette
Dario Alvarez
Yu Darvish
Andrew Cashner
Martin Perez
Nick Martinez

            They've also done it with stars Cole Hamels and Adrian Beltre on the DL.

            The only problem is that the Rangers have barely gained any ground on their rivals, the Houston Astros, who are in first place. The did lose yesterday, but have won 9 of their last 11.

            The Rangers currently are second in the AL West (behind Houston) with a 23-20 record, 6.5 games back of the Astros.

Friday, May 19, 2017

MLB news: Miller placed on DL, Martinez acquired by Rays


    
  The Tampa Bay Rays have placed 2B Brad Miller on the 10-day DL with a left abdominal strain. He's not expected to miss a long period of time.

        Miller, 27, hit a career high 30 homers last year. That offseason, he was acquired by the Rays along with Logan Morrison and Danny Farquhar from the Seattle Mariners for Nathan Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser and Boog Powell. He's hit .205, with two homers, 14 RBIs and three steals in 132 ABs this year. He's a career .243 hitter, with 61 HRs, 213 RBIs and 31 steals in 1791 ABs for the Rays and Mariners.

        The Rays also traded for 2B Michael Martinez, giving up a PTBNL or cash to the Cleveland Indians. He's hit .364 without an RBI in 14 ABs for Cleveland this year. He has a .200 average, six homers and 42 RBIs in 545 career ABs for the Indians, Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies.

         For Martinez to go on the 40 man roster, Xaiver Cedeno was transferred to the 60 day DL. He has a 3.86 ERA in 2.1 innings this year, without a K. He has a 3.81 ERA in 141.2 innings, striking out 140 for the Rays, Nationals and Astros.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

MLB news: Fister, Loney sign with new teams


        It might be May already, but that doesn't mean signing free agents isn't a thing anymore. Two teams signed some key players who are good enough to start in the MLB.


        After star 1B Freddie Freeman went on the DL today, the Atlanta Braves needed first base depth. So, they signed 1B James Loney to a minor league deal. Loney was optioned to Gwinnett (AAA). He spent all of last year with the Mets, with a .265 average, and 9 homers and 34 RBIs in 343 ABs. He spent his spring with the Rangers, then was released. He signed with the Tigers, but was released after just playing minor ball. He's also played AAA ball in the Padres organization. He was once a star in L.A. He has a .284 average, 108 homers and 669 RBIs in 5023 career ABs with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rays and Mets.

         With injuries to most of their starters, including ace Garrett Richards, the Los Angeles Angels needed a starter. So, they signed SP Doug Fister, who last pitched last year for Houston. He's proving to be strong in his eight year career. He has a career 3.60 ERA and 847 strikeouts in 1266 innings for the Astros, Nationals, Tigers and Mariners.

MLB news: Braves place Freeman on DL with fractured wrist


        After being hit by an Aaron Loup pitch and exiting the game Wednesday, Atlanta Braves slugger Freddie Freeman has been placed on the 10-day DL. He is expected to miss 8-10 weeks.

        Freeman, 27, has hit an outstanding average of .341 in 135 ABs. He leads the NL in homers, with 14. He has a slugging % of .748 and an OPS of 1.209. He has just 25 RBIs compared to the 14 bombs. He has a career average of .290 with 152 homers.

        To replace Freeman, INF Rio Ruiz was recalled from AAA Gwinnett. He'll turn 23 in four days. He has a .262 average, 4 HRs and 16 RBIs in 141 ABs with Gwinnett this year. He has just seven career MLB ABs (all last year), and went 2 for 7 (.286) with a triple, a SB and a pair of RBIs.

        Also in that game, the bench cleared after another Jose Bautista bat flip. Blue Jays Kevin Pillar apparently said a homophobic slur to Braves pitcher Jason Motte, and has apologized. The Blue Jays suspended him for two games. He has .305 average, above his career .271 average in 167 ABs this year, including six homers. He has just 30 bombs in his career.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2017 NHL GM of the year preview


       Being a general manager sounds easy. You get to make trades, and sign free agents, then wait until they win you a Stanley Cup. But there is way more to the job. That's why winning GM of the year is a very special honor. This year's GM of the year finalists are David Poile of the Nashville Predators, Peter Chiarelli of the Edmonton Oilers and Pierre Dorion of the Ottawa Senators.

      In a blockbuster, June 29 trade that sent captain d-man Shea Weber to Montreal, Poile acquired star defenseman P.K. Subban. Subban made a big difference, and the team made the first 3rd round appearance in franchise history, and are currently up 2-1 on the Anaheim Ducks.

     In another June 29 blockbuster trade, Chiarelli traded LW Taylor Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson, and signed LW Milan Lucic to a monster deal. As a result, the Oilers won their first playoff series since 2006, but lost in the second round in seven games to the Anaheim Ducks.

   Dorion never made a blockbuster trade, but made the most trades, acquiring forwards Tommy Wingels, Alex Burrows and Viktor Stalberg. The Sens made the playoffs this year, after missing them last year. They beat the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers in rounds one and two, and are now tied 1-1 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    I think Poile will win. It takes lots of guts to make that big of a trade. It will be looked on for decades. Also, the Preds have a good chance of making it to the Cup final now, and maybe even win the Cup. Poile would definitely deserve it then.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

NHL news: Golden Knights name Wolves AHL affiliate


    
  The Vegas Golden Knights have an AHL affiliate. It was announced by the Golden Knights themselves that the Chicago Wolves would be their first affiliate in franchise history.

       "American Hockey League affiliates play significant roles in the success of all NHL clubs and we are proud to have the Chicago Wolves as our first in team history," Golden Knights GM George McPhee said in a statement. "I would like to thank [owner] Don Levin, [General Manager] Wendell Young and the rest of the Wolves organization for their commitment to the game and helping young hockey players grow to reach their full potential as professionals. Chicago is without question one of the strongest, most passionate hockey communities in North America. This is a relationship that we truly believe will be mutually beneficial."

