Wednesday, January 27, 2021

MLB Trade Review: Blue Jays acquire Matz


 

       The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired LHP Steven Matz from the New York Mets in exchange for RHPs Sean Reid-Foley, Yennsy Diaz and Josh Winckowski.

       I really don't like this trade for Toronto. Matz has really fallen off recently, as he was awful in 2019 and was demoted to the bullpen, but he had a great July and August. Those two months could be what the Blue Jays are looking for, but you would have to ignore what he did in 2020 to believe that. Matz averaged more than one earned run allowed per inning, so an ERA over nine, and he got shelled, with an average exit velocity of 91.5 miles per hour and a 13.5 barrel percentage. He is best as a fifth starter who goes five innings on average, which isn't something that is worth three young players. Even worse, Matz isn't young, and after he earns $5.2 million in 2021, he will be a free agent. 

       Matz, 29, had a 9.68 ERA with 36 strikeouts, a 1.696 WHIP and a 7.76 FIP in 30.2 innings for the Mets in 2020. In his MLB career, all in New York, Matz has a 4.35 ERA with 552 strikeouts, a 1.320 WHIP and a 4.49 FIP in 579.2 innings. 

      The Mets did pretty well with this trade given Matz's current value, but these three players likely won't add much to the big league team. They add the former 26 and 27th best prospect in the Jays system (MLB Pipeline) in Diaz and Winckowski, who have combined for 0.2 innings pitched in the majors, and that came in 2019, when Diaz allowed two earned runs with four walks in one game. Both are minor league starters, and Winckowski, a 2016 15th rounder, has posted solid numbers in the low minor league levels. Reid-Foley is the only player who could impact the Mets in the near future. He has pitched in 21 games for the Jays over the last three seasons, with 13 of those being starts. He was a second round pick in 2014, and is still fairly young. His main issue is his control, as he has walked two batters for every three MLB innings he has pitched on average. The Mets clear some salary here and a roster spot, potentially to sign top free agent starter Trevor Bauer. Even if they don't end up signing Bauer, or any free agent starter for that matter, the Mets would still have Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, Joey Lucchesi and David Peterson as a rotation with Noah Syndergaard recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

      Reid-Foley, 25, had a 1.35 ERA with six strikeouts in 6.2 innings for the Blue Jays in 2020. In his MLB career, all in Toronto, Reid-Foley has a 4.40 ERA with 76 strikeouts, a 1.605 WHIP and a 5.20 FIP in 71.2 innings. 

      Diaz, 24, had a 3.74 ERA with 116 strikeouts and a 1.233 WHIP in 144.1 innings for AA New Hampshire in 2019. In his minor league career, Diaz has a 3.84 ERA with 429 strikeouts and a 1.287 WHIP in 481 innings. 

      Winckowski, 22, had a 2.69 ERA with 108 strikeouts and a 1.202 WHIP in 127.1 innings for Single-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin in 2019. In his MiLB career, he has a 3.35 ERA with 237 strikeouts and a 1.297 WHIP in 263 innings. 

Recapping a surprisingly big day for MLB free agent signings

 


       I usually don't write about free agent signings, and there is a reason for that. I feel like an article would be too short, as it's just about one player and one team. Trades are more fun as (usually) there are multiple players switching teams and an analysis to be done that isn't one sided. And especially in the MLB, the biggest flaw with their offseason is the lack of fun. So, free agent blogs would normally be short and have a lot of time between them, so I don't do them. But, yesterday, January 26th was oddly different. A bunch of hitters signed new contracts, oddly limited to middle infielders and catchers. So, if you missed any of them, here are six mini-articles combined into one summarizing yesterday's events (sidenote: Masahiro Tanaka signing overseas was not included in this article because it was not an MLB signing).


1. The Phillies signed C JT Realmuto to a five year, $115.5 million deal.

The Phillies were once rumored to not even be interested in bringing back Realmuto due to financial reasons, but a change of heart is for the best. The best catcher in baseball, Realmuto's $23.1 million AAV just nudges out Joe Mauer for the most ever given to a catcher. It is earned, as Realmuto is an elite pitch framer who hits for power and can occasionally steal bases, a rarity for a backstop. He will make Phillies pitchers better, and the deal isn't even that expensive. 

Realmuto, 29, hit 11 home runs with four stolen bases, a .266 average and an OPS of .840 in 195 Plate Appearances for Philadelphia in 2020. In his MLB career for the Phillies and Miami Marlins, Realmuto has hit 95 home runs with 44 stolen bases, a .278 average and an OPS of .783 in 2940 Plate Appearances.

2. The Blue Jays signed SS Marcus Semien to a one year, $18 million contract.

This is just under the qualifying offer salary of $18.9 million, and it is a big prove-it deal for Semien. He will not play shortstop in Toronto with Bo Bichette patrolling that spot, but he can move to either second or third base. His 2020 season was not great, but he finished 3rd in AL MVP voting in 2019 with 33 home runs and an .892 OPS. Semien's 86.2 average exit velocity last year is a concern. Overall, this signing and the next one both make next year's shortstop free agent class, which could include Francisco Lindor and Trevor Story, even better.

Semien, 30, hit seven home runs with four stolen bases, a .223 average and an OPS of .679 in 236 Plate Appearances for the A's in 2020. In his MLB career for the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox, Semien has 115 home runs with 66 stolen bases, a .254 average and a .747 OPS in 3620 Plate Appearances.

3. The Twins signed SS Andrelton Simmons to a one year, $10.5 million deal.

Oddly enough, Simmons is probably the only player on this list with a legitimate chance at the Baseball Hall of Fame. He will have a similar case as Omar Vizquel does now, but probably with a better WAR and hopefully without the domestic violence. Simmons has a 36.8 WAR through his first nine seasons, and his defense is to thank. He isn't a great hitter, although he can hit for average and steal double digit bases a season. Playing in only 30 games, Simmons actually had -1 outs above average in 2020, but that is a massive outlier. He'll play shortstop in Minnesota, and Jorge Polanco will move to second base with Luis Arraez moving to a super-utility role. 

Simmons, 31, hit no homers with two stolen bases, a .297 average and a .702 OPS in 127 Plate Appearances for the Los Angeles Angels in 2020. In his MLB career for the Angels and Atlanta Braves, Simmons has 67 home runs with 67 stolen bases, a .269 average and a .696 OPS in 4280 Plate Appearances. 

4. The Orioles signed IF Freddy Galvis to a one year, $1.5 million deal.

Galvis comes in as the replacement for the departed Jose Iglesias in Baltimore. He is not a great hitter, but he has hit for power the last few seasons, and has a nice glove. There's a good chance he gets traded, but for now he is a fine shortstop for a bad Orioles team that could use good defense behind a young pitching staff. With Semien, Simmons and Galvis off the board, Didi Gregorius is the main shortstop remaining, with the Phillies and Athletics in the hunt. 

Galvis, 31, hit seven home runs with a .220 average and a .712 OPS in 159 Plate Appearances for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020. In his MLB career for the Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres, Galvis has hit 95 home runs with 56 stolen bases, a .247 average and an OPS of .677 in 3844 Plate Appearances.

5. The Giants signed Tommy La Stella to a three year contract, terms still undisclosed. 

La Stella will cross the bay, from Oakland to San Francisco. Since joining the Angels in 2019, La Stella has been a completely different player, an all-star even. His most impressive trait is his refusal to strike out. La Stella had a league leading 5.3 K% in 2020, and also walked 11.8% of the time. Those are numbers you will take for the next three years. He can play second and third base as well. 

La Stella, who turns 32 this week, hit five home runs with a .281 average and an OPS of .819 in 228 Plate Appearances for the Angels and A's in 2020. In his MLB career for those two teams, the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, La Stella has hit 31 home runs with a .274 average and an OPS of .754 in 1496 Plate Appearances.

6. The Tigers signed Wilson Ramos to a one year deal worth $2 million.

This is a signing I like for the Tigers, who started Austin Romine last year. Romine had a really rough season, and the Cubs only paid him $500k less than Ramos gets here. He isn't great behind the plate and is one of the slowest players in baseball, but he hits the ball hard and is a good hitter for a catcher. A 15 home run season is possible for him.

Ramos, 33, hit five home runs with a .239 batting average and a .684 OPS in 155 Plate Appearances for the New York Mets in 2020. In his MLB career for the Mets, Washington Nationals, Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins, Ramos has hit 128 home runs with a .274 average and a .755 OPS in 3623 Plate Appearances. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

MLB Trade Review: Red Sox acquire Ottavino

 


       The Boston Red Sox have acquired RHPs Adam Ottavino and Frank German, plus cash ($850k) from the New York Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

       It's the year of the Yankees being cheap. Their main goal isn't getting better, it is staying under the luxury tax. Ottavino was the one expendable player on the roster earning significant money. He is entering the last year of his three year, $27 million contract. Ottavino has nasty pitches, and three of the four that he uses had a whiff rate over 30 percent in 2019, a season where he posted a career best 1.90 ERA. Ottavino had a rough season in 2020, but his ERA was inflated by a six run outing versus Toronto where he didn't record an out. In both 2019 and 2020, Ottavino wasn't trustworthy in the playoffs, and you could really tell that he fell out of Aaron Boone's circle of trust last season. That is because of a 50% hard hit percentage and a 10.6 BB% that was somehow higher than his 2019 mark. The Yankees are probably clearing up money for another acquisition, but still, this makes their rival a better team and costs them their 24th best prospect. 

        I love this deal for the Red Sox. Ottavino was great in 2018 and 2019, and while he struggled last year, he still posted a .218 xBA with a 29.4 K%. They will take on most of the money here, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if Ottavino returns to form, and is traded again at the deadline, hence saving Boston some money. In that case, not only do they get Ottavino for a year maximum, they buy a prospect in German, who is not related to New York's Domingo German. He was previously ranked as the 24th best prospect in the Yankees system by MLB Pipeline. A 2018 4th rounder from Queens, German reached High-A in 2019, and spent most of the season there, posting good numbers in 15 starts and a relief appearance. He's a guy who could have moved up in the ranks in 2020 if there was a minor league season. 

         Ottavino, 35, had a 5.89 ERA with 25 strikeouts, a 1.582 WHIP and a 3.52 FIP in 18.1 innings for the Yankees in 2020. In his MLB career for the Yankees, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals, Ottavino has a 3.53 ERA with 19 saves, 577 strikeouts, a 1.312 WHIP and a 3.55 FIP in 497.2 innings. 

