9332d2113b91cacdc49d38cb60f07a98We are 6 weeks as of yesterday until the first Sunday of the NFL season.  Sure, you have preseason, and sure the Packers go to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Thursday, September 4th.  But the real action starts on that Sunday.  And it is pretty dead in the sports world until then.


Unless you’re 1 of the 14 members of the Kelly Kapowski Fantasy League.  If you’re in that league, in which I am the commissioner of, then things are already well underway, and August is the month where championship’s are really won.


The boys all have to have their 10 player keeper list along with the new contracts that those players will receive in by August 6th.  Then, the expansion draft with newcomers Chris McQuid, Shane Tomayer, and the 45 like return to fantasy football by Brian Davies.  Once they have hand picked their 10 keepers, the best part of this league will transpire….the rookie draft.


Yes, this fantasy league has a rookie draft.  Just about anything you could imagine for a fantasy league, the Kelly Kapowski delivers on.  Rookie draft?  Yep.  Individual Defensive Players?  Yep.  Our league has a salary cap, and an in person auction for the free agents.  This isn’t child’s play, this is the elite of fantasy football.


Yes, much like the dreamy teenage girl this league is named in honor of, the Kelly Kapowski Fantasy League has it all.  And the owners are a who’s who of life.  For real, nobody knows who the f**k we are.  Until now…


First you have me.  Team name…Mav & Goose.  I have 1 league title under my belt in 2009 in this league’s former incarnation.  To go with that league title, a league final appearance in 2008, 1st in the regular season in 2012, and 2nd overall in last year’s regular season.


Mav & Goose have proven their dominance on the beach, but have struggled in the clutch in the Kelly Kapowski

However, a decent track record has been spoiled of late by what can only be described as choke jobs in the playoffs.  It is never easy disappointing your fans, but as an owner and GM, you can only buy the groceries, it is up to the players to cook the meal.


Then we have our reigning Zach Morris, Jonathan Stretch, team name Megatronic.  It was a long, hard road to the top for the man simply known as “Stretch” (I believe the nickname comes from the fact that he’s done yoga).


Beginning in 2007, Jon started out on a 5 year plan, and that was just to get in the playoffs.  But now he has TRANSFORMED (see what I did there?!) his team into a league powerhouse.  While he’s the reigning Zach Morris, his team is more so like Slater.


The Kelly Kapowski unlike any other league is not immune to team names inspired by the tremendous FX drama “The League”.  Dirty Randy (Trevor Sonfloo), Ruxin’s All-Stars (Paul Ledrew), and The Vinegar Strokes (Adam Meier) are all league owners who could not hide their love for the TV show.


Sonfloo and Ledrew are long time league owners, entering their 8th and 7th years in this league respectively, still in search of their 1st league title.  Meier, upon hearing the news of the league’s overhaul and of more importance it’s name change last season, jumped at the opportunity to purchase an expansion team.


Meier hails from Saskatoon, along with fellow 2013 new comer Kirk Sibbald, proud owner of Show Me Your TD’s.  Sibbald had an up and down first season, but managed to sneak into the playoffs where as we all know anything can happen.  That Sunday, anything DID happen as Show Me Your TD’s in their first season pulled off one of the biggest upsets in league history by switching to guns and shooting down Mav & Goose.


Now while that was an incredible upset, it may not have been the biggest upset last season.  That may have come in week 1, and once again your’s truly was on the receiving end of it, and once again it was by a man named Kirk.


Yes Kirk Graham, proud owner of the ever so cleverly named expansion team Kirk’s Jerks, behind Peyton Manning’s record setting week 1 performance overcame the team who at the time was the odd’s on favorite to run away with Kelly (Vegas had it at 5/2 odds).


However after things looked so promising coming out of week 1, Mr. Graham’s Jerks had a tough go of things and ended up being our Screech with a 2-11 record.


Graham might not have the least amount of thought put into his team name though.  Darcy Hoffus is a seasoned league veteran of 8 years and still is rocking the oddly named Coyote.  Nobody seems to know if HE is a Coyote, or if he’s just really a big fan of the animal, it really makes no sense.  But he is one of the Kapowski’s proudest owners and never gives in on a good trade offer, no matter how good it may make his “pack”, he believes in HIS guys taking him to an 7th-11th place finish.


A good fantasy league name is tough to come by.  A popular choice by a lot of fantasy owners is to go with a wrestling reference.  I went this route in the former incarnation’s inaugural season when I formed the Bushwackers.  Like the real life tag team, my fantasy team was just a jobber as they would say in the wrestling world going 1-12.


Another famous wrestling attempt in the former incarnation was the swing and a miss known as the Altimate Warriors.  No, I did not spell that wrong, Mr. Grayson Wells did (who recently got married, congrats buddy!!!  Ahhhh who am I kidding you’re not reading this).


3rd times a charm as they say, as owner Colin Budd, whom returned to this league after a 2 year hiatus last season, went with a timeless classic….Stylin’ and Profilin’.  While he isn’t limousine ridin’, nor is he jet flyin’, Budd is a crafty fantasy sports veteran and always a serious threat come playoff time, proven by his 2 fantasy hockey titles in 3 years, both of which he entered the playoffs as an afterthought.