        "If you look at George McPhee's history, he has always been a general manger who believes that winning is an important part of developing players. Professional playoffs are different than the regular season and he understands that and he wants his players to be ready to win," Wolves owner Don Levin said in the same statement.

         The Wolves won the Central division and made it to the second round before losing to the Grand Rapid Griffins (Red Wings affiliate). Their winning percentage, .664, was the highest in franchise history since 2008.

         The Wolves have been the St. Louis Blues' affiliate since 2013. They won't renew the contract with the Wolves, but Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he'll send prospects to the Wolves. The Wolves have a past history of being the affiliates of the Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets) and Vancouver Canucks. Former NHL stars Chris Chelios, Troy Murray and Rob Brown all played for the Wolves.

Monday, May 15, 2017

NHL news: Barzal named WHL playoff MVP as Thunderbirds win title


    
New York Islanders prospect and Seattle Thunderbirds center Mathew Barzal has been named MVP of the WHL playoffs. Barzal scored 25 points (7 goals and 18 assists) in 16 playoff games.

        Barzal, 19, was drafted 16th overall (first round) in the 2015 NHL draft by the Islanders, after the pick was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for Griffin Reinhart. He played two games for the Islanders this season, scoring no points.

         Barzal played in 41 regular season games for the Thunderbirds this year, scoring an amazing 79 points (10 goals and 69 assists). In his WHL career, he has 278 points (63 goals and 215 assists) in 202 games over 4 seasons for Seattle. He's expected to make the Islanders in 2017-18.

        After a 4-3 win in game 6 over the Regina Pats, the Thunderbirds won the WHL title, their first WHL title in the franchise's 40 year history.

        The Thunderbirds will be one of the four teams in the Memorial Cup tournament. The winner is the best team out of the WHL, OHL and QMJHL. The three other teams are the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, and the OHL's Erie Otters and Windsor Spitfires.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

MLB news: Yanks place Chapman on DL


       The New York Yankees have placed LHP Aroldis Chapman on the 10 day DL with left shoulder rotator cuff inflammation.

        "He's going to be shut down for two weeks and then we'll re-assess. You're probably looking at a minimum of a month if everything goes right," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told MLB.com.

         Chapman is known for being able to throw over 100 miles per hour with his fastball consistently. The fastball has helped him grow into a top 3 closer in the league.

          Chapman, 29, has a 3.55 ERA in 12.2 innings this year, striking out 21. He has 7 saves. He spent 6 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, before being traded to the Yankees for Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda and Caleb Cotham. He spent part of 2016 with the Yankees, before being traded to the Chicago Cubs for MLB's number 2 prospect, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford and Adam Warren. He won the World Series with them last year. During the offseason, Chapman went back to the Yankees, on a 5 year, $86 million deal, the highest a reliever ever received.

           In his career, he has an ERA of 2.12 in 389.2 innings, striking out 657 batters for the Reds, Yankees and Cubs. He's recorded 189 saves in total.

           To replace Chapman, the Yanks recalled RHP Chad Green from AAA Scranton/Wilks-Barre. Green, 25, was acquired along with Luis Cessa for Justin Wilson not long after Chapman was acquired. He struck out 2 batters in a scoreless inning this year. He has a career 4.63 ERA in 46.2 innings with 54 strikeouts.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MLB news: Nats, Harper avoid arbitration


      
The Washington Nationals and RF Bryce Harper have agreed to a one year deal to avoid arbitration. He is still eligible for free agency after the 2018 season.

        In 2018, Harper will earn $21.625 million, $8 million more than the $13.625 million he earns for 2017. If Harper wins MVP, he'll get a million dollar bonus. This deal sets a record for a 1st year arbitration eligible player.

        The 1st overall pick in the 2010 draft, Harper was the 2012 rookie of the year. He was also the unanimous NL MVP in 2015. So far in 2017, Harper leads the MLB in OBP (.496) and runs (37). He's top 10 in walks, (tied for 3rd, 28) OPS, (2nd, 1.213), batting average, (2nd, .372) slugging, (4th, .717), RBI (tied for 7th, 29) and homers (tied for 10th with 10).

       

NHL playoff preview: Ottawa Senators vs Pittsburgh Penguins



           The beasts of the east are here. It's the Eastern conference finals, featuring Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins, and Erik Karlsson's Ottawa Senators. To start off the preview, let's look at the teams.

            Ottawa Senators

The Sens surprised many (not me) by beating the New York Ranger, the favorites, in 6 games. They were helped by an amazing performance by Karlsson in all 6 games. Jean-Gabriel Pageau's 4 goal game 2 will most likely be the best moment of his career. Goalie Craig Anderson has had a solid playoffs, with a 2.49 GAA and .914 SV% after 2 rounds. Kyle Turris came up clutch again, with an OT goal in game 5. The Sens look stronger than ever.

             Pittsburgh Penguins

Once again, Crosby's Pens beat Alex Ovechkin's Capitals in round 2, even though they did that without Crosby for a game this time. Jake Guentzal has been a sleeper this playoffs. Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist will always be able to score. Justin Schultz was a top 15 defenseman this season. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury saved the Pens with a game 7 shutout against the Caps. He has a 2.55 GAA and a .927 SV% this postseason.

              My prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Experience. Almost all of the Pens won the Cup last year. they know what it's like to be in this stage of the playoffs, while the young Sens don't. All-around, I still see the Pens more skilled. I think this will be a 6 game series.

MLB news: Iwakuma to miss 4-6 weeks with injury


     
Some teams just have had bad luck this season. The Seattle Mariners are one of them. Pitchers get hurt often, and the M's have learned that this year so far.

