Monday, November 30, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Marlins get Cimber

 


       The Miami Marlins have acquired RHP Adam Cimber from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations. 

       While the Indians are rumored to be making a big trade this offseason, that was supposed to include Francisco Lindor, not Cimber. Acquired in July of 2018 with Brad Hand, who the organization also just said goodbye to recently, Cimber earned the trust of manager Terry Francona as a middle reliever. Cimber was one of the few pitchers that would be affected by the three batter minimum rule, as Francona loved to alternate Cimber and Oliver Perez against left and right handers. In 2019, Cimber faced 182 right handed batters, with a 3.30 ERA, but had an 8.31 ERA against lefties, who he pitched against 62 times. Those splits oddly changed in 2020, as Cimber had a 2.25 ERA against LHB, and a 4.91 number against batters sharing his handedness. This sudden change can be seen as an increase in effectiveness in Cimber's fastball, a pitch predominantly used against lefties. Cimber does not look like anything more than a 6th-7th inning reliever, so getting money when the team needs it was the decision the front office went with. 

       The Marlins bullpen was crowded in 2020, and even for a 162 game season, they used an alarming amount of pitchers. 37 guys took the mound for them in 60 games, which is impressively high, considering that four (Brandon Kintzler, James Hoyt, Nick Vincent and Brad Boxberger) pitched in more than 20 of those games. The Marlins could be using Hoyt, Cimber's teammate last year in Cleveland, as an example of a buy-low pitcher who could have some success with them. Hoyt had a 1.23 ERA in 2020. To add Cimber to the 40-man roster, former Opening Day starter Jose Urena, who had an ERA over 5.00 in 2019 and 2020, was designated for assignment. 

      Cimber, 30, had a 3.97 ERA with five strikeouts and a 1.324 WHIP in 11.1 innings for the Indians in 2020. In his MLB career for the Indians and San Diego Padres, Cimber has a 3.89 ERA with 104 strikeouts and a 1.284 WHIP in 136.1 innings. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Reds and Rockies make a four player swap



        The Colorado Rockies have acquired RHP Robert Stephenson and OF Jameson Hannah from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for RHPs Jeff Hoffman and Case Williams.

        This four player deal can be seen as a change of scenery deal that also includes some prospects. Hoffman and Stephenson are the most known players included, although Hannah and Williams may have a higher ceiling. The 9th overall pick in 2014 by the Blue Jays, Hoffman was acquired the next year by the  Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal. He has gotten chances to start in the MLB, although he hasn't really taken advantage of those chances. A rough -1.7 WAR over five career seasons shows that. Leaving Coors Field could help Hoffman, although the bullpen should be where he's headed. While Hoffman is an immediate project for the Reds, if Williams ever makes it to the MLB, it will not be soon. He was drafted in the 4th round in this June's draft out of High School, and because of the cancellation of the minor league season, he has not played professionally yet, although he did sign with the Rockies. His senior season showed some promise, and he struck out 134 batters in 98 innings over high school. 

         Hoffman, 27, had a 9.28 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 21.1 innings for the Rockies in 2020. In his MLB career, all for Colorado, Hoffman has a 6.40 ERA with 197 strikeouts and a 1.621 WHIP in 230.2 innings.

          Williams, 18, struck out 79 batters with a 1.81 ERA in 2019 for Douglas County High School, in Castle Rock, Colorado, not too far from the team that drafted him. 

          The Rockies win this trade for now, in my opinion, although this is not some major win, and there is a good chance that the Reds could declare victory here. That prediction is based off of the Rockies hoping that Stephenson did not peak in 2019. That was by far his best season, as he was an effective reliever for Cincinnati, striking out 81 in 64.2 innings with a 3.76 ERA. He was the 27th overall selection by the Reds in 2011. Hannah was acquired by the Reds a year ago from Oakland for Tanner Roark. A 2nd rounder in 2018, he has yet to show much in the minor leagues, but he was ranked by MLB Pipeline as Cincinnati's 15th best prospect prior to the deal. 

           Stephenson, 27, had a 9.90 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings for the Reds in 2020. In his MLB career, Stephenson has a 5.15 ERA with 222 strikeouts and a 1.462 WHIP in 208 innings. 

           Hannah, 23, hit two home runs with eights stolen bases, a .274 average and a .708 OPS in 491 Plate Appearances between Stockton and Dayton, two High-A teams, in 2019. In his MiLB career, Hannah has three home runs with 14 stolen bases and a .275 average. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Filling out a hypothetical Hall of Fame ballot

 


       I don't have a Hall of Fame ballot. One day, I would like to change that, but that would be a long, long time from now. For the last few years, I've followed the Baseball Hall of Fame race pretty closely, thanks to Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs on Twitter) and his team of trackers. I've always had an opinion on who should be in and who shouldn't, but I never wrote about it. So, here I am, finally writing an article on who would be on my ballot, if I had one. 

The No-Doubters

Barry Bonds

Well, by this, I meant no-doubters for me. There is no definite Hall of Famer this year in the eyes of many voters, so I wouldn't be all that surprised if there were no inductees this year. But, obviously there is a reason why Bonds isn't in already, and it is not because of his play. Bonds had a chance to be an inductee prior to joining the Giants in 1993, but his San Francisco career sky-rocketed his play. His single-season home run record of 73 in 2001 highlights his case, although oddly enough, that was the only time he ever hit 50 or more. Still, Bonds eclipsed 30 big-flies in 14 different seasons, won seven MVPs, with eight Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers and a pair of batting titles, and he holds the MLB record for home runs, walks, and intentional walks. No steroids make you that good, and if they did, more players would have found a way to become that good by now. Bonds' ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY intentional walks in 2004 at age 39 should get him in alone on the basis of fun and absurdity. 

Roger Clemens

A lot of what I said about Bonds applies here. Clemens is more than qualified, but PEDs will keep him out. With seven Cy Youngs and the same amount of ERA titles, Clemens is easily a top-5 pitcher of all time. Like with Bonds' accolades, no steroid makes you this good. A 3.12 ERA in over 700 starts is very, very impressive, and his FIP is even better than that. Like Bonds, Clemens has some fun tidbits about his career, like his legendary stint in Toronto, lasting two seasons with two Cy Youngs, or his 1.87 ERA at age 42 in 2005. You can't vote for Bonds but not Clemens, or vice versa. 

Curt Schilling

Schilling has been qualified for the hall, and his personal controversial political beliefs and transphobic tweets have probably contributed to him not getting inducted yet, especially when Mike Mussina, a good comparable to Schilling on the field, got in a few years ago. Plus, the Hall of Fame does not just consist of angels and trailblazers. Schilling's career stats are surprisingly lopsided towards the back-end of his career, but his lines from 1996 to 2004 are incredibly impressive. He also finished second in Cy Young voting three different times, but he never won one thanks to teammate Randy Johnson and an unstoppable 2004 Johan Santana. 

Todd Helton

This will come to a surprise for a lot of people, but I am a huge backer of the Helton for Hall of Fame movement. I even wrote a Twitter thread it last year. Especially now that Larry Walker got in last year, Helton should see a huge jump this year. While you could look at those tweets, I will sum it up here. Helton was a five-time all-star, making the team every year from 2000-2004. Maybe if Albert Pujols wasn't in his league, he could have made it more. That 2000-2004 peak is nuts if you look at it. Helton's lowest single-season OPS was 1.006. While he did tail off in his last 5-6 seasons, it wasn't as dramatic as other candidates. In his seventeen seasons, Helton hit under .300 in just five of them, although his age 23, 101 Plate Appearance 1997 season shouldn't count. He does have drastic home and road splits, as Coors Field plays as a factor, but an OPS of .855 on the road isn't bad either, and it isn't like it is easy to hit .345 at Coors over 1141 games. 

Manny Ramirez 

Ramirez falls on the border between "no-doubter" and the next category on the list, but if you vote Bonds and Clemens, I guess Manny should be there too, especially with the weak ballot this year. While his openness about steroid use might scare away voters, you need to adjust for the era, just like you would if you were to vote if Honus Wagner and his career high 10 home runs were on the ballot. I'm not criticizing Wagner, but just making a point on how era adjustments should come into mind when making a voting decision. Back to the player in question, Ramirez is worthy. A 69.3 career bWAR with 555 homers and a .312 average is better than decent. He won nine silver sluggers, and has a .996 career OPS. Like I've said before, steroids probably don't make you that good at hitting. 

The locks, but not the best

Scott Rolen

This tier consists of guys that I really think are Hall-of-Famers, but I wouldn't start crying if you didn't include them on your ballot (considering Helton's percentages, I've been a fair amount of sobbing). Rolen was a great defender who also was a pretty good hitter, unlike Omar Vizquel, who was only one of those things (more on him later). An eight-time Gold Glove winner and seven-time All-Star, Rolen's 70.1 career WAR floats him into Hall-of-Fame territory. His .855 OPS isn't too shabby either. By the way, that is the same as Helton's road OPS, so I better not see you leave him off your ballot. 

Billy Wagner

Wagner is someone who is a Hall-of-Famer on his own, and his case is elevated by other relievers to be inducted in recent years. Wagner stands sixth all-time in saves, with 422. Lee Smith, who is above him in that category but doesn't have other stats as good as Wagner's, is in. So is Bruce Sutter, who has less saves, but worse overall numbers. Wagner has a 2.31 ERA with an 11.9 K/9 over 16 seasons. He played for a surprisingly high amount of teams, and performed for every single one of them. His 1.43 ERA in 71 games as a 38 year old in 2010 for the Braves is a fun one, especially considering that was Wagner's final season. 

