Hope you all had a great weekend! I would like to start by apologizing for it being a week since my last article, after the Jacob Blake shooting I couldn’t bring myself to talk about sports. They didn’t seem important at the time because they weren’t, they still aren’t if we are being honest with ourselves. Sports are a game, an escape, a form of art for some, watching the way things have unfolded this year, we do not deserve sports.
I love playoff basketball, I do not watch all that much of the regular season, the odd marquee game, but I follow the season for the playoffs. I love the narratives and story lines in a playoff series in the NBA, but as is the case with 2020, every once in a while we are reminded that sports are just a game. Now that the dust has settled a bit on this and more information has come out about the NBA’s plan of action, it is remarkable to me that the people that are so often told to shut up and dribble are the ones making some of the biggest impacts. I have always personally believed that politics and religion should remain individual entities separate from other industries like sports, but there comes a point where exceptions become mandatory. Sports have the power to be vehicles for change and we are seeing that happen right before our eyes, so let’s all start waking up.
Getting back to the sport itself, the Eastern Conference is on to Round 2 as the Raps lost Game 1 to the Celtics and the Bucks take on the Heat in Game 1 tonight. I hate that the latter is taking place in Round 2 and not the Eastern Conference Finals but at least we are getting to see it! In the West, the best series of the first round by far is going to a Game 7! Donovan Mitchell and Canadian Jamal Murray have been putting on absolute show and I have every intention of going dark for a couple hours to watch this game. The winner of course get’s to move on to face the Lakers as a reward, but one series at a time. Finally, the Rockets have a chance to wrap up their series tonight with a win against the Thunder, the winner of this series will move on to face Kawhi and the Clippers in the second round.
With the Habs now on the outside looking in, they can get started on their off-season touch ups and it did not take long for the rumours to start flying. Ignoring a few of the obvious off-season questions marks, all of the talk around Phillip Danault is very concerning. As is the case with any rebuild or retool, there will be an inevitable cross road when the young talent catches up to the established vets. Danault has been one of the few bright spots for this roster since coming over with two second round picks for Weise and Fleischman (Bergy does it again).
Losing Danault would first and foremost be a mistake, I love that fact that he refuses to give up what he has earned. I expect him to be back with Gally and Tuna next season, but the Habs cannot be so shortsighted to let him walk because a couple youngsters have an impressive playoff run. He is under contract for one more season but you best believe he is in line for a pay day. The third line is evolving in hockey, and we need to be prepared for that when the cap get’s back to normal.
It wouldn’t be the off-season without rampant trade rumours, usually centralized around one player, and that player is Max Domi. I won’t pretend to know what the trade market is in the NHL behind closed doors, but I wouldn’t be moving Domi, I would be moving Drouin. That’s me playing armchair GM. I would hate to lose Domi, but he has been discussing along with Johnny Gaudreau or the Penguins. At the right price I would be happy to move on from him, but Domi, Poehling and a 1st doesn’t sound like a Bergevin trade, but where’s there’s smoke I guess right?
One name that has been flying around a couple of trade rumour sites for the Habs has been Oliver Ekman-Larsson. I would be shocked to see the Coyotes move their captain after one year into his extension but the team is in a horrendous place. They do not have a pick in the top three rounds this year and they only have a second next season. The Habs have six this year alone not to mention that the Coyotes are literally up against the cap with only about $10.5M coming off the books and only five free agents coming up this summer. Ekman-Larsson has a moderately affordable contract, I just don’t see the Canadiens acquiring another high price defenseman on the back nine of their career despite his talent level. I will say that if they did, the Habs would immediately be in the conversation for the best top four in the league.
One final bit of news, the NCAA has come out with an unprecedented new rule change for the upcoming hockey season. Due to the pandemic, player’s will be allowed to maintain their NCAA status while being allowed to play junior hockey this year. Just to be clear, the Canadian Hockey League (QMJHL, OHL & WHL) is not considered Junior hockey, it is considered pro because players receive monetary compensation. While it was fun to think of Caufield going to London (let’s be real, the SOO would trade him), it is much more likely that if he were to go this route he would play for a team like the Madison Capitols of the USHL.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the MLB trade deadline is today at 4:00pm. I don’t normally follow this but with a shortened season and expanded playoffs due to COVID there are a ton of teams getting their hat in the ring! It will be interesting to see how the pandemic will affect the market, not just because it’s clearly a sellers market, but will teams overpay to get their guy for depth in case of an outbreak?
The usual suspects like the Kaizer Shoze, I mean the Dodgers and Yankees are always in the mix but I really want to see a small market team pick up a big name trade target to try and make a run in this sprint of a season. A couple big names remain like Lance Lynn, Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer but bulking up your rotation always comes at a cost and with some many teams vying for improvements, the names available has dipped considerably.
NFL Final Countdown
As we inch closer and closer to the NFL season I find it harder and harder to contain my excitement. I now have two drafts in the books (one snake and one auction) and the tease of football is just too much to handle. I remain skeptical about the NFL’s strategy for the season, but so far they have yet to have any real outbreak despite a couple scares, so why not remain optimistic for now? This could easily come crashing down quickly, I know that, but I almost expect it, so why not remain positive while we still can.
With that being said, stay tuned as I will be splitting my time for the next couple of weeks between the NFL and NHL to preview the upcoming NFL season. To be more specific I will be taking a dive into fantasy football leading up to the September 10th. Spoiler alert, Leonard Fournette is a real sleeeeeepyyy……
Or nevermind, he just got cut, crap I have him on my roster……
And so it begins!