       After being placed on the DL a couple days ago, the Mariners announced that RHP Hisashi Iwakuma will miss 4-6 weeks with a shoulder inflammation. Iwakuma, 36, has an ERA of 4.35 in 31 innings this year, punching out 16 batters. He has a 0-2 record this season, but a winning record in each of his other 5 seasons, dating back to 2012.

       He has a career ERA of 3.42, with 714 strikeouts in 883.2 innings. The former JPPL (Japan Pacific League) star is the fourth Mariners starter to land on the DL this season. Ace Felix Hernandez and southpaws James Paxton and Drew Smyly are the other three. That leaves Yovani Gallardo as the only starter who was in their projected rotation to stay healthy.

        To replace Iwakuma, Christian Bergman will make his first couple of starts as a Mariner. Guys like Chase De Jong, Ariel Miranda and Dillon Overton have all made starts.

         In other Mariner news, the team DFA'd RHP Jean Machi, and called up RHP Ryan Weber. They also claimed RHP Casey Lawrence off waivers from Toronto, called up Zac Curtis, and sent down RHP Dan Altavilla. RHP Evan Scribner was transferred to the 60 day DL.

Friday, May 12, 2017

NHL playoff preview: Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks


       
There's just two more rounds remaining. Four teams. Two from each conference. The Western conference finals start today, between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators.

         Anaheim Ducks

         Second round: vs Edmonton Oilers in 7 games
The Ducks got past Connor McDavid's Edmonton Oilers in the second round. Their 3 goals in 3 minute comeback in game 5 was crucial. Their skaters are strong, but they'll need goalie John Gibson to do better. In the first 2 rounds combined, Gibson has a 2.80 GAA and .908 SV%.\

         Nashville Predators

         Second round: vs St. Louis Blues in 6 games
P.K. Subban and Ryan Johansen were both involved in major trades by the Preds the past 2 years, and have come up big this postseason, with a combined three goals and 16 points. Goalie Pekka Rinne has been the best goaltender this postseason, with a 1.37 GAA and .951 SV% in 10 games, with a pair of shutouts.

        My prediction: Nashville Predators
Rinne has been hot while Gibson is cold. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis overpower the Ducks forward core. Johansen and James Neal, plus Viktor Arvidsson can put the puck in the net. It's the Preds series to win.

NHL news: Stars sign Bishop to 6 year deal


     
The Dallas Stars have signed goaltender Ben Bishop to a 6 year, $29.5 million deal. That's an AAV, and cap hit of $4.92 million.

        The signing comes just 3 days after the Stars acquired Bishop's rights from the Los Angeles Kings for a 4th round pick. This is the second time this offseason a goalie's rights have been traded, then signed, after Scott Darling became a Hurricane.

          Bishop, 30, had a 2.54 GAA and .910 SV% with the Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Denver native has a career GAA of 2.32 and a SV% of .919 in 270 games for the Kings, Lightning, St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators.

           The Blues drafted him 85th overall (3rd round) in the 2005 NHL draft.

            "Ben is an elite goaltender in this league and we're thrilled to be adding him to our mix. Ben's commitment to what we are building in Dallas, and his passion for wanting to be a part of it, was evident during the negotiation process," GM Jim Nill told NHL.com.

              The Stars have had many goalie issues, so signing a guy like Bishop is very important to the team.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

NHL news: Blackhawks sign Panik to extension


       The Chicago Blackhawks have signed winger Richard Panik to a 2 year extension. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported that the AAV and cap hit of Panik's deal is $2.8 million. In all, that's $5.6 million for Panik.
      
        "Richard made tremendous strides this past year and we were pleased with the consistency he showed throughout the season," Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We are looking forward to having him in Chicago for the next two seasons."

         Panik, 26, was drafted 52nd overall (2nd round) in the 2009 NHL draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Martin, Slovakia native played just two seasons with the Lightning, with 22 points (8 goals and 14 assists) in 75 games before being claimed off waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

         Panik played just one season in Toronto, with 17 points (11 goals and 6 assists) in 76 games. Then, he was traded to the Hawks for Jeremy Morin.

         In two seasons with the Hawks, Panik has 52 points (28 goals and 24 assists) in 112 games. In 2016-17, Panik set career highs in goals (22), assists (also 22) and of course points (44), playing all 82 games for the first time.

          Altogether, he has 91 points (47 goals and 44 assists) in 263 career games. He's played for Slovakia in the 2010, 2014 and 2015 World Championships, and the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

NHL news: Kings sign Pearson to extension


      
The Los Angeles Kings have signed winger Tanner Pearson to a 4 year, $15 million extension. The AAV is $3.75 million.

       Pearson, 24, was drafted by the Kings 30th overall (first round) of the 2012 NHL draft. In 2014, Pearson won the Stanley Cup with the Kings. In 2016-17, Pearson set career highs in goals (24, also his first 20+ goal season), points (44) and games (80). That's also 20 assists, one below his career high. In his career, Pearson has 103 points (54 goals and 49 assists) in 226 games, all with the Kings. He led the Kings in shorthanded points this season, and tied for first for shorthanded goals.

        Pearson was an upcoming RFA this year. He's known most for being part of the Kings 70s line (All 3 forwards have a number in the 70s), along with Tyler Toffoli (another upcoming RFA) and Jeff Carter.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

NHL news: Stars acquire rights to Bishop


     
The Dallas Stars have acquired the rights to goalie Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 4th round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Let's get into details.

       The Stars two goalies, Kari Lehtonen and Antii Niemi, were both awful in 2016-17. Lehtonen had a 2.85 GAA and a SV% of .902. Niemi's GAA and SV% were 3.30 and .892. They missed the playoffs. They badly need a goalie. Bishop has been elite in his career. He can be a free agent on July 1st, but Dallas should sign him. The only problem is that they owe Lehtonen $5.9 mil next year and Niemi $4.5 mil next year, before they both hit free agency. They can't trade those players, and they both have a modified NTC. I expect they'll sign Bishop, and buy out Niemi, and have Lehtonen back Bishop up. Bishop, 30, had a .910 SV% and a 2.54 GAA with the Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning last year, after a trade deadline deal. He has a career GAA of 2.32 and a SV% of .919 in 270 games for the Kings, Lightning, Ottawa Senators and St. Louis Blues. "Ben has proven that he is one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL," Stars GM Jim Nill said in a statement. "This offers us the opportunity to negotiate with him before the free agency period begins."

        The Kings didn't need Bishop, with all-star Jonathan Quick on the team. So, to just get value out of him, even just a 4th rounder was a good job by GM Rob Blake. The 4th rounder originally belonged to the Montreal Canadiens, but was acquired by the Stars in a deadline trade for defenseman Jordie Benn.

MLB news: Taillon undergoes surgery for suspected cancer


  

Cancer is very tough to deal with, and everybody has to deal with it. Recently, the Pittsburgh Pirates have received tough news on one of their best pitchers.

       On Monday, 25 year old starter Jameson Taillon underwent surgery for suspected testicular cancer. The surgery was performed at Alleghany General Hospital. "Jameson has again proven to us what a strong person he is by the way in which he has reacted to this development," Pirates GM Neal Huntington said in a statement. "We are appreciative of Dr. Lynne and the staff at Alleghany General Hospital for their invaluable expertise and efforts in caring for Jameson. We have told Jameson that our only priority is his health and well-being. His teammates, our coaches, baseball staff and entire organization will support him in his recovery in every possible way and we will keep him in our thoughts and prayers."

        Taillon was drafted 2nd overall in 2010, behind Nats slugger Bryce Harper and one ahead of Orioles star Manny Machado. Even though both have been dominating the league since 2012, Taillon got his first call-up to the MLB last year, with a 3.38 ERA in 104 innings. This year, he has a 3.31 ERA in 35.1 innings. That's a career ERA of 3.36 in 139.1 innings, punching out 115 batters.

        Taillon's surgery is similar to the one Colorado Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis underwent in December. But Bettis' cancer remained, and had chemotherapy. He's expected to miss the entire 2017 season.

         After his last start, the Pirates placed Taillon on the 10 day DL, with a groin injury.

         Taillon is used to bad injuries. He had Tommy John surgery in 2014, surgery to replace a sports hernia in 2015. In the minors, he was hit in the head by a 105 miles per hour line drive.

          After the surgery, Taillon posted the following on his twitter account (@JTaillon19):

         

Monday, May 8, 2017

MLB trade review: Padres acquire outfielder Szczur from Cubs


      The San Diego Padres have acquired OF Matt Szczur from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for RHP Justin Hancock. Let's get into details.

       To make room for LHP Rob Zastryzny on their roster, the Cubs DFA'd Szczur. That means he's likely to be traded, or acquired via waivers. So, they'll take the extra player in Hancock. The 26 year old pitcher has never played in the MLB, after being drafted by the Padres in the 9th round of the 2011 draft. The highest he's played is for the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA), in 2016 and 2015. This year, he's only played for the San Antonio Missions (AA). He has a 6.23 ERA in 13 innings this year.

        The Padres and GM A.J. Preller saw that Szczur was available. He traded a farm pitcher for an MLB quality outfielder. Szczur isn't the strongest hitter. In 4 seasons (all with the Cubs), Szczur hit just .243 in 338 ABs, hitting 8 homers and 40 RBIs, plus 4 steals. He was also a part of the Cubs team last year that won the first World Series in franchise history in 108 years. Szczur's mainly in the MLB because of his fielding. He's played all 3 outfield positions, with 161 putouts, one outfield assist, and exactly 0 errors in 666.1 innings in the field. According to baseball reference, Szczur has a career WAR of -0.6.

        To make room for Szczur on their 40 man roster, the Cubs transferred LHP Buddy Baumann to the 60 day DL, after a bike accident in March.

         In other Cubs news, they placed OF Jason Heyward on the 10 day DL. He has a .253 BA, 3 HRs, 17 RBIs and a SB in 99 ABs this year.

MLB news: Cubs, Yankees set record for most strikeouts


      Setting the record books is (normally) a fun thing to do. Your name - or your team's name will go down forever, until someone breaks the record.

       On Sunday, the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees set a record for most combined strikeouts in a game, with 48. That's 144 strikes alone! The most strikeouts one team can have in a 9 inning game is 27. That would be 54 in all. The Yanks and Cubs got some help, as the game went to 18 innings.

        To make it more weird, of the 15 pitchers who pitched at least 0.1 inning, all of them struck out at least a batter. Also, 25 different batters struck out (because the game was played at Wrigley Field, a national league park, pitchers hit. So, there was many pinch hitters).

         The only hitters to not strike out (minimum 1 AB) where Ronald Torreyes, Gary Sanchez and Chasen Shreve of the Yanks, and Miguel Montero and Tommy La Stella of the Cubs. Each of them had just one at-bat.

           Here's some stats from last night:
Pitchers with strikeouts:
Luis Severino, Yankees, 9
Jon Lester, Cubs, 9
Chasen Shreve, Yankees, 5
Tyler Clippard, Yankees, 3
Wade Davis, Cubs, 3
Carl Edwards, Cubs, 3
Jonathan Holder, Yankees, 3
Aroldis Chapman, Yankees, 2
Dellin Betances, Yankees, 2
Mike Montgomery, Cubs, 2
Brian Duensing, Cubs, 2
Adam Warren, Yankees, 2
Koji Uehara, Cubs, 1
Justin Grimm, Cubs, 1
Pedro Strop, Cubs, 1

Batters who struck out:
Aaron Hicks, Yankees, 4
Chase Headley, Yankees, 4
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, 3
Addison Russell, Cubs, 3
Kris Bryant, Cubs, 3
Kyle Schwarber, Cubs, 3
Willson Contreras, Cubs, 3
Chris Carter, Yankees, 2
Matt Holliday, Yankees, 2
Albert Almora, Cubs, 2
Austin Romine, Yankees, 2
Starlin Castro, Yankees, 2
Javier Baez, Cubs, 2
Rob Refsnyder, Yankees, 1
Jake Arrieta, Cubs, 1
John Lackey, Cubs, 1
Kyle Hendricks, Cubs, 1
Luis Severino, Yankees, 1
Jon Lester, Cubs, 1
Aaron Judge, Yankees, 1
Ben Zobrist, Cubs, 1
Brett Gardner, Yankees, 1
Jacoby Ellsbury, Yankees, 1
Didi Gregorius, Yankees, 1

Sunday, May 7, 2017

MLB news: Mets suspend Harvey for 3 games


    
Matt Harvey has been suspended by his team, the New York Mets, for 3 games for violating team rules. GM Sandy Alderson said the suspension officially began on Saturday. The Mets also did not give a reason behind the suspension. Harvey was scheduled to start on Sunday, but will obviously miss the start.

     Manager Terry Collins did have a news conference. "There's things with this job that certainly are internal that the public can't see and how hard it is, and this one's a tough one. We hope to put it behind us and move forward," Collins said at the news conference. He also had a 10 minute team meeting that wasn't open to the public.

      Harvey, 28, has a 5.14 ERA in 35 innings this year, punching out 20 batters. He has a career ERA of 3.08 with 545 Ks in 554.2 innings.

       To replace Harvey, the Mets called up LHP Adam Wilk from the Las Vegas 51s (AAA). Wilk was added to the 40 man roster, and ace Noah Syndergaard was transferred to the 60 day DL. Wilk hasn't pitched in the MLB since 2015. He has a career ERA of 6.49 in 26.1 innings for the Los Angeles Angels and the Detroit Tigers. He has a 5.91 ERA in 32 innings for Las Vegas this year.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

NHL news: Canes ink Darling to 4 year deal


    
Former Chicago Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling has a new home. After his rights were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 3rd round pick, the Canes had until July 1st to sign Darling, or he could go some where else as a UFA. But the Canes needed a goalie, and they badly wanted Darling to be their starter. So the Canes and GM Ron Francis looked to sign him. Eventually, Darling signed a 4 year deal, with a AAV of $4.15 million (that's a total of $16.6 million).
    "Obviously Scott could have waited until July 1, to see what other options he might have as an unrestricted free agent. But he believes in what we are trying to do here and we are thrilled that he is committing to the Hurricanes and to Raleigh," Francis said in a statement.

     Last year's goalies, Cam Ward and Eddie Lack, combined for a horrid .901 GAA. The Canes might try to trade Lack. Then the combo of Michael Leighton, Tom McCollum, Daniel Altshuller and Alex Nedeljkovic will be in net for the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).

Friday, May 5, 2017

Was changing the intentional walk rule a mistake?


   
  For the 2017 season and beyond, the MLB changed a rule that has lasted for as long as baseball has existed. That is the intentional walk rule. If a team wants, they can pitch 4 balls WAY outside the zone, letting the batter take first base. That's the way the rule has always been.

      But now, the team can just say "go to first base" to the batter, and they don't need to throw any pitches. But the real question is, was it a mistake to change the rule?

       The MLB has been looking to quicken the pace of games. Not many people enjoy watching 3+ hours of ball. So, they thought this rule change would help that.

        I don't think that helps. It saves about 2 minutes. When there's a pitching change, we see 5 minutes of commercials, and about 3 or more pitchers pitch for a team a day. These relievers are already ready to throw after throwing in the bullpen for some time. So, that would be a much better idea.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

MLB news: pair of aces land on DL


    . Have you ever heard the saying "don't give a pitcher a lot of money"? That's because pitchers can get hurt easily, then return with horrible numbers. The Arizona Diamondbacks traded a lot for Shelby Miller, and guess where he is now. The DL. It always hurts for your ace to go on the DL. Well for the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers, they lost a big part of their team (and my fantasy team).


     Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber hasn't started off 2017 the way he'd like. In 37.1 innings, Kluber has a 5.06 ERA. After allowing 5 runs in 3 innings in his last start, Kluber was pulled due to a lower back strain. He was placed on the 10 day DL, but should only miss 10 days. Kluber has 41 K'd batters this season.

     He has a career ERA of 3.31, pitching 200 innings in a season 8 times. He punched out over 2000 batters in his career. Cole Hamels has had a successful MLB career, including a World Series win in 2008. But his 2017 season will be shorter than usual, because Hamels suffered an oblique strain. He was placed on the 10 day DL, but is expected to miss 8 weeks. In 32.2 innings this year, Hamels has a 3.03 ERA, but has just 15 strikeouts.

     Hamels and Kluber aren't the only good pitchers on the DL currently. Madison Bumgarner, Noah Syndergaard, David Price, Aaron Sanchez, Felix Hernandez and Rich Hill are all sidelined as well. We'll see how this affects their teams and fantasy teams as well. If one of the players above are on your team, then you can consider adding guys like Hector Santiago, Derek Holland and Jesse Hahn if they are free agents.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2017 Ted Lindsay trophy preview



   The Hart trophy and the Ted Lindsay trophy are awarded for the same reason. They are both MVP trophies. There is one difference between the Hart and the Ted Lindsay. That is that the Hart, like every other trophy, is decided by the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association). The Ted Lindsay award is decided by NHL players through the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association). This year's Ted Lindsay finalists are Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks.

     Crosby was also a finalist for the Hart trophy. With 44 goals, Crosby won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy, for the most goals. He's known for being the best hockey player in the world.

      Like Crosby, McDavid was a Hart finalist. He won the Art Ross trophy (most points) with 100 points. At 20, he has a very bright future.

      Burns wasn't a Hart finalist, but should win the Norris trophy (best defenseman). Even though he's a defenseman, Burns scored an amazing 29 goals. "Chewbacca" is also a very good defenseman.

      I think McDavid will win. Most years, the Hart winner also wins the Ted Lindsay, and I think McDavid will win the Hart (see my post from yesterday).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 Hart trophy preview


 
  Every league has a Hart trophy, but the NHL is the only league that calls it the Hart trophy. The other leagues call it MVP. The Hart trophy is awarded to the best NHL player. This year's Hart finalists are Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

     Crosby has been the best player in the world about his entire career. This year, he played like a star, with 89 points (44 goals and 45 assists) in 75 games. His 44 goals won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy. "Sid the Kid" has had a successful career, with a pair of Harts under his belt already.

     In just his second season, McDavid scored 100 points (30 goals and 70 assists) in 82 games. At 20 years old, McDavid is the youngest captain in NHL history. If he wins the Hart, he'll be the youngest to win the Hart since Crosby won it at 20 in 2007.

     Goalies aren't your average Hart winner, but Carey Price won the Hart 2 years ago. Bobrovsky should win the Vezina this year, with his GAA of 2.06 and SV% of .931. He led his Blue Jackets to the playoffs, and that's impressive, because they were a mess last year.

     I think McDavid will win. He had the more points than Crosby, so he's already better than him. You could argue that Bobrovsky was better, but even if they were the same age, would you trade Bobrovsky for McDavid? I would in a heartbeat.

Monday, May 1, 2017

MLB news: Why 3 teams are last in the MLB


     If I asked you which teams would be at the bottom of the standings in the 2017 MLB season, before the season, you might say the San Diego Padres, the Cincinnati Reds, or the Chicago White Sox. The Padres are 11-16, the Reds are 11-13, and the Sox 13-10, so they aren't that bad so far. But three teams that you would expect to be at the top of the standings are the 3 worst teams in baseball after a month. They are the San Francisco Giants (9-17), the Toronto Blue Jays (8-17) and the Kansas City Royals (7-16).

      San Francisco Giants

      The Bad
Giants ace Madison "MadBum" Bumgarner has been an all-star in each of the last 4 years, with ERAs under 3 in each of them. Things were off to an okay start in 2017, with a 3 ERA in 27 innings, striking out 28 batters. But then, during in off-day in Colorado, something bad happened for MadBum. He was in a dirt bike accident, and suffered a Grade 2 joint sprain. He's expected to be out for 3 months, missing the ASG. That's about 15 starts he'll miss.

      The Positive
Top prospect Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut, even though it wasn't the start he was hoping for it was okay. The 22 year old hit .207, hit 2 HRs and 4 RBIs in 29 ABs (7 games). He looks like he can really be star in the MLB, even though the early numbers don't prove it.

       Toronto Blue Jays

       The Bad
They have way too many injuries. Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and Aaron Sanchez are all on the DL. Losing Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland hurts too. Devon Travis is a career .300 hitter, but is hitting just .130 so far. Jose Bautista is hitting .178, with just 1 homer. Closer Roberto Osuna has a has a 5.53 ERA and just 3 saves. They need to get going.

       The Positive
They've always been able to hit bombs. When Donaldson and Tulowitzki come back, they need to get hot. Same goes for the rest of the team. Luckily, they still have May, June, July, August and September to turn the season around.

      Kansas City Royals

      The Bad
They are last in the MLB. Their stars are in their walk years, and the Royals might want to ship them off. The passing of Yordano Ventura really hurt them. Their past 2 closers, Greg Holland and Wade Davis are perfect with their new teams. They aren't the same team that won the 2015 WS, but they can still finish above .500.

      The Positive
They haven't been that bad, if you look at the stats. New ace Danny Duffy
 has a 2.81 ERA in 32 innings. Good stuff. Like I said with Toronto, there is still 5 months left to play.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

MLB news: Miller, Eaton suffer season ending injuries


     Injuries are a big part of sports and life. Injuries can prevent you from doing your job. In baseball, and other sports, players miss seasons due to injuries. After players return from injury, they might not play as well as before, or might play like they never left. Even though it's only April, two MLB players are already done for 2017.

     In December of 2015, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves made a very famous trade. The D-backs acquired then all-star pitcher Shelby Miller for big prospects Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair, plus solid outfielder Ender Inciarte. Miller was awful in his first year in Arizona, with a 6.15 ERA in 101 innings. He struck out just 70 batters. Blair wasn't great either, but Swanson and Inciarte were very good for Atlanta. Looking to turn things around in 2017, Miller pitched 22 innings, with a 4.09 ERA, with 20 Ks. Things were looking better for Miller, but he was diagnosed with right elbow inflammation. He decided to undergo Tommy John surgery, and will miss 1 and a half years. "It's the best decision I think we can make," Miller said in a statement. "[It's] a tough day for all [of] us. We fully believe in the process that he followed, we fully believe in everything he has learned, and we're just anxious to see how the surgery goes and start the strategy to get him back and get him working and see where he takes us next year," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.

