Assessing the Islanders’ situation for the upcoming Expansion Draft

During the NHL offseason, the main focus of the Islanders has been to lockup star forward John Tavares. But, with the expansion draft coming up on June 21st, with the NHL adding a team to Las Vegas, the Islanders can go one of two ways in protecting players who can’t be claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights. Teams have until June 17th to protect players. According to nhl.com, teams can either protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goaltender, or 8 skaters (forwards or defensemen), and 1 goaltender. To see the complete rules of the expansion draft in detail, check them out on nhl.com. After players are protected, Vegas is allowed to select one player from each team who is not protected, and that’s how they will form their team. For argument’s sake, let’s take a look at the two options and project how the Islanders’ list may pan out.

If the Islanders go with the 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goaltender method, here’s how that list may look:

7 Forwards:

  1. John Tavares
  2. Andrew Ladd
  3. Anders Lee
  4. Josh Bailey
  5. Brock Nelson
  6. Ryan Strome
  7. Casey Cizikas

3 Defensemen:

  1. Nick Leddy
  2. Johnny Boychuk
  3. Ryan Pulock

1 Goaltender:

  1. Thomas Greiss

3 Players the Vegas Golden Knights should consider taking under this method:

  1. Travis Hamonic (D)
  2. Thomas Hickey (D)
  3. Calvin de Haan (D)

If the Islanders decide to protect 8 total skaters and 1 goaltender, here’s how that list may look: 

8 Skaters:

  1. John Tavares (F)
  2. Andrew Ladd (F)
  3. Anders Lee (F)
  4. Brock Nelson (F)
  5. Nick Leddy (D)
  6. Johnny Boychuk (D)
  7. Travis Hamonic (D)
  8. Ryan Pulock (D)

1 Goaltender:

  1. Thomas Greiss

3 Players the Vegas Golden Knights should consider taking under this method:

  1. Ryan Strome (F)
  2. Josh Bailey (F)
  3. Calvin de Haan (D)

Now it will be interesting to see which method of protecting players the Islanders choose, and they will be faced with some tough options. If the Islanders go with the 7F, 3D, 1G method, chances are they would lose either Travis Hamonic or Ryan Pulock, each who would probably battle for that third defensemen spot behind Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. But, if the Islanders go with the 8 skaters and 1 goaltender method, they will be able to protect Hamonic and Pulock, but will need to decide who their 4th forward to protect will be if they only want to lock up 4. It could end up being between Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, and Josh Bailey. So, no matter which method the Islanders choose, they most likely will lose an important player. But, this is the cost of expansion in sports, and the Islanders will pay the price. The Vegas Golden Knights will most likely gain a solid, well established NHL player from the Islanders.

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What are the Jets doing?

Via USA Today Sports

During this offseason, it is clear that the Jets are in total rebuild mode. With cuts to all- time greats including Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, and David Harris, as well as some core offense players in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, who the team is looking to trade right now, the Jets currently do not have much of an appeal. So, what is it that the Jets are doing?

While financially, it makes sense that the team has let go of these players,  a question still can be raised as to who the team’s leader will be? Going into OTA’s, it looked as though David Harris and Eric Decker would man the ship for the young players and keep the locker room stable. But, now they will not be members of the Jets in 2017, and there is not a leader on this team. Most teams look to be competitive in the NFL, but it’s hard to see this team being much of a challenge at this point.

It’s hard to get a beat on them right now, but it is clear and has been for years that the team is in search of a franchise quarterback. They will certainly see what they have this year with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, but so far neither player has progressed enough to show they can be the longterm solution. Last season, the team was all in with veterans in hopes of making a deep playoff run, now they are trying to get younger, looking at their future.

Throughout the 21st century, the Jets season’s have consisted of mediocrity, with a few 9-10 wins with some playoff runs sprinkled in there. They have never been a dominant team, but also have never been the worst team in the NFL. So, this rebuild they’re going through is something fans have not seen in quite sometime.

The Jets have not made the playoffs since 2010, and throughout there have been many areas where fingers can be pointed. But, something that stands out the most is the Jets’ failure to draft well. Since 2010, the Jets have parted ways with 5 of their first round picks, and they also have not drafted an offense player in the first round since Mark Sanchez in 2009. Yet, their struggles continue to be led by the failure to find an elite quarterback.

Now in 2017, the team does not look like they will have much of a draw, and it appears as though they will compete for the worst record in football. Many Jets fans will tell you this is what the team needs; the number 1 overall pick and an opportunity to get the best player in the draft. But, does it really matter? Of late, the Jets always seem to struggle in the draft, also having problems finding steal players in the later rounds. When the Jets draft mid round quarterbacks like Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, the hope is they will find success like a Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott, or dare I say Tom Brady. But, the Jets have had so many quarterback issues, it gets hard to explain.

The one area fans can look forward to is to see how first round pick Jamal Adams pans out this season, in which some said he could be the best player in the draft. The hope is he will be a cornerstone player, and set a tone with his work ethic and will to win. So, Jets fans need to brace for a really painful season. I would say be patient, but this franchise has been patient for so long. You also have to wonder how Todd Bowles can be fairly evaluated given the personnel he has this year. It’s hard to tell what the Jets are doing right now, but it looks like it’s going to be a rebuild that could last years. Jets fans are hungry for consistent success, but it doesn’t look as though they will be getting it any time soon. 2017 will probably be classified as a maintenance year, but I’m sure the Jets as an organization will tell the world they’re ready to win. Well, it’s tough to win when the team doesn’t even have a clear leader. Maybe if the team finds success in a few years, fans will look at 2017 as a positive season. Right now, the season hasn’t even started but the Jets have been written off by many.

Is it time to write off the Mets?

Via the Associated Press

As we approach the beginning of June, it has been an absolute struggle for the Mets thus far. A season that has been plagued by injuries including 3 of their best players in Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jeurys Familia, the team currently stands 11 games out of first place in the NL East and 9 games out of the Wild Card. How would your average Met fan sum up the season so far? They’d probably call it something like a train wreck or a disaster.

The team is currently 7 games under .500 (23-30), and they continue to find ways to lose. The starting pitching, which the Mets were confident would be one of the best in the league, has struggled to give the team length in their starts, and as a result has not been the dominant staff we’ve seen in the past. The bullpen, one of the most used bullpen’s in the league, continues to blow leads, and has been a major let down throughout the season. The one positive has been the offense, which despite Yoenis Cespedes being injured for most of the year, has carried the team through many of their wins. But, the lack of innings given by the starting pitching, and the disastrous bullpen have headlined the Mets’ 30 losses, and right now the team has struggled to find consistency.

At this point, it’s no longer “early” in the season. The month of June is going to be make or break for the Mets. It appears their best all around player Yoenis Cespedes will be back from the DL at sometime early in June, and it’s excepted that Steven Matz and Seth Lugo will also be back soon, giving the team some pitching depth that many thought would be the team’s strength since day 1.

As the Mets continue to fade in the standings, they will need to go on a healthy 8 to 10 game win streak at some point in June if they want to be playing meaningful baseball in the summer. That will have to start with better starting pitching, and help from a bullpen that is one of the worst in baseball. A team that many thought could make a deep postseason run this year has been one of the biggest disappointments this season, and the finger can be pointed in many directions.

So, if someone asked me if I’m writing off the Mets, I’d say not yet. Why? The past 2 seasons, we’ve seen the team play phenomenal baseball in the summer, but they need to be in the playoff conversation, if they want to go on one of those runs. Right now, 9 games back in the Wild Card standings is not going to cut it. But, if they can get back to a .500 or better record by the end of June, I would not deem them sellers come the trade deadline. But, June is a big month for the team to see what direction they’re heading in. It’s also a big month for Terry Collins, who many fans are calling for to be fired. But, if he can get the team hot for the summer like he has the past 2 years, his job will probably be safe. The team simply needs to play better baseball. If not, it’s going to be a long summer for the New York Mets and their fans.

 

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s small legacy with the Jets

Via the Associated Press

What a difference a year makes for the Jets. At this time last year, many fans just wanted them to resign Ryan Fitzpatrick, who surprisingly led the Jets just 1 win shy of a playoff berth, leading the team to a 10-6 record. The team was full of older players including Brandon Marshall and Darrelle Revis, and the feeling was to resign Fitzpatrick with the hopes of making a deep playoff run in 2016.

During the 2015 season, Ryan Fitzpatrick set the Jets single season record for touchdown passes in a season (31), so it seemed critical for the team to resign him. The Jets realistically have not had a consistent franchise quarterback since Joe Namath. The hope with Ryan Fitzpatrick was that he would win games with dangerous weapons around him and a tough defense. Well, 2016 was nothing but a disaster for the team, and to conclude, Ryan Fitzpatrick is now a backup quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers here in 2017.

But, 2015 was just another tease for Jets fans. A year where there was little expectations, but the results were off the charts to the passionate fan. Geno Smith was supposed to be the 2015 starting quarterback, but that fell apart when IK Enemkpali, a teammate to Smith, punched him in the face and broke his jaw. In comes a career journeymen who has always been that bridge quarterback. Never the guy that a team felt would be their longterm answer, but a guy who could win a game if needed. So, Jets fans had low hopes.