The borderline Hall-of-Famers

Andruw Jones

This tier consists of guys that I wouldn't be mad about leaving off my ballot. Jones is a guy that a lot of people love, and they have a point. From breaking into the league at age 19 in 1996, to about 2006, Jones was one of baseball's stars. He hit at least 30 home runs seven times, and he peaked in 2005, when he was the MVP runner-up to Pujols, but hit 51 home runs with a .922 OPS. With 434 home runs and an .823 OPS in his career, Jones' batting stats probably wouldn't be enough to put him over the line for me. However, his 10 Gold Gloves definitely will do that. 

Bobby Abreu 

This is one pick that might seem weird to you, because it did to me at first. But, looking more into it, Abreu should be in consideration. This comparison to Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn says it all. Click on that link, and a lot of my argument for Abreu will be found. While you may not think of him as a Hall-of-Famer, he was an on-base machine in his career. He was only a two-time All-Star, and won just one Gold Glove and Silver Slugger each, but Abreu could often hit for over .300, with an OPS above .900 and 20-30 home run power. Doing all of those things combined five times, and a bunch of them independently in other seasons should help Abreu's case. He also has a 60.2 career WAR, and the border for potential Hall-of-Famers should be around 60. 

Gary Sheffield

Sheffield's place among other steroid users on the ballot is interesting. He seems to be much more innocent than the likes of Bonds, Clemens and Ramirez. While his career numbers are worse than those three, I like him as a 10th vote on this year's ballot. A five-time Silver Slugger with a 60.5 career WAR, Sheffield enjoyed five seasons with an OPS of at least 1.000, eight seasons with more than 30 home runs, and a career OPS+ of 140. Even with steroids, there is a case for Sheffield, but he never was suspended for it, so him being punished now seems a little bit unfair, but he isn't the only guy that applies to. 


Why I didn't vote for these guys

Jeff Kent

I've never seen the appeal to Kent. His 55.4 WAR is under my personal 60 target line, and his career just does not stand out to me. He only had two seasons with an OPS over .900, and as I've stated before, Bonds and Helton were much more qualified for the 2000 MVP award, something that Kent voters use as justification. 

Mark Buehrle and Andy Pettitte

These are both players that I thought of for the final spot before I went with Sheffield. Both are lefties who hover around the 60 WAR line in their career. Both have some impressive accolades, as Pettitte won five World Series, if that matters to you, and Buehrle won four Gold Gloves. However, I don't think that either have any impressive personal categories that make them Hall-of-Famers. If I had to vote for one, it probably would be Buehrle, as tie goes to the player who didn't take PEDs. Tim Hudson also falls into this category, and I am curious to see if he stays on the ballot for next year. 

Sammy Sosa

Once again, I considered putting down Sosa instead of Sheffield. An MVP who hit over 60 home runs in three different seasons, with 609 total in his career, Sheffield beats him in WAR, OPS and OPS+. Maybe I'd consider Sosa over Sheffield if there were no PED affiliations with him, but there is, so Sosa is a no-go for me. 

Torii Hunter

I'm only putting him here because Hunter's nine Gold Gloves might earn him a couple of votes. His offense was not as good as defensive stars like Jones and Rolen, so he shouldn't be on the ballot next year. 

If you vote for them, I will be mad

AJ Burnett, Michael Cuddyer, Dan Haren, LaTroy Hawkins, Aramis Ramirez, Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino and Barry Zito

No.

Omar Vizquel

Sure, Vizquel won 11 Gold Gloves. But, offense is probably more important. Vizquel hit just 80 home runs over 24 seasons, and while he did rack up 2877 hits, playing for that long will help you get to that. Vizquel's .272 average and .688 OPS just shows that he wasn't a good hitter. Vizquel could easily get more votes than guys like Helton or Rolen this year, but please don't vote for him. 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Ranking every NHL Reverse Retro Jersey



       The NHL's "Reverse Retro" jersey initiative has been talked about a lot recently, and today we got an actual look at all 31 teams' alternates for the the upcoming season. Some are good, some actually follow the theme, and a select few are really bad. So, it's time to rank them.

31. Detroit Red Wings 

My only theory for this choice is that the NHL originally planned to do a "whiteout" theme. They then changed it to the much better reverse retro, but accidentally sent the wrong memo to the Red Wings. That is where we get this mostly white monstrosity with some weird gray lines. To be fair, the Red Wings don't have any great retro jerseys to copy anyway.

30. Minnesota Wild

It actually wasn't until I started writing this, about two hours after these released when I realized the North Stars connection. Still, the North Stars colors aren't good, and they have the most overrated jersey in NHL history. Wow, that felt good to get off of my chest. But still, the yellow looks really bad on the Wild logo. 

29. New York Islanders

Ok, ok, ok. Here's the beauty of this jersey. It is the same as their normal home jersey, but with a major twist. The twist is, and I know you aren't ready for this, but it's great. The blue is slightly darker. Also, the stripes are swapped. This is easily the laziest jersey of the bunch. The fisherman or even the wave jersey from the 1990s would have catapulted the ranking, but no, we get absolutely nothing here. 

28. Edmonton Oilers 

When I see this jersey, I feel like something is missing, and I don't that there is. These jerseys are just kind of boring. It is like their away jerseys, but with way, way, way too many stripes. The Todd McFarlane comet would've been nice, maybe with an orange twist. 

27. Toronto Maple Leafs

This section here is the "pretty boring" section. The Leafs logo feels a little bit too big, especially for a logo without detail. The Panthers have a massive logo for example, but at least all of it is unique. This is just a symmetrical leaf. Also, from the photos we have seen, it looks more like a sweatshirt than a jersey for me, so hopefully it will look better in use. 

26. Nashville Predators 

One of the colors for the Predators is blue, and I feel that you could be a fan of the team and not know that. In this jersey, they crank up the blue, and it contributes to a nice looking logo, with a sick yellow eye. Besides the logo, there isn't much to love. 

25. Pittsburgh Penguins

I don't know why they didn't choose to go with the black diagonal jerseys, as that is very similar to this, but better. I don't think this is close to the best jersey in Penguins history. I would have much rather had the baby blues or the gradient rather than this. 

24. Dallas Stars

The Stars have had some fine jerseys before. This one is alright. The logo is cool enough, but just doesn't compare to the other jerseys teams are revealing. It is much better than the neon alternates the Stars previously unveiled. Also, the white behind the "Dallas Stars" name is a much different white than the rest of the jersey. I'm not sure why.

23. Boston Bruins

Everyone seems to have strong feeling about all of these jerseys, but the Bruins seem to be a collective "meh". There is nothing too special about them, and the team hasn't had any great jerseys in their history for this initiative. The old B and the bear on the shoulder patch are both nice. I really like all of the jerseys above the Bruins, so this feels like an appropriate average. 

22. Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers succeeded at what the Predators tried. The black from the sleeve around the shoulders to the other sleeve mixes well with the orange in between. It is kind of boring, but it is a nice, clean look. I wouldn't be mad if this was the Flyers' normal home sweaters. 

21. Chicago Blackhawks 

This 1940s inspired jersey mixes the red and black colors well, just like the Flyers did with black and orange. While I like the current logo rather than the one on this jersey, the old-timey "Black Hawks" spelling is a nice touch. 

20. Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights kind of feel like if it is pet day, and you are the one kid in the class without a pet. Their lack of heritage brings them to the Las Vegas Thunder, a 1990s IHL team. That explains the "V" design with the silver and gold mixing against the red. It is a good look, and I like it more than their actual home jerseys. This V for Vegas jersey adds to the list of secret meanings on jerseys, something the team already had with their primary logo. 

19. New York Rangers

The Rangers are the only one of the three New York teams to bring back the right jersey, as the Statue of Liberty returns. The logo is great, but besides that the jersey is kind of bland. It is just a logo on a plain blue background, with two stripes by the bicep. Another weird thing is that from the photos we have been given, the logo looks oddly low on the jersey. 

18. Vancouver Canucks

This is a play on the old red gradient jerseys, changing them to the Canucks' blue and green colors. I don't know what it is about it, maybe the white in between blue and green, or the gradient itself, but I really like this. However, a green and blue sled would have been better.

17.  Montreal Canadiens

For teams without great retro jerseys, the Canadiens perfected what to do. Making a mostly blue jersey sounds like a weird idea for the team, but they perfected it. It looks nice, although it isn't as flashy as other ones. 

16. New Jersey Devils

People really seem to love this one. The green Devils jerseys never stood out to me, because the green was a weird addition. Flipping it to mostly green is a nice twist, like what the league was going for. It will be a great jersey come Christmas time, although unfortunately we won't see that this year. 

15. Tampa Bay Lightning

I don't know why, but I find the next two to be really similar. The "Tampa Bay" font looks really nice. I do like the original, black design of this jersey more, but I guess you can't win them all. 

14. San Jose Sharks

The black shark is intimidating, and the broken stick in its mouth is a classic design the team still adopts. While the old teal jerseys were nice, these are good too, especially the sleeves, mixing black and teal. 

13. Ottawa Senators

This jersey is getting a fair amount of hate, which I find unfair. This logo is way, way better than the old logo that the Senators just ditched. The red looks nice, and unlike the Oilers, the abundance of stripes doesn't ruin the jersey. 