      This offseason, there was another big trade. The Chicago White Sox sent star CF Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for pitching prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning. The gave up a big haul for Eaton, but they believed Eaton would be the last piece needed to win a World Series. According to baseball reference, Eaton had a 6.1 WAR last season with Chicago. And he's a career .284 hitter, swiping 57 bags in 544 career games. But bad news happened quickly. Eaton started off the 2017 season with a .297 average and 3 steals. But during a game vs the New York Mets, Eaton tore his ACL. Eaton has the same injury as Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber did last year, and Schwarber missed the entire regular season.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

NHL trade review: Scott Darling to Canes



     The Chicago Blackhawks have traded goalie Scott Darling to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a third round pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Let's get into details.

      On July 1, Darling can become a UFA. The Hawks made a good move to get value from him before he likely leaves. Expect the Hawks to go after a goalie to backup starter Corey Crawford this offseason. After trading Darling, GM Stan Bowman thanked Darling for his tenure in Chicago, including a Stanley Cup win. "We could count on Scott in any situation as he was always reliable," Bowman told NHL.com. "We appreciate his contributions to the Blackhawks organization, including a Stanley Cup championship team. We wish him well as he continues he career in Carolina." Darling, 28, was drafted 153rd overall (6th round) of the 2007 NHL draft by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes. But he's only played in the NHL for the Hawks. This year, Darling had a 2.38 GAA and a .924 SV% in 32 games. He had a career 2.37 GAA and a SV% of .923 in 75 games.

       The Canes need goaltending. Their starter, Cam Ward had a 2.69 GAA and just a .905 SV% in 61 games this year. Their backup, Eddie Lack, had similar numbers this season, with a 2.64 GAA and a .902 SV% in 19 games. The only problem is that both Ward and Lack are under contract for next season. They owe Ward $3.3 million, and Lack $2.75 million. If the Canes sign Darling, then him and Ward will share the starting job. Lack would most likely be traded for late picks. Luckily for Carolina, both Lack and Ward will be free agents at the end of next season. That would make one of them easier to deal. Canes GM Ron Francis was happy to have Darling aboard. "Scott had a very successful season in Chicago and was a big part of the Blackhawks finishing with the best record in the Western conference. He played a critical role on Chicago's 2015 championship team," Francis said in a statement. The third rounder originally belonged to the Ottawa Senators, but was acquired by the Canes in a trade that sent LW Viktor Stalberg to Ottawa.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Looking ahead at the MLB trade deadline: 5 guys who could switch teams this season


      Raise your hand if you love the trade deadline, whether it's the MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL or something else. I just raised both of my hands. The trade deadline is always exciting. Guys are switching teams, changing franchises sometimes. So, why not predict who will be traded? So, I'm predicting which MLB players are most likely to switch teams closer to - or at the deadline.

       Jay Bruce/Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
 Both Bruce and Granderson are upcoming free agents. They're occupying starting roles, but 24 year old Michael Conforto is trying to take one of their jobs. There's no way the Mets trade both of them, but there's a good chance one goes. In the offseason, Bruce almost went to Baltimore. The Mets would rather trade Bruce, but teams are interested in Granderson more. Bruce's numbers suggest he want to stay in the Big apple. He has 6 homers in 2017, 2nd out of all upcoming free agents (Mike Moustakas and Mark Reynolds). Granderson is hitting just .141 to start the season.

       Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
Everybody on this list is an upcoming free agent, because those are the most common type of players who are traded. Along with Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, Cain is one of the Royals core players from the 2015 WS that is an upcoming free agent. Moustakas is starting the season well, and Hosmer is the face of the franchise. Cain is hitting a solid .278, but has no HRs. He's swiped 6 bags. It may be time for him to Loren-go.

        Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox
After the Sox traded stars Chris Sale and Adam Eaton this offseason, it looked like Frazier was going to go, too. The Sox kept him, but he hasn't started out well. He's hitting .163. He only has 1 bomb, and hit 40 last year. He's on pace for just 8 homers this year. If he heats up, the Sox can get a big haul for him.

         Marco Estrada/Francisco Liriano, Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays are off to a horrible start, with a 6-16 record after 22 games. That's a .273 winning %. They're also on pace for just 42 wins. They have 2 starters they can sell if they continue to play poorly. Liriano has a 4.58 ERA in 17.2 IP. Estrada has a 2.70 ERA in 30 IP. Many teams need pitching, and they could use a guy like Estrada or Liriano.

         Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers
"K-Rod" is the Tigers' closer, but isn't starting off well. He has an ERA of 6.23 in 8.2 innings. Blowing a pair of saves. At 35, Rodriguez might be dropping off. But a team like the Nationals would probably be willing to take that risk.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

2017 Jack Adams trophy preview


   
  Good coaching can bring championships. Scotty Bowman, the Hall of Fame coach, won 9 Stanley Cups (a record), and was a coach during the Canadiens dynasty and the Red Wings in the 90s. Only the best coaches win the Jack Adams (best coach) award. This year's Jack Adams finalists are Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers and John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

       In his first as the head coach of the Leafs (last season), Babcock and the Leafs finished with 69 points, bad enough for last in the NHL. This season, they had 95 points, and made the playoffs. Their top players are all rookies. Of the 28 players on their roster, 19 of them are younger than 30, and 2 others are exactly 30. It's hard for coaches to coaches youngsters who are new to the NHL.

       After 7 years with the San Jose Sharks (making the playoffs 6 times), McLellan came to the Oilers. In year one, they finished with 70 points, which placed them last in the western conference, and second-to-last in the NHL to Babcock's Leafs. But in year two, things started clicking. 20 year old captain Connor McDavid won the Art Ross with 100 points. The Oilers finished with 103 points, making the playoffs. Pretty nice turnaround.

       After an 0-8 start to the 2015-16 season, the Blue Jackets fired head coach Todd Richards, and hired "Torts". The Jackets finished with 76 points, only ahead of Babcock's Leafs, McLellan's Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks. This year, the Jackets finished with 108 points (32 from a 16 game winning streak), obviously making the playoffs. Sergei Bobrovsky should win the Vezina. The team all around played well, and thus they had a great season.

       I think Babcock, will win, but Tortorella will lose by a vote or two. The reason I think Babcock will win is because, like I mentioned earlier, it's not easy to coach rookies. Tortorella changed the team a lot since Richards' firing.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NHL playoff preview: Ottawa Senators vs New York Rangers


    
The country of Sweden probably can't wait for this series. Their goalie in international play for his entire career, Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers go up against super Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators.

      New York Rangers

      First round: vs Montreal Canadiens in 6 games
Lundqvist and his 1.47 GAA and a SV% of .947 led the Rangers in round one. They have a very balanced team, which is always good to have.

      Ottawa Senators

      First round: vs Boston Bruins in 6 games
The Sens have very strong skaters, and Craig Anderson had a solid round one with a 1.94 GAA and a SV% of .921. They look totally different than last year's Sens.

       My prediction: Ottawa Senators
Honestly, I think this will be the first 7 game series in the playoffs. Both teams are even, but I'll give it to the Sens. Whoever wins will probably be eliminated in the eastern conference finals, though.

NHL playoff preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals


   
It's official. We have a rematch. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin will face each other in round 2 again. Last year, Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins beat "Ovi's" Washington Capitals in 6 games en route to a Stanley Cup victory. This year, the Caps are hungrier to make it to the eastern conference finals for the first time in Ovechkin's career.

      Washington Capitals

       First round: vs Toronto Maple Leafs in 6 games
The Caps didn't look like the Caps we know in the first round, but were able to beat the Leafs. Goalie Braden Holtby didn't have Braden Holtby like numbers in the first round with a 2.36 GAA and .925 SV%, which is still good. They are very good all around, and can really threaten to the Pens.

        Pittsburgh Penguins

        First round: vs Columbus Blue Jackets in 5 games
The Penguins eased through the Jackets in the first round. Behind Crosby, it gets weaker. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a GAA of 2.52 and a .933 SV% in round 1. If Pittsburgh's bottom six plays well, they can put up a very good fight.

        My prediction: Washington Capitals
It's simple. All three aspects of hockey: offense, defense and goaltending favor the Caps. I think this is really their year.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NHL playoff preview: Anaheim Ducks vs Edmonton Oilers


     
More playoff hockey, please. The first round has ended, and now half of the 16 playoff teams are gone, and the other half are in the second round. Once again, I'll be previewing all the second round series. Here is my previewing of the Anaheim Ducks playing the Edmonton Oilers.

      Anaheim Ducks

      First round: sweep vs Calgary Flames
The Ducks, led by goalie John Gibson, swept the Flames. Gibson had a 2.59 GAA and a SV% of .926 in the first round. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf combined for 4 goals in 4 games. Cam Fowler will return from injury, and that really helps their D.

      Edmonton Oilers

      First round: vs San Jose Sharks in 6 games
20 year old captain Connor McDavid's 100 point season was amazing. Goalie Cam Talbot almost was a Vezina finalist, and had a 2.03 GAA and SV% of .927 in the first round. If their defensive core has a good series, they'll have a good chance of winning.

      My prediction: Anaheim Ducks
The Oilers have a better offense. The Ducks have a better defense. The goalies are even. But defense wins championships, and that's why the Ducks will win.

NHL playoff preview: St. Louis Blues vs Nashville Predators


    
We have made it through the first round of the playoffs. Instead of 16, 8 teams remain in the second round. The first series of the second round that I'll be previewing is the Nashville Predators against the St. Louis Blues.

       St. Louis Blues

      First round: vs Minnesota Wild in 5 games
The Blues, led by Lady Byng finalist Vladimir Tarasenko, were able to surprise many (not me) by beating the Wild, and in just 5 games. Jake Allen was sharp in net with a 1.47 GAA and a SV% of .956. They played terrific, and most of their players have the experience of playing after the 1st round (they went to the Western conference finals last season).

      Nashville Predators

      First round: sweep vs Chicago Blackhawks
Did you think Allen's first round numbers were impressive? Then you haven't seen Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne numbers against Chicago. He had an amazing GAA of 0.70 and a SV% of .976. Wow. Their skaters continued to dominate, and should be good in round 2.

      My prediction: St. Louis Blues
Both teams are very even, but I'm going to give this one to the Blues. Rinne beats Allen, and the Blues beat the Preds on offense. The defenses are similar, and strong. But I think the St. Louis offense is stronger, and the depth is better. So, the Blues should be in the Western conference finals again.

2017 Bill Masterton trophy preview


 
  It's hard to win the Bill Masterton trophy. The trophy is awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Bill Masterton winners usually have very touching stories during the season. This year's finalists are Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators, Andrew Cogliano of the Anaheim Ducks and Derek Ryan of the Carolina Hurricanes.

     Speaking of touching stories, Anderson probably had the most touching in all of the "big four" leagues. His wife, Nicholle was diagnosed with cancer early in the season, and Anderson missed more than two months to be with her. Both times (he took two different breaks) he came back, Anderson posted a shutout, including one against the Oilers he'll never forget. He led the Sens to the playoffs this year with a 2.28 GAA and .926 SV%.

      Cogliano was nominated for a different reason. This is actually the 4th time in 6 years he's been nominated. That's because of his iron-man streak. Since 2007-08, Cogliano has played in 786 consecutive games, never missing a game in his career. He had 35 points (16 goals and 19 assists) this year.

      An old rookie in the NHL is around 24. Ryan is a rookie, and is 30. He was undrafted, and played in junior, college, Swedish and AHL hockey since 2003. In 67 games this year, Ryan scored 29 points (11 goals and 18 assists).

      I think Anderson will win. He missed so many games with a family issue, and led his team to the playoffs. That isn't easy to do. If he loses, I'd be surprised.