Move forward to December 27th, 2016. The Jets were taking on the Patriots, who always seem to be in the way. At the time, the Jets were 9-5, and in contention for a Wild Card spot, surprisingly to many Jets fans. A battle back and forth, the game went to overtime with the score tied 20-20. After the Patriots decided to defer and let the Jets receive for whatever reason, the Jets would get the ball first. That’s all Ryan Fitzpatrick needed. The drive got going when Fitzpatrick hit Quincy Enunwa for a 48 yard reception. After, a 20 yard reception by Brandon Marshall, Fitzpatrick hit Eric Decker in the endzone for the game winner. The Meadowlands (which I happened to be at that day), was rocking. As that happened, the Pittsburgh Steelers had lost to the Baltimore Ravens, which meant the Jets passed them for the final wild card spot. It was arguably Ryan Fitzpatrick’s best and most clutch game as a Jet, and maybe his career. He finished with 296 yards passing and 3 touchdown passes, a signature win what Jet fans would hope to be a memorable year.

The team then went into Buffalo to face the Bills led by former head coach Rex Ryan, in a win and they’re in game. The Jets were riding a 5 game win streak, but in typical Jets fashion, they laid an egg, and lost the game 22-17. The Steelers won their game, and passed the Jets for the final wild card spot. A frustrating end to what could have been one of the most surprising and exciting Jets seasons of all time.

Many Jets fans will remember 2016 for how poorly Ryan Fitzpatrick preformed. A disappointing season, the team is now in total rebuild mode, and is in contention to get the number 1 overall pick when all is said and done in 2017. People are writing the team off now, and the season hasn’t even started yet. But, the Ryan Fitzpatrick era shows why every season takes on a toll of it’s own. In 2015, the Jets were riding high. But, after a disastrous week 17 loss, the team has toppled down ever since. At the end of the day, Ryan Fitzpatrick is engraved in the Jets’ record books; with the most touchdown passes in a single season for the team. Two years later, and he is no longer a member of the Jets. Fingers have been pointed everywhere, but it’s just another chapter in the story of the New York Jets. What will the next chapter be?

All stats via NFL.com.

Should the Mets retire David Wright’s number whenever his career ends?

Via Getty Images

Something that does not seem like it’s discussed often amongst the Mets fanbase is the question of whether the Mets will retire David Wright’s number 5 whenever he does call it a career. The Mets have not exactly had a rich history full of cornerstone players, and as a result there have only been a few numbers the team has retired. Gill Hodges (14), Casey Stengel (37), Mike Piazza (31), Jackie Robinson (42), the name Shea for William Shea is next to these retired numbers, and of course the franchise’s best all-time player, Tom Seaver (41). But, will David Wright’s number be added amongst the retired numbers seen at Citi Field?

When someone talks about the Mets best players in franchise history, of course their best pitcher and player of all-time is Tom Seaver. But, who’s been their best hitter? One can make the argument for Darryl Strawberry, who leads the Mets franchise in home runs, but he only played with the team for 8 seasons. But, what about David Wright? Wright has not played a bulk of games with the Mets since 2014, but his numbers make you wonder if he will have his number 5 retired at some point. The Mets all-time leader in hits, doubles, RBI’s, and just 10 home runs behind Darryl Strawberry’s club record, David Wright has been one the best to ever wear a Met uniform.

David Wright has been the Mets captain for quite some time now, and has wore the orange and blue since 2004. With a great attitude and great leadership qualities, he was a key player in 2006 when the Mets made it to the NLCS, racking up a .311 batting average with 26 home runs and 116 RBI’s during that season. His best statistical season was in 2008, where he hit 33 home runs, drove in 124 runs, and had a .302 batting average. But, as the team started to fall and struggle for much of the late 2000s and early 2010s, Wright was still here through it all, leading the team. Unfortunately, now the team has been much more competitive, but Wright has not played in more than 40 games in a season since 2014. He did make it back in time for the Mets run to the World Series in 2015, and even hit a home run in game 3 of the World Series, one of the prouder moments Mets fans had seen in quite some time.

As we sit in 2017, there is a question of if David Wright will ever play another game, as he is currently on the DL, trying to recover from neck surgery that has caused trouble in his throwing shoulder. Some wonder if he will retire at the end of this season. Some Mets fans are frustrated, but since 2004, no one has meant more to the organization than David Wright. The franchise’s all-time leader in plate appearances, how could they not retire his number with these career stats: 242 home runs, 970 RBI’s, and a .296 career batting average. And of course, he’s a 7 time all-star, a 2 time silver slugger, and a 2 time gold glove winner.

So, the conversation on if the Mets will retire David Wright’s number will probably heat up whenever it is he retires. Is David Wright a hall of famer? No, but he did have the potential to end up in Cooperstown early on in his career, but injuries have slowed down what he could have accomplished. But, should the Mets retire his number 5 and have it  next to Met icons at Citi Field including Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza? Yes, absolutely, because when you ask who Met icons are next to Seaver and Piazza, you have to talk about David Wright, and what he meant to an organization that has not had a great amount of success throughout it’s history. David Wright has been the Mets best all around hitter, and one can only imagine what his numbers would be if he could have remained healthy. But, for now he still is rehabbing with the hopes of wearing a Mets uniform again. That is who David Wright has been his whole career, a competitor, and he still is. David Wright should, and will be forever engraved in Mets history.

All Stats via Baseball-Reference.

May the 4th: New York Mets edition

Michael Conforto
Via the Mets Twitter Page

We’re a little over a month into the MLB season, and the Mets, who had high expectations going into the season, currently sit towards the bottom of the NL East. With plenty of baseball still to be played, and as we celebrate “May the 4th,” or Star Wars day, the Mets will need to pull off something the Rebels accomplished in defeating the Empire in Star Wars to get ahead of the Nationals. At this point, the Mets are underdogs, just like the Rebels. Here’s a few Mets who fit the roles of Star Wars characters.

Terry Collins- Yoda

Yoda is the wisest of the Jedi, and saw so much in his life. Much like that, Terry Collins, now age 67, has been around baseball much longer than many people amongst the Mets organization. Love him or hate him, it is Collins’ job to lead the Mets as manager, with wise teachings if this team is going to make a push for the division title. If he makes the right moves when the galaxy is falling like Yoda, this team will have a chance.

David Wright- Obi-Wan Kenobi (Old Ben)

David Wright may never play another baseball game, and right now he is on the DL. But, like Obi- Wan Kenobi, David Wright is the leader of this team. Kenobi teaches young Luke Skywalker, and Wright needs to teach the younger players on this team to be more disciplined. If he can get back healthy on the field, it would be a huge edition to the Mets clubhouse, because he is the leader. Like Kenobi, Wright has also been through and seen a lot, so his experience is very important to this team. Both very honorable men, they share a lot of similar characteristics. Kenobi saw the Clone Wars, while Wright was with the Mets in the mid 2000s when they were not very good. But, he knows what it takes to win, much like when the team found success in 2006.

Michael Conforto- Luke Skywalker

Like when the Jedi were wiped out, the same is happening with the Mets as some of their core players continue to land on the DL with injuries. With the Mets best hitter Yoenis Cespedes on the DL, of late Michael Conforto has been the Mets best hitter. Much like Luke Skywalker, to Mets fans Conforto is their last hope. If he can achieve what Luke Skywalker did in defeating the Empire, the Mets will at least have a shot to make a playoff run as their roster regains health. Then, Conforto can show others the way of winning baseball, like Skywalker does with the force.

Asdrubal Cabrera- Han Solo 

Han Solo is the best pilot in the galaxy, and at times Asdrubal Cabrera is one of the Mets best hitters. He tends to be clutch, and even when the odds are against him, he has succeeded much like Han Solo. With a smooth ability and looking like a natural at what he does, Cabrera and Solo have a lot in common. Solo played a huge part for the Rebels in defeating the Empire, and that’s what Asdrubal Cabrera has do if the Mets are going to make a run at the Nationals.

Jose Reyes- Chewbacca

While Chewbacca is the best co-pilot in the galaxy, Jose Reyes is very important to the Mets as he brings a lot of energy to the team with his speed. Jose Reyes has been with the team for some time, and made his return to the Mets after taking a hiatus with the Marlins, Blue Jays, and Rockies for a few seasons. But his best days will be remembered with the Mets. Reyes knows what winning a World Series would mean to this fanbase, much like what Chewbacca fought for against the Empire.

Jacob deGrom- Princess Leia 

Princess Leia is someone who just wants peace in the galaxy, and will do anything for her Rebel colleagues. Like Princess Leia, deGrom is very under the radar, and some forget just how talented he is. If the Mets are going to make a playoff run, deGrom will have to be the leader of the Mets pitching staff, just like Princess Leia led the Rebels. Both are team players, and both are very good at what they do. deGrom to some has always been the Mets best pitcher.

The team standing in the way of what the Mets want to accomplish is the Washington Nationals, who to the Mets are the Empire. While the Mets are now underdogs in the fight, they will need to somehow get past the Nationals, just like when the Rebels took down the Empire. 

Bryce Harper- The Sith Lord

Bryce Harper is the Nationals best player, and the Mets worst nightmare. Much like the Sith Lord with all his powers, he is standing right in the way of the Rebels. The Mets have to find ways to pitch around him, but it’s so hard as the Nationals have a lot of good players. Like the Sith Lord, it’s almost impossible for the Mets to avoid Harper. But, can the Rebel Mets take down the