12. Florida Panthers

The golden stripe and the blue body are the things that I look at and like. The return of the old logo is what I look at and love. I do like the current home uniforms, but this is much better. 

11. Winnipeg Jets

Another public opinion that I don't understand is the Avalanche getting love while this one is disrespected. Both are essentially the same concept. The Jets are taking the timeless logo of the original Jets, and applying it here. While it isn't better than the blue and red jerseys they've recently used, it is nice, and you can't tell me that the navy and light blue don't make an amazing logo.

10. Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes used to be the Whalers. We know this. The Hurricanes have used the Whalers jerseys a lot recently, so using a Carolina design would be nice. I would have also taken a Whalers logo with red and black, like what the Avalanche and Jets did. It is in the top-10 solely because of the Whalers logo being great, although there is a lack of creativity here. 

9. Anaheim Ducks

The Wild Wing jerseys might not have been what fans wanted, especially when the jersey that they did want is worn by Wild Wing on this jersey. I guess him wearing this jersey would be weird. It is still a cool jersey, with the best lettering in the game. Wild Wing's legs do look very marshmallowy, though. 

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

This is an amazing logo. To be fair, the rest of the jersey doesn't match it, but the stars are everywhere, and the CBJ in the logo brings the point home. I feel confident saying this is a top-2 jersey in Blue Jackets history. 

7. St. Louis Blues 

While the trumpet alternates that Mike Keenan refused to let the Blues wear would be fun, I like this one too. The red, gold and blue colors bounce off of each other well, and I've always loved that Blues logo. 

6. Buffalo Sabres

Personally, I would have switched the shoulder and chest logos, so the "goat head" logo would be the main one. The swords are still a nice look, and the golden and blue stripes look great. The one bad thing about this is the "Buffalo" wording on the bottom. 

5. Los Angeles Kings

We wanted Burger King! We wanted Burger King! Oh wait, I guess only I did. Well, this was the obvious choice. The classic purple and yellow jerseys will sell, and the team knows this. It looks pretty good too. There's really nothing to complain about here. 

4. Calgary Flames

Having the guts to bring back Blasty, especially when teams like the Islanders were afraid to bring back their ugly logos, makes this a win for the Flames. While the black, yellow and red look like an old Canucks jersey, the Flames deserve those colors more. I was expecting a C with more red, so I'm glad they did this. 

3. Colorado Avalanche

Bring back the classic Nordiques logo: check. Add a reverse theme to it: check. Make something that still says "Colorado": check. The Avalanche hit it out of the park with this one. 

2. Washington Capitals

The Capitals have had a bunch of great jerseys in their history. The current ones are really good. They also had the screaming eagle and Capitol Building on jerseys. They go with the eagle here, and update it to the red color of the franchise. The logo, bottom stripe and "C" all slant to the bottom left, which is a nice touch.

1. Arizona Coyotes

The Kachina jerseys are my favorite jersey of all-time. Since they are the Coyotes' alternates, they would have to impress me. They did exactly that, bringing back these alternates from the early 2000s. While they weren't great then, with a weird green color, changing that to purple completely fixes it. The logo and desert on the bottom is a little bit looney, but I like it. This is an all-time jersey right here. 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

One Position That Every MLB Team Needs to Upgrade in Free Agency


 

       The World Series is over. As the Dodgers celebrate with champagne and sickness, MLB front offices are looking towards free agency. With the economy down thanks to COVID-19, teams are expected to spend less money towards free agents. This could mean that some teams go bargain hunting this offseason. But, every team has a need right now, so let's see what they are, and who should fill that role. The only rule is that re-signatures are not allowed. 

Arizona Diamondbacks - Bullpen

The Diamondbacks had some quality relief performances in 2020, especially where they least expected it. Junior Guerra, Stefan Crichton, Keury Mella and Riley Smith all had good seasons, and while he struggled, Yoan Lopez had an overachieving 2019. With Archie Bradley and Andrew Chafin gone (you could likely add Hector Rondon to that list soon), Arizona could use a reliever. While I don't see them going into the first or second tier of relievers, I think they will add one or two guys.

One possibility - Keone Kela

Kela is an intriguing option that has not been talked about much. He closed out games for the Rangers in 2018 before a trade to Pittsburgh, and has been successful throughout his career. Since that trade to the Pirates, Kela has an 11.1 K/9 with a 2.49 ERA. The main concern with him is that he pitched in just three games in 2020 due to right forearm inflammation, losing a season where he was supposed to be a full-time closer. But, in a year where most free agents are entering their age 30 season or older, Kela will turn 28 in mid-April. He can be an effective late-inning guy for the Diamondbacks if healthy.

Atlanta Braves - Rotation Depth

The Braves lost Mike Soroka for most of 2020 with a torn Achilles, but they should be optimistic about a return somewhere near the start of the season. In his absence, Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson were dominant. Kyle Wright had a 5.21 ERA in eight starts, and his two playoff starts were wild, with one being very good, and one leading to an eventual elimination. While those spots are set, Touki Toussaint and Robbie Erlin came close to a 9.00 ERA. They could use a veteran guy on a one year deal, similar to what Cole Hamels was supposed to be for them this year. 

One possibility - Adam Wainwright

An article in The Athletic by David O'Brien and Ken Rosenthal stated that the Braves have interest in the 39, who they drafted in the first round of the 2000 draft. While Wainwright never played for Atlanta (he was traded in 2003 for JD Drew and Eli Marrero), he is from Georgia, and you would have to think the Braves would be his preferred destination if he actually leaves St. Louis. In 2020, "Waino" proved that he can still throw, with a 3.15 ERA in 10 starts. A one year deal makes too much sense.

Baltimore Orioles - An innings eater

The Orioles are in a weird place with their rebuild, where the lineup doesn't have many standouts, but if you signed a veteran, kind of like what the Tigers did a year ago with CJ Cron and Jonathan Schoop, a player with some potential would be blocked. So, I don't see them shaking up their position players. The rotation could be a whole other story. John Means, Alex Cobb and Dean Kremer will probably all have spots, but you could see the Orioles work on getting a starter with the intentions of him eating up innings, or to be traded. Look at Tommy Milone for an example, who was dealt to Atlanta after a 3.99 ERA in six starts.

One possibility - Mike Foltynewicz

General Manager Mike Elias came from Houston, who drafted Foltynewicz in 2010. However, Elias was still with St. Louis at that time. A year before Elias was promoted to assistant GM, Foltynewicz was traded to Atlanta. But, Rio Ruiz, who was traded to the Braves as well in that deal, was brought in by Elias to Baltimore. After an embarrassing DFA last year, "Folty" could be open to a minor league deal with a bad team like the Orioles to build back his reputation. 

Boston Red Sox - Outfielder

This may seem like a weird pick, considering the awful rotation Red Sox fans attempted to endure in 2020. But, that may be unique to 2020. Chris Sale will return from Tommy John surgery, and Eduardo Rodriguez will hopefully be able to make a full return after a season of sickness. Nathan Eovaldi was Boston's best pitcher last year, and both Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck showed promise in short stints last  year. They may throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks in the bullpen, but they need an outfielder. Jackie Bradley Jr. may leave in free agency, which would leave a hole in center field. A 3rd/4th outfielder is needed, and there's a perfect guy available for them.

One possibility - Jake Marisnick

Alex Cora is back, and Marisnick is a guy who played under him in Houston. He can be viewed like a right-handed Bradley, with the glove, speed and some power, but also the strikeout-heavy game. I'd be surprised if the Red Sox had no interest in Marisnick. 

Chicago Cubs - A third starter

Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks had great seasons, but after that, the rotation isn't great. Adbert Azolay is young, but can he really be a legitimate 4th starter? Alec Mills threw a no-hitter, but he didn't have a special season. With Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood headed for free agency, the Cubs need another starter, preferably a southpaw.

One possibility - Mike Minor

The veteran led pitchers in WAR in 2019, but he had his worst season since he was 22 in 2020, with a 5.56 ERA in 12 games. He still had a 9.8 K/9, so there's hope. Like many other players on the open market, Minor would be a cheap get for a team. I've mentioned him already in this article, but Minor could be another Cole Hamels: a lefty who was an all-star with the Rangers coming to the Cubs. It worked out well in scenario one, it could again in scenario two. 

Chicago White Sox - A backup catcher

Yeah, it isn't the sexy option, but James McCann is too good not to start, and he will leave in free agency. Former first round pick Zack Collins seems like the obvious choice to be the replacement, but his .599 OPS in 36 MLB games suggests that he could use a little bit more minor league team. With Tony La Russa not managing for the last nine years, maybe he could use an old friend to assist him.

One possibility - Yadier Molina 

It is hard to believe that Molina and Wainwright would both leave the Cardinals. But, I think that the White Sox would love to bring Yadi aboard. He was managed by La Russa from when he debuted in 2004 until 2011. While like McCann, Molina may be too good to be a backup, he could get a lot of time with the White Sox not having a clear DH. That could be where Collins fits. But the future Hall-of-Famer would be a great mentor for the young Chicago team. 

Cincinnati Reds - Shortstop

Freddy Galvis is a free agent, and the Reds should look for an upgrade instead of bringing him back. The offense cost them their wild card series versus the Braves, and it should be the Reds' first goal, besides trying to bring back Trevor Bauer. There are only two shortstops available who would be a legitimate offensive upgrade, so they should get one of them, maybe the one with some familiarity. 

One possibility - Didi Gregorius

It should come down to Gregorius or Marcus Semien for Cincinnati. Gregorius is coming off of a better season, playing in all 60 games for the Phillies with an .827 OPS. A took a one year bet on himself a year ago, and now he's the best on the market at his position. He debuted with the Reds back in 2012, playing in eight games. 

Cleveland Indians - An entire outfield

It feels like the Indians have always had a terrible outfield. 2020 was no different, as the best OPS by an OF for them was .662, belonging to Jordan Luplow. The Indians are pretty cheap, and this isn't a new fact. With Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber out the door, Brad Hand, Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez and maybe Francisco Lindor will likely soon join them. In general, the entire offensive except for Jose Ramirez struggled. Josh Naylor was great in two playoff games, and he should have one spot, but an outfield of Naylor, Tyler Naquin and Oscar Mercado is unacceptable. 

One possibility - Adam Eaton

A Springfield, Ohio native, Eaton attended the University of Miami in Ohio, so joining the Indians makes sense. Marcell Ozuna or a reunion with Michael Brantley or Jay Bruce would make sense, but that would be a huge sacrifice on defense with Franmil Reyes hogging up DH. Eaton hit just .226 with a .669 OPS in 2020, but he frequently can hit in the .280-.300 range with an OPS around .800. He has some speed, and can play multiple outfield positions. 

Colorado Rockies - An unhealthy amount of bullpen depth

Wade Davis looks washed and Scott Oberg missed the entire season with blood clots. Daniel Bard and Yency Almonte were the lone bright spots in the 'pen, with nine pitchers finishing at least four innings, and an ERA over 7.00. 

One possibility - Mark Melancon

For some reason, a lot of free agents play a position that a team that they grew up near needs. The 35-year old Melancon went to high school in Golden, Colorado, about 25 minutes away from Denver. He has played for seven teams, but the Rockies have not been one of them. Melancon had a successful 2020 acting as the Braves' closer, with eleven saves and a 2.78 ERA in 22.2 innings. He shouldn't be the only reliever Colorado adds, but maybe one of them.

Detroit Tigers - Catcher, but only for one year

The Tigers hope that Jake Rogers, the 25 year old acquired in the Justin Verlander trade, can be the catcher of the future, and his defense is highly touted. But, he doesn't look ready yet to be a starter. The Tigers best option may be to ditch Austin Romine, Grayson Greiner and Eric Hasse, the three catchers who all had an OPS under .600 last year, and sign someone better. 

One possibility - Wilson Ramos

In the past, Ramos has proven that he can be a premium offensive catcher. His two years with the Mets, especially the second one, didn't go as well as he would have liked. Ramos had a .684 OPS with five home runs in 2020. With the Tigers looking for a one year bridge catcher who they could possibly deal at the trade deadline, and Ramos looking for a one year, prove-it deal, the match seems great.

Houston Astros - Outfielder

Also integrity. Ok, I'm sorry Astros fans, I had to. But in all seriousness, the Astros are in danger of losing George Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick this offseason, and while re-signing Springer would be the best case scenario, it doesn't seem guaranteed now, and I already said no incumbents. They need a backup plan, so maybe they'll pick someone up who I previously compared to an old friend of theirs.

One possibility - Jackie Bradley Jr. 

If I said that Bradley is almost like a left-handed, better Marisnick, then why don't the Astros just bring back the familiar face? Well, Bradley is better. He has the speed, he's got a great glove, and he probably should have been a Gold Glove finalist this year in center field. He also is coming off of his best offensive season in years, with a .283 average and an OPS of .814. 

Kansas City Royals - Outfielder

With Alex Gordon retiring, a spot opened up in left field. The Royals could probably also use a center fielder, as Bubba Starling does not seem to be the answer there. The pitching was surprisingly good for Kansas City in 2020, so if they spend money, I don't see it being there. They are another team that I don't see making too many moves this offseason, but left field should be on the list.

One possibility - Matt Joyce

The leader at OBP for the Royals in 2020 was Salvador Perez, coming in at .353. For the Marlins, Joyce finished at .351, although he did not have a great season, with an OPS of .682. While he doesn't fit the speed mold that the Royals love, neither did Gordon, and he was there for a long time. The veteran journeyman can play both corner outfield positions, and he has some power from the left-handed batters box. 

Los Angeles Angels - A frontline starter

We've been here before, as another offseason comes where the Angels really need starting pitching. They actually got some production this year from Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning and Andrew Heaney. This could be the year that they go all out on pitching, as they need a very good starter, a back-end starter, a whole bunch of relievers, and even a middle infielder. Like most offseason in Anaheim, disappointment seems inevitable. 

One possibility - Marcus Stroman

While Trevor Bauer is better and from Southern California, Stroman will be cheaper, so the Angels can divert money to other locations. Stroman did not pitch in 2020, so there is some risk involved there. In 2019, he threw 184.1 innings, with a 3.22 ERA. While the Yankees might be his preferred destination, coming to Los Angeles isn't bad for Stroman either. 

Los Angeles Dodgers - An outfielder who would mainly DH, if that comes back to the NL

The Dodgers have a potent offense. And a potent rotation. And bullpen. It probably isn't fair how good they are. Their two big free agents this offseason are Justin Turner and Joc Pederson, and Turner seems likely to stay. Pederson could be the one to go, and knowing the Dodgers, they'll find a way to upgrade from him. But there's no way that they could, right?

One possibility - Michael Brantley 

*Insert Jim Carrey "Oh Come On!" GIF*. Yeah, it might not be likely, but the possibility of Brantley going to the Dodgers isn't good for about 29 other teams. He has hit at least .299 in his last six full seasons (or at least full-ish). His OPS has been over .800 in those seasons as well, and he has 20 home run potential. There is one condition, though. MLB must announce that the designated hitter will return to the National League in 2021 for the Dodgers to consider Brantley. 

Miami Marlins - Second baseman

The Marlins don't have a clear answer at second. Jonathan Villar is gone, and Jon Berti is better off as a utility man. Isan Diaz missed most of 2020 after opting-out and later returning, but he did not have great offensive numbers. I could see the Marlins, looking to keep some of that 2020 magic, going out for a right-handed bat to platoon with Diaz. 

One possibility - Jonathan Schoop

Schoop has value, but I have a feeling that with this year's market, he will not be paid well. With 20+ home run potential, Schoop had a .799 OPS for the Tigers last year, and he is only 29, young for a current free agent. He's perfect on a one year deal, tradeable for if the Marlins are bad again. 

Milwaukee Brewers - A corner infielder

Both first and third base are needs for the Brewers entering free agency. They probably need third base more, as Dan Vogelbach was successful in his short stint with the team. Assuming Justin Turner returns to the Dodgers, the third base market is not as great as the first base market, which I wouldn't call good either. If they don't trust Vogelbach to keep it up, or if the DH returns to the NL, there is a good answer at first for them.

One possibility - Carlos Santana

Santana had his option declined by the Indians after a .199 average in 2020. However, Santana is still a good player. He played in all 60 games, and led the league with 47 walks. In a full season, there is a good chance that Santana will walk 100 times, and hit about 25 home runs. He is also a switch-hitter. Santana's durability has gone under-the-radar, as from 2011 to 2019 the least amount of games he played in one season was 143. 

Minnesota Twins - Another starter

The Twins have a really good team. The offense underperformed in 2020, while the pitching over performed. The bullpen was very good, and some depth could be used, with Trevor May, Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard hitting free agency. But with Homer Bailey, Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill on their way out, another starter could be used to close out the rotation, with Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak and Michael Pineda coming back for 2021.

One possibility - Garrett Richards

While I considered James Paxton here, I think that Richards is a cheaper, and maybe even better option. He finally was healthy in 2020, and the former Angels ace posted a 4.03 ERA over 14 games (10 starts). He is someone that I could see a good team going to scoop up, and if it's the Twins, it will be a good decision for them, as Richards has always performed when healthy. 

New York Mets - catcher

It's Steve Cohen's town now, maybe. The billionaire now owns the Mets, and it seems like they are willing to make a big splash immediately. With Wilson Ramos and Robinson Chirinos both free agents, there's a certain guy that could fill the void behind the plate. While the Mets could use pitching, I think that getting the best free agent out there will be more important to them first.

One possibility - JT Realmuto

Getting the best catcher in the game, signing him to what will likely be a record breaking deal for a catcher, and taking him away from the rival Phillies will be a huge start to Cohen's ownership of the Mets. Realmuto can be the real deal for New York. He is amazing defensively, he's great offensively, and he will be very expensive. The Mets will be fun to watch in 2021, although they hope that things don't get Metsy again. 

New York Yankees - Surprisingly a lot

The Yankees have a lot of holes, although mainly they have to deal with pitching. If they can re-sign DJ LeMahieu, the offense will stay the same. But, the bullpen depth tailed off after Chapman, Britton and Green, as Adam Ottavino fell out of Aaron Boone's circle of trust. Masahiro Tanaka could come back, but even if he does, the Yankees will have Gerrit Cole, Tanaka, Deivi Garcia, Jordan Montgomery and Clarke Schmidt for their rotation. That... isn't great. The Yankees will need to bring back LeMahieu, fix up their bullpen, and add two starters, with one preferably being Tanaka, all while trying to cut back on their payroll. It won't be easy.

One possibility - Corey Kluber

After that grim start, here is some positivity. The Yankees could pick up the two-time Cy Young winner, who has familiarity with pitching coach Matt Blake and has worked out with Eric Cressey, who oversees the Yankees training staff. However, it is now time to get negative again. Kluber isn't the pitcher he once was anymore. He has basically missed the last two seasons with injuries, so success isn't guaranteed with him. But, hopefully he can regain somewhat close to form in 2021. 

Oakland Athletics - Reliever

The A's had a successful bullpen in 2020. However, that could change, with Liam Hendriks, Yusmeiro Petit, Joakim Soria and TJ McFarland ready to become free agents. If Hendriks walks, the A's could use another closer. Luckily for them, there are a lot of available options, so they can't go wrong with the guys that are out there.

One possibility - Brad Hand

With Alex Colome, Kirby Yates and Ken Giles all free agents along with Hendriks, I chose Hand because he is a lefty. This could allow Jake Diekman to move more into a situational lefty, while Hand is the southpaw of the back end. While he has struggled with consistency at times, Hand has closed games out for the Indians and Padres over the years. He saved a league-leading 16 games with a 2.05 ERA and 11.9 K/9 in 2020. 

Philadelphia Phillies - Bullpen, bullpen, bullpen

The 'pen was an absolute embarrassment for the Phillies in 2020. Even when they tried to improve it, acquiring Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from Boston, they fell flat, as both those guys are leaving town. I could see the Phillies going after and signing multiple high-end guys, but their best bet may be to go after the best on the market, and maybe even the best reliever in the game.

One possibility - Liam Hendriks

While losing the best catcher in Realmuto will hurt, gaining Hendriks will ease that a little bit. Hendriks had a 13.1 K/9 in both 2019 and 2020, with similar ERAs, finishing with a 1.78 mark in 2020. He became Oakland's closer, and the Phillies will go after him hard, hoping that he will become theirs. 

Pittsburgh Pirates - Outfielder

The Pirates were very, very bad in 2020, with top prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes serving as their only bright spot. Right fielder Gregory Polanco showed that his tenure in Pittsburgh should be ending soon, with a .539 OPS. While it wouldn't make sense to make a big upgrade here, I think that finding a platoon option for Polanco is worth it.

One possibility - Domingo Santana

To criticize Polanco's play then suggest bringing Santana aboard isn't really fair. Santana had a .583 OPS in 2020, not much better than Polanco. However, he has shown power in his career, and he could be a quality platoon option to Polanco if he can figure things out offensively. There is much to be desired about his defense, though. 

San Diego Padres - Another starter

The Padres don't have a bad rotation. Zach Davies, Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger had very good seasons, and Chris Paddack had a great rookie season before a sophomore slump. With Garrett Richards leaving, the Padres have an open spot in the rotation, and while going in-house may be smarter, AJ Preller has dished out big contracts before, and there is a guy available that would make them a serious World Series contender.

One possibility - Trevor Bauer

First, I want to say that my prediction for Bauer isn't San Diego, but he is the best case scenario for the Padres. Bauer is good friends with Mike Clevinger, who was acquired in August. He will win the 2020 NL Cy Young award, and while we thought that Clevinger would be the ace that the Padres needed, maybe it actually is Bauer. 

San Francisco Giants - Starter

The Giants will probably retain Kevin Gausman, who would be foolish not to accept the $18.9 million qualifying offer that was offered to him. The rotation depth is not great. The other two starters with ERAs under 4.00 in 2020 are both free agents, in Drew Smyly and Trevor Cahill. Jeff Samardzija is also one. The Giants will look for cheap, veteran options on the free agency market, just like they did last year with Gausman, Smyly and Cahill. 

One possibility - Jake Odorizzi

I like the fit with this one. Odorizzi has some similarities to Gausman, as both had some success before a rough contract year hurt them. Odorizzi had a 3.51 ERA with 178 strikeouts in 2019. He made just four starts in 2020, and allowed 10 runs in 13.2 innings. The Giants could look to trade him mid-season if they get him. 

Seattle Mariners - Outfielder

Kyle Lewis surprised the Mariners, finishing with an OPS above .800. But to his right and to his left in the outfield, not much was happening. Jose Marmolejos did hit six home runs, but Phil Ervin, Braden Bishop and Jake Fraley all struggled to hit, as right field became a weak spot for the Mariners. Tim Lopes can play all of the outfield positions, but him or Marmolejos could DH. So could a veteran that they could bring in to add a bat to a bad lineup.

One possibility - Ryan Braun

It looks like Braun will finally leave the Brewers after his option was declined. While he will soon be 37 and his defense is faltering, Braun still has a good bat. He hit eight home runs with a .769 OPS in 39 games last year. The Mariners would love to add his bat to the lineup, and he would return to the west coast, where he is from. 

St. Louis Cardinals - Outfielder

The Cardinals need a very good outfielder. Tyler O'Neill, Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler all had bad seasons in 2020, and while Dylan Carlson is the future, there's not much around him. This year, there is a prominent outfielder on the market, and the Cardinals are likely the favorite to acquire his services. 

One possibility - George Springer

Even in a year where most of his teammates struggled, Springer had a great year. He hit 14 home runs with an .899 OPS. Springer is one of the only center fielders in baseball with 30 home run potential, and he is a three time all-star, and has won two Silver Sluggers, which isn't easy considering Mike Trout is always a lock for one. It seems like Springer is moving on from Houston, and St. Louis looks like a reasonable destination.

Tampa Bay Rays - Catcher

While they would love to retain Charlie Morton, catching seems to be the Rays' biggest need right now, after Mike Zunino's option was declined. They can't afford to get into the JT Realmuto sweepstakes, so I could see them going into the second or third tier of catchers. But knowing the Rays, they will get someone who you have barely heard of, and he'll become a perennial all-star. 

One Possibility - James McCann

Even McCann could fall out of their price range, but with the market down, he could have a reasonable want for the Rays. McCann was an all-star in 2019, and when it looked like an outlier, he did it again, hitting seven home runs in 31 games as a backup, with an .896 OPS. While I could see McCann's value going up after Realmuto signs, the Rays could scoop him up.

Texas Rangers - Catcher

The Rangers are also a team that I could see signing McCann. They are much worse than the Rays, though, so I could even see Tampa willing to spend more money. The catching market after Realmuto and McCann isn't great, but it isn't like their are too many great catchers in the league anyways. The Rangers will need an upgrade at the position offensively after Jeff Mathis started for them in 2020.

One possibility - Kurt Suzuki 

Suzuki has been a much better player in the second half of his career. In 2020, he hit .270 with a .745 OPS, and in 2019 he won a World Series, while hitting 17 home runs with an .809 OPS. The Rangers could flip Suzuki, or keep him at the top of their lineup.

Toronto Blue Jays - Left-handed reliever

The Blue Jays had some pretty good bullpen performances in 2020. Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, Ryan Borucki, AJ Cole, Tom Hatch and Jordan Romano all had good seasons. But, only Borucki is left-handed of the group. I could see the Blue Jays look to improve their 'pen by getting another good left-handed reliever. Maybe not as a closer, but in a set-up role or middle relief.

One possibility - Justin Wilson 

After two quietly good years in an awful Mets bullpen, Wilson is a free agent again. He appeared in 23 games in 2020, posting a 3.66 ERA, and striking out 23 in 19.2 innings. He has struck out guys at a good rate in his career, as starting in 2016, his K/9 has always been above 10.0. What he brings to the table is exactly what the Blue Jays need to help keep them competitive. 

Washington Nationals - Starting pitching depth

Oddly enough, starting pitching really hurt the Nationals in 2020, and that is what won them a World Series. Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin had down years, while Stephen Strasburg made just two starts. Anibal Sanchez is a free agent, and both Erick Fedde and Austin Voth aren't great options. There are about two guys in the tier that I think the Nationals will be shopping in, so I see them getting one of them.

One possibility - James Paxton

The other guy in that tier with Paxton is Charlie Morton, although who knows if he even wants to come to DC. Paxton struggled with velocity and injury issues in 2020. He made just five starts, with a 6.64 ERA. He still struck out batters at a high rate, with an 11.5 K/9. A healthy Paxton as a fourth starter with a healthy Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin in front of him would get the Nationals back in the playoffs. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Vegas signs Pietrangelo, trades Schmidt to Vancouver


 

       The Vegas Golden Knights have signed defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a seven year deal with an AAV of $8.8 million dollars. To make room for Pietrangelo, they traded defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks for a 2022 3rd round pick. 

       The Golden Knights signing Pietrangelo seemed inevitable after he reportedly took a trip to Vegas. While he has never been a Norris finalist, he finished 4th in 2019-20, and has scored double digit goals in each of the last four seasons. While Schmidt was a fan-favorite, he is a top-4 defenseman, while Pietrangelo is easily a top-pairing guy. A big concern with him is that he is 30 years old, turning 31 next January. Seven years is a lot for a guy who is not exactly young. But Vegas definitely needed a right-handed defenseman, with Zach Whitecloud currently being their next best righty. They could move Shea Theodore to the right side, and have defensive pairings of Alec Martinez and Pietrangelo, Brayden McNabb and Theodore, and Nick Holden and Whitecloud. That will definitely do. Schmidt is good, but his contract looks like it could soon be a nightmare. Pietrangelo is a leader, who was the captain of the Blues when they won the 2019 Stanley Cup. 

         Pietrangelo, 30, scored 16 goals with 36 assists for 52 points in 70 games for the St. Louis Blues in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in St. Louis, Pietrangelo has 109 goals with 341 assists for 450 points in 758 games. 

          The Canucks get a good player in Schmidt. He can play either the right or left side, and play on the first or second pairing. However, he is at the tail-end of his prime, and his contract does not look good. Schmidt has a $5.95 million cap hit, running for the next five seasons. While it might be better than the Tyler Myers deal (although it is only $50k less for one extra season), that is not good by any means. But the production that Schmidt will give them for the next 2-3 years will likely be better than anything a third round pick can give you, unless Vegas really hits the jackpot. 

           Schmidt, 29, scored seven goals with 24 assists for 31 points in 59 games for the Golden Knights in 2019-20. In his NHL career for Vegas and the Washington Capitals, Schmidt has 29 goals with 111 assists for 40 points in 396 games. 

NHL Trade Review: Avalanche acquire Toews

 


       The Colorado Avalanche have acquired defenseman Devon Toews from the New York Islanders in exchange for a 2021 second round pick and a 2022 second round pick. 

       Toews is a two-way defenseman on the verge of a breakout, but he is also an RFA. With under $9 million in cap space, the Islanders could not afford Toews when they also need to sign Mat Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Despite just finishing his second NHL season, Toews is not young, and a short term deal was expected, which would send him into unrestricted free agency. While he has shown that he can be a contributor both offensively and defensively, a weak playoff run followed by an arbitration case that the Islanders weren't confident in persuaded them to go with the trade route. While he can be a very valuable player, two second round picks is a good return, although the team's last impact second rounder was Scott Mayfield in 2011, and before that, Mikko Koskinen (who is just making a difference in the league now) in 2009 and Travis Hamonic in 2008. One or both of the picks could go to unloading salary to sign Barzal and Pulock.

        The Avalanche get a pretty good deal here. After trading Nikita Zadorov to Chicago they were looking for an upgrade, and they certainly get one here in Toews. They have the cap space to sign him, and he will be a good second pairing defenseman for them. They needed a right-hander, but they could move Ian Cole to the right side, maybe to play with Toews, and have the recently-extended Ryan Graves play with Erik Johnson on the third pairing, with Cale Makar and Sam Girard up top. Judging by last year's Brady Skjei trade and the amount of teams looking for a top-4 defenseman, not giving up a first rounder is good. 

         Toews, 26, scored six goals with 22 assists for 28 points in 68 games for the Islanders in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in New York, Toews has 11 goals with 35 assists for 46 points in 116 games. 

COLUMN: Trying to Make Sense out of Taylor Hall Signing with the Sabres


      
     NHL free agency has gotten off to a slow start, as only one of the biggest players on the board signed on day one, with Torey Krug going to St. Louis. But between the big two free agents, Taylor Hall and Alex Pietrangelo, it took until the night of day three for one of them to make their decision. That was Hall, one of the premier left wingers in the game, who has played for lowly franchises in Edmonton and New Jersey for most of his career. Hall, who just experienced a first round exit with the Coyotes, was expected to go to a legitimate contender for the first time in his career. Instead, he went to one of the seven teams that did not make the expanded playoffs, the Buffalo Sabres. 

        Even though it was known that Hall would sign a short-term deal with Buffalo, it was a weird signing. In the end, he agreed to a one year deal worth $8 million, which is something that other teams could probably top. Even if you evaluate the other six teams that didn't make the playoffs, Buffalo doesn't have the history of Detroit, the lovely weather like any of the California teams, the familiarity of New Jersey, or even Ottawa, which isn't close to Hall's hometown of Calgary but is at least in the same country. All of this, plus New York's high state tax, makes for a confusing decision by a 28 year old. But, there are some upsides. 

          Hall, a scoring winger who is also a great playmaker, is coming off of an injured season, and a down year. In 2019-20, he scored 16 goals with 52 total points in 65 games. His 0.25 goals per game was the lowest of his career, and this is a guy that was 19 in his rookie season. His 0.80 points per game was also his lowest since 2016-17, and this is coming off of two seasons with a points per game well over 1.00. The former Hart winner has always had one issue: being on teams with a lack of star power. In New Jersey, he played with Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri, who are good, but not exceptional. In Arizona, he wasn't a top line guy, playing with Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak. In Buffalo, Hall will finally have a linemate that will bring his stats up, and not the other-way-around. 

          So far, the Sabres have completely wasted Jack Eichel's career. As the soon-to-be 24 year old enters his prime, he has not played in a playoff game. He is coming off of a season with a career high 36 goals in only 68 games. For most of the year his wingers were Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson. While both can be consistent 20 goal scorers, they are not on the level of Hall. Eichel has shown that he can boost a player's stats, as when Jeff Skinner came to Buffalo in 2018-19, he scored 40 goals on Eichel's wing after a 24 goal campaign. When Eichel had new linemates, Skinner's production dipped, down to 14 goals. 

         Hall's plan seems to be to follow Skinner's path, but without the year two struggles. Playing with Eichel, both forwards could get to 100 points, even in a 70 game season. He could definitely eclipse his career high 39 goals and 93 points set in his Hart winning 2017-18. He also has a full no-move and no-trade clause, which means that if the Sabres struggle like they are expected to, he can control who he is traded to. If Hall has a strong year, then he can bait a team like the Sabres to give him a deal similar to the eight year, $72 million contract they gave Skinner after his 40 goal season. He also has familiarity with Buffalo Head Coach Ralph Krueger, who coached Hall with Edmonton in 2012-13. 

         However, there is a bit of a risk involved here. If Hall is injured, or doesn't perform with Eichel, then he isn't going to get the money he wants long-term. But even if he does score around 40 goals, then teams have an excuse to balk at a price that Hall would want, since he probably won't want another 1-2 year deal. Skinner's success with Eichel followed by a sudden downfall after being paid shows a sign of caution around doing it all again with Hall. While Hall still has a pedigree that Skinner doesn't, keep in mind that he will be 30 in November of 2021, the first year on his new contract. When Skinner signed his eight year extension, he had just turned 27. Whether it would be an eight year deal with the Sabres or a seven year deal with someone else, it is unlikely that a smart team would go the max distance with Hall. If the salary cap stays flat, that makes it even more unlikely. The Seattle expansion draft can help a team, as the Kraken would be a franchise that would take an unwanted contract for draft picks. 

          This deal is a no-brainer for the Sabres. They increase popularity with a former MVP, and they can see an increase in ticket sales (if that is a thing in 2020-21) thanks to Hall. The increased publicity leads to more money all-around. While Hall might be using them, they can ship him off for a first round pick and more like the Devils did last year. This also gives Eichel another star to help improve the team, and keep Eichel's morale up, as there were trade rumors weeks ago surrounding the center. 

          Overall, for Hall, this deal still raises question marks. But if Hall gets a Skinner-like deal next year, whether it is with the Sabres or another team that currently had interest in him, then everything about his tenure in Buffalo is worth it. If he gets injured or underperforms, this could be the mistake of a lifetime. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Devils acquire Johnsson

 


       The New Jersey Devils have acquired forward Andreas Johnsson from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Joey Anderson. 

       The Maple Leafs' salary cap issues are no secret, and they got just a little bit worse when they gave Wayne Simmonds and TJ Brodie a combined $6.5 million in free agency. Johnsson being traded was inevitable, as he is a player that can be replaced, and he has a $3.4 million cap hit. The Maple Leafs decided not to trade two decent RFAs last year in Kasperi Kapanen and Johnsson when they had cap issues, and now both are in the Metropolitan division, as Kapanen is a Penguin. In return, they get Anderson, who can be a defensive forward on the right wing. Anderson had a successful AHL season last year, scoring 15 goals with 34 points in 44 games. The former 3rd rounder played in some NHL games over the past two seasons. He is currently an RFA, but his next deal likely won't eclipse $1 million and might be a two-way deal. 

        Anderson, 22, scored four goals with two assists for six points in 18 games for the Devils in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in New Jersey, Anderson has eight goals with five assists for 13 points in 52 games. 

        The Devils are taking advantage of the Maple Leafs' salary cap situation, and they get pretty good value for Johnsson, who is signed for three more years. He scored 20 goals in 2018-19, but knee injuries hurt his 2019-20. He is a young left wing option for Lindy Ruff's squad. Their next order of business should be to get a defenseman. They have five NHL defenseman, and Damon Severson is the only signed past 2021-22 (he is a free agent after 2022-23). 

         Johnsson, 25, scored eight goals with 13 assists for 21 points in 43 games for the Maple Leafs in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all for Toronto, Johnsson has 30 goals with 37 assists for 67 points in 125 games. 

NHL Trade Review: Avalanche acquire Saad

From Getty Images


       The Colorado Avalanche have acquired forward Brandon Saad and defenseman Dennis Gilbert from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Nikita Zadorov and defenseman Anton Lindholm. The Blackhawks retained $1 million of Saad's contract.

        With a lot of cap space and a want for more scoring, the Avalanche were rumored to be in the Taylor Hall sweepstakes. They could still make a push for him, but Saad is a solid middle-six winger. After Chicago retained some salary, Colorado faces a $5 million cap hit, with Saad becoming a UFA after 20-21. Saad has scored at least 20 goals in five of the past six seasons, and won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks. Saad had two great seasons in Columbus (2015-16 and 2016-17), before returning to Chicago in a really bad trade for Artemi Panarin, but he has fallen off a little bit since. With the Avalanche, Saad will have a better team around him, which means a chance to score more goals. Zadorov is an RFA that the Avs don't need, with Sam Girard, Ian Cole, Ryan Graves and top prospect Bowen Byram on the left side, although they could use a right-handed defenseman (Cole can also play both sides). If they need depth, they get that in Gilbert, who played in over a quarter of Chicago's games last season.

         Saad, who will be 28 later this month, scored 21 goals with 12 assists for 33 points in 58 games for the Blackhawks in 2019-20. In his NHL career for Chicago and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saad has 169 goals with 178 assists for 347 points in 588 games.

         Gilbert, 23 (who's birthday is just three days after Saad's), scored one goal with two assists for three points in 21 games for the Blackhawks in 2019-20, and has one extra NHL game, coming in 2018-19. For the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL last year, Gilbert had one goal with six assists for seven points in 30 games. 

        Even though they (somehow) made the playoffs in 2019-20, the Blackhawks don't look great going into 2020-21, especially with Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban in goal. In this trade, they clear some cap space, although not too much, as immediately afterwards the Blackhawks announced that Zadorov accepted his qualifying offer of one year, worth $3.2 million. The Blackhawks still have Duncan Keith, and Calvin de Haan is solid as well, but behind them the left side is weak, so Zadorov is an improvement over Nick Seeler. That being said, the Blackhawks could use a left winger, even before this trade. Dominik Kubalik is great, but now with Saad gone, there isn't much behind him. Alex DeBrincat could be on his off-side, but the next best pure left winger is either Brandon Pirri or John Quenneville. That is a position that I could see the Blackhawks look to upgrade with their remaining cap space, as well as in goal. Lindholm played in 48 games in 2017-18, but hasn't come close to that total since. He is older than Gilbert, and probably has a little bit less value.

         Zadorov, 25, scored four goals with nine assists for 13 points in 64 games for the Avalanche in 2019-20. In his NHL career for the Avs and Buffalo Sabres, Zadorov has 22 goals with 53 assists for 75 points in 356 games. 

         Lindholm, also 25, had one assist in four game for the Avalanche in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in Colorado, the 2014 5th rounder has five points, all assists, in 66 games. In 45 games in 2019-20 for the AHL's Colorado Eagles, Lindholm had one goal with two assists for three points. 

NHL Trade Review: Senators get Watson

 


       The Ottawa Senators have acquired forward Austin Watson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 2021 4th round draft pick.

       On Halloween of last year, the Predators signed Watson to a three year extension with a cap hit of $1.5 million. Unfortunately, he will play in zero games for them under that deal, as it just has kicked in this season. The Predators essentially replaced Watson yesterday when they signed Nick Cousins to a two year deal with the same cap hit. Since the Predators lack in depth, having Cousins, a lefty, and Watson, a righty, on the same line could have helped, as Cousins can play left wing and center while Watson can play both sides. Trading Watson doesn't make much sense, unless the Predators have something big in mind. They do have $14.66 million in cap space, so they could go after Taylor Hall or Mike Hoffman. The return for Watson is about what you would expect.

         The Senators are having a pretty good offseason, and while Watson isn't anything special, he is a decent addition. A six-four winger who was a first rounder in 2010, Watson is now the 21st player from the first round of that draft to be traded. He is a physical player, eclipsing 100 hits in each of the last four seasons, including his 37 game 2018-19. 

          Watson, 28, scored six goals with eight assists for 14 points in 53 games for the Predators in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in Nashville, Watson has 36 goals with 41 assists for 77 points in 306 games. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

The 2020 NHL Free Agency Tracker

 

       It is October 9th, which is 2020 means that it is the start of NHL free agency. Here is the official Carterhud.com free agency tracker, starting with October 9 signings, and updating when new deals are announced. 


       Anaheim Ducks

F Derek Grant, three years, $1.5 million (AAV)

D Kevin Shattenkirk, three years, $3.9 million

F Vinni Lettieri (two-way), one year, $750k

F Andrew Poturalaki (two-way), one year, $700k

D Andy Welinski, one year, $750k


      Arizona Coyotes

F Tyler Pitlick, two years, $1.75 million

F John Hayden, one year, $750k

F Johan Larsson, two years, $1.4 million

F Dryden Hunt (two-way), one year, $700k

D Jordan Gross (two-way), one year, $750k

F Christian Fischer (RFA), two years, $1 million


       Boston Bruins

D Kevan Miller, one year, $1.25 million

F Craig Smith, three years, $3.1 million

F Greg McKegg (two-way), one year, $700k

G Callum Booth (two-way), one year, $700k

D Jakub Zboril (RFA), two years, $725k

D Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), four years, $3.69 million

F Karson Kuhlman (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

F Zach Senyshyn (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k


       Buffalo Sabres

F Tobias Rieder, one year, $700k

D Matt Irwin, one year, $700k

D Brandon Davidson, one year, $700k

F Cody Eakin, two years, $2.25 million

D Brandon Montour (RFA), one year, $3.85

F Taylor Hall, one year, $8 million

F Steven Fogarty (two-way), one year, $700k

D Casey Nelson, one year, $700k

F Sam Reinhart (RFA), one year, $5.2 million

G Linus Ullmark (RFA), one year, $2.6 million


       Calgary Flames

F Buddy Robinson, one year, $700k

D Alex Petrovic, one year, $700k

G Jacob Markstrom, six years, $6 million

F Zac Rinaldo (two-way), one year, $700k

F Byron Froese (two-way), one year, $725k

D Chris Tanev, four years, $4.5 million

G Louis Domingue (two-way), one year, $700k

F Glenn Gawdin (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k

G Tyler Parsons (RFA, two-way), one year, $735k

F Andrew Mangiapane (RFA), two years, $2.43 million

F Joakim Nordstrom, one year, $700k

F Dominik Simon, one year, $700k

D Nikita Nesterov, one year, $700k

F Josh Leivo, one year, $875k


       Carolina Hurricanes

F Jesper Fast, three years, $2 million

D Joakim Ryan (two-way), one year, $700k

F Clark Bishop (two-way), one year, $700k

F Vasili Ponomarev (entry level), three years, $818k

F Spencer Smallman (two-way), one year, $700k

F Steven Lorentz (two-way), two years, $725k

F Jeremy Bracco (two-way), one year, $700k

F David Gust (two-way), one year, $700k

F Sheldon Rempal (two-way), one year, $700k

F Drew Shore (two-way), one year, $700k

G Antoine Bibeau (two-way), one year, $700k

D Gustav Forsling (two-way), one year, $700k

D Haydn Fleury (RFA), two years, $1.3 million


       Chicago Blackhawks

F Dominik Kubalik (RFA), two years, $3.7 million

G Malcolm Subban, two years, $850k

D Nikita Zadorov (RFA), one year, $3.2 million

F Mattis Janmark, one year, $2.25 million

F Lucas Wallmark, one year, $950k


       Colorado Avalanche

F Miikka Salomaki (two-way), one year, $700k

F Mike Vecchione (two-way), one year, $700k

F Sheldon Dries (two-way), one year, $771,750 

F Kiefer Sherwood (two-way), one year, $700k

F Andre Burakovsky (RFA), two years, $4.9 million

F Jayson Megna (two-way), one year, $700k 

F Valeri Nichuskin (RFA), two years, $2.5 million

D Ryan Graves (RFA), three years, $3.16 million

F Tyson Jost (RFA), one year, $874k

G Hunter Miska (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

D Devon Toews (RFA), four years, $4.1 million


       Columbus Blue Jackets

D Gavin Bayreuther (two-way), one year, $710k 

F Mikko Koivu, one year, $1.5 million

D Gabriel Carlson (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

F Calvin Thurkauf (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k


       Dallas Stars

G Anton Khudobin, three years, $3.33 million

D Mark Pysyk, one year, $750k

F Joel L'Esperance (two-way), two years, $725k

F Radek Faksa (RFA), five years, $3.25 million

F Denis Gurianov (RFA), two years, $2.55 million

G Landon Bow (two-way), one year, $700k


       Detroit Red Wings

F Bobby Ryan, one year, $1 million

D Jon Merrill, one year, $925k

F Riley Barber (two-way), two years, $725k

G Kevin Boyle (two-way), one year, $700k

F Kyle Criscuolo (two-way), one year, $700k

G Thomas Greiss, two years, $3.6 million

D Troy Stetcher, two years, $1.7 million

F Vladislav Namestnikov, two years, $2 million

F Tyler Bertuzzi (RFA), one year, $3.5 million


       Edmonton Oilers

F Kyle Turris, two years, $1.65 million

F Alan Quine, one year, $750k

F Tyler Ennis, one year, $1 million

G Anton Forsberg (two-way), one year, $700k

F Seth Griffith (two-way), two years, $725k

D Tyson Barrie, one year, $3.75 million

G Mike Smith, one year, $2 million

D Kris Russell (extension), one year, $1.25 million


         Florida Panthers

D Radko Gudas, three years, $2.5 million

F Carter Verhaeghe, two years, $1 million

F Alex Wennberg, one year, $2.25 million

F Ryan Lomberg, two years, $725k

F Vinnie Hinostroza, one year, $1 million

G Philippe Desrosiers (two-way), one year, $700k

F Scott Wilson (two-way), one year, $700k


           Los Angeles Kings

D Mark Alt (two-way), one year, $700k

G Troy Grosenick (two-way), one year, $700k

D Austin Strand (two-way), two years, $725k

F Bokondji Imama (RFA, two-way), one year, $735k

F Quinton Byfield (entry level), three years, $925k


          Minnesota Wild

G Cam Talbot, three years, $3.66 million

F Joseph Cramarossa (two-way), one year, $700k

D Dakota Mermis (two-way), one year, $700k

F Jordan Greenway (RFA), two years, $2.1 million

G Kaapo Kahkonen (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

D Ian McCoshen (two-way), one year, $700k

D Louis Belpedio (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k

F Marcus Rossi (entry level), three years, $925k


           Montreal Canadiens

D Victor Mete (RFA), one year, $735k

F Brandon Baddock (two-way), one year, $700k

D Xavier Ouellet (two-way), 2 years, $737.5k

F Tyler Toffoli, four years, $4.25 million

G Jake Allen (extension), two years, $2.875 million

F Brendan Gallagher (extension), six years, $6.5 million

D Kaiden Guhle (entry level), three years, $925k


          Nashville Predators

D Matt Benning, two years, $1 million

D Mark Borowiecki, two years, $2 million

F Nick Cousins, two years, $1.5 million

F Brad Richardson, one year, $1 million

G Kasimir Kaskisuo (two-way), one year, $700k

D Tyler Lewington (two-way), one year, $700k

F Rem Pitlick (RFA, two-way), one year, $874k


          New Jersey Devils

G Corey Crawford, two years, $3.9 million

G Scott Wedgewood (two-way), one year, $700k

F Nick Merkley (RFA, two-way), one year, $874k

D Dmitry Kulikov, one year, $1.15 million


          New York Islanders

D Grant Hutton (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

F Austin Czarnik (two-way), two years, $725k

D Mitch Vande Sompel (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

D Parker Wotherspoon (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

F AJ Greer (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k

F Josh Ho-Sang (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k


          New York Rangers

F Kevin Rooney, two years, $750k

F Colin Blackwell (two-way), two years, $725k

G Keith Kinkaid, two years, $875k

D Jack Johnson, one year, $1.15 million

D Anthony Bitetto (two-way), two years, $737.5k

F Jonny Brodzinski (two-way), one year, $700k

D Brandon Crawley (two-way), one year, $700k

F Anthony Greco (two-way), two years, $737.5k

F Alex Lafreniere (entry level), three years, $925k

F Philip Di Giuseppe (two-way), one year, $700k

G Alex Georgiev (RFA), two years, $2.43 million

D Tony DeAngelo (RFA), two years, $4.8 million

F Gabriel Fontaine (two-way), one year, $700k

D Darren Raddish (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k


           Ottawa Senators

G Matt Murray (RFA), four years, $6.25 million

F Logan Shaw (two-way), two years, $725k

F Matthew Peca (two-way), one year, $700k

F Nicholas Paul (RFA), two years, $1.35 million

F Evgenii Dadonov, three years, $5 million

F Rudolfs Balcers (RFA, two-way), one year, $735k

G Joey Daccord (RFA, two-way), three years, $750k

F JC Beaudin (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k

F Connor Brown (RFA), three years, $3.6 million

F Chris Tierney (RFA), two years, $3.5 million

F Filip Chlapik (RFA, two-way), one year, $735k


           Philadelphia Flyers

D Derrick Pouliot (two-way), one year, $700k

F Zayde Wisdom (entry level), three years, $825k

D Erik Gustafsson, one year, $3 million

F Tyson Foerster (entry level), three years, $925k

F Nolan Patrick (RFA), one year, $874k


           Pittsburgh Penguins

F Evan Rodrigues, one year, $700k

F Mark Jankowski, one year, $700k

F Josh Currie (two-way), one year, $700k

F Frederick Gaudreau (two-way), one year, $700k

G Maxime Lagace (two-way), one year, $700k

F Anthony Angello (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

F Sam Miletic (2-way), one year, $700k

D Cody Ceci, one year, $1.25 million



            San Jose Sharks

F Stefan Noesen, one year, $925k

F Kevin LaBanc, four years, $4.725 million

F Matt Nieto (two-way), one year, $700k

F Patrick Marleau (two-way), one year, $700k

F Ozzy Wiesblatt (entry level), three years, $898k


            St. Louis Blues

G Jon Gillies (two-way), one year $700k

D Torey Krug, seven years, $6.5 million

D Steven Santini (two-way), one year, $700k

F Curtis McKenzie (two-way), one year, $700k

F Sam Anas (two-way), two years, $725k

F Kyle Clifford, two years, $1 million

F Jake Neigbbours (entry level), three years, $898k

D Mitch Reinke (RFA, two-way), one year, $750k

F Austin Poganski (two-way), one year, $700k


            Tampa Bay Lightning

F Patrick Maroon, two years, $900k

D Luke Schenn, one year, $800k

G Chris Gibson (two-way), one year, $700k

D Andreas Borgman (two-way), one year, $700k

F Ross Colton (two-way), one year, $700k

D Ben Thomas (two-way), one year, $700k


             Toronto Maple Leafs

F Wayne Simmonds, one year, $1.5 million

D TJ Brodie, four years, $5 million

F Travis Boyd, one year, $700k

D Zach Bogosian, one year, $1 million

F Jimmy Vesey, one year, $900k

G Aaron Dell, one year, $800k

F Joe Thornton, one year, $700k

F Ilya Mikehev (RFA), two years, $1.645 million

D Travis Dermott (RFA), one year, $874k


             Vancouver Canucks

G Braden Holtby, two years, $4.3 million

F Tyler Motte (RFA), two years, $1.225 million

D Ashton Sautner (two-way), one year, $700k

G Jake Kielly (two-way), one year, $700k

F Jayce Hawryluk (two-way), one year, $800k

F Adam Gaudette (RFA), one year, $950k

F Jake Virtanen (RFA), two years, $2.55 million


             Vegas Golden Knights

F Tomas Nosek, one year, $1.25 million

F Tomas Jurco, one year, $700k

F Danny O'Regan (two-way), one year, $700k

D Alex Pietrangelo, seven years, $8.8 million

F Keegan Kolesar (RFA), two years, $725k


             Washington Capitals

G Henrik Lundqvist, one year, $1.5 million

D Justin Schultz, two years, $4 million

D Cameron Schilling (two-way), one year, $700k

D Trevor van Riemsdyk, one year, $800k

D Paul LaDue, one year, $700k

F Dan Carr (two-way), one year, $700k

F Shane Gersich (RFA, two-way), one year, $700k

D Jonas Siegenthaler (RFA), one year, $800k

F Hendrix Lapierre (entry-level), three years, $925k


             Winnipeg Jets

D Nathan Beaulieu, two years, $1.25 million

D Luca Sbisa, one year, $800k

F Mason Appleton (RFA), two years, $900k

F Nate Thompson, one year, $750k

F CJ Suess (two-way), two years, $725k

F Dominic Toninato (two-way), one year, $700k

D Derek Forbort, one year, $1 million

D Nelson Nogier (RFA, two-way), two years, $725k

F Jansen Harkins (RFA), two years, $725k

Thursday, October 8, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Devils get Murray


 

       The New Jersey Devils have acquired defenseman Ryan Murray from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 2021 5th round draft pick. 

       Even though this trade can be seen as a salary dump, the Devils get really good value here for Murray.  The 2nd overall pick in 2012, Murray has always been hampered by injuries, as the last time he played in more than 60 games in a season was 2015-16. In a 59 game season in 2018-19, Murray showed promise as a defensive defenseman, and earned himself a two year extension with an AAV of $4.6 million. The Blue Jackets have been shedding salary all day, clearing up $11.8 million in cap space by trading away Murray and Markus Nutivaara, and buying-out Alex Wennberg. Even if it is a dump, Murray is worth more than a 5th round pick with just one year left and a somewhat reasonable salary if he is healthy. Erik Gudbranson, who has a cap hit just $600k less than Murray, got the same return in a trade to Ottawa today, while Murray is a much more valuable player. If Murray is healthy (a really big if), then the Devils might have found themselves a partner for PK Subban and a steal. 

        Murray, 27, scored two goals with seven assists for nine points in 27 games for the Blue Jackets in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in Columbus, Murray has 15 goals with 95 assists for 110 points in 347 games. 

NHL Trade Review: Panthers acquire Nutivaara


 

       The Florida Panthers have acquired defenseman Marcus Nutivaara from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Cliff Pu. 

        For the past four seasons Nutivaara has been a big part of the Blue Jackets defense. But 2019-20 was his weakest, as he dealt with injuries and was frequently a healthy scratch, including in some playoff games. As the Blue Jackets look to clear up cap space to sign Pierre-Luc Dubois and get more improvements, trading Nutivaara is something that probably needed to happen, along with buying-out Alex Wennberg, which they did just before the trade. Florida gets a solid bottom pairing defenseman, and new GM Bill Zito just came from Columbus, so he obviously likes Nutivaara. Since they only have six NHL forwards signed for next year, it is a little odd that they would take on Nutivaara's $2.7 million cap hit for two seasons, but that is a manageable number. They give up almost nothing in return, because Pu, a 2016 3rd rounder, is a fringe AHL player who they acquired for future considerations in 2019. 

         Nutivaara, 26, scored three goals with six assists for nine points in 37 games played for the Blue Jackets in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in Columbus, Nutivaara has 17 goals with 43 assists for 60 points in 244 games. 

         Pu, 22, had two points (both assists) in 10 games for the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds last year. He also had one goal with five assists for six points in four games for the ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits.