Chiarelli’s Biggest Mistake?

Hindsight is 20/20 as we all know.  Really though, it’s just so painful.  “If I had just done THIS, then I wouldn’t be in THIS position”.  It’s so rare that we ever have hindsight and say “good thing I did THIS because then I wouldn’t have THIS”.  So for sports fans, it’s likely not healthy to do the hindsight game.  And the worse the franchise you pull for is, the more you do it.  Take the Oilers for example.  Oilers fans could go down this road just about any point and time since June 19th, 2006, but for this let’s just focus on the Peter Chiarelli hiring.  Had he not been hired, then the Oilers likely land Dougie Hamilton because I’m sure they would have overpaid or at least paid more than the Flames did, and the Bruins wouldn’t have refused to deal with them.  That likely would have kept Taylor Hall in Edmonton because they would have had their top pairing RH shooting D-man.  Of course who knows how or if they could have landed both Hamilton and Talbot (and I’m well aware of Talbot’s start to the season, but he’s been terrific in his Oilers tenure), but seeing the price wasn’t ridiculous I’m sure they could have found a way.  Another thing a Hamilton trade may have done is kept Justin Schultz in town because he wouldn’t have had to be the number one D-man in 2016 and there for could have been sheltered a lot more than he was.  Perhaps he then becomes the D-man he’s become in Pittsburgh.  They likely don’t go hard after Milan Lucic then because there is no reason to replace something you have to ship out.  A lot more likely that off season they go after Jason Demers who could have gave Schultz even more sheltering.  See, it’s depressing!  And lately it’s been so easy to look at what Peter Chiarelli has done in his Oilers tenure and beat it to death.

 

But the one that nobody ever brings up  is the one that just might be the biggest misstep by the Oilers in the last three years, and that is failing to go after tonight’s opposing coach.

 

Let’s go back to maybe April 25th, 2015.  Maybe not that EXACT date, but somewhere in there.  Just eight days prior, the Oilers were in complete shambles.  Craig MacTavish was seemingly not going anywhere as GM, they were realistically looking at the 4th pick in the draft (which turned out to be Mitch Marner, but it would have been either Noah Hanifin or Ivan Provorov depending on how the top three picks played out) which would be a nice piece but nothing which would plug all the holes in that sinking ship.  They literally didn’t have a top four defenceman on the roster (a few potential top four’s, but none as of that date), they didn’t have a goaltender, sometimes I feel as though we truly don’t appreciate what a mess it was!  As bad as this season’s gone thus far, this team is extremely well setup moving forward.

 

But things were now different.  The Oilers had won Connor FREAKING McDavid!  Just two days after that, Bob Nicholson kind of sort of demoted Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe.  Four days after that, Peter Chiarelli, a guy who was actually respected and had accomplished something as a GM was hired.  With Mike Babcock poised to hit the open market, all the connections to Babcock through Team Canada, Edmonton being the closet NHL city to home for the Babcock family, and of course McDavid, all the pieces were seemingly falling into place for the Oilers to have one of the best off season’s in NHL history.  Babcock to Edmonton seemed like a SLAM DUNK, and getting him to work with the other talent like Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Schultz, and even Yakupov at the time….sky could be the limit for a team that talented with that great of a coach.

 

I wish I could find the clip, but I believe it was from Prime Time Sports on May 20th, 2015.  Elliotte Friedman was on, and being interviewed about how Mike Babcock ended up in Toronto.  It was early in the interview and Friedman says (paraphrasing) he believed what happened with Babcock is that he wanted the Edmonton job, but once it was gone he wasn’t sure where he wanted to go.  Now this doesn’t mean Babcock was going to come to the Oilers, but Friedman doesn’t say things of that nature unless he has some solid information.

 

Now, maybe Friedman wasn’t right.  Maybe Edmonton wasn’t where Mike Babcock wanted to be.  But are we seriously going to suggest that he would have preferred Buffalo?  Because that’s who the Leafs were bidding against.  And for how shitty the Oilers were at the time, they not only were about to draft McDavid, but they were also better positioned (and in the standings, though that’s not saying much) than the Sabres.  And I can’t see it being a case where the Oilers weren’t willing to pay him what the Leafs did, because if Daryl Katz has done one thing right as the Oilers owner, it’s been his willingness to spend whatever he’s needed to pay in an attempt to bring this team out of it’s darkness.  This one isn’t hindsight for me.  I fully believed they were making a massive mistake at the time, and obviously that’s played out, which always makes me a little more edgey on these matters.

 

And this is not a piece where I’m making the case for McLellan to be fired, far from it in fact.  But in his three years here I believe it has become plain as day that McLellan isn’t an above average coach.  Again, please do not confuse this with bad coach or needs to be fired.  That’s not the case.  But for example, did the Sharks ever get better under McLellan than they did under Ron Wilson?  Did they get any worse under Peter Deboer than they did under Todd McLellan?  He’s not a bad coach, but he’s not an elite coach, he’s a JAG (just another guy).  Obviously this is more so highlighted by the job he’s done this season.  I wouldn’t say McLellan has been the biggest issue for the team, but he’s been up there.  The PP, the PK, the lack of quality scoring chances this team produces five on five, he’s just in the last two games used McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins on three different lines.  Definitely not calling for the man to be fired, but he’s done a very poor job this season.

 

The league is littered with coaches like McLellan.  There are basically three types of coaches in the league.  Ones which make you worse (Dallas Eakins), ones which get nothing more or less out of their teams (too many to name but McLellan is one of these), and then the elite who always get everything there is to get out of their teams (Mike Babcock).

 

Babcock’s track record, pre Toronto, was ridiculous.  Cup final his first season in Anaheim after they were in the gutter for three seasons prior.  Then he goes to Detroit and those Wings teams were a couple bounces away from quite possibly winning three straight Cups, but more impressive than that run from 07-09 might be the job he did from 2013-15 where he seemingly willed that team to the playoffs every season.  The Detroit playoff streak should have ended long before it did, and only kept going because of Babcock.  2013, that team damn near made the Western Conference final!  2015 they took Tampa seven games, and if they win that seventh game who knows how deep they end up going (remember, the Lightning went to the final that year).

 

In fairness to the Oilers, it wasn’t clear that McLellan was a middle of the pack coach in 2015.  He came in as a very highly respected coach in league circles, and we didn’t have the track record of how the Sharks would do after he was gone.  But again, we all knew how great Mike Babcock was, which is why that was the only time in league history we’ve seen an actual bidding war between teams for his services.  You just can’t pass on a chance at hiring Bill Belichick, or Greg Popovich, or Mike Babcock.  Can’t do it.  They had a solid guy in Todd Nelson as a fall back plan.  If you miss on Babcock, other options were out there who were at least close to what McLellan is.