Colin made a comeback last year, of course I mentioned earlier that Brian Davies is making his highly anticipated comeback this season, the man known to the public as the Lumber King, Shane Tomayer is an expansion owner whom everyone has incredibly high expectations.  The man Forbes dubbed “the next Donald Sterling”, the Lumber King has owners taking notice moving forward.


Owners in the Kelly Kapowski are having a tough time reading who Chris McQuid likes in the rookie draft

But the expansion owner that might have the rest of the league on edge THIS season is fantasy football veteran Chris McQuid, owner of the newly formed Fightin’ Beavers.  The big conundrum that McQuid and the Beavers pose to the rest of the league centers around the 4th pick in the rookie draft.  The guy straight up has the best poker face in the league and that could be a real turning point in the rookie draft.


Totally unrelated to a player the future mayor of Lloydminster is a fan of….Thomas Miller owner of 2nd year club “Tanking for Manziel”.  This was one of the poorest tank jobs in pro sports history as Miller finished an unimpressive and far below expectations 4th overall last season.


Fans of the club were irate, as many Manziel uniforms had already been purchased in anticipation of the former Texas A&M star.  And of course now ownership faces the possibility of the much dreaded name change.  A solid contender on paper, but will the off field distractions hurt them in their quest for either a league title, or a tank for Florida St. QB Jamies Winston?


Thomas is a native of Vancouver, B.C., and proving that the Kelly Kapowski does indeed touch people coast to coast, last but definitely not least is owner Chris Roberts.  Now the reason Chris is last is because his team name is perhaps the most controversial team name in all of sports.  ESPN refuses to acknowledge it and they still say “Redskins” on their airwaves!


It was not intentional of Chris Roberts to come up with his team name, completely accidental.  And me, being the great commissioner I am, decided to let it stand despite all the protests and thousands upon thousands of emails I’ve received.  This man may have a Dan Snyder reputation, but at his core he is a Dan Rooney type.


Roberts controversial club turned in the best performance of all the expansion teams, finishing 3rd overall (which is in the money) in the regular season, and then making it all the way to the finals.  It is only a matter of time until the Kelly Kapowski league trophy finds itself sitting in a lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic ocean.


So while training camps are now officially open in the NFL, the Kelly Kapowski is now back open for business, like we all wish she was during the Saved By the Bell days.  It is only fitting that 14 men battle it out for 16 Sunday’s to win the affection of the early 90’s goddess.


Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups



Point Proven

tony-dungy-inspiresI GUESS I’ll put this under the NFL category, but what I want to talk about here is more so just how absolutely stupid the media can get (man the theme of today is just me calling people stupid isn’t it?!)  Most of the people in the media aren’t stupid at all.  A lot smarter than me (that isn’t hard to do), and really smarter than most out there.  But they have their moments where they don’t think and simply lose their skulls as a group, usually triggered by one story followed by some colleagues piggy backing on that story which is what happened here.


The last thing I wanted to do was write a piece on this Tony Dungy/Michael Sam BS.  I even retweeted someone yesterday who said something to the affect of “if you’re thinking of writing a piece on Tony Dungy, just take a hammer to your computer”.  So true.  But I can’t help but hammer something and again I state my aim here is at the media.


Keith Olbermann, maybe the most intelligent man doing sports today piled on.  Jim Rome, who when it comes to issues of this stature normally takes a more serious and intellectual look at things piled on.  Bruce Arthur, probably the writer who’s opinion I value the most in Canada piled on.  And several others who are really highly intelligent people piled on Tony Dungy in this story without giving it any real thought.  Someone said something a little negative about Michael Sam and the media…bored out of their minds because it is the middle of July, jumped on the story and chose to bash Tony Dungy.


Really?!  Tony Dungy?  This is probably the best guy in football during his nearly 40 years around the NFL.  And he doesn’t even get the benefit of the doubt?!


I can only guess that people in the media (not all, but definitely a lot of them) saw something negative about Michael Sam and they didn’t care who it was, they were looking to get on the bandwagon.  Are they scared of being labelled as homophobes?  I’m guessing that’s part of it.


But lets break this down.


First, Dungy said he wouldn’t have taken Sam.  No team took him until the 7th round, so basically 32 teams agreed with Dungy.  He didn’t trash Sam, he said he wouldn’t take him because of the distraction.  Right, it will be a distraction!  It will be a distraction within the locker room because every team has 2 or 3 morons who will cross the line or do or say something stupid just to get a laugh.


Some have brought up Michael Vick whom Dungy helped get back in the league when he was released from prison in 2009.  Well, Vick was a former 1st overall pick and is pretty well regarded as one of the most talented QB’s to ever play the position.  Sam on the other hand, before coming out, was projected to be a 4th-5th round pick.


Some bring up how Sam just likely dropped because he is openly gay and not because of his play because he was the SEC defensive player of the year so of course he can play….right?  Wrong.  How many guys have won the HEISMAN TROPHY and not done jack in the NFL?  The Heisman, which is awarded to the best player in college football.  2006 winner Troy Smith is struggling right now to make it in the CFL!  Great in college by no means promises success in the pros.  Not in football, not in basketball, not in hockey, in no sport!


But my favourite part in all this was those people in the media who are bashing Tony Dungy, still today, and want to point out how Michael Sam just kind of brushed it off.  That’s awesome, that is what Sam needs to do, but the media is still talking about it.  And if it happened in season, Jeff Fisher would be hounded for a comment on it while preparing for a game on Sunday, and so would Michael Sam’s teammates.


This would be called a DISTRACTION.  The media wants to have all the power until it’s negative, then, like in this case, it would never be the media’s fault.  No, somehow it’s Tony Dungy’s fault by stating what most of the league thought which was that the distraction doesn’t outweigh the talent.


If the guy who came out was Khalil Mack, or Jadaveon Clowney, or Sammy Watkins, or….Smither’s what’s one of the bad 1st round players names?  “Johnny Manziel?”  Or Johnny Manziel!  Had it been one of these guys who was the first openly gay player, then it’s worth the distraction because they have big time talent.  Michael Sam just doesn’t.  Sam is honestly likely to find himself up here in a few seasons.  He might be a real good special teamer, but he’s a huge long shot to ever be a defensive starter.


Yet somehow this is all Tony Dungy’s fault hey?  Shut up.  Seriously, any media guy trying to manufacture the opinion that Dungy did something remotely wrong here, SHUT.  UP.  “But he’s against gay marriage so it has to be hateful!”  No, it wasn’t.  You can disagree with someone’s life style and not hate them.


I’ve got friends who are very religious, and I swear as bad as anyone which they disagree with.  Weird, we’re still friends.  “He’s forgetting that he was in the same situation as Sam when Chuck Noll hired him!”  Same situation hey?  A coach is the same as a player is he?  The media attention now is the same as it was in the early 80’s is it?  Social media?  Internet?  Popularity of the league?  It was all the same as it is now was it?


Also, Dungy when he first broke in as a coach was considered one of the best minds playing in the league.  Mel Blount has said he was the smartest player he ever played with.  Hall of famer Mel Blount who played for the 70’s Steelers said that.  Dungy’s talent as a coach was worth any distraction it may have caused.  His job in Tampa Bay proved that.  His Super Bowl ring proved that.


As the title says, the media just proved Tony Dungy’s point for him.  This is going to be one that a lot of very intelligent people in the media are going to look back on and say “woah, wish I wouldn’t have said that”.  Hell, it just started.  You just got verbally laid out by some small time blogger who doesn’t even get paid to do this.


Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Face of the League

nhl_g_kane2_sy_300This is something that I’ve wanted to write for a while now.  More of a rant than anything good or clever, but it needs to be said.  It’s a perfect example of how dumb the people running and marketing the NHL are.  And trust me, outside of a few classes I am definitely no marketing guy, but it seems pretty clear to me that the league can’t see the forest through the trees on this one.


The NHL endlessly pushes Sidney Crosby as the face of the league.  Is he the best player in hockey?  Absolutely, although I really believe it is closer between him and Toews than anyone wants to admit, just recently Toews has been getting put in the conversation by fans.  If I had to rank it today, I would likely say Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, Kopitar, and Doughty in that order.


None of those guys should be the FACE of the league.  By face of the league I assume you know what I mean but in case you don’t….I’m talking about it’s most recognizable player.  The player who your average fan knows best.  The player who goes on Jimmy Fallon, does national commercials, and who the media goes to on all the big issues.


That guy should be a highlight reel type of player who is one of, if not THE most skilled player in the game.  Preferably American since it is more vital to the league that they sell the game in the States (they don’t need to sell the game up here….there aren’t any seats left!)  He should have a lot of personality.  He should be playing in a big U.S. market.  He should be quotable.  And he should be playing on a winner.


Yet Patrick Kane, while very well known, isn’t the face of the league.  Someone please explain to me why?!  Sid is great and doesn’t do a thing wrong, but he doesn’t have the personality to carry the league.  How is it that Ovechkin was this guy 5 years ago, but they haven’t pushed Kane to be this guy now?!  Ovy was exciting, but is Kane not?


3acfd70acfab1152a33524b87c94358dAnd with Kane he’s not only going to do something memorable most nights, he’s one of the most clutch players in the game!  Stanley Cup winning goal, Conn Smythe trophy, how about that goal in game 6 vs LA this spring to force game 7 in the WCF.  I haven’t heard Bob Cole say “WOAH…BABY!” with that much enthusiasm in 20 years!  He hits everything on the list that you want.


You’ll never hear me advocate that Kane is the best player in the league.  Not close, he’s not even close to the best player on his own team!  But this guy should be at the forefront of everything NHL.  When I first started this site, I wrote about how they completely missed the boat on Mike Modano being this guy.  And I also talked about how Modano should have been to hockey what David Beckham was to Euro Football in that he wasn’t ever the best player in the sport, but he was seen as the biggest star in the sport.


Patrick Kane is the biggest star in hockey, it’s just that the league is too stupid to let him shine to his full potential.  Don Draper would go nuts over this guy!  Maybe someone reading this who knows marketing better than I do can help me out with it.  But until then, I’ll be left asking the question.  And in true NHL fashion….I’m guessing I’ll never get it answered.


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Oil Grade: Incomplete

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One So as always, I have to talk about the Oilers.  It seems like there are just certain times of the season they come up.  Pre season, awful start, some sort of mid season humiliation, end of the year (January), and now.  This one isn’t going to be as harsh as some of the others have been though.


I actually am going to look at some of the major positives going on for this club, and make no mistake they’ve had a nice offseason thus far.  If you don’t believe so, let me run down the list.


We’ll start with the hiring, not really to the Oilers, but to the Oilers Entertainment Group.  Bob Nicholson is just another friend of Daryl Katz, friend of Kevin Lowe.  That’s just a fact.  However, this one actually plays to their advantage.  Nicholson despite being a friend of the “gang” has been on the outside looking in all the while running a very successful organization himself.


The big thing that Nicholson can do for this team will come in free agency, especially once they finally become an interesting destination for the top end UFA’s.  Nicholson is plugged into the top players, the top agents, and a call from him can definitely help sway some guys.  They have to start winning, and the new arena will help, but once those things are in place a guy like Nicholson could make a big difference.


Then the move I perhaps like most is what’s happened with the coaching staff.  Smith and Buchberger out, and while they were great Oilers it was clear they needed to be gone.  I don’t think they held anyone back, but a better staff was without a doubt possible and Craig Ramsay is a MAJOR upgrade.  Ramsay is one of the top assistant’s in the league.  Now we’ll find out how much talent the Oilers have on the blueline because this guy gets the absolute best from his D everywhere he goes.  And he is also running the PP and I expect a big improvement with it as well under his watch.


Draisaitl fits what the Oilers needed perfectly

The draft fell the way I believe the organization was hoping with Leon Draisaitl being there for them at 3.  6’2, 210 and he isn’t done growing.  The size is awesome, I’ve been pounding the table for this team to get big down the middle since this rebuild started.  The playmaking is awesome, this kid has amazing vision.  But for me, the intelligence is what might be the most intriguing asset of all.


Listening to him get interviewed on Oilers Now yesterday, it blew me away how sharp he is.  No doubt, he’s still grasping English, but that just made the interview all the more impressive.  He’ll make the team this fall, and as long as they really shelter him (soft minutes, 2nd unit PP) he’ll be a big addition for the club.


MacTavish didn’t stop getting big at the draft either.  I don’t like the AAV on Nikita Nikitin’s contract, but it’s only 2 years and he is an upgrade.  6’3, 217, and can both move the puck and shoot the puck.  They were BIG on getting him and without a doubt Scott Howson was pushing for it (who acquired Nikitin as the GM in Columbus).  So it’s a pretty good sign that someone who knows Nikitin well was so big on getting him.


Of course if you read my stuff, you’ll know that I simply loved the Sam Gagner trade.  He had to go, an absolutely awful fit with this club and has been for a long time now.  Trying to force him into the 2nd line center role on this club like they have for the last 4 seasons I really believe has made them as bad as they are.  He can’t win a draw, he’s horrible defensively, he was weak on the puck, and he wasn’t even putting up 50 points a season while being this awful in his all around game.


The Arizona Coyotes are either going to get a rude awakening on this kid, or they’re going to work a miracle.  Ask yourself this: Was the effort ever lacking with Sam?  I’m guessing your answer is no.  So why is he all of a sudden going to turn it on in Arizona?  I can’t believe they wanted him, he is the complete opposite of the type of player Dave Tippett thrives with.


But anyway, he’s gone and Teddy Purcell is in.  DO NOT expect Purcell to hit anyone, he won’t.  He will protect the puck well, he should be good on the wall, and he can really shoot it.  40-50 points would be a good season and once again he brings size that this team desperately needed.


Then on July 1st, Mark Fayne (6’3, 215), Benoit Pouliot (6’3, 205…although supposedly he hasn’t put on a pound since he was 18…), and Keith Aulie (6’6, 228).  BIG.  This team finally got some size.  They still aren’t a big team, but they have some heavy for the first time since 06.  I don’t love the Pouliot contract, but the analytics guys have actually sold me on him.


Never a fan, but I’m guilty of not paying attention to what he’s become which is a very effective and elite 3rd line player.  His analytic stats are awesome, he makes the guys he plays with better.  5 years is about 2 years too long, and 4 million per is about 1 million more per than maybe he should get, but he’s a perfect fit so I can live with overpaying for a guy who is such a great fit.


As for Fayne and Aulie, I love both signings.  Fayne doesn’t just bring size, he’s really smart in his own zone and like Nikitin can really move the puck.  I see Fayne the same way I saw Willie Mitchell about 10 years ago.  Not real physical, not going to put up good offensive numbers, but Mr. Dependable in his own zone.  And Aulie simply is low risk/high reward.  He could be a top end shutdown guy in this league, but it takes guys like him longer to figure it out.  A perfect example is Hal Gill.  Hal Gill in Boston and Toronto wasn’t good.  But finally with Pittsburgh around age 33 he started to figure it out and became an elite shutdown man.  Aulie will need to figure it out quicker than that but has the ability and again brings serious size to a team that is desperate for it.


And the thing is that while the blueline still lacks that stud guy, the mix is SO much better than last season.  MacTavish went nuts on bringing in small puckmovers last year, and they got badly exposed in their own zone all season long.  Teams would eat the Oilers alive on the cycle.  Now they have a legit shutdown pairing with Nikitin and Fayne.  They can break up a cycle and move the puck up ice which is huge.  It’s far from great, but massively improved.


He wouldn’t be cheap, but O’Reilly could make the Oilers a playoff team

So you’ve read over 1,000 words so far and are wondering why the title is what it is.  It’s simple, they still don’t have that big 2nd line center they need.  Patrik Berglund?  Artem Anisimov?  Swing for the fences with Ryan O’Reilly?  I think all 3 are possible.  Berglund and Anisimov wouldn’t cost a guy like Yakupov which would be huge for the Oilers.  All season I really believed the Oilers were going to have to trade Yakupov to A) get bigger and B) get better down the middle.  O’Reilly on the other hand, that might take Yakupov (if they prefer a forward) which I would still do because Ryan O’Reilly is an elite 2nd line center who you win Cups with.


But Berglund…if the Blues are at least willing to deal him, wouldn’t cost Yakupov (or Eberle for anyone asking…Eberle ain’t getting dealt people, deal with it).  I would guess Bogdan Yakimov would intrigue the Blues because he’s their kind of player (serious size).  It would take more than Yakimov, but he would likely get Doug Armstrong’s attention.


Anisimov I believe is very expendable for the Jackets, but the problem is that they’re such a team team that I have trouble seeing what they would want.  But with Johansen, Dubinsky, Jenner, and Wenneberg possibly stepping in this season, they’re set at center.  Anisimov has good analytic numbers, pretty good in the dot (over 49%), good speed, and the size at 6’4, 200 lbs.


And finally O’Reilly who does sound like he will be dealt.  Avs beat writer Adrian Dater basically is guaranteeing O’Reilly will be dealt, he just doesn’t know if it’ll happen this summer or next.  But I don’t see why the Oilers aren’t hard after him if he is available.  Yakupov?  Makes sense for the Oilers, don’t know how the Avs would feel about him.


They SHOULD want D, so maybe a package of Petry, Lander/Arcobello, and a prospect like Jujhar Khaira?  Maybe they demand Marincin…I would be hestitant to do that.  Marincin is already a number 5 guy with serious upside.  But the Oilers do have the pieces to make a deal with the Avs happen and get that much coveted 2nd line center.


You might ask “so what happens once Draisaitl is ready to be the 2nd line center in a year or two?”  Well last time I checked, teams with 3 great centers don’t suck.  You win being great down the middle in this league and Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl and O’Reilly would have the potential to be one of the best trio’s at center in the league.


So that’s why it is currently incomplete.  You can’t go into this season with Draisaitl, Lander, or Arcobello as your number 2 center.  So you pretty desperately need a guy.  Now, if they get that guy, and he has nice size, then I believe MacTavish gets a B+, if not an A- for his offseason.


But if they once again fail to land a 2nd line center, as they have failed to do the last 3 offseasons, then that grade really plummets.  It could be the difference between contending for a playoff spot, and another 2nd half with nothing to play for at Rexall.


Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Champion in Waiting


As I said the other day on twitter, we may as well call it now for the Lou Marsh award.  Let’s put it this way, if anyone overtakes her as the 2014 Canadian athlete of the year then they’ve done something amazing!


We aren’t quite there yet Canada.  Not just YET.  Far and away we are watching the golden era of Canadian tennis.  Nothing against Daniel Nestor who has an incredible resume (85 men’s doubles titles, Olympic gold in 2000, 4 mixed doubles titles, etc), but we’re talking singles and singles is where all the glory is at in tennis.  Anyway as I was saying we aren’t quite there YET, and “there” is the peak of it all.  But make no mistake, Eugenie Bouchard is on her way to the top.


I kind of feel bad for Milos Raonic that his run to the semi’s at Wimbledon got overshadowed this week.  It is incredible that we now have two top 10 tennis players in the world, and Raonic is almost becoming an afterthought in this country.


But it’s understandable.  There isn’t anything graceful in Raonic game.  He’s all power, and while it is incredible that he is ranked 9th in the world (I want to say he is also moving to 7th in the new rankings but not sure yet), he isn’t close to Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer and likely won’t ever get close.  The biggest hope we can have for Raonic is that he comes through the ashes of a Grand Slam filled with upsets and takes one home.


Genie is personable and confident and beautiful and just everything this country is going to adore not only as an athlete but as a celebrity.


It’s pretty clear that her only issue in her game right now is power.  In the Aussie, French and now Wimbledon she got overpowered by Li Na, Maria Sharapova and now Petra Kvitova.  They’re 31 (at the time), 27 and 24 respectively.  I know they came along at nearly the exact same time, but Martina Hingis and Serena Williams who were freakishly gifted at such a young age isn’t the norm.  As Bouchard gets older, she’ll develop more power and won’t get overwhelmed by it like she has been.


She also seemingly has the desire you need to get to the top.  She doesn’t come across as someone who is anything satisfied with something like being the best Canadian female tennis player of all time.  It isn’t much of an accomplishment with all due respect to those who have come before Genie.  But she clearly wants to be number 1 and to win multiple Grand Slams.


So it was a let down yesterday for the nation.  A lot of people in the tennis world really believed she was ready to take that next step and win it all.  She will.  Knock on wood that the success doesn’t get to her, but again she doesn’t seem at all like the type who would get complacent.  At the rate she’s been improving it’s tough not to envision another deep run at the US Open, and by then who knows how good she could be.


Pretty cool having a superstar in tennis.  It’s been a sport that I’ve always liked and followed but never got fully invested in, but now I have a reason to as we all do.  Settle in and enjoy the show Canada, this was only the opening credits.


Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

NHL Draft Recap

WellsFargoCenter62714-22These are stupid to do because nobody, not even the teams who have made the selections have any clue what they’re doing.  But I like writing, I like the draft, the let’s just throw them together one more time.  Something I think I am going to do this summer is an early Shane Tomayer memorial mock draft, which I’ve never done before (oh and by the way Shane is very much so still alive and very healthy).


At least I’ll do a top 50 list and break down what I know and what I can find out about each player as next year’s draft is pretty enticing.  Anyway, team by team breakdown of not only the draft but any moves they may have made as well.  Obviously the big focus is the 1st round pick.  Before I start, mock draft 5.0 went a disgusting 1/30.  BUT, mock draft 3.0 went 8/30.  Proof that you have to simply tune out all the rumors in the weeks leading up to the draft.





Hit it out of the park.  The Kesler deal was great for them.  Nick Ritchie fell into their lap and while winger wasn’t a need you couldn’t pass up a kid who has a chance to be dominant.  They didn’t have much else in the draft after the 2nd round but I liked their top 2nd round pick of Marcus Pettersson.  Just a big, solid, safe D-man.




Almost forgot that the name change now puts them 2nd in the NHL’s alphabetical race!  Still couldn’t leap over Anaheim, but the threat of Anaheim changing to LA is always there (or orange county).  Anyway, their draft.  Loved it for the most part.  I’m not a big Brendan Perlini guy, but again as long as you don’t expect him to throw the body he’s fine.  Ryan MacInnis has a huge frame and could be a steal (Michal Handzus type), Anton Karlsson was expected to be a 1st rounder for much of the season and they got him 87th, and you know us Nothern Alberta folk love a team that takes 2 Oil Kings.  Dysin Mayo (133) and Memorial Cup MVP Edgars Kulda (193).




Only had 5 picks to work with.  A little surprised they used their 1st on David Pastrnak who was one of those smaller wingers but they could stand to upgrade their skill.  Ryan Donato at 56 was pretty good value and a local kid.  Don’t know much about their last 3 picks, but it’s the Bruins who develop their guys better than most.




Really like the draft the Sabres had.  Love Sam Reinhart, he’ll be a great kid to help lead a team from the ashes to the top of the league.  I’m a pretty big Brendan Lemieux fan and believe he’ll play in their bottom 6 some day.  Eric Cornel (center, Peterborough) at 44 was good value as he could have been a late 1st round pick, he has pretty good size and a pretty good all around game.  Brycen Martin (D-man, Swift Current) at 74 was another great value pick, another guy who at one time was expected to be a late 1st.  They also took goaltender Jonas Johansson with the top pick in the 3rd and I like taking goaltenders in rounds 3-7.




I felt going into the draft that they were in the best spot of any team and just had to pick the last one of the big 4 which they did.  Bennett fits perfectly behind Monahan although it’ll be vital for the franchise that one of them emerges as a true number 1 pivot.  Had they just taken Thatcher Demko at 34 and not Mason McDonald I would have LOVED what they did.  Obviously they see something in McDonald that others don’t.  If you read my mock drafts you know I love Hunter Smith.




Big fan of their first 2 picks.  Haydn Fleury is exactly what they needed at 7, and Alex Nedeljkovic was good value at 37 and this team really needs depth between the pipes.  Warren Foegele is a kid who really had some scouts intrigued because he had an incredible season but it was against vastly inferior competition.  Josh Wesley they obviously took a bit for PR reasons.




I said it in my 2nd last mock that Schmaltz to the Hawks could be scary for the rest of the league because this kid has the talent to be a legit star, and the Hawks have a tendency to really develop kids to fit perfectly within their system.  Schmaltz needs to learn the game a lot more, but he’ll have plenty of time to develop.  Now I don’t know much about the other kids they drafted full disclosure, but I like that they were after size, and they took Ivan Nalimov 179th overall….goaltender.  Always a fan of doing that.




Well everyone was at least 6’0 so I like that especially for a team that is pretty small.  I’m a huge Conner Bleackley fan, and they took a D-man 84th overall named Kyle Wood.  But I just don’t understand when they’re going to address their blueline and you have to think it’ll bite them sooner rather than later.  Yesterday in free agency they still didn’t do anything (I’ll get to the UFA’s next week when the dust has really settled).  But they proved me and a ton of other people wrong last year so maybe they’ll keep doing that.




Another team that I just don’t get what they’re doing in the 1st round.  Last year after taking forwards with their first two 1st round picks (Wenneberg and Rychel), they took Marko Dano, another forward.  Their D isn’t THAT good.  And this year they had another chance to take a good D-man and instead they take a small winger in Sonny Milano.  Thing is that with these small wingers is unless they become superstars, they have no trade value.  So Milano better pan out for them.  They did take Ryan Collins in the 2nd round who is a 6’5 pretty good skating D-man, so they didn’t totally ignore it, and then they took a goaltender in the 3rd (Elvis Merzlikins, who you of course you all know his story….)  So we’ll see but I wasn’t a huge fan of the top pick.




I had them taking a D-man the whole time, most of the time said Honka but changed it on the last mock draft.  Still, love the pick, he’s a future PP QB.  Brett Pollack at 45 was a great pick, loved it.  Alex Peters, big stay at home D-man at 75, loved it.  Brent Moran, goaltender, at 115…you guessed it, loved it.  In rounds 2-7 they took nobody under 6’0 and only one kid under 6’2 so they got a lot of size.  They ran this draft pretty much exactly the way I would have done it.




I got news for Ken Holland.  You’re going to have to start picking D-men again Kenny, because you ain’t getting them in free agency anymore, and you’re having trouble finding the late round gems on the back end like you used to.  Having said this, the pick of Dylan Larkin was great.  I don’t know why the Caps passed on him, but the Caps are proving to be a pretty poorly run franchise.  As for the rest, what I liked is all but 1 forward wasn’t a center and that kid was hulking Fin Julius Vahatalo who had a great U18’s.  They also took a goaltender at 136.  So I like all that.  But what I hated…they didn’t take 1 D-man.  Maybe I’m wrong, many have been predicting this before, but the Red Wings are really losing their lustre.




Easy pick with Draisaitl and a must pick in the end.  This kid is up to 6’2 and I don’t know how they can tell this but some people apparently think he’s going to end up being 6’3 or maybe even 6’4.  So this is the big center that the Oilers have been DESPERATE for.  And he’s already 208 so he is such a great fit.  As for the rest, they didn’t have 2nd or 3rd round picks so I don’t know much about the kids they took.  But I do like they took a couple of swings on goaltenders.  They didn’t go young though, a lot of 20 year olds.




Good for them that they got it right!  I really thought from everything I had heard they were going to screw it all up.  But they didn’t and now they look good on the blueline moving forward, good up front moving forward, and this team should become a power in the East before too long.  I didn’t love Jace Hawryluk at 32, but he is a really gritty/character kid.  Some good size at 65 and 92, and a tendy with their last pick so a pretty good draft made great that they didn’t screw up the top pick.




Of course Kempe fell to them.  Of course Roland McKeown fell to them.  Took a tendy at 150 overall, 7 of the 10 kids they picked were out of the OHL.  They LOVE the OHL more than any other team, and for good reason.  I really don’t need to say much more, Kempe and McKeown were home run picks where they got them and perfect fits for the Kings.




I really loved the Alex Tuch pick for them, and then noticed they didn’t take another winger.  All either D, center, and 1 goaltender.  I like that.  Again, no 2nd round pick and past about the top 75 prospects I really don’t know much about most of these kids.  But I like not taking wingers late.  They went with speed down the middle.




Really liked the Scherbak pick, liked it even more once he got interviewed!  They didn’t come away as one of the top teams from the weekend like in 2012 and 2013, but a solid draft.  Daniel Audette in the 5th round was great.  Goaltender Hayden Hawkey in the 6th round I love too and again just because I think you should always take 1 goaltender in rounds 3-7.  Didn’t really improve their size on the weekend, but didn’t do too bad.




Not a big fan of the Kevin Fiala pick at 11, but Vlad Kamenev at 42 and Jack Dougherty at 51 were steals in my mind.  The key with Kamenev will simply be getting him over to North America, but I think he’ll at least be a 3rd line center with a great shot at being a 2nd line center.  The rest was a question mark for me other than Aaron Irving with their 6th round pick whom I obviously will have a soft spot for.  Redline report had Irving as a 1st round pick for most of the season so to get him in the 6th is pretty good value.




Hate this team, but I loved the pick of John Quenneville at 30.  That kid is very versatile and should be at worst a damn good 3rd line center.  And then Josh Jacobs was a pretty good pick at 41, I know a lot of people liked him to go late in the 1st round.  Connor Chatham who they got at 71 is a pretty big kid out of the OHL.  And finally Vermillion boy and Bobcat affiliate Brandon Baddock from the Oil Kings with their last pick is always good to see.




Like the Panthers, they didn’t mess this up.  Michael Dal Colle was the pick for them, absolutely perfect fit for Tavares and could play on the team next season.  Then they went and ruined that good will by trading back into the 1st round and taking Josh Ho-Sang.  That’s all that organization needs is a kid who isn’t liked by his teammates and thinks he can win hockey games 1 on 5.  If he ever grows up, could be a steal.  More often than not, these kids don’t grow up until it’s too late.  2 goaltenders in the middle….only need to take 1 guys….and then Lukas Sutter with their last pick.  Don’t get why he didn’t go until the 200th pick but good value there.





No 1st round pick here so not much to say.  Brandon Halverson in the 2nd round, goaltender from the Soo.  Maybe a little high to take him, they got another tendy at 118 (Igor Shesterkin).  Went with a lot of speed late in the draft, but overall nothing special, but the Rangers are quietly one of the better drafting teams in the league.




Again, no 1st round pick and only 5 picks in total for them in this draft.  3 of the picks they used on D-men (Andreas Englund, Miles Gendron, Kelly Summers).  All 3 have good size and all 3 skate well.  I really wasn’t impressed with what they did but they didn’t really have a chance to impress.  Again though, they’ve drafted well so don’t assume just because a knob like myself doesn’t know their guys that a few of them won’t pan out.




Absolutely loved the Sanheim pick, had to go with him and was pumped for them that they got it right.  They went with Nicolas Aube-Kubel in the 2nd round from the Q and nobody knows the Q better than the Flyers so I liked that as well.  always appreciate a team sticking to what they do best.  Didn’t get a lot of size in rounds 2-7 though.  5 picks, biggest player was 6’1 Oskar Lindblom.




Did exactly what I thought they needed to do in the 1st round by taking one of the skilled wingers and fortunate for them it was Kasperi Kapanen who fell to them in that spot.  After him though they didn’t have another pick until late in the 4th round.  The kid who stands out to me the most is Anthony Angello.  6’3, 190 center from Omaha out of the USHL.  Very raw but will have a lot of time to develop.




I don’t really like Goldobin at all, but the Sharks might have the best draft record in the league over the last 7 years, so to sit here and tell them they don’t know what they’re doing would be stupid of me.  They got a LOT of skilled kids in this draft, and to me absolutely stole Alexis Vanier out of the Q with the 102nd pick of the draft.  That’s a kid who I thought at worst should be an early 2nd.  Huge with a cannon of a shot.




Liked the Robby Fabri pick, and absolutely loved the Ivan Barbashev pick.  That pick of Barbashev at 33 might save face in the David Perron deal for Doug Armstrong.  Barbashev who I’ve compared to Blues fan favortie T.J. Oshie all year long is now going to be teammates with him.  Then they took a kid named Maxim Letunov, Russian kid playing in the USHL.  He’s 6’2 but only 155.  They’ll give him a lot of time to develop and in time could end up being a steal for them with the 52nd pick.




I don’t really like where they took Anthony DeAngelo, nor do I think they’re the organization to turn that kids issues around.  But then again, his issues don’t seem to be off ice things, just losing his head on the ice and that can normally be fixed.  They were desperate for D-men moving forward which is 100% why they reached on him.  4 of the top 5 picks for the Lightning were D and I really like both Dominik Mason and Ben Thomas so they did well.  And then they stole Brayden Point with the 79th pick.  Perfect spot for him playing in the East with a team who has had success with undersized players.




Flat out, I hated what they did.  Hate the Nylander pick over both Ritchie and Ehlers, I just don’t get what they love about Nylander that Ehlers doesn’t bring to the table (minus the attitude).  Ritchie could have been the big power forward they’ve lacked forever.  In fact they didn’t get any size until they took Pierre Engvall with their final pick of the draft, and with a name like Pierre Engvall he clearly can’t decide weather he’s French or Swedish!  Awful draft for the buds in my opinion, and I’m not a guy who looks to pile on this team like most do.





It seems I’m a bit of a Canuck apologist.  I don’t mean to be, I very much dislike them (although now that Kesler is out, Gillis is out, they’re growing on me again).  But again, I’m going to praise them.  Virtanen at 6 I really like and felt like if they stayed at 6 a guy like that was the right fit for them.  And then Jared McCann fell into their lap at 24 with the pick they got in the Kesler deal.  That made the Kesler deal a heck of a lot better!  Finally, Thatcher Demko with the 36th pick was great.  I also like that they beefed up in the later rounds, taking kids who were 6’7, 6’4 and 6’3 respectively.





Don’t get it at all.  This team appears to be a mess.  Jakub Vrana is good but better prospects at much more important positions….like center, were available and they passed to take a small winger.  Then on Saturday they took 4 more wingers with 5 picks, so 6 of the 7 picks were wingers, for a team loaded with wingers and desperate for depth down the middle.  And none of the wingers were big.  The biggest was 6’1, a kid from Sweden with their final pick.  So long Ovy’s prime.  If it wasn’t wasted before, what has happened this past week certainly seals the deal.




Finally we have my man Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Jets.  Loved the Ehlers pick for them, in my 3rd and 4th mock drafts that is where I had the kid from Halifax slotted to go and I think he’ll fit perfectly in their top 6 by next season at the latest.  They could afford to sacrifice size for skill.  Jack Glover was a good pick at 69 for them as he was a D-man a lot of people figured could go between 20-30.  And then Chase De Leo from the Portland Winterhawks was more great value in the 4th round so once again I think the Jets had a damn good draft!



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