         German, 23, had a 4.11 ERA with 87 strikeouts and a 1.395 WHIP in 81 innings in the minor leagues in 2019. In his MiLB career, German has a 3.56 ERA with 128 strikeouts and a 1.266 WHIP in 111.1 innings. 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

MLB Trade Review: Yankees acquire Taillon


 

       The New York Yankees have acquired RHP Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for RHP Miguel Yajure, RHP Roansy Contreras, OF Canaan Smith and IF Maikol Escotto.

       The guy selected second overall in 2010, between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Taillon has had a career riddled with injuries. In the few years where he has been healthy, Taillon has been effective. He had a 3.20 ERA in 32 starts in 2018, his one full season. He has had Tommy John surgery twice and has survived cancer. Most of 2019 and all of 2020 were missed because of that second surgery. The Yankees need a better rotation behind ace Gerrit Cole, and Taillon and Cole are good friends from their time in Pittsburgh. The Yankees have followed a high risk, high reward path to fixing the rotation, signing Corey Kluber a few weeks ago. Taillon has a plethora of effective pitches, including his fastball, slider and curveball. All three of them had whiff rates around 27% in Taillon's seven starts in 2019. The team had a full 40-man roster before signing Kluber and Taillon, as well as DJ LeMahieu. Both Yajure and Contreras were on the 40-man, so Taillon and Kluber have a spot, and they will need to clear one more spot. While the number of prospects they give up is high, none of them had a place in the team's future. As the club tries to stay under the luxury tax, a cheap starter like Taillon helps. He is only owed $2.25 million for 2021, with one extra year left of arbitration. 

      Taillon, 29, had a 4.10 ERA with 30 strikeouts, a 1.125 WHIP and a 3.80 FIP in 37.1 innings in 2019. In his MLB career, all for Pittsburgh, Taillon has a 3.67 ERA with 419 strikeouts, a 1.247 WHIP and a 3.55 FIP in 466 innings.

      The Pirates haven't had a particularly fun offseason, as a big part of their core has left. Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and now Taillon have been dealt within the last month. Next could be a reliever like Kyle Crick or Richard Rodriguez. As they look to build up their farm system, the Pirates get a ton of young players here. The headliner is Yajure, who MLB Pipeline ranked as New York's 15th best prospect. He pitched well in three relief appearances last year. Also in their top 30 was Contreras (number 19) and Smith (number 21). Escotto was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, and is still a teenager. 

      Yajure, 22, struck out eight batters with one earned run allowed in seven innings for the Yankees in 2020. In his minor league career, Yajure has a 2.47 ERA with 246 strikeouts and a 1.135 WHIP in 291.2 innings. Keep in mind that Yajure only pitched in 11 AA innings and no AAA innings. 

      Contreras, 21, had a 3.33 ERA with 113 strikeouts and a 1.065 WHIP in 132.1 innings for Single-A Charleston in 2019. In his MiLB career, Contreras has a 3.25 ERA with 207 strikeouts and a 1.135 WHIP in 249.1 innings. 

      Smith, 21, hit .307 with 11 home runs, 16 stolen bases and an .871 OPS in 528 Plate Appearances for Single-A Charleston in 2019. In his minor league career, Smith has a .280 average with 19 home runs, 21 stolen bases and an .815 OPS in 936 Plate Appearances.

      Escotto, 18, hit seven home runs with 13 stolen bases, a .315 batting average and an OPS of .981 in 218 Plate Appearances as a 17 year old in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

NHL Trade Review: Dubois to Winnipeg, Laine to Columbus

 

From Getty Images

       The Columbus Blue Jackets have acquired forwards Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 2022 third round pick. 26% of Laine's salary will be retained by the Jets. In my article yesterday, I predicted something very close to this, but I had defenseman Andrew Peeke going to Winnipeg as well. 

       The Dubois fiasco finally comes to an end, as another star leaves Columbus. The third overall pick in 2016, he became a top line center last year and dominated in the playoffs versus Toronto. But after butting heads with Head Coach John Tortorella following a contract dispute, he's gone. Laine is a dynamic scorer who was selected one spot ahead of Dubois in 2016. It is easy to imagine Laine falling into the same problem as Dubois did with "Torts". He had a great first game of the season, scoring two goals with an assist. However, an upper body injury has kept him out since then. In his missed games, Laine has done about as much as Dubois, who has given the Blue Jackets a lackadaisical effort, which caused him to be benched for the second and third periods two nights ago. By retaining some money, it evens out the salaries for the rest of this season between the two, at $5 million being exchanged. Dubois has one more year after 2020-21 on his contract, before being an RFA, while Laine will hit that after the season. Both players have been said to want to go to bigger markets, but instead got dealt to equally small market teams. At least for Dubois, his father, Eric, is a coach for the Manitoba Moose, the Jets' AHL team who plays at the same place as the NHL club. Roslovic wanted to leave the Jets, but I don't think he will want to leave his new team. Roslovic is one of the few Columbus natives in the league. Roslovic is also the most significant player who is still a restricted free agent. He has been training in Columbus during his holdout. Soon after this trade, he signed a two year deal with the Blue Jackets, with a cap hit of $1.9 million. He is young, turning 24 next week, and he is a former first rounder. While the Jackets get weaker at center here, Roslovic could center their third line, with Max Domi on the second, and Alex Texier centering Laine on the first line. We will see if Laine signs long-term with the Jackets in the offseason, and if he does, they are the favorites to win this deal. Columbus adds more offense here, but loses defense, something they'll be fine without in Tortorella's defensive system. Winnipeg needs defense, so I was surprised that they didn't get a defender back here. Dubois will center the second line, with Nikolaj Ehlers on his wing. Paul Stastny will either move to the wing, or the third line. 

         Dubois, 22, scored a goal in five games this year. In 2019-20, Dubois scored 18 goals with 31 assists for 49 points in 70 games, with 10 in 10 postseason games. In his NHL career, Dubois has scored 66 goals with 93 assists for 159 points in 239 games. 

         Laine, 22, scored 28 goals (which was actually a career low) with 35 assists (a career high) for 63 points in 68 games last year. In his NHL career, all in Winnipeg, Laine has scored 140 goals with 110 assists for 250 points in 306 games. 52 of those goals came on the man advantage. 

         Roslovic, 23, scored 12 goals with 17 assists for 29 points in 71 games for the Jets last year. He has 26 goals with 41 assists for 67 points in 180 career games. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Looking at five potential Pierre-Luc Dubois trades


 

       After all of the shenanigans that happened last night in the Tampa Bay vs Columbus game, a Pierre-Luc Dubois trade seems inevitable. After some lazy, 20% effort shifts from the star center, Head Coach John Tortarella benched Dubois for the second and third period, plus overtime, where the Blue Jackets lost. It had been reported that Dubois wanted out of Columbus before he signed his two year, $10 million extension during training camp, and that has been confirmed by Tortarella. While I could write a couple of paragraphs on why I hate everything John Tortarella has done with this situation, I decided to have more fun with this article, because ranting on Torts should be saved for the members of the Blue Jackets after he pulls off a stunt like this. So, here is five potential Dubois trades. A lot of the potential suitors are based off of insider Pierre Lebrun's tweet from earlier today. 

1. To Montreal for Jonathan Drouin, Paul Byron and a 2021 2nd round pick.

The Blue Jackets can still contend, so I think that any Dubois trade will have a solid player going back to Columbus. While they get two wings in this trade, Drouin makes up for the offense talent lost. He had 15 points in 27 games last year, with 53 in the season before. Drouin also has four assists in the first five gams of 2020-21. He's played center before, but the results were mixed. Byron kills penalties and scores more than you'd think. The 2nd round pick makes up for the gap between players from both sides. Columbus could squeeze a first out of Montreal. These teams aren't afraid to trade top-six players with each other, as shown by this offseason's Max Domi for Josh Anderson deal. 

2. To Minnesota with Dean Kukan for Matt Dumba, a 2021 1st round pick and a 2022 4th round pick.

I'm all on the Wild train. Kirill Kaprizov looks like the real deal, so now he just needs a center. Victor Rask isn't really who you want playing a budding star. Dubois would be a much better option. Dumba has been rumored to be on the market for what feels like years now. He is signed for three more years at a $6 million cap hit. Kukan would be Dumba's replacement in Minnesota, and while the Blue Jackets may not want to give him up, having a right side of Seth Jones, David Savard and Dumba on defense would be amazing. 

3. To Winnipeg with Andrew Peeke and a 2022 3rd rounder for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.

This is easily the biggest deal that is plausible. Both Laine and Dubois want out of their cities, and we know that Roslovic does. Roslovic is still an RFA, and is a Columbus native. In this deal, the Blue Jackets get a dynamic scorer in Laine, who they'll need to extend after the season. They'd need to sign Roslovic immediately, and they would get a hometown kid who can be a third line center. Peeke is a 22 year old former 2nd rounder on the taxi squad right now. He had good numbers in the AHL last year and played in 22 NHL games. The Jets lack defensively, so getting a defenseman back here makes sense.

4. To the New York Rangers for Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Filip Chytil and a 2020 4th round pick.

Dubois in New York is terrifying, and he would be the center for former Blue Jackets teammate Artemi Panarin. The Rangers currently have Strome centering Panarin, but Dubois is a big upgrade. They probably want to move on from DeAngelo, who is not good defensively, and is very controversial. The Blue Jackets may not take him either. Chytil is 21 and is a former first round pick. He would fill in exactly where Roslovic would if they choose to go the Winnipeg route. Overall, the Rangers' main subtraction here is Chytil, but a third line center, a position he would never be able to move up from with Mika Zibanejad and Dubois above him, is easily replaceable. 

5. To Florida for Owen Tippett, Frank Vatrano and a 2021 first round pick.

You could be able to sway me to say that either the Panthers or Blue Jackets would say no to this deal. The Panthers brought in some former Blue Jackets last year under new GM Bill Zito, formerly the assistant GM in Columbus. This connection, plus reuniting with some former teammates like Anthony Duclair, Markus Nutivaara, Alex Wennberg and Sergei Bobrovsky could make Dubois want to play in Florida, and no state tax doesn't hurt. Of course, that condition remains for all of these deals. Tippett, who is a part of the starting lineup in Florida, is a dynamic scorer at age 21, and is getting a chance now after scoring in both the AHL and OHL. Vatrano is a solid middle-six winger who scored 16 goals last year. Florida needs a second line center, and Dubois would be perfect, and is worth giving up those two and a first. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

NHL Trade Review: Wild acquire Cole



       The Minnesota Wild have acquired defenseman Ian Cole from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Greg Pateryn. The Avalanche also retained $800k (or 18.8%) of Cole's contract.

       Cole and Pateryn can be pretty comparable players. Both are third pairing defensive defensemen who have been on a number of teams. Cole had a really good 2019-20, and seemed like a fixture on the Avalanche defense for the season, but they traded him two games in. Pateryn missed 62 games last year, but he has two assists in three games so far in 2020-21, while Cole has none in two games. In past years, Pateryn has been very good in his own end, but brought nothing to the table offensively, while Cole had some similar numbers. This could be beneficial to Colorado as while they have a lot of left-handed shot defensemen, including top prospect Bowen Byram, who could have a spot now, they don't have much depth on the right side. Pateryn would slot in third behind Cale Makar and Erik Johnson, and likely ahead of Conor Timmins, who has played the 3rd and 4th NHL games of his career in this short season so far. This also clears up some cap space for the Avalanche. Pateryn has one year left with a $2.25 million cap hit, and Cole had one year left at $4.25 million. Add the $800k retained salary, and the Avs save $1.2 million here. The Wild had Pateryn starting over Brad Hunt to start the season mainly because Pateryn was right-handed. While they don't have a third right-handed shot anymore, Cole has frequently played on his off-side in previous seasons, and can again in Minnesota, likely with Carson Soucy as his partner. The Wild get the better player here, but now they have a little bit less money to work with if they want to add at the trade deadline. 

         Cole, 31, scored four goals with 22 assists for 26 points, plus a +21 rating, 122 blocked shots and a nine GAR in 65 games played for the Avalanche in 2019-20. In his NHL career for the Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets, Cole has scored 26 goals with 112 assists for 138 points in 543 games.

         Pateryn, 30, had three assists with 30 blocked shots in 20 games for the Wild in 2019-20. In his NHL career for the Wild, Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens, Pateryn has scored four goals with 37 assists for 41 points in 270 games. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

MLB Trade Review: Padres acquire Musgrove in three team deal

 


       The San Diego Padres have acquired RHP Joe Musgrove from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-team trade with the New York Mets. The Pirates acquired OF Hudson Head, LHP Omar Cruz, RHP David Bednar and RHP Drake Fellows from the Padres, and C Endy Rodriguez from New York. The Mets acquired LHP Joey Lucchesi from San Diego.

       This offseason has been very boring, but thankfully the Padres have given us some excitement. First it was the acquisitions of both Blake Snell and Yu Darvish in the same day, and while Musgrove isn't on that level, he's still a really good pitcher. Musgrove struck out 33.1% of batters in 2020, with an average exit velocity against of 85.1 and a .197 xBA. Musgrove has an amazing curveball and slider, as both pitches had whiff rates over 50%, with an xBA of .120 or lower. Behind Snell, Darvish and Dinelson Lamet, Musgrove may now be baseball's best fourth starter. The Padres give up a lot of assets, but no top-100 prospects, and they still have a deep farm system.

        Musgrove, 28, had a 3.86 ERA with 55 strikeouts, a 3.42 FIP and a 1.235 WHIP in 39.2 innings for the Pirates in 2020. In his MLB career for Pittsburgh and the Houston Astros, Musgrove has a 4.33 ERA with 465 strikeouts, a 3.90 FIP and a 1.232 WHIP in 496.2 innings. 

        With this deal, the Pirates are testing dangerous waters. This could be comparable to two of their previous deals, when Tyler Glasnow went to Tampa Bay and Gerrit Cole went to Houston. Ironically, Musgrove was acquired in the trade for Cole. Overall, they make a good portion of the San Diego farm system theirs. Head is the most notable of the group. MLB Pipeline ranked him as San Diego's 7th best prospect. Head was a 3rd round pick in 2019, and played 32 minor league games that year. The next best prospect is Cruz, who was 17th. He will turn 22 next week, and he has good numbers in a small sample size of minor league games. The one player the Pirates will receive with MLB experience is Bednar, who was previously San Diego's 20th prospect. He has struggled as part of the bullpen in stints in 2019 and 2020. He has had a successful minor league career, with a 2.70 ERA and a 12.4 K/9 over four seasons. The Pirates opted to get Endy Rodriguez, the Mets 14th best prospect, over the MLB caliber Joey Lucchesi. Rodriguez has mostly caught in two minor league seasons, but he can also play first base and corner outfield. The one prospect that wasn't ranked top-30 in a team's organization is Drake Fellows. Fellows is a six-foot-five starter who was drafted in the 6th round in 2019 out of Vanderbilt. 

        Head, 19, was drafted out of Winston Churchill High School a year ago. In 2019 in the Arizona League, he hit one home run with three stolen bases, a .283 average and an OPS of .800 in 141 Plate Appearances.

        Cruz, 21, had a 2.73 ERA with 76 strikeouts and a 1.161 WHIP in 56 innings for Low-A Tri-City and Single-A Fort Wayne in 2019. In his minor league career, Cruz has a 2.38 ERA with 135 strikeouts and a 1.231 WHIP in 98.1 innings. 

        Bednar, 26, had a 7.11 ERA with five strikeouts in 6.1 innings in 2020. In his short MLB career, Bednar has a 6.75 ERA with 19 strikeouts, a 5.23 FIP and a 1.615 WHIP in 17.1 innings.

        Rodriguez, 20, hit two home runs with four stolen bases, a .294 average and an OPS of .921 in 124 Plate Appearances in rookie ball in 2019. In his minor league career, Rodriguez has four home runs with six stolen bases, a .276 average and an .840 OPS in 265 Plate Appearances.

        Fellows, 22, had a 4.09 ERA with 133 strikeouts and a 1.354 WHIP in 116.2 innings for Vanderbilt in 2019. In his collegiate career, Fellows had a 3.85 ERA with 308 strikeouts and a 1.230 WHIP in 275.2 innings. 

        The Mets have reportedly been in the market for a 5th starter, with Corey Kluber being an option before he signed with the Yankees. They currently have Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Marcus Stroman, with Noah Syndergaard rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. While David Peterson looks like a suitable fifth starter, and so does Steven Matz from time-to-time, the Mets wanted more depth. They get Lucchesi, who is just entering his prime. His 100 ERA+ in 2019 shows that he was exactly a league average pitcher. The analytics show that, as he isn't really bad at anything, or great at anything. His strong suit is his change-up, a pitch he only threw once in three appearances in 2020, which may be why he struggled. In 2019, the pitch had a .183 average against with a 38.6 whiff percentage. Giving up a top 15 prospect in the system does seem like too much, considering Lucchesi barely participated last year, and his best season is just average. 

         Lucchesi, 27, had a 7.94 ERA with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings last year. In his MLB career, all in San Diego, Lucchesi has a 4.21 ERA with 308 strikeouts, a 4.21 FIP and a 1.280 WHIP in 299.1 innings. 


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Winnipeg Jets 2020-21 Season Preview

 


       It's a little bit more fun to be a Winnipeg Jet than a New York one, but that doesn't make the hockey team good. Last year, the top-six forwards and goaltending carried the team to the postseason, as the defensive core barely recovered from some major losses. The team got a little bit better in the offseason, but we'll have to see if they are playoff ready. 

Additions: F Paul Stastny, F Nate Thompson, F Dominic Toninato, D Derek Forbort, F Trevor Lewis.

Subtractions: D Dmitry Kulikov, D Anthony Bitetto, F Cody Eakin, D Carl Dahlstrom.

Best Move: Extending Dylan DeMelo for four years.

Worst Move: Not getting more defensemen.

One Move I'd Make: Sign Madison Bowey to a one year deal.

Best Contract: Connor Hellebuyck, four years remaining with a $6.16 million cap hit. 

Worst Contract: Bryan Little, four years remaining with a $5.29 million cap hit.

New Division Rivals: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver.

Pending UFAs: Paul Stastny, Adam Lowry, Laurent Brossoit, Mathieu Perrault, Derek Forbort, Nate Thompson, Tucker Poolman, Luca Sbisa, Dominic Toninato.

Pending RFAs: Patrik Laine, Neal Pionk, Andrew Copp.

Current RFAs: Jack Roslovic.


Forwards

The Jets have a great top-six, but it falls off quickly afterwards. Mark Scheifele had another nice season, although he was not nominated for any awards this year, the first time that has happened since 2015-16. Scheifele scored 29 goals with 44 assists for 73 points. He struggles defensively, but his overwhelming offensive input raised his GAR to 12.5. Tied with Scheifele for the team lead in points was Kyle Connor, who also led the team with 38 goals. It was Connor's third consecutive 30 goal season. Captain Blake Wheeler scored 22 goals, hitting the 20 mark for the seventh consecutive season. After two straight 91 point seasons, Wheeler only had 43 assists, for 65 points in 71 games. There were heavy trade rumors around Patrik Laine this offseason entering a year where he'll be a restricted free agent afterwards. Laine scored 28 goals in 68 games last year, which was actually a career low. When you have a 22 year old winger who has played in four seasons and 28 goals is his low, you probably shouldn't trade him. Nikolaj Ehlers has scored at least 20 goals in the past four seasons, with at least 25 in three of them. 25 was his exact goal total, as he had 58 points to go with that. The Jets brought back Paul Stastny, taking advantage of Vegas' cap situation. Stastny scored 17 goals with 38 points last year. he worked as Laine's center when the Jets acquired him at the 2017-18 trade deadline. He had 13 points in 19 games, with 15 in 17 playoff games as a Jet. Jack Roslovic is still an RFA, and a trade is possible. I'll put him in the projected lineup for now, because I have for all RFAs. Last year, he scored 12 goals with 29 points as a bottom-six center. Six-foot-five forward Adam Lowry had 10 points in 49 games, but he also had 137 hits. Lowry is very good at face-offs, so Roslovic can go to the wing or the fourth line. Andrew Copp scored 10 goals with 26 points, which are fine bottom-six numbers. He spent more time per game on the penalty kill than any other Jet forward. Mathieu Perrault was waived today, but he could still stay with the team. Perrault was once a consistent 30-40 point scorer, but he had just 15 in 49 games last year. He can play on the power play, and he averages more than one hit per game. Nate Thompson comes over after being the fourth line center for the Flyers during their playoff run. He had 15 points in the regular season, with one in 16 playoff games. Mason Appleton had good AHL numbers and he was mainly an NHLer last year. He scored five goals with three assists in 46 games. Trevor Lewis comes in on a PTO after 12 seasons in Los Angeles. He scored six goals with six assists in 56 games last year. 2017 1st rounder Kristian Vesalainen scored 12 goals with 30 points in 60 AHL games last year. He had eight points in 10 games in the 2020-21 season in Finland. Jansen Harkins had seven points in 29 games last year after 31 points in 30 AHL games. He scored a goal in his three playoff games. 2018 2nd rounder David Gustafsson was rushed to the NHL last year, as he had one goal in 22 games. He had seven points in 13 AHL games, with 17 in 16 games this season in Sweden. 

Defensemen

Entering last year, the Jets had a depleted defense with Josh Morrissey being the one player fans were confident in. He had 31 points for the second consecutive season, although his 59 blocked shots broke a three year streak of 100+. Neal Pionk was a pleasant surprise for the Jets last year, as he outplayed Jacob Trouba, the guy he was traded for. Pionk had 45 points with a +10 rating. 25 of his points came on the power play. Defensive defenseman Dylan DeMelo came over at the trade deadline, and while he had no points in his 14 games, including the postseason, the Jets liked him enough to bring him back for four years. DeMelo had a 4.6 GAR for the Jets and Senators last year. Tucker Poolman scored 16 points in 57 games in his first full season. He averaged both a blocked shot and a hit per game. Nathan Beaulieu averaged 17 minutes on ice per game last year, with eight points in 38 games. He had a 4.4 GAR. Derek Forbort was a mainstay on the Kings' defense for three years, but he only played in 13 games for them last year. He was traded to Calgary, and had a goal and an assist in their 10 game playoff run. Luca Sbisa has played for four teams in the past four years, but he may finally have a team for more than a season, if he isn't claimed off of waivers. Sbisa had 10 points in 44 games last year, for the third highest points per game mark of his 12 year career. Sami Niku has had his chances, but has never proven that he's an NHL player. Niku had five points in 17 games last year, with 14 in 18 AHL games.

Goalies

The Jets may need to worry about Connor Hellebuyck, which seems weird to say, but he has been a workhorse for the past three seasons. For the second year in a row, no one saw more shots than Hellebuyck. He had a .922 SV% with a 2.57 GAA and a 22.40 GSAA. He also led the league with six shutouts, capturing the Vezina trophy. If he posted these great numbers, why worry? His usage is similar to Cam Talbot's in Edmonton, and look at Talbot now. Backup Laurent Brossoit has been inconsistent in his 68 game career. He was great in 2018-19, but awful last year, with an .895 SV% and a 3.28 GAA. If Brossoit looks good out of the gates, maybe the Jets should consider giving him some playing time so Hellebuyck can start all the important games down the line.


Projected Lines

Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Nikolaj Ehlers - Paul Stastny - Patrik Laine

Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Jack Roslovic

Mathieu Perrault - Nate Thompson - Mason Appleton

Extras: Trevor Lewis, Jansen Harkins, Kristian Vesalainen, David Gustafsson


Josh Morrissey - Neal Pionk

Nathan Beaulieu - Tucker Poolman

Derek Forbort - Dylan DeMelo

Extras: Luca Sbisa, Sami Niku


Connor Hellebuyck

Laurent Brossoit


The Jets have their stars, but overall they lack as a team. The bottom-six and defensive core is weak, and those stars carried the load too much last year. That will run out on the Jets this year, as only Ottawa will finish lower than them in the North Division. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Washington Capitals 2020-21 Season Preview



        The identity of the Capitals came into question last postseason, as they were dismantled in the first round for the second consecutive season. While in 2019 they took it to overtime of game seven, in 2020 they were easy beaten in five games by the Islanders. The Capitals extended Nicklas Backstrom, but they decided to let longtime starter Braden Holtby leave. They must make sure that another franchise icon doesn't leave after 2020-21.

Additions: D Justin Schultz, D Zdeno Chara, G Henrik Lundqvist, G Craig Anderson, F Conor Sheary, D Trevor van Riemsdyk, F Dan Carr, D Paul LaDue. 

Subtractions: G Braden Holtby, D Radko Gudas, F Ilya Kovalchuk, F Brendan Leipsic, F Travis Boyd.

Best Move: Signing Zdeno Chara to a one year deal.

Worst Move: Signing Justin Schultz to a two year deal.

One Move I'd Make: Trade Trevor van Riemsdyk to reduce the crowded defensive core.

Best Contract: Lars Eller, three years remaining with a $3.5 million cap hit.

Worst Contract: TJ Oshie, five years remaining with a $5.75 million cap hit.

New Division Rivals: Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, Islanders, Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh.

Pending UFAs: Alex Ovechkin, Zdeno Chara, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Conor Sheary, Dan Carr, Paul LaDue.

Pending RFAs: Ilya Samsonov, Jakub Vrana, Jonas Siegenthaler.


Forwards

Alex Ovechkin has still proved that he is a top-three goal scorer of all-time. Now 35, Ovechkin scored 48 goals, tied with David Pastrnak for the Rocket Richard trophy. It was his ninth Richard, and his seventh in the past eight years. Ovechkin shot over 300 times for the seventh year in a row, and his 15.4 shooting percentage was a career high. I didn't love giving Nicklas Backstrom a five year extension worth $9.2 million a year at age 33. Backstrom is still an elite passer, but his 12 goals was his lowest in his career, minimum 50 games. You could also say the same for his 42 assists. Backstrom still received both Byng and Selke votes last year. Everyone's least favorite player, Tom Wilson, scored 21 goals, hitting the 20 mark for the second year in a row. He only had 93 penalty minutes, which is a lot, but it was the first time in his career that the number wasn't three digits. With a career high average ice time, Wilson tied his career high 253 hits. Evgeny Kuznetsov had a little bit of a down season, with 52 points in 63 games. He was one goal away from his 4th 20 goal season in five years. TJ Oshie scored 26 goals, his most since 2016-17. He had a very high 19.5 shooting percentage, so luck was a factor. Oshie is entering his age 34 season, which might be a concern. Jakub Vrana improved on his breakout 2018-19, scoring 25 goals with 52 points in 69 games. The Capitals have the perfect top-six, with six potential 20 goal scorers. They also have a nice third line center in Lars Eller, who plays on both special teams units. Eller has never reached the 20 goal or 40 point mark, but he had 16 with 39 points in 69 games last year. Speedy winger Carl Hagelin was mostly used for the penalty kill in his first full season with the Capitals. He had 25 points in 58 games, which is nice for a bottom-six winger. A former teammate of Hagelin, Conor Sheary fell off after leaving Pittsburgh. He returned to the Penguins at last year's trade deadline, and he had four points in eight games, with two assists in four playoff games. He had .51 points per game as a Penguin, and .40 as a Sabre, so you could see another drop-off in Washington. The Capitals liked Richard Panik's goal scoring numbers and defensive play in Arizona and Chicago, so they gave him a four year deal. Last year for Washington, Panik only scored eight goals, with 22 points and a +16 rating in 59 games. Like Panik, Garnet Hathaway got a four year deal before the 2019-20 season. Hathaway only had 16 points, but he showed more physically, with 189 hits and 79 penalty minutes. Nic Dowd has had a good two year run as the 4th line center. Last year, Dowd had 15 points with a +11 rating and a 6.6 GAR in 56 games. 2015 2nd rounder Daniel Sprong is now on his third team. He had a goal and an assist in eight games for the Ducks last year, with 12 goals and 33 points in 44 AHL games. Dan Carr hasn't been given a big NHL chance, but he has always dominated the AHL. Carr had a goal in 11 games for Nashville last year, but he scored 23 goals with 50 points in 47 AHL games. Playing in the 2020-21 season in Switzerland, Carr had eight points in eight games.

Defensemen

John Carlson is an elite offensive defenseman, but he isn't strong in his own end. Carlson scored 15 goals with 75 points in 69 games last year, finishing 2nd in Norris voting. His GAR was 7.6, but that was brought down heavily by his defensive value. Dmitry Orlov is often tasked with being a safety blanket for Carlson, but he is good offensively as well. Orlov had 27 points in 69 games, for the second best points per game mark of his career. Brenden Dillon came over at the trade deadline, and was extended in the offseason. He had 14 points last year, with 104 penalty minutes and 194 hits. The Capitals will have a brand new second pairing this year with Dillon and Justin Schultz, who was a rival on the Penguin for years. He's fallen off after a 51 point 2016-17 season, mostly due to injuries. Last year, Schultz had 12 points in 46 games. Nick Jensen brings just about nothing offensively, but he is a very strong defensively and on the penalty kill. The Capitals signed Zdeno Chara, the 43 year old who was with the Bruins since before I was born. Chara was still effective last year, although he seemed to finally be on the downturn by the postseason. Last year, Chara had 14 points with a +26 rating in 68 games. The Capitals would have a really good fourth pairing. Trevor van Riemsdyk mostly started on the strong Carolina defensive core over the past three years. He had eight points in 49 games last year, and his average GAR over six seasons is 5.4. Jonas Siegenthaler had nine points in 64 games last year. If there was a Siegenthaler - Jensen pair, they would be a shutdown pair, with no offensive gain. Siegenthaler had a 5.1 GAR last year.

Goalies

The Capitals let Braden Holtby walk to Vancouver, meaning that Ilya Samsonov will take over the reigns as a the starter. The 23 year old had a .913 SV% with a 2.55 GAA and a 2.30 GSAA. He received some Calder votes as well. The Capitals signed Henrik Lundqvist, but a heart issue will cause him to miss the season. The backup will either be veteran Craig Anderson or rookie Vitek Vanecek. Anderson, a 17 year veteran, is in camp on a PTO. He had a .902 SV% with a -7.95 GSAA in 34 games for Ottawa last year. Vanecek was the main AHL starter last year, and the 25 year old had a .917 SV% with a 2.26 GAA. 


Projected Lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - TJ Oshie

Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Conor Sheary

Richard Panik - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Extras: Daniel Sprong, Dan Carr


Dmitry Orlov - John Carlson

Brenden Dillon - Justin Schultz

Zdeno Chara - Nick Jensen

Extras: Trevor van Riemsdyk, Jonas Siegenthaler


Ilya Samsonov

Craig Anderson

Vitek Vanecek


Projection

The Capitals were embarrassed in the playoffs. But, they still have an all-around great team. The top-six is good, the bottom-six is fine, and the defense and goaltending has upside. It would be a big surprise if the Capitals under Peter Laviolette, who normally does well in his first year with a team, miss the playoffs. The Capitals could easily finish first, although I see a second place finish instead. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Vegas Golden Knights 2020-21 Season Preview

 


       In their short history, the Golden Knights have had a reputation of a bunch of misfit players who became good in Vegas. However, the real key to the recent success of Vegas is actually something else. They have been aggressive in acquiring stars, with Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Robin Lehner being recent examples. This offseason saw the most aggressive of these approaches, as the Golden Knights went all-in on former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo, sacrificing some pieces in the process. Will it be worth it? That's the main question for them entering 2020-21.

Additions: D Alex Pietrangelo, D Carl Dahlstrom, F Dylan Sikura, F Tomas Jurco.

Subtractions: D Nate Schmidt, F Paul Stastny, D Jon Merrill, D Deryk Engelland, F Nick Cousins, F Brandon Pirri.

Best Move: Signing Alex Pietrangelo to a seven year deal.

Worst Move: Trading Nate Schmidt to Vancouver for a 3rd round pick.

One Move I'd Make: Sign Brian Boyle to a PTO.

Best Contract: Jonathan Marchessault, four years remaining with a $5 million cap hit. 

Worst Contract: Marc-Andre Fleury, two years remaining with a $7 million cap hit.

New Division Rivals: Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Los Angeles, San Jose, St. Louis.

Pending UFAs: Alec Martinez, Tomas Nosek, Tomas Jurco.

Pending RFAs: Carl Dahlstrom, Dylan Sikura.


Forwards

In his first full season in Vegas, Mark Stone proved to be a great fit. He scored 21 goals with 63 points in 65 games, with 17 points in 20 playoff games. An added bonus is that he is arguably the league's best defensive winger, and he is under contract for the next seven seasons. Stone finished 5th in Selke voting last year. The team leader in goals and points was Max Pacioretty. He scored 32 goals with 66 points, hitting those numbers for the first time since 2016-17. It was relieving to see Pacioretty succeed, as he is currently 32 and entering a time where age is a concern. William Karlsson had his worst season as a Golden Knight, but he still scored 15 goals with a 7.9 GAR. His 54.8 CF% was a career high. Reilly Smith scored a career high 27 goals with a 9.5 GAR. Smith's teammate from before the Vegas days, Jonathan Marchessault, scored 22 goals, his lowest total since 2015-16. He had a shooting percentage under ten percent, so better luck could lead to more goals for him. The Golden Knights traded a 5th round pick for Chandler Stephenson mid-season in a deal that has worked out well. He scored eight goals with 22 points in 41 games post-trade, with a +19 rating. He was extended for four years in the offseason. Alex Tuch missed time in the regular season with an injury, but he struggled besides that. In 42 games, Tuch had just 17 points. He went back to his old form in the postseason, with eight goals. There were high expectations for 2017 6th overall pick Cody Glass entering 2019-20, but he didn't deliver. He spent most of the season in the NHL, with 12 points in 39 games. With Paul Stastny off to Winnipeg, Glass has a shot at the second or third line. Nicolas Roy, who the team got for Erik Haula, had 10 points in 28 games, with eight in the playoff run. He was also great in the AHL, with 22 points in 27 games. Fourth line center Tomas Nosek has had basically the same season point-wise three years in a row in Vegas. He had 15 points in 68 games last year, although his analytics depleted, as he had a -3.4 GAR. William Carrier had a career high 19 points in 71 games. Despite an average ice time under 10 minutes, Carrier had 213 hits. In his NHL career, he has averaged about 3.5 hits per game. That doesn't compare to Ryan Reaves, who is purely a body-checker. Reaves had 316 hits last year, and has averaged over four hits per game since joining the Golden Knights in 2017-18. Vegas' depth is lacking, but they hope that Jack Dugan can change that. The 2017 5th rounder had 52 points in 34 games at Providence last year. Tomas Jurco spent last year in the Oilers' organization. He had two points in 12 games, with seven in eight AHL games. Dylan Sikura scored 14 goals in 45 AHL games. He has 14 points in 47 career NHL games, all for Chicago.

Defensemen

The Golden Knights hope that 2020-21 is the year of Alex Pietrangelo. His 4th place Norris finish last year was tied for the highest of his career with 2011-12. He scored 16 goals with 36 assists for 52 points in 70 games for the Blues. Giving Pietrangelo seven years entering his age 31 season is a really risky move that probably won't pay off in the long run. Pietrangelo will take Nate Schmidt's place on the top pairing, partnered with Brayden McNabb. McNabb had nine points with an average ice time of 20 minutes and 201 hits in 71 games. Shea Theodore finished sixth in Norris voting, as he scored a career high 13 goals with 46 points. Theodore had 219 shots, which was fourth among defenseman, just behind Pietrangelo. The Golden Knights acquired shot-blocking menace Alec Martinez from Los Angeles at the trade deadline. Martinez had eight points in the remaining 10 games of the season, with 32 blocked shots. He has hit at least 100 in that category for six consecutive seasons. Like McNabb and Martinez, Nick Holden is a left-handed defensive defenseman. Holden had 14 points in 61 games with 74 blocked shots and 129 hits last year. His 4.5 GAR was an improvement on 2018-19. Zach Whitecloud only played in 16 regular season games, but he didn't miss a playoff game. He had seven points in 35 AHL games. The Golden Knights acquired Carl Dahlstrom from Winnipeg in the Stastny trade. He appeared in 15 games for the Jets last year. 2017 2nd rounder Nicolas Hague had 11 points in 38 games last year, and he had 10 points in 21 AHL games. Right now, he is on the outside looking in on the starting lineup.

Goalies

The Golden Knights' goalie controversy got weird in the playoffs, thanks to a tweet from Marc-Andre Fleury's agent. Vegas reportedly tried to move the three-time Cup winner in the offseason, but his salary affected negotiations heavily. Fleury had his worst save percentage since 2005-06, at .905. He also had a 2.77 GAA and a -6.50 GSAA. Fleury played well in four playoff starts. Robin Lehner rightfully earned the starting job, and an extension with his play. He had a .918 SV% but a 3.01 GAA playing behind an awful Blackhawks team before a trade to Vegas. He had a .940 SV% in three starts after the deal. In the playoffs, Lehner had a .917 SV% with a 1.99 GAA. 


Projected Lines

Max Pacioretty - William Karlsson - Mark Stone

Reilly Smith - Chandler Stephenson - Jonathan Marchessault

Nicolas Roy - Cody Glass - Alex Tuch

William Carrier - Tomas Nosek - Ryan Reaves

Extras: Jack Dugan, Tomas Jurco, Dylan Sikura


Brayden McNabb - Alex Pietrangelo

Alec Martinez - Shea Theodore

Nick Holden - Zach Whitecloud

Extras: Carl Dahlstrom, Nicolas Hague


Robin Lehner

Marc-Andre Fleury


Projection

The Golden Knights are a part of the super three in the West Division. Combined with Colorado and St. Louis, these three teams are really good with little competition around them. They'll all make the playoffs, and if not, people will be fired. The salary cap situation is under control in Vegas, and so is the team in general. I predict a second place finish. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

MLB Trade Review: Phillies acquire Coonrod

 


       The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired RHP Sam Coonrod from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for RHP Carson Ragsdale. 

       The Phillies might have had the worst bullpen in MLB history last year, so it is new president Dave Dombrowski and new GM Sam Fuld to fix that. Coonrod debuted in 2019, and he was effective, with a 3.58 ERA. He had a great slider, but that pitch crashed in 2020, with an average exit velocity of 99.7 mph. Coonrod throws a fastball and a sinker that averages in the high-90s. Coonrod was terrible in 2020, but he did have his first three career saves. The Giants get Ragsdale back, a 2020 4th round pick out of the University of Southern Florida. Ragsdale was ranked 30th in the Phillies system by MLB Pipeline. Because of how Coonrod's 2020 went, this seems like an overpay from the Phillies.

        Coonrod, 28, had a 9.82 ERA with a 4.76 FIP, a 1.636 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in 14.2 innings for the Giants last year. In his MLB career, Coonrod has a 5.74 ERA with a 5.07 FIP, a 1.370 WHIP with 35 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.

        Ragsdale, 22, had a 2.84 ERA with a 1.000 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 19 innings at college in 2020. In his collegiate career, Ragsdale had a 3.75 ERA with a 1.391 WHIP plus 77 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. 

Vancouver Canucks 2020-21 Season Preview

 

From Getty Images

       The 2019-20 was the season of the kids for the Canucks. Elias Pettersson repeated his Calder winning season, and Quinn Hughes finished 2nd this year. In net, Thatcher Demko went off in the playoffs. However, things did get worse for Vancouver in the offseason, as GM Jim Benning made a series of questionable moves. Even though the North Division doesn't have any super teams, they have a bunch of just good teams, and the Canucks are one of them.

Additions: D Nate Schmidt, G Braden Holtby.

Subtractions: G Jacob Markstrom, F Tyler Toffoli, D Chris Tanev, F Josh Leivo, D Troy Stecher, D Oscar Fantenberg.

Best Move: Acquiring Nate Schmidt from Vegas for a third round pick.

Worst Move: Replacing Jacob Markstrom with Braden Holtby.

One Move I'd Make: Trade away Brandon Sutter (if possible)

Best Contract: Bo Horvat, three years remaining with a $5.5 million cap hit.

Worst Contract: Loui Eriksson, two years remaining with a $6 million cap hit. 

New Division Rivals: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg.

Pending UFAs: Tanner Pearson, Alex Edler, Brandon Sutter, Jordie Benn, Sven Baertschi.

Pending RFAs: Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes, Adam Gaudette, Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi. 


Forwards

Elias Pettersson's 2018-19 and 2019-20 weren't really different. In 2019-20, he scored 27 goals with 39 assists, with one less goal and one more assist in three less games than in his rookie season. Pettersson had a 55.2 CF%, over 9% higher than the team average. Pettersson wasn't actually the team leader in points. When the Canucks traded a 1st and 3rd round pick for JT Miller, people thought the price was way too high. But, Miller scored 27 goals with a team leading 72 points, both career highs, in 69 games. Brock Boeser scored 16 goals, a career low, with 45 points in 57 games. Miller, Pettersson and Boeser made up an effective first line nicknamed the "lotto line". In his first season as captain of the Canucks, Bo Horvat scored 22 goals with 53 points. Horvat has scored at least 20 goals in each of the past four seasons, and has crosses the 50 point mark in three of the four seasons. Plus, he is still only 25 years old. The Canucks got Tanner Pearson in 2018-19 when his value was at an all-time low. Last year, he scored 21 goals, hitting the 20 mark for the second time in his career. His 45 points were a career high. Former 6th overall pick Jake Virtanen broke out last, with career highs in goals (18), assists (18) and points (36). He also eclipsed 100 hits for the third consecutive season. Adam Gaudette had an encouraging second season, and he has a great chance at being the third line center. He scored 12 goals with 33 points in 59 games. 2019 second round pick Nils Hoglander has a good shot at the roster. He had 14 points in 23 games in Sweden last year. In last year's World Juniors, Hoglander had five goals with six assists in seven games. Antoine Roussel scored seven goals in 41 games, with 43 penalty minutes. It broke a streak of six consecutive 100+ penalty minute seasons. Jay Beagle was a consistent bottom-six center in Washington, but has fallen off with the Canucks. Last year, Beagle had eight points in 55 games, with a -5.4 GAR. Still, he appears to be the favorite for the fourth line center role. That could go to Brandon Sutter, who was more value than Beagle but can play the wing. Sutter had eight goals with nine assists and a 4 GAR in 44 games last year. Both Beagle and Sutter kill penalties. The last spot on the fourth line is between Tyler Motte and Loui Eriksson. Both can play on the penalty kill. Motte had four goals in 34 games, but matched that in 17 playoff games. The Canucks may try to bury Eriksson's contract. He had 13 points in 49 games last year. The Canucks signed Michael Ferland to a four year deal before 2019-20, but he missed most of the season with concussion issues. He had five points in 14 games. Ferland is expected to start the season on LTIR. Sven Baertschi has had success in the NHL in the past, but spent most of last year in the AHL. He had two assists in six NHL games, but he excelled with the Utica Comets, with 46 points in 43 games. Undrafted forward Zack MacEwen had 11 points in 20 AHL games, and scored five goals in 17 NHL games. 

Defensemen

Quinn Hughes became the star of the Vancouver defense last year, as he finished 2nd in Calder voting and 15th in Norris voting. Hughes had 53 points, 45 of them assists, in 68 game. I don't think anyone saw Hughes more than doubling the point total of his brother Jack, a forward. Dealing with cap issues, the Golden Knights traded energetic defenseman Nate Schmidt to the Canucks. Schmidt was a key part of the first three seasons of Golden Knights hockey. He had 31 points in 59 games last year, with 91 blocked shots. Alex Edler returns for his 15th, and potentially final season as a Canuck. Edler had 33 points in 59 games last year, and he hits the 100 mark in blocked shots for the seventh consecutive season and in hits for the fourth year. However, Edler did see his average ice time hit its lowest point since 2008-09. The Canucks gave Tyler Myers a five year deal last year, and everyone immediately hated it. It makes sense, as Myers had a -1.6 GAR in his first season in Vancouver. The big defenseman had 21 points with 108 blocked shots and 99 hits last year. The Canucks recently signed former rival Travis Hamonic to a PTO. Hamonic opted-out of the playoffs after a 50 game campaign for the Flames. He was productive in 2018-19, with 19 points, a +21 rating and an 8.5 GAR in 69 games. Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks picked over Matthew Tkachuk in 2016, should become a regular after debuting in the postseason. In 45 AHL games, Juolevi had 25 points. After a great 2018-19, Jordie Benn came to Vancouver and regressed. He had seven points in 44 games, with a -3.4 GAR. 

Goalies

Former Vezina winner Braden Holtby has regressed over the past few years. 2019-20 was easily his worst season. As Ilya Samsonov came for his job, Holtby had an .897 SV% with a 3.11 GAA and a -16.76 GSAA. Surprisingly, Holtby is only 31 years old. Thatcher Demko was ineffective in his first year as a backup, with a .905 SV%. But, when Markstrom went down in the postseason, the Golden Knights could not score on Demko. He allowed two goals on 130 shots, for a .985 SV% and a .64 GAA. 


Projected Lines

JT Miller - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Jake Virtanen

Nils Hoglander - Adam Gaudette - Antoine Roussel

Tyler Motte - Jay Beagle - Brandon Sutter

Extras: Loui Eriksson, Sven Baertschi, Michael Ferland, Zack MacEwen.


Quinn Hughes - Nate Schmidt

Alex Edler - Tyler Myers

Olli Juolevi - Travis Hamonic

Extras: Jordie Benn


Braden Holtby

Thatcher Demko


Projection

The Canucks have a very talented core. After that, it is a bunch of aging veterans who have fallen off. Goaltending is an issue, unless Demko found something in the playoffs. The Canucks have a lot of competition in the North Division, but besides maybe Toronto, their isn't a team that is obviously better than them. The Canucks will finish in third place, with a playoff spot in hand. 

Toronto Maple Leafs 2020-21 Season Preview

 


       While the overall record was not great for the Maple Leafs last year, you could argue that it was a matter of who was behind the bench that was stopping Toronto. They were 9-10-4 when Mike Babcock got fired, and when AHL Head Coach Sheldon Keefe was promoted, the team went 27-15-5. However, the only things that people remember about Keefe's tenure so far is the embarrassing game 5 loss to Columbus to knock them out of the playoffs, and losing to THEIR OWN ZAMBONI DRIVER. It's still funny to think about. Now, the Leafs have no coaching issues, no more cap issues (for now), and no more Lightning or Bruins to worry about. The 2020-21 season will define who the Toronto Maple Leafs are. 

Additions: D TJ Brodie, F Joe Thornton, F Wayne Simmonds, D Zach Bogosian, F Jimmy Vesey, G Aaron Dell, F Travis Boyd, G Michael Hutchinson, F Joey Anderson.

Subtractions: D Tyson Barrie, F Kasperi Kapanen, F Andreas Johnsson, F Frederik Gauthier, D Cody Ceci, F Kyle Clifford.

Best Move: Acquiring a first round pick in a package for Kasperi Kapanen.

Worst Move: Trading Andreas Johnsson to New Jersey for Joey Anderson.

One Move I'd Make: Trade Michael Hutchinson to either the Sharks or Capitals.

Best Contract: Morgan Rielly, two years remaining with a $5 million cap hit.

Worst Contract: John Tavares, five years remaining with an $11 million cap hit. 

New Division Rivals: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

Pending UFAs: Frederik Andersen, Zach Hyman, Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Jimmy Vesey, Zach Bogosian, Travis Boyd, Mikko Lehtonen, Aaron Dell, Martin Marincin.

Pending RFAs: Travis Dermott, Nic Petan, Denis Malgin.


Forwards

Auston Matthews just doesn't get enough credit as a goal scorer as he should. Matthews scored 47 goals with 33 assists for 80 points in 70 games last year, and his 35 even strength goals led the league. He finished 10th in Hart voting and 2nd in Lady Byng voting, as he took just four minor penalties all season. In his four year career, Matthews is averaging 46 goals per 82 games, and his lowest goals per game season was his rookie year, when he scored 40 goals. On the flip side, Mitch Marner mostly racks up assists. He scored 16 goals in 57 games last year, which isn't bad, but it looks minuscule next to his 51 assists. Marner has 291 points, with 208 of them being assists in 300 career games. Interestingly, the lineman for Matthews and Marner looks to be Joe Thornton to start the year. Thornton is also a playmaker, so Matthews will just rack up goals with those wingers. The future Hall-of-Famer is 41 years old, and is coming off of his worst year since he was 18. Thornton had seven goals with 31 points in 70 games in his 15th and probably final season in San Jose. Putting him on the top line means that Keefe believes that Thornton can skate with Marner and Matthews. I can confirm that John Tavares was not toiling away on Long Island. Tavares didn't have the year he had in 2018-19 last year, but he still played well, with 26 goals and 60 points in 63 games. For the seventh season in a row, Tavares had negative defensive value. People were right to be concerned with William Nylander after he was terrible when coming back from holding out in 2018-19. But, he proved the haters wrong last year, with a career high 31 goals with 59 points in 68 games, for a career best .87 points per game. The Leafs like Zach Hyman a lot, but they might not have the cap space to bring him back after this season. Despite playing in a career low 51 games, Hyman matched his career high of 21 goals, and he had 37 points with a 52.8 CF%. Alex Kerfoot is the favorite for the third line center role, although he has some competition. After posted 40+ points in his first two season, Kerfoot had just 28 last year, with nine goals, six less than he scored with Colorado in 2018-19. Ilya Mikheyev only played in 39 games in his rookie year due to an injury, but he was productive. Mikheyev had 23 points with a 54.1 CF%, and only Marner spent more time on the penalty kill among Leafs forward than him. Nick Robertson seems like a steal from the second round in 2019 right now. He scored 55 goals with 86 points in 46 OHL games, and made his NHL debut in the playoffs against Columbus. He scored a goal in four games. Robertson has a good chance to make the third line this year. Wayne Simmonds was once a big-time goal scorer, but last year he had just eight goals in 68 games. What he mostly brings is physicality, as he had 66 penalty minutes with 145 hits last year. With the way that things ended last year, you could tell that Jason Spezza was devastated. He came back for another year, and he just wants to win his first Stanley Cup. He was a really good fourth line center last year, with 25 points and a 7.2 GAR. The last wing spot is up for grabs. Former Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey had 20 points in 64 games last year, and has averaged 15 goals with 28 points a season over his four year career. He was skating on the second line in practice, so that's a good sign for his hopes. 2014 7th rounder Pierre Engvall scored eight goals with seven assists in a 48 game rookie season. He had good AHL numbers, with 16 points in 15 games. Travis Boyd had 10 points in 24 games as a bottom-six player for the Capitals last year. He can play center and the wing, and he scored a goal in four playoff games. 26 year old Alexander Barabanov comes from St. Petersburg of the KHL. He scored 11 goals with 20 points in 43 games for them last year. Both Denis Malgin and Nic Petan were recently waived by Toronto. They both have some NHL experience, and are only 23 and 25 years old, respectively. 

Defensemen

Morgan Rielly remains the star of the defense, and he has some help this year. After a 20 goal, 72 point 2018-19 season, Rielly was doomed to regress in 2019-20. He did, with three goals and 24 assists in 47 games. Rielly's average ice time of 24 minutes and 12 seconds was a career high. TJ Brodie seems like the perfect fit for the Leafs. He shoots left handed, but plays on the right side, which is an area of need for Toronto. He grew up a fan of the team, and posted nice numbers over a decade in Calgary. His scoring took a dip last year, as he had 19 points in 64 games, dropping below 30 points for the first time since 2012-13. Brodie did have a GAR of nine, so it wasn't all bad. Jake Muzzin was a great fit after the Leafs got him in 2018-19. He had 23 points in 53 games last year, with a 52.9 CF%. Justin Holl finally became a regular at age 28 last year, and he played well, with 18 points in 68 games, and a 2.8 GAR. The third pairing is where things can get messy. Travis Dermott has been a regular for the past few years. He had 11 points in 56 games in 2019-20, but he had a career high 10.3 GAR. Mikko Lehtonen has showed a lot of offensive potential in the KHL, as he scored 17 goals with 49 points in 60 games last year. In their 2020-21 season, Lehtonen had 17 points in 17 games. Zach Bogosian played in 20 of the Lightning's 25 playoff games en route to a Stanley Cup victory. He's just a big meany on the blue line and not much else. 2018 1st rounder Rasmus Sandin has a shot at the roster after he posted eight points in 28 games last year. In the AHL, Sandin had 15 points in 21 games. Martin Marincin played in 26 games last year. He has played in 142 games for Toronto over the past five years. 2017 1st rounder Timothy Liljegren is also an option. He played in 11 NHL games last year, and he had 30 points in 40 AHL games. 

Goalies

It will be interesting to see how the Leafs deal with Frederik Andersen, who will be a free agent after the season. He was a solid goalie in his first three years with the Maple Leafs, but last year was the worst year of his career. Andersen had a .909 SV% with a negative GSAA and a 2.85 GAA. Andersen didn't really have a backup to start out the season, so the Leafs went out and traded for Jack Campbell. Campbell was successful in his six games after the trade, with a .915 SV%. To make sure that the Leafs don't have backup trouble, they signed Aaron Dell. Dell had a .907 SV% in 33 games as the Sharks' backup last year. Michael Hutchinson was the struggling backup last year, and he returns after going to Colorado and succeeding in the playoffs as an emergency third goalie. 


Projected Lines

Joe Thornton - Auston Matthews - Mitch Marner

Zach Hyman - John Tavares - William Nylander

Nicholas Robertson - Alex Kerfoot - Ilya Mikheyev

Jimmy Vesey - Jason Spezza - Wayne Simmonds

Extras: Pierre Engvall, Travis Boyd, Alexander Barabanov, Denis Malgin, Nic Petan


Morgan Rielly - TJ Brodie

Jake Muzzin - Justin Holl

Mikko Lehtonen - Travis Dermott

Extras: Zach Bogosian, Rasmus Sandin, Martin Marincin, Timothy Liljegren


Frederik Andersen

Jack Campbell

Extras: Aaron Dell, Michael Hutchinson


Projection

The Maple Leafs have a team that should compete in the playoffs. But, they haven't been able to come through in the playoffs, or win a playoff series at the very least. They have been helped out by the division realignment, and now they are the best team in their division by far. If they don't win a playoff series, 2020-21 will be a massive disappointment. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Tampa Bay Lightning 2020-21 Season Preview

 


        When fully healthy, the Lightning have arguably three top-10 players in the league, a Stanley Cup, and a lot of cap issues. Directly after winning the cup, the Lightning were able to participate in the tradition of the Stanley Cup winner barely doing anything in the offseason. Tampa Bay re-signing a lot of their players, and cut some loose. Besides that, it wasn't an eventful few months, besides the celebrations, of course.

Additions: G Chris Gibson.

Subtractions: D Kevin Shattenkirk, F Cedric Paquette, F Carter Verhaeghe, D Braydon Coburn, D Zach Bogosian.

Best Move: Signing F Anthony Cirelli to a three year deal. 

Worst Move: Trading Cedric Paquette, Braydon Coburn and a 2nd round pick to Ottawa for Marian Gaborik and Anders Nilsson.

One Move I'd Make: Raise the salary cap by $10 million.

Best Contract: Victor Hedman, five years remaining with a $7.875 million cap hit.

Worst Contract: Ryan McDonagh, seven years remaining with a $6.75 million cap hit.

New Division Rivals: Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Nashville.

Pending UFAs: Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Luke Schenn, Curtis McElhinney.

Pending RFAs: Alex Volkov.


Forwards

The main move to make Tampa Bay cap compliant was easily the hardest one. Nikita Kucherov will miss the entire regular season. Kucherov had 85 points in 68 games last year but wasn't even in the top-10 in Hart voting. Boohoo for them, they still have an amazing team. Brayden Point scored 25 goals with 64 points in 66 games, but things only got better in the postseason, as he scored 14 goals with 19 assists for 33 points in 23 games. Plus, he's only 24. Steven Stamkos was mostly healthy in the regular season, and he scored 29 goals with 66 points in the 57 games he played in. He only got into one playoff game. He's a goal scorer at heart, and he's moving to the wing, which suits goal scorers more. Ondrej Palat has always had amazing line mates, but has only scored 20 goals once, in 2013-14. He scored 17 goals with 41 points in 69 games last year. He isn't a full-time penalty killer, but he does often play on the power play. Anthony Cirelli had an amazing season, and probably could and should have finished higher than in third place in Selke voting. Cirelli scored 16 goals with 44 points in 66 games, with a 15.7 GAR, with a good portion of that coming from his defensive value. He also scored the goal that got the Lightning to the Cup Finals. Alex Killorn, who had hit 15 goals in five of the past six years entering 2019-20, finally broke the 20 goal barrier, with 26. His 49 points were also a career high. Killorn's 59 hits were the lowest of his career since the shortened 2012-13 season. Tyler Johnson was waived in the offseason, and while he is still a productive player, he's on a contract that the Lightning will want to get rid of. Johnson scored 14 goals with a career low 31 points in 65 games last year. While he paid a fortune for them, GM Julien BriseBois made some great moves when he got Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow at the trade deadline. Coleman scored 21 goals last year, although none of them came in his nine regular games with Tampa Bay. He was huge in the playoffs, with 13 points in 25 games. Goodrow only had six points in the playoff run, but he had 103 hits. He's not exactly a goal scorer, as his eight goals in San Jose before the trade was a career high. Yanni Gourde scored 47 goals over his first two seasons, but he had just 10 in 70 games last year. In the postseason, he netted seven in 25 games, getting back to his 20+ goal pace. Patrick Maroon was brought in for his physicality, and he showed that in the playoff run, with 56 hits and 32 penalty minutes. He scored nine goals with 23 points in the regular season. Mitchell Stephens finally got his shot at the NHL after a few years in the AHL. Stephens scored three goals with three assists in 38 games, and he had 10 points in 24 AHL games. He's primed for a 4th line center role with Cedric Paquette and Carter Verhaeghe gone. The final spot will be a big competition between Mathieu Joseph and Alex Volkov. Joseph scored 13 goals in 2018-19, but had just four in 37 games in 2019-20. Joseph spent 29 games in the AHL, and had 21 points. Volkov had one assist in nine games, and got into one playoff game. In the AHL, he had 30 points in 46 games.

Defensemen

Victor Hedman ascended to a new level last year. His regular season went pretty normal for him, as he scored 11 goals with 55 points in 66 games, and finished 3rd in Norris voting. But in the playoffs, Hedman scored 10 goals with 12 assists in 25 games. He was third all-time for goals by a defenseman in a single postseason. He was doing that playing with Kevin Shattenkirk and Zach Bogosian. The best possible partner for Hedman would be Erik Cernak. Cernak had 12 points in 67 games, with 172 hits and 97 blocked shots. A Hedman - Cernak pairing would be polarizing, with them standing six-foot-six and six-foot-three respectively. The Lightning will keep their second pairing of Mikhail Sergachev and Ryan McDonagh together. Sergachev set a career high with 10 goals last year, and he had 34 points in 70 games. He blocked 99 shots with 106 hits. McDonagh was limited to 50 regular season games, and missed three in the postseason. He had 12 points, with the lowest points per game since his rookie season of 2010-11. The Lightning recently brought back Jan Rutta, who is an option to play with Hedman. Rutta had seven points in 33 games last year, and got into five playoff games. Rutta has an average GAR of 3.9 in his three NHL seasons. Former 5th overall pick Luke Schenn played in 25 regular season games, and 11 more in the playoffs. He had 83 hits in the regular season. The Lightning were Schenn's 7th team. The competition is definitely lacking, with Luke Witkowski, who had three points in 12 games last year, being the 7th defenseman.

Goalies

Andrei Vasilevskiy led the league in goaltender wins for the third consecutive season. He had a .917 SV% with a 2.56 GAA and a 12.13 GSAA in 52 games. Vasilevskiy finished third in Vezina voting, and he has been a finalist for the award in each of the past three seasons. He had a .927 SV% in the postseason. After a below average 18 games as a backup, Curtis McElhinney didn't get any appearances in the playoffs. He had a .906 SV% with a 2.89 GAA. Chris Gibson has 14 games of NHL experience as the third goalie for the Islanders. He has a .904 SV% in those games.


Projected Lines

Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Steven Stamkos

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Tyler Johnson 

Blake Coleman - Yanni Gourde - Barclay Goodrow

Patrick Maroon - Mitchell Stephens - Mathieu Joseph

Extras: Alex Volkov.


Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev - Ryan McDonagh

Luke Schenn - Jan Rutta

Extras: Luke Witkowski


Andrei Vasilevskiy

Curtis McElhinney

Extras: Chris Gibson


Projection

The Lightning showed in the playoffs that they are the league's best team. Isn't that what winning a Stanley Cup means? While they won't have Kucherov until the playoffs, they still have a lot of depth, and some stars like Point, Stamkos and Hedman. Anything besides a first place finish would be a disappointment. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

St. Louis Blues 2020-21 Season Preview


 

       The Blues entered the offseason in a position where they needed to do something big. Captain Alex Pietrangelo was due to be a free agent, and thanks to their salary cap situation, they likely didn't have the money to sign him. They pivoted, and instead went after the next best defenseman on the market. A recent signing made the Blues an even more intriguing team entering this season. 

Additions: D Torey Krug, F Mike Hoffman, F Kyle Clifford.

Subtractions: D Alex Pietrangelo, G Jake Allen, D Jay Bouwmeester, F Alex Steen.

Best Move: Signing Mike Hoffman to a PTO, and reportedly a one year deal between $3-4 million.

Worst Move: Trading away Jake Allen and not bringing in a backup goalie.

One Move I'd Make: Sign Jimmy Howard to a PTO.

Best Contract: Colton Parayko, two years remaining with a $5.5 million cap hit. 

Worst Contract: Justin Faulk, seven years remaining with a $6.5 million cap hit.

New Division Rivals: Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, Vegas.

Pending UFAs: Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak, Jordan Binnington, Carl Gunnarsson.

Pending RFAs: Vince Dunn, Zach Sanford, Robert Thomas, Ivan Barbashev, Jacob De La Rose, Jordan Kyrou.


Forwards

The two most recognizable Blues over the past eight years will not be in the team's starting lineup on Opening Night. While Pietrangelo will be playing for the division rival Golden Knights, Vladimir Tarasenko will miss at least a month of the season after having offseason surgery. Tarasenko had 10 points in 10 regular season games, but went scoreless in four postseason appearances. Ryan O'Reilly was recently named captain of the Blues. While he only scored 12 goals last year, O'Reilly's 49 assists carried him to the team lead of 61 points. He won 56.6% of his face-offs, and finished third in both Byng and Selke voting. In year two of his third stint with the Blues, David Perron scored 25 goals, his most since 2013-14, with 60 points, the second highest total in his career. It was the fifth time in his 13 year career that he hit the 20 goal mark. Brayden Schenn also scored 25 goals, but had two less assists than Perron. Over three seasons in St. Louis, Schenn is averaging 66 points per 82 games. Jaden Schwartz scored 22 goals, hitting that mark for the fourth time. His 57 points were fourth on the Blues. Schwartz has had injury problems in the past, so entering free agency, it would be nice for him to play in two season in a row without missing time. Mike Hoffman is a pretty one dimensional player, but that one dimension is the best kind. He scored 29 goals in 69 games last year, and in his six full NHL seasons, Hoffman's lowest goal total is 22, and he has scored at least 26 goals in the other five seasons. Veteran center Tyler Bozak scored 13 goals, but his 29 points in 67 games made up the worst point per game ratio of his career since 2010-11. Robert Thomas had a nice second season, with 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points in 66 games. Those numbers will give him the edge over Bozak for the second line center spot, but Bozak could end up passing Thomas. Zach Sanford scored 16 goals in 58 games, doubling his career high goal total. Sanford had 109 hits, which was fourth on the team. Former second rounder Jordan Kyrou spent the majority of his time in the NHL last year, with nine points in 28 games. In 16 AHL games, the 22 year old scored nine goals with six assists. He seems like the best breakout candidate on the roster. Fourth liners Ivan Barbashev and Oskar Sundqvist have their similarities. They are only a year a part in age, and both kill penalties. Barbashev is more physical, but their production was similar, with Sundqvist playing in 12 less games, but scoring one more goal with three less points than his counterpart. The Blues brought in physical forward Kyle Clifford on a two-year deal. Clifford had 17 points in 69 games for the Maple Leafs and Kings, with 68 penalty minutes and 133 hits. In his 10 year career, Clifford has had at least 100 hits in every season. Although he only played in 40 games, Sammy Blais led the team with 155 hits. Blais also scored six goals with seven assists. In 80 career NHL games, Mackenzie MacEachern has 10 career goals. Seven of them game in 51 games last year. Jacob De La Rose was acquired midseason in a trade for Robby Fabbri that hasn't worked out. De La Rose had five points in 34 games. He can kill penalties, but doesn't do anything else well.

Defensemen

The Blues countered with Pietrangelo leaving by bringing in Torey Krug, who isn't special defensively, but he's a great offensive defenseman who will be on the first power play unit. Krug scored nine goals with 49 points in 61 games for the Bruins last year, and received Norris votes. Krug has averaged 61.6 points per 82 games over the past four years. Colton Parayko scored exactly 10 goals with 18 assists for the second consecutive season, but in 2019-20 he did it in 16 less games than in 2018-19. In his five NHL seasons, Parayko has an average GAR of 13.5, although his 6.7 number in 2019-20 was a career low. The Blues traded for Justin Faulk right before the season then extended him for a questionable seven years, when the money should have gone to Pietrangelo instead. Faulk proceeded to have a career worst season in his age 27 year. Faulk had 16 points in 69 games, for .23 points per game, his lowest ever by .10. He wasn't better analytically, with a career low GAR of -3.7. The Blues signed Vince Dunn to a cheap bridge deal, but he'll be an RFA again next year. Dunn had 23 points, which was the lowest of his three NHL seasons. But, he had his greatest analytical season, with a GAR of 12.1. Marco Scandella was traded twice last year, and the Blues liked him enough in his 11 regular season games and nine playoff games to give him a four year extension. Scandella averaged over 20 minutes a night with St. Louis. Robert Bortuzzo is back for his seventh season with the Blues. He had six points with a +12 rating in 42 games last year, with 66 hits and 43 blocked shots. Carl Gunnarsson is also entering season number seven in St. Louis. He had seven points in 36 games last year, but he had a low 47 CF%. 

Goalies

Goaltending is a big question for the Blues entering 2020-21 after Jake Allen was traded and wasn't replaced. Jordan Binnington will always have his legendary 2018-19 to remember, but he regressed last year. Binnington had a .912 SV% with a 2.56 GAA and a 3.30 GSAA. He finished 7th in Vezina voting, but wasn't the seventh best goalie in the league. He was terrible in the playoffs, with a 4.72 GAA in five games. His backup will be Ville Husso, a 25 year old who was a 4th rounder in 2014. Husso has no NHL experience, and wasn't great in the AHL last year, with a 2.56 GAA and a .909 SV% in 42 games. The Blues should be impatient with Husso. If he struggles, one possible acquisition is either Aaron Dell or Michael Hutchinson on Toronto, who are both experienced and are 3rd and 4th goalies with the Maple Leafs.


Projected Lines

Brayden Schenn - Ryan O'Reilly - David Perron

Jaden Schwartz - Robert Thomas - Mike Hoffman

Zach Sanford - Tyler Bozak - Jordan Kyrou

Kyle Clifford - Ivan Barbashev - Oskar Sundqvist

Extras: Sammy Blais, Mackenzie MacEachern, Jacob De La Rose


Torey Krug - Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn - Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella - Robert Bortuzzo

Extras: Carl Gunnarsson


Jordan Binnington

Ville Husso


Projection

The Blues do have their issues. Goaltending and the back half of their defense isn't great. But, the West Division is really weak. The Blues will have fun rivaling the Avalanche and Golden Knights, but the rest of their matchups will be too easy for them. They'll coast to a third place finish, and a playoff spot. 

MLB Trade Review: Mets acquire Lindor and Carrasco

 

From Getty Images

       The New York Mets have acquired SS Francisco Lindor and RHP Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for SS Amed Rosario, SS Andres Gimenez, RHP Josh Wolf and OF Isaiah Greene. 

       When the Mets were bought by billionaire lifelong fan Steve Cohen, long-suffering fans came up with their wildest dreams in hope that Cohen could help make it a reality. Well, the team previously signed Trevor May and James McCann, and now they got a starter and an infielder, and the only position category that hasn't been improved is outfield, and George Springer could be coming soon. The Mets are showing how actually spending money will lead to a better team. Lindor is a free agent at the end of the 2021 season, but the Mets will do all that they can to extend him. While Lindor is coming off of the worst year of his career, he was still an above average player. Carrasco was amazing in 2020 in his full-time return after recovering from cancer. They don't even give up that much, as the top prospect that they trade away is rated 9th in their system, and they get one of the league's best shortstops without giving up their top prospect, shortstop Ronny Mauricio. Rosario had fallen out of the starting lineup, and Gimenez replaced him, and Lindor is a major improvement on Gimenez, while Carrasco is a number two starter. A lot of things will have to go wrong for the Mets to lose this deal.

        Lindor, 27, hit eight home runs with six stolen bases, a .258 batting average and an OPS of .750 in a league high 266 Plate Appearances in 2020. In his MLB career, all in Cleveland, Lindor has hit 138 homers with 99 stolen bases, a .285 average and an OPS of .833 in 3510 Plate Appearances. Lindor has a career bWAR of 28.7. 

        Carrasco, 33, had a 2.91 ERA with 82 strikeouts, a 3.59 FIP and a 1.206 WHIP in 68 innings in 2020. In his MLB career, Carrasco has an ERA of 3.77 with 1305 strikeouts, a 3.42 FIP and a 1.196 WHIP, plus a 21.4 bWAR in 1242.1 innings. 

        The Indians love to trade away talent to shed salary, and Lindor is just the greatest example of it. Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer were previously the best examples, but this deal is on a new level. With this trade, they don't have to pay Lindor the $19.5 million he's owed this year, or the $38 million Carrasco is owed over the next three years. That would be a good explanation if shedding a lot salary from a successful deal was a smart approach, but it isn't. The Indians will hope that Gimenez and Rosario can combine for the production that Lindor brought, but even Gimenez, who was recently a top prospect, isn't expected to be that player. They get some lower level prospects in Wolf and Greene. The Indians have a ton of young arms like Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and Tristan McKenzie who can replace Carrasco, but "Cookie" has been a Cleveland staple for 11 seasons, so it won't be easy to lose two respected and talented members of the team. Some eager Indians fans may point out that Lindor and Gimenez had the exact same OPS+ last year, but 2020 was an uncharacteristically bad year for Lindor. Rosario could play second base for Cleveland in 2021 as Cesar Hernandez is still a free agent. Wolf was a second rounder in 2019 out of St. Thomas High School is Houston. He has very limited minor experience. Greene was a second rounder in 2020's MLB draft out of Corona High School. He is 19 years old and has no minor league experience. Wolf and Greene were ranked as the 9th and 10th best prospects in the Mets system prior to the deal. 

         Rosario, 25, hit four home runs with a .252 average and an OPS of .643 in 147 Plate Appearances for the Mets last year. In his MLB career, all in New York, Rosario has hit 32 home runs with 50 stolen bases, a .268 average and an OPS of .705 in 1564 Plate Appearances.

         Gimenez, 22, hit three home runs with eight stolen bases, a .263 batting average and a .732 OPS in 132 Plate Appearances in 2020, his rookie year. He finished 7th in National League Rookie of the Year voting. Gimenez stole 93 bases in 393 minor league games.

         Wolf, 20, had a 3.38 ERA with 12 strikeouts and a 1.250 WHIP in eight innings for the Gulf League Mets in 2019. That is all of his minor league experience.