 

This all brings us to tonight.  And the biggest reason I believe that the Leafs have surpassed the Oilers as Canada’s next great team is because of Babcock.  No doubt, Auston Matthews is elite, and the supporting cast is tremendous.  But this Leafs team are skipping phases of growth.  Hell, even once Shanahan and company had things completely torn down, the Leafs, despite finishing 30th in the league, had one of the most impressive 30th place finishes you’ll ever see!  Last year, that team was supposed to be nowhere near the playoffs, and yet they got in and made life miserable for the Caps.  I had them to miss the playoffs this season mainly because I thought “this team can’t just continue to skip these growth phases”, yet here they are!  It’s unreal, and it’s because of Babcock!  I’m not saying they would suck without him, but I believe you’d see a normal growth pattern from them.

 

And perhaps that would be the Oilers situation.  Perhaps it would be the Oilers near the top of the standings and continuing to get better.  But management decided to go the easy route.  Again, who knows if they would have got him.  But to not try?  That decision REALLY stings, was really head scratching, and could end up stinging especially hard tonight as the red hot Leafs roll into Edmonton.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NHL Picks – Nov. 22nd, 2017

A ton of games tonight, and since I missed Saturday, and might miss this upcoming Saturday as I’ll be out of town, I figured I should put out some picks while on my lunch break…although I started this part last night.  So what I’m saying right now isn’t really fresh *insert joke about Gangnem Style here*.  Had another 2-3 day the last time around, couldn’t have had much shittier luck than I have doing these of late, but I’m still sitting at a record of 16-13-1 so far.  I’m going big today though, with seven bets instead of five.

 

Boston at New Jersey

Devils -115

This is real simple for me: The Devils are a better team this season, and they’re at home.  Add to this, they’re a bad matchup for the Bruins.  If you look at who the B’s have beaten lately, none of the teams would be considered overly fast (San Jose, LA, Minny, etc).  If you look at who they’ve lost to, most of those teams would be considered fast (Toronto, Columbus, NY Rangers, etc).  Add to this, Anton Khudobin is going for the B’s tonight, not Rask.  It’s not the greatest odds, but this line should probably be a lot heavier towards the Devils who I’m starting to believe are very real this season, much to my disbelief.

 

Calgary at Columbus

Flames +130

I’ve said it before and will say it again, the only difference between the Flames and Oilers this season was how much better Mike Smith has been than Cam Talbot.  But I say “was” instead of “is” because the Flames of late look like they’re putting it all together.  Three lines deep, of course the Travis Hamonic trade has been awful to this point but that blueline is still very solid, and Mike Smith has kept up his tremendous play.  The Blue Jackets are a great team, but not overpowering and the Flames much up with them very well.  This is about putting money on good odds.  If it’s -110 for each, I’m going with the Jackets.  But the Flames are undervalued here from what I’ve seen of them since the Detroit game a week ago, so I like them at +130.

 

Edmonton at Detroit

Red Wings -120

Much like with the Devils, the Wings are shockingly playing very well this season.  And we all know how awful the Oilers are playing of late, although you have to keep in mind that two of the last three loses have been a brutal matchup against the Blues, while the flu is running through their dressing room.  Not an excuse, but in betting you have to look for reasons.  With the flu being one of the reasons the Oilers are playing so brutal of late, no reason to think on the second half of a back to back (second game in less than 24 hours, the league shouldn’t even have back to backs let alone ones where the games start less than 24 hours after the last but that’s a piece for another day) that they’ll be good tonight, so at -120, not the greatest odds, but good enough to take the Wings as I fully expect them to pull away late and win with ease.

 

Toronto at Florida

Under 6 (-110)

This is simple for me.  In six of their last seven, the Panthers have gone under 6 goals.  In four of their last five, the Leafs have gone under 6 goals.  There is no reason right now for these teams to combine to score six goals or more.  Expect a low scoring Leafs win here.

 

Chicago at Tampa Bay

Over 6 (-105)

Kind of the opposite from the Leafs/Panthers game.  The Lightning have gone over in five of their last six, while the Hawks have gone over in three of their last four.  Plus, with how much offensive talent is on both sides here, it just feels like the smart move to say that this will go over, especially when you’re getting the better odds on the over than the under.

 

Dallas at Colorado

Over 6 (+100)

These odds are insane to me.  The Avs are on quite the streak.  What’s the streak?  12 straight games of going over!  And the Stars?  Well they went under last night, but prior to that had gone four straight of six (a push) or more.  Toss in here, it’s Jonathan Bernier in goal for the Avs, and Ben Bishop who has been a TRAINWRECK on the road this season.  Jump on this one HARD people!

 

Montreal at Nashville

Predators -1.5 (+130)

Preds have won four straight at home, the last three by two or more.  But the big reason for this bet is the disaster starting in goal for the Habs named Antti Niemi.  G.A.A. this season?  6.67.  Sv%?  .820.  And then the Habs are on the second half of a back to back.  This just screams Preds blowout.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

WJC Team Canada Preview

It’s getting to be that time of year.  The time of year where just about all of you go from not ever having seen one of these kids play, to experts on their game and knowing them inside and out.  Yeah, the World Juniors really do bring out the absolute worst in all of us as hockey fans!  Even myself.  I know these kids a lot better than most, but I’m up front about not watching these kids play most nights.  Maybe a few times a year, and I follow them closely, but I’m still a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to how to use these kids.

 

Having said this, I do know these kids, I do follow their development paths, and I probably know what I’m talking about a lot more than most on this subject.  So with camp invites just days away, let’s get it going and we’ll start with my projected forwards:

 

Sam Steel – Michael McLeod – Jordan Kyrou

Dillon Dube – Nick Suzuki – Taylor Raddysh

Matthew Phillips – Robert Thomas – Owen Tippett

Brett Howden – Cliff Pu – Cody Glass

Boris Katchouk

 

Looks damn good.  The big ? is going to be Tyson Jost.  The Avs have him in the AHL right now on a conditioning stint, but that conclusion will coincide with Team Canada’s camp starting up.  So I’d probably say he’s 50/50 to be in Buffalo at the moment, but for this piece I’m going to keep him off.  Should he be there, I’d look at Katchouk being the odd man out, which is why I have him as the 13th forward right now.  For me, the guys I’m a little unsure of with this roster are Katchouk and Cody Glass.  Cliff Pu was on that list probably as recent as ten days ago, but he is on fire of late.  As for guys who could take those spots away?  Obviously I brought up Jost, Michael Rasmussen, Kole Lind, Tyler Steenbergen, Morgan Frost, Jonah Gadjovich, and then the big wildcard for me is Tyler Benson.

 

I went over it in my “Hot Takes” blog from yesterday, but I’ll say it again that I strongly believe that Hockey Canada needs to give Benson an invite to camp and take a serious look at where he’s at.  15 points in 10 games, 14 of those points in his last 7 games.  And it’s not out of nowhere, it’s a case of a very high profile prospect having fallen on tough times thanks to injuries, but has somehow picked up where he left off after missing a large majority of the last two seasons.  In seeing clips of him playing, a lot of his production is coming on the PP, and his skating (which has always been his ?) doesn’t appear to be great, so I doubt he’d make it.  But what he’s done since returning and his track record warrants a look in my mind.

 

Overall I really like the forward group.  I don’t think they can go wrong with it, although I have been fooled in the past.  Jost would help a ton though because I really believe that they need someone to emerge as the offensive catalyst.  Mike McLeod has that ability, but I personally believe Jost as both the ability and the determination to do it.  As for the blueline, I’m really excited about the look of it as well:

 

Kale Clague – Dante Fabbro

Jake Bean – Cal Foote

Dennis Cholowski – Cale Makar

P.O. Joseph

 

Much like the forwards, the only concern is that I worry there isn’t a standout guy.  Last year of course, Thomas Chabot was a superstar and carried the entire team.  I don’t believe any of these kids can duplicate that, but I’ll tell you this…and maybe I’m just being a homer for the Lloydminster kid, but Kale Clague has been outstanding so far this season.  He stepped up and played great after Phillip Myers went down last year, and he might surprise a few people in this tournament with the level he’s currently playing at.

 

Victor Mete is in the same boat as Tyson Jost, except that I don’t see Montreal sending him back for this tournament.  Sure the Habs are struggling, but Mete has been rock solid for them and it’s a team that needs everything it can get on the blueline right now.  I guess Sam Girard is also a possibility, but with the Avs keeping him up past the 10 game mark it sure seems as though all signs point to him staying with the Avs during the holiday season.

 

As for the 7th defenceman…Josh Mahura would be my pick.  The kid would have been a first round pick in 2016 had it not been for an injury that cost him most of his regular season, but he bounced back from that and had a great playoffs and Memorial Cup for Red Deer, then had another deep run with Regina last year where I felt he was outstanding.

 

But this is me trying to project the roster, so I have P.O. Joseph as the number seven guy.  Not because I believe he is the right guy, but because I’m a very honest guy.  And I look at the roster and notice that we don’t have a kid from the Q on there and I can’t see Hockey Canada picking an entire team of kids from the WHL and OHL, even though that should be the case as this is a rare circumstance which it’s warranted.  In today’s PC society, nobody wants to cause a stir.  But I don’t know what to say to those who will, the Canadian talent which is WJC eligible just isn’t in the Q this season.  Kids like Maxime Comtois, Pascal Laberge and Antoine Morand simply aren’t good enough, and Pierre-Luc Dubois would be on the team but there is no chance the Jackets are going to release him.  Thankfully this comes the year after the tournament is held in Montreal.  I can only imagine what an uproar that would have caused…

 

As for a few others who could possibly steal a spot on D, I can only see two guys other than Mahura and Joseph and those are Nicolas Hague, and possibly at this point the top Canadian prospect for the upcoming draft Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs.

 

Last year I was one of the few heading into the tournament who was really high on Canada’s goaltending, and for the most part I feel as though I was right.  Hart definitely didn’t lose the gold medal game for Canada in regulation or OT, and he appears to now be peaking as the WHL player of the week last week.  So it’s just a matter of who’ll join him:

 

Carter Hart

Mike DiPietro

 

Oilers fans might be asking right now “where is Dylan Wells”.  Dylan Wells….MUCH to my dismay, has been awful so far this season.  G.A.A. over 3.50, Sv% below .900, his adj. G.S.A.A. last season led the CHL at 31.87, this year it’s at 2.69 as of writing this.  I’d be shocked if Wells gets a camp invite at this point, which is quite a shame because in the summer it looked as though both he and DiPietro had a chance to knock off Hart for roles on the squad.

 

Hart is good, and being the returning guy he’ll get the best chance to be the starter.  But I’m a massive Mike DiPietro fan and fully believe he’ll steal the starting job and run with it in this tournament.  We saw him shine in the Memorial Cup last spring, the kid seems to love the pressure.  To me, the goaltending this is year is probably as good as it’s been in 10 years (Mason/Bernier).

 

As always, there are five or six teams who are fully capable of winning it all.  The Swedes will be very strong, especially on D being led by Rasmus Dahlin.  The Fins will have a ton of motivation after last year’s embarrassment and the talent to be a threat.  Obviously the Americans have been the most successful team in the tournament over the last eight years with three golds and even in years that they don’t win have given Canada specifically a lot of fits.  Not as skilled of American team this time around, but don’t sleep on them.  The Czech’s after so many down years are starting to get back to where they were.  Martin Necas, potential top five pick Filip Zadina, Oilers 4th rounder Ostap Safin who currently sits 10th in the Q in scoring, they’re starting to develop some high end kids again.  And finally the Russians, whom for whatever reason show up in this tournament.  The big star will be potential top three pick Andrei Svechnikov assuming he’s healthy (he’s supposed to be back shortly so no reason to assume otherwise), but they’re starting to develop the right kind of players in Russia over the last few years.  Seeing a lot more D-men and two way centres come out of their system in the last two drafts.

 

But having said all that, this Team Canada squad looks like a gold medal team to me.  Top to bottom, at least at the moment, I’m not seeing much of a flaw with them.  Four lines deep, three pairs deep, and as good of goaltending as any team in the tournament.  I counted 15 of the 22 players being 19 year olds, 13 of the 22 being 1st round picks, and perhaps most importantly seven returning players, and the possibility of those numbers all moving up one if the Avs release Jost.  It’s going to be a very complete squad barring some strange selections or injuries occurring.  2 PM MST on Boxing Day, Canada vs Finland.  A great test to kick things off.  As always, it’s going to be a blast to watch.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Hot Takes – Nov. 20th, 2017

Didn’t have time to do my picks this week, which is the downside of doing NHL picks that you only have about a 12 hour window to do them.  But with the Hot Takes, I have a little time to do them, so I can yap about pucks some more like I’m about to do.

 

As always….I start with the trainwreck that is the Edmonton Oilers.  And I didn’t mean to go so heavy Oilers this week, but I go HEAVY Oilers so if you hate them…see ya.

 

Two weeks ago, it was panic button time.  After going 3-1-1 in five game stretch, everything seemed a little better.  Call me nuts, the Blues game was obviously awful, but I thought the effort was there against Dallas and they simply had every bounce go against them.  The Antoine Roussel goal was a fluky one, as was the Jamie Benn goal to clinch the game.  The puck is intended to be shot off the back boards and instead could not have been a better bounce for the Stars going right onto Benn’s stick whom had a wide open net.  Those are so frustrating as a fan, because you can’t defend it!  Sure, something probably could have been done so that cycle never of started, but the fact is that Esa Lindell takes a very low percentage point shot which because of an insanely lucky bounce becomes the perfect pass.  When it rains, it pours.  Are the Oilers done?  Probably.  The Blues tomorrow night in St. Louis, then the Wings Wednesday on the second half of a back to back.  I believe three points are possible, but I believe one point is the most they’ll get.  But they aren’t dead.

 

And they aren’t dead, not because they’re good.  They aren’t dead because with all the injuries in Anaheim, and the Flames not looking all that good to this point either, they’re probably the clear cut third best team in the division, a division in which they’ve only played three games within thus far.  That’s 17 games remaining against Calgary who haven’t beat them in five, Vancouver who’ll come back to earth before too long, Vegas who is coming back to earth already, and Arizona.  They also have yet to play a team on the second half of a back to back yet, they have 11 of those left.  So it’s easy and lazy to say “U.S. Thanksgiving” and make it the be all, end all like the media does.  The fact is: weak division and a ton of games within the weak division still to come, so while it looks bleak, and probably is bleak, a big push is going to come.

 

As always, when teams don’t meet expectations, the media and Twitterverse take to piling on.  Man it’s awesome to pile on isn’t it?!  “Check out my unoriginal tweet of comparing two guys mistake by doing the hold my beer line”.  Fucking tools.  Soups advice: Don’t be a tool, especially a fucking tool.  Anyway, Pierre LeBrun came out with a piece today on what a mistake everyone picking 3-6 in the 2016 draft made passing on Clayton Keller.  He apparently (keeping it fair since I haven’t read it) makes it out to be that they passed on a hall of famer.  SERIOUSLY?!?!?  25 games into this kids career we’re making him out to be this hall of famer, and we’re writing off anyone picked in front of him who hasn’t out scored him to this point.  If you’re paying for the Athletic….why?  If this is the case, this is trash.  And from what is supposed to be one of their most respected writers, and this is the piece he comes up with?!  Apparently he lumps Peter Chiarelli in with those other teams who passed on Keller.  Literally….LITERALLY…Clayton Keller’s own family could probably be included in this….EVERY SINGLE PERSON had Jesse Puljujarvi ranked ahead of Clayton Keller in that draft.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  PERSON.  Even the biggest Keller fan, Corey Pronnman, had Keller ranked 4th, one spot behind Puljujarvi.  This is literally like saying “well the Colts shouldn’t have picked Andrew Luck because Russell Wilson has been better”.  It’s just such a stupid, lazy, ridiculous narrative.  Chiarelli has so much that people can pick at right now, there is zero need to lump him into this.  And again in fairness, I don’t know if LeBrun did that here because I see absolutely no need to subscribe to the most arrogant and pretentious sports media outlet on the planet right now, but from what I’ve read on Twitter he interviews Chiarelli for the piece and lumps the Oilers into a group of teams which made such a horrific mistake passing on Keller.  But if I got this right and this is the case….First off, let’s MAYBE wait until the kid has done SOMETHING more than be the top scorer on the worst team in the league?  Second, it’s fair for a guy like Pronnman to go after guys about passing on Keller, but very few others.  I didn’t have Keller very high going into the draft, 14th in my rankings, but I knew he was going to score and I stand by that ranking.  If you’ve read my rankings and mock drafts you’ve read this a million times already but I’ll say it again: I don’t feel like building around undersized wingers is the way to build a hockey team, and teams picking in the top 10 of the draft for the most part have bigger needs which they have to address.  Players like Keller historically have not been difficult to find, while centres and defencemen are.

 

I’m going to have a piece on the potential Team Canada for this years WJC tournament this week (in fact I probably could have put it out this morning), and one thing I’ve noticed in projecting the lineup is the only real weakness is on left wing.  It isn’t REALLY a weakness as they will likely end up putting a lot of RH shooting forwards on the left side.  But I have to wonder if they wouldn’t give Tyler Benson a late and out of left field invite to camp because of this?  He’s missed most of the last two seasons, but has been scorching hot for the Vancouver Giants since returning, with 15 points in 10 games, and 14 of the 15 points have come in his last seven games.  Two points a game in his last seven after missing most of the last two seasons.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  You can’t just blindly look at the point totals here.  A lot of this production has been on the PP, and one of the apples was on an empty netter where he did next to nothing.  But what would it hurt to simply bring him to camp and take a look?  This is a kid who was at one time looking like a top five pick for the 2016 draft, and simply ran into a lot of injury problems beginning in his draft season.  I HIGHLY doubt they will, but they should.  He’s a special and rare case where you actually do need the training camp to see what you do or don’t have in this player.

 

Last week I talked about how impressed I am that the Rangers got the ship righted and are now fighting for a playoff spot.  Well looking at the standings now 20 games in for most teams, I have to give a few other teams some love.  I’ve sang the Leafs praises lately, but doing what they did without Auston Matthews, very impressive.  If I’m a Leafs fan, I know they want Doughty.  But realistically the play before the trade deadline might be John Carlson.  Barring the Caps going on a massive run and looking like they may have a legitimate shot at the Cup, I believe they’re going to sell this year.  They may make the playoffs, but much like the Blues last year I believe they realize that if they want to stay relevant then the move is to sell, and if Carlson doesn’t have a contract then they could get a boat load for him, and the fit with the Leafs is just too perfect.

 

I had the Islanders selling at the deadline, but so far they look like a very solid team who could do some damage in the playoffs.  Matt Barzal emerging has definitely been the key.  But what I’m so impressed with is the culture they’ve developed there.  Since 2013 they’ve had a “next man up” and playing balls out style.  It’s a lot like what the Preds were for so many years, or the Oilers had in the late 90’s/early 2000’s.  They’re just a bitch to play every night.

 

And finally, the Avs!  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but they aren’t going away!  Maybe the most surprising thing about the Avs for me is that Semyon Varlamov hasn’t been good.  Yet here they are, sitting in a wildcard spot, legitimately.  They won’t stay there, other teams will pass them.  But considering where they were last season, and that they made very few changes prior to the season, and then coupled with the Matt Duchene situation, I find it pretty impressive that they’ve come out with a lot of fight this season and don’t appear to be going away.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Hot Takes – Nov. 14, 2017

I’ll start this week’s piece off by bitching about my picks and how garbage my luck is right now.  Did I seriously go 2-3 for the second straight week, third straight losing week, thanks to a fluky empty net goal with two seconds left in a game?!  When it rains it pours.  Last night I got a great tip from one of the World’s best football bettors on twitter about taking the under in the New England/Denver game, so I bet it hard (for me), and of course it went WAY over.  Again…when it rains, it pours.

 

Something I intended to bring up last week, man the NHL is a well run league.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever brought this up, but yeah, it’s an awfully run league.  Exhibit A flew under the radar thanks to game seven of the World Series being played on the same night.  But that night, Wednesday night hockey on NBCSN, their nationally televised game, was Flyers vs Hawks.  Good game.  But you know what other game was played that night?  Pens vs Oilers.  I get that it’s a Canadian market, but if you’re EVER going to market your game, showcase your two best players, you MIGHT want to put Crosby vs McDavid on national TV in the States!!!  How are you going to know if you won’t even make the FUCKING EFFORT to market McDavid and market that matchup?!?!  What a joke.

 

Speaking of the Oilers….of course this piece will normally have something about the Oilers….my exact words last week were “This team needs a 2-1-1 road trip or better this week.”  Mission accomplished.  BUT, something I ripped the Flames in half for the last two seasons was that they seemed to just look to get games to three on three which they’re built to play.  It’s getting clear that this is the strategy of the Oilers right now.  Get it to OT, run McDavid and Draisaitl out every second shift.  I ripped on McLellan’s coaching job to this point last week, and he did nothing this week for me to not continue to wonder what he’s doing.  McDavid and Draisaitl five on five weren’t producing all week, yet he continued to roll them out together.  Oscar Klefbom is struggling bad right now, and yet he continues to use him a ton.  Patrick Maroon has been terrible outside of maybe four games all season, yet he continues to play him on the top line.  Mark Letestu is looking like a shell of what he was last year, yet first unit PK, first unit PP.  Make some damn adjustments already!!  If you had told me that Nugent-Hopkins and Nurse would look this good, and now Puljujarvi has come up and played as well as he has, I’d guess this team is around where Tampa is right now.  I really find myself digging in on this being a coaching problem above all else.  And I’m not saying McLellan needs to go, but he is doing an awful job of utilizing the talent he has.

 

One suggestion I tossed at a buddy this past week to help out the Oilers: Letestu out, Bozak in?  Not a straight up deal, doubt the Leafs would do that.  But I’d start looking at cutting bait with Letestu, who just looks awful thus far, and then bringing in Bozak who has been demoted to the fourth line in Toronto and is really in Mike Babcock’s doghouse.  Bozak is still capable of playing up in a lineup, he has better size and much better wheels than Letestu, both righty shots, both great in the dot, and both UFA’s.  Letestu might fetch you a 4th rounder, so maybe you turn around and offer the Leafs a 3rd and that same 4th for Bozak at 3 mil instead of the full cap hit of 4.2?  Just a thought, could make a massive difference to the Oilers PK specifically.

 

Ok, that’s my Oilers talk for the week.  Basically three paragraphs on them, close to calling this “Oilers Hot Takes”!

 

One team that caught my eye thanks to playing the Oilers were the Rangers.  How has this team won five in a row?!  How are they not the worst team in the East?!  They have a lot of overage, a lot of average, and yet they’ve now won five straight and are going to be in the hunt for a playoff spot.  So can we start giving Alain Vigneault the credit he deserves as one of the top coaches in this league?   This guy just constantly gets the absolute most out of his squads.  No Cup ring is likely the reason why, but it really seems baffling that a guy has done this great of a job coaching the Rangers and still isn’t seen in the same light as coaches like Ken Hitchcock and Claude Julien.  Not in the same league as Mike Babcock and Joel Quennville, but not far off.

 

I didn’t have the Arizona Coyotes to make the playoffs or anything along those lines, but I figured they were on the right track and would be competitive.  Wow.  Just wow.  They’re now 19 games into their season and still don’t have a regulation win.  Seven points total, a win in OT and a win in a shootout.  It’s just an absolute shit show.  A part of me wants to smile, because they’re all in on analytics, and they lost guys like Shane Doan and Mike Smith who were looked down upon by the analytics community.  I’m far from anti analytics, but I do enjoy those guys getting proven wrong after so many of them act like numbers will tell us everything and things such as psychology don’t mean anything.  But back to the Coyotes for a minute.  We all thought they were doomed in Phoenix when they were good.  Now they’re the laughing stock of the league, and Tilman Fertitta is making noise about wanting to bring an NHL team to Houston.  You’d think/hope that they’re on their last legs in that joke of a market.

 

Then at the opposite end of the spectrum you have the Lightning who are simply abusing the rest of the league.  Man, that beat down in L.A. this week against the Kings couldn’t have been more of a statement.  I had them to be the top regular season team and win the East, so I’m not real shocked, but I don’t know if I believed that they would just simply boat race everyone.  But they’re so loaded top to bottom, and they have a lot of trade chips to make any moves they need or want to down the stretch.  Steve Yzerman was looking like one of the worst GM’s in the league when Steven Stamkos was about to walk for nothing and Jonathan Drouin was demanding a trade, and you’d look at his draft record in the first round…I wrote about it!  I laid out all that stuff.  Not now man.  Top team in the league and at this point nobody looks like they can compete with them, at least this season.  Tampa’s league, and 30 other teams are just playing in it.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NHL Picks – Nov. 11, 2017

Damnit!  Back to back losing weeks.  2-3, now 14-10-1 on the season.  Last week wasn’t bad at all though, just really shitty luck.  The Jets had a 4-2 lead in the third period in their game against the Habs.  Canucks got a late one against the Pens to take that game from under to over, but didn’t in anyway feel guilty because that was the right pick.  I felt great about those picks, it just went poorly.  This week, once again I feel great about the picks this week so I’m likely due for a winning week.  It’s much like a team coming off a losing streak.  They seem to always lose one they deserve to win before they break out of it, and that was my one I deserved to win.

 

Edmonton at NY Rangers

Rangers -125

The payout isn’t all that great for this one, but knowing the Oilers the way I do I feel like this is easy money.  They’ve had two afternoon games so far this season.  The first one they looked horrendous in the first period, but luckily escaped only down 1-0 and righted the ship in the last 40 minutes, only to lose on a late goal.  The other was the abomination which took place at Rogers Place six days ago.  This team still lacks a ton of focus despite finally winning back to back games, and I don’t expect that to change today.  Meanwhile, the Rangers play afternoon games quite regularly, so this game should be no problem for them.  As of writing this, the number is -125.  But by the time you read this, I suspect you can get the Rangers at -110 or even better.

 

Edmonton at NY Rangers

Under 5.5 (+105)

I’ve rode the Leafs going over for a month now, and I believe the worst they did in that time was push.  The Oilers on the road are an under team.  The number is normally 5.5 for over/under’s, and their games have gone under every single time on the road this season.  So the fact that you can get the under at +105 is insane.   Plus, look at the scores around the league lately, a large amount of games with five goals or less.  Take this one and run.

 

Minnesota at Philadelphia

Flyers -1.5 (+235)

This is a calculated risk.  Two pretty evenly matched teams, but the Wild have been struggling this season and will be playing they third game in four nights.  The Flyers are a well rested team coming off a big 3-1 win over the Hawks at home on Thursday.  That was their first game in four days, so as I just said…they’re well rested.  So like I said it’s a calculated risk, but at +235 this feels like far too good of value to turn down.

 

Chicago at Carolina

Blackhawks +100

This is simple.  The Hurricanes played last night in Columbus while the Hawks have been sitting in Raleigh waiting for them.  I understand its a massive game for Scott Darling playing his ex teammates, but at +100 the Hawks are the smart money.

 

Winnipeg at Arizona

Coyotes +105

Same logic here as with the Hawks/Canes game.  The Coyotes were off last night while the Jets were in Vegas playing the Golden Knights.  The Jets are without a doubt the better team, but on the second half of a back to back.  And then look at the week the Coyotes have had.  Took the Caps to OT, played the Pens tough, took the Blues to a shootout and from all accounts deserved to get the win in regulation of that game.  So they’re due.  I really like the way the Jets have played this season, but they aren’t so good yet that the Yotes can’t win in this spot.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Seeing Eberle Didn’t Hurt…Seeing His Linemate Sure Did Though

I switched this site to “Soups on Hockey” a couple months ago, and it’s not the most uplifting thing, but I just can’t write something for this morning without talking about one of my favourite athletes, favourite ball players, and favourite Jays of all time, Roy Halladay.

When I read on Twitter yesterday around 1:30 PM MST that the plane which went down was his but they hadn’t yet identified the body, I very literally got sick at the idea that it was him.  A lot of athletes have passed away in my 34 years, but this one really sucked for lack of a better word.  I guess Doc came along at a time where I was really able to appreciate just how incredible he was.  From 99-09, the Jays pretty much sucked.  From 01-09, they were literally never in the race come September.  And you never once heard Halladay complain, or say a bad word about anyone or anything.  I remember listening to Colin Cowherd in 2009 and Doc was to be a guest on his show that day, and Cowherd did his entire show around him speaking on how he was Mr. consistency, one of his favourite athletes at the time because all he did was work hard and could have cared less about any publicity, and how underappreciated he was by the American media.  Goes without saying, but that episode of his show (that I listen to daily) always stuck with me.

If Doc had come along in 1989 or 2013 for example, he would be considered the greatest Blue Jay of all time.  Nothing against Robbie Alomar, another one of my favourites, but Robbie is only considered above Doc because of the teams he got to play on.  Doc had pretty much NOTHING surrounding him.  The stat I seen on Twitter yesterday of him going 18-6 against the Yankees while with the Jays is absurd.  For Doc’s entire time with the Jays, the Yanks dominated the AL East, winning it every year but two (07 and 08, 07 they won the wildcard).  And the man dominated them.  Take out the numbers, although he definitely has hall of fame numbers.  Take out the numbers and consider the era.  Doc is right there with the greatest pitchers in the history of the game.  And from EVERYTHING you heard and read yesterday, the guy was held in the highest regard from literally everyone.  Any time someone passes away, great things get said.  But the detail that people went into with their stories about Doc, and how close I seen so many broadcasters came to breaking down on air yesterday, and actually as I’m typing this Dan O’Toole just did and it’s making things a little dusty for myself.  Man, just shows you just how great this man was on and off the field.   Re-watching the Sheriff speak about him today and go into such detail about just how great of a guy he was, I’ve never seen that before.

This is an awful loss for Jays fans, for Major League Baseball, and most importantly for his wife and two sons.  R.I.P. Doc, you’re an absolute legend.

And there is literally no way to segue from that to the topic I want to talk about, so I’ll just get to it.

Trust me, I feel bad that I’m going to bring Oilers fans down after last night, but just be warned, I’m likely going to.

Big win for the Oilers last night.  Not a win that gives you a lot of confidence in the team busting out, very similar to the win in Chicago a few weeks ago, but big none the less.  On a trip where they badly need at least five points, those were a big two against what might be the best team they’ll play on the trip (at least to this point).

And a big night for Jordan Eberle getting a goal against his former team.  I wanted Eberle gone pretty bad, for a few seasons now.  But the guy always dreamed of being an Oiler, was great with the fans and media, it simply wasn’t in his DNA to become more of a player than what he is.  It was time to move on, but zero reason to pull against the guy, so good on him for sniping one.

But what I feel sick about is the reason Eberle has got hot lately, and that’s from playing with Matthew Barzal.

Before I hit on Barzal, let me take you Oilers fans down another miserable path, the 2003 NHL draft.  Ahhhhh yes.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  Pierre McGuire going ape shit on the NY Islanders for passing on Zach Parise.  How could an organization be SO STUPID?!?!?  Two picks later, Parise is there for the Oilers to absolutely flat out steal with the 17th pick.  And Gary Bettman goes to the podium and says “we have a trade to announce”.  Man, you KNEW right from that moment that it was going to be such a massive mistake for Oilers organization.  You just knew it!  Fast forward 12 years, and in the words of Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again.

Going into the 2015 draft, I was SKY HIGH on Barzal.  Had him ranked fifth overall, ahead of Dylan Strome (I’m very proud of that) and Mitch Marner (that one looks good right now but not sure I’d do it again…)

http://soupsonhockey.com/2015/06/25/top-50-prospects/

I know, I know, before you say it Oilers fans, I know they were going to select Joel Eriksson Ek had they kept the pick, which also would have been MUCH better than trading for Reinhart.  But when the Bruins picked Jakub Zbroil, Jake Debrusk and then Zach Senyshyn, I recall going nuts on Twitter saying something to the effect of “The Oil don’t need Barzal but they’ll damn sure take him!!”  Shortly after that tweet, I got a response from an Islanders fan laughing at me and how they just got the gift.  How gut wrenchingly correct that piece of shit was….not that I’m bitter about it….

At the time, I didn’t hold back on how awful of a trade it was for Griffin Reinhart and here is the best of that write up:

You can’t sit there and say “well they’re just draft picks”, because every draft is different.  This one was special.  2013 was special.  2012 and 2014 were average to below average drafts.  2012 is the draft where Reinhart went 4th.  So while the average fan sits there and says “well he went 4th so the Oilers won the deal”, it’s not that simple.  Matthew Barzal was a gift falling to 16.  I had him 5th, liked him more than most, but anyone else would have told you he should be a top 10 pick.  He fell due to other teams wanting size in the top 12, and then Boston being idiotic with picks 13-15.  Barzal I really believe would have gone 4th in the 2012 draft.  I wouldn’t have him ahead of Galchenyuk, but at the time (note I say “at the time” for those who love to tell me how dumb I am after the fact) the same prospect would have ranked ahead of Reinhart, Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Mathew Dumba, etc.

The 33rd pick in this draft was worth what the 20th pick is worth in most drafts.  So you’re paying the 4th pick and 20th pick for the 5th pick if you compare this draft to the 2012 draft.  That’s gross.  And 2 other things factor in here.  1) the Islanders were shopping Reinhart.  They had given up on the kid.  2) Reinhart indicated afterwards that while he didn’t ask for a trade, it was known that he wasn’t happy with the Islanders and wanted out.  So how is it that the OILERS end up overpaying in this scenario???

Added to this, I don’t believe that Peter Chiarelli was really on board for doing this particular deal, but had the Griffin Reinhart fan club to put up with at the Oilers draft table.  Daryl Katz, Katz kid (who for some reason was there in the thick of things YET AGAIN), Bob Green, Craig MacTavish, Scott Howson, and absent but likely with input, Kevin Lowe.  I’m not saying they pushed Chiarelli into doing this, but I am saying that once the offer was made a ton of internal pressure went on Chiarelli to do the deal.

“Peter, we know this guy and he is wonderful.  He was the captain of a team we watch win the Memorial Cup, so he’s better than Darnell because Darnell didn’t do that”.

I was livid, to put it nicely.  I have a rule, and the rule is that I shouldn’t be able to run a hockey team better than the people in charge.  This hockey club with Matt Barzal right now wouldn’t have an issue on the right side.  Barzal is a centre, but easily could play the wing.  Maybe the teams biggest issue right now is the lack of talent on the right side.  Plus he’d bring more speed to the table, which they’re also lacking (though it’s not the issue many want you to believe it is).  He would also be another valuable weapon on the PP whether he were on the first or second unit.

And let’s not forget that 33rd pick.  That would likely be a very good trade chip at this point.  The Islanders traded up to get Anthony Beauvillier, the Lightning took two time Canadian WJC star Mitchell Stephens, Bob Stauffer has said the Oilers would have selected Boston Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo, the two picks after Stephens were Travis Dermott and Sebastian Aho.  Yep…the Oil sure could use one of these guys coupled with Barzal right about now!

It really is a reminder of how awfully the organization was run.  Technically it was a Peter Chiarelli move.  But let’s be honest, this was Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Bob Green, Daryl Katz and others all hot and bothered at the idea of getting Griffin Reinhart and not giving a damn about how his development had gone or what they were giving up.  He was a former Oil King and they needed defencemen so let’s go get him, value be damned!

Barzal has star written all over him.  Reminds me a lot of Ales Hemsky with how confident he is with the puck and how it has it on a string all game.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but for me this was in no way hindsight.  This is watching what should have been.  Such a piss off to watch.  Eberle, you know what he does.  You know he’s capable of being better than he was last season, but probably not ever being worth the six million per season he is making because while he can give you 30 goals and 60 points, he hurts you in just about every other area of the game.  He’s not big, he’s not fast, he’s awful on the wall, he’s below average in his own zone, he cheats too often offensively, he brings no physicality or grit, he’s just a scorer.  And that sounds good, but if all you’re going to be is that, then you better be damn special at it, and Eberle isn’t.  But Barzal…that ELC deal he’d be on, even if they would have rushed him in last season, giving this team the options it craves out of Ryan Strome, giving this team options after the season with RNH, this organization had this kid delivered to them on a silver platter.  The Bruins had run off Peter Chiarelli just months previous and now here was his chance to show them how stupid they are by stepping to the podium and taking the star which they had passed over three freaking times….

Nope.  And for the large majority of fans, they can’t get over the Taylor Hall trade, but don’t make me go into the billion reasons as to why that was a good trade.  For me, it’s this one.  Matthew Barzal should be an Edmonton Oiler.  Like Zach Parise before him, it’s going to hurt every single time the kid is mentioned.  And I knew it was going to the second Gary Bettman said “we have a trade to announce”.

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Hot Takes – Nov. 6, 2017

Originally, I thought I’d be able to do one of these a week.  And then I sat down to write this piece last week, and I had nothing!  What was there to talk about?  Nothing new had happened since the previous week.  So I won’t lie, I’m going to pick and choose when I can do these, not going to write just for the sake of writing, I do have a BIT of a life.  This week however….this should be a good one.  Well, a lot to talk about…who the hell knows how the writing will be!  I’ll try.

 

As you can imagine, I’m starting in Edmonton (and settle in, because I need a few paragraphs for this one), where it is officially time to hit the panic button.

 

A home shutout to the DEAD WINGS?!  After you’re already that far behind the eight ball?!  Describing it as “pathetic” doesn’t do that performance justice.  I still can’t believe what I saw in that hockey game.  And now I’m wondering if the coaching staff is in trouble.  The team doesn’t look engaged a lot of nights, and the specialty teams look horrific.  That’s probably 80-90% coaching.  And quite buying the ridiculous excuses.  It’s not because they dealt Jordan Eberle, Eberle was awful on the PP last season and wasn’t on the PK.  It’s not because they dealt Taylor Hall (by the way, analytics guys…your solution for getting a defenceman was signing Jason Demers, so don’t act like you knew better than the Hall trade, you wouldn’t have dealt him, but your solution wouldn’t have made the team any better).  It’s not because Benoit Pouliot got bought out and they brought in Jussi Jokinen.  The best excuse might be because they’re slow.  It’s not because they’re “slow”.  Weird…now that the Kings are rolling, you don’t hear anyone talking about their speed.  And last year, all you heard about was the Oilers speed.  First game of the year the Oilers weren’t slow.  But now, neither team much different in team speed, the Oilers issues are because they’re slow, yet the Kings, Blues, Sharks, none of them are slow.  Apparently for those three, team speed just dramatically increased despite not adding any speed.  But the Oilers, they’re slow.  FUCKING SPARE ME all you idiots believing that.  Like, we are intelligent enough to understand that the Oilers have more speed on their roster than those teams do…right?  Not to suggest the Oilers can’t get faster, absolutely they can and need to.  But they aren’t 4-8-1 because they’re “slow”.  If you believe that, I bet you also believe Scott Hatteberg was the reason for the 2002 Oakland A’s being good and it had nothing to do with having three of the best pitchers in baseball and the league MVP at shortstop.  Nope.  All Hatteberg.

 

Anyway, back to the Oil and the coaching.

 

I’ve ripped Peter Chiarelli a lot for his carelessness.  But he has a playoff calibre team out there, and every single one of you believed that going into the season, and especially after opening night.  Yet they’ve looked like absolute dog shit most nights.  You might think Milan Lucic has a bad contract, but that bad contract didn’t force Todd McLellan to play him in a three on three situation in Pittsburgh.  This is a poorly coached hockey team right now.  I’m not saying the coach is poor, but the coaching staff is doing a horrendous job right at the moment.  Not the only problem.  Cam Talbot has been very inconsistent, Oscar Klefbom and Matt Benning are shells of what they were last season just to name a few other issues.  But there is just too much of this that points towards coaching.  They look like the Dallas Eakins Oilers, only with Connor McDavid in the lineup.  I had the Oilers struggling their way into the playoffs this season, but the hole is getting too big to climb out of, and if you can’t show up for a must win home game against the Dead Wings, I’m not sure you’re capable of climbing.  This team needs a 2-1-1 road trip or better this week.  2-2, you’re probably just delaying things.  1-3, and this season will be on life support which would likely paralyze Peter Chiarelli’s ability to make a move.

 

Initially when I thought about doing this piece this week, I was pumped to talk about how great the Jets have been playing.  7-1-2 over their previous 10 heading into Saturday night’s game at home against Montreal, 4-2 lead in the 3rd period annnnnnnnnd they lose in OT.  One of the worst teams in the league with their backup goaltender in and you don’t finish that game?  Awful.  Hopefully for the Jets it’s just a hiccup and not a fall back to where they were.  It looks as though Connor Hellebuyck has taken a step and is ready to be legitimate number one starter.  If that’s the case, they’re definitely a playoff team.

 

As for the team they lost to, they won again in Chicago 2-0 last night thanks to a brilliant performance from Charlie Lindgren in goal.  Is it actually possible that the Habs season is going to be saved by Carey Price getting injured?!  It’s possible, because we’ve seen it before how something like that can make or break a team.  Down 4-2 in Winnipeg, no Price, they could have easily folded the tent.  But all that adversity seemed to galvanize them.  Those are two VERY big wins for the Habs.  And hey, I always talk about needing to see Oilers/Flames in the playoffs.  Well we need to also see Habs/Leafs in the playoffs, so let’s hope this is the start of something.

 

Speaking of the Leafs….they’re now 8-7.  You had to know they were going to roll all season, but this slide is a little unexpected.  And hey, I said they wouldn’t make the playoffs!  But, tough stretch going on the road playing who are currently the two top teams in the West, not to mention San Jose.  By the way…weird….Leafs are faster than all of those teams and lost all three games….Anyway, the Leafs.  Rough stretch, but they’ll be fine.  Vegas, Minny, then back to back with Boston this week.  I’d expect them to go 3-1, easily could go 4-0.  They’ll be fine.

 

Once again Saturday night, a Leafs game went over.  Unfortunately, my picks ended up only going 2-3, but I got that one right.  Problem is, the Leafs and Avs (who are now on a seven game streak of eight or more goals…bet the over on the Avs!) are the only teams where there are goals being scored.  Scoring is going WAY down….as are slashing calls…as are penalties in general.  This mother f***ing league is so mother f***ing predictable….

 

Of course, I’ve left the big news for last and that’s the Matt Duchene deal they went down late yesterday afternoon.

 

I’ll go team by team here and start with the Sens.  What are they doing?!  Matt Duchene is in no way Shane Bowers, a 1st and a 3rd better than Kyle Turris.  And then Turris immediately signs for six times six with the Preds.  So long term, you save zero dollars over Matt Duchene, and Duchene is up after next season and he’ll likely cost them a lot more than six times six.  I like Duchene a lot, but at best he’s a fringe first line centre, and at best Turris is a fringe first line centre.  I just do not see the big upgrade here.  I seen James Duthie say on Twitter that the Sens did well not to give up Colin White, but that in no way justifies pissing away assets to slightly upgrade at centre.

 

As for the Preds…I love this for the Preds.  Losing Kamenev hurts, but you’re gaining Turris for six seasons.  So there wasn’t going to be much room for Kamenev anyway.  They lose Sam Girard, but they got a very similar player in the draft last year in David Farrance.  They arguably didn’t give up their best two prospects which would be Dante Fabbro and Eeli Tolvanen, nor did they give up their first round pick.  How they gave up the same….perhaps even LESS than Ottawa is insane!

 

And finally the Avs.  It shows you how messed up they are when Duchene had to be pulled from the game.  If the deal is close, healthy scratch him.  If the talks didn’t start until the game began, then tell Dorian and Poile that you can’t do it until after the game!  Don’t hurt and distract your teams chances to win!!  What a garbage thing to do to your guys.  Having said this….I can’t believe I’m saying this….they did amazing.  Three picks, in a good draft (not great, but really solid), and three very legitimate prospects.  That is a terrific haul for Duchene.  He’s not an elite player, so you were never going to get an elite prospect for him.  But I follow the draft and prospects closely.  Vladislav Kamenev is very close to playing.  I’d say his ceiling is a high end second line centre.  Shane Bowers got compared by a lot of people including myself to Brandon Dubinsky.  Probably only a third line centre, but one who’ll be in players faces all night.  Tough type of player to find.  And finally, Sam Girard probably would have been a first round pick in last June’s draft or this one coming up.  The ’16 draft was tough for him because of how many good puck moving D-men there were with better size.  A lot of people liked him as a mid-late first rounder going into that draft though.  He’s very legit and exactly what the Avs need moving forward.  Some will say they got “magic beans”.  I also saw someone refer to the “mystery box” for the Avs.  Look…I love that Family Guy joke as much as anyone.  But they got three damn good prospects, and if they draft wisely, they got two or three more coming thanks to this deal.  And you don’t have to keep all these assets.  You can always use them in deals to plug other holes.  That kind of thought is always lost on a lot of fans and media.  You need assets to make moves.  It’ll be another long season in Denver, and probably a long time still before they’re to be taken seriously.  But this deal could be the catalyst for the long climb back for the Avs.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

NHL Picks – Nov. 4th, 2017

Ouch!  It had to come to an end sometime, it’s just that I planned to have 80 straight winning weeks before it happened.  I put A LOT of my eggs in that basket.  1-3-1 last week, now 12-7-1 on the season.  I’ve been so distraught about the picks that I haven’t said anything on here for a week!!  People who know me know that I can’t go five seconds with silence, so that should tell you just how distraught I’ve been!  Still looks good on the season overall, but need to get back on track this week.  Going big on the over/unders.

 

Colorado at Philadelphia

Over 6 (+100)

Philly is an odd team.  They’re games are either air tight, or they’re shootouts.  Five games this season where eight goals or more have been scored, and then five games where three goals or less have been scored.  In both cases, they’re 2-3.  Back to back they’ve had three or less scored, so I’d say they’re due for a shootout.  But here is where the good money is: they’re playing the Avs, and the Avs are on a five game streak of seven goals or more being scored in those games.  And they’ve won three of those five games including Thursday night against Carolina, so why change that up?!  This being +100, REALLY smart money says take the over here.

 

Montreal at Winnipeg

Jets -1.5 (+190)

I love this pick.  Did you know that since the Jets started 0-2 and allowed 13 goals in their first two games that they are 7-1-2?!  This team looks GOOD!  And at this point, I don’t need to tell you how bad things have got for the Habs, who now don’t have Carey Price.  With the way Price has been playing, MAYBE that’s a good thing, but you have to believe it’s not for the psyche of that room.  So you get huge value, you get one of the hottest teams in the league, at home, against one of the worst, and their backup goaltender.

 

Toronto at St. Louis

Over 6 (+105)

Until I lose on this bet, I won’t not bet it.  Did that make sense?  Who cares!?  It’s the Leafs so you take the over, you should know the drill by now!

 

Washington at Boston

Bruins -110

This one is really simple.  I don’t love the Bruins, but I don’t love the Caps either.  The Bruins are actually playing ok, with points in six straight games (3-0-3).  And the Caps have been REALLY up and down this season, haven’t won back to back since winning the first two of the season.  So in Boston, equal money both ways, I’ll take the Bruins to come out on top.

 

Pittsburgh at Vancouver

Under 5.5 (+100)

I hate taking the under, but it’s the play here without a doubt.  Even money, so I love that.  Also, the Canucks are playing air tight defensively.  Only one team in their last eight games have scored more than two goals against them.  In three of their last four, they’ve only scored two goals total.  Meanwhile the Pens have really buttoned things up since the 7-1 ass kicking from the Jets on Sunday night.  Beat the Oilers 3-2, lost to the Flames 2-1 in OT.  Matt Murray was excellent in the game against the Oilers, and he’s back in tonight.  All signs point towards the under, and at even money it’s the correct bet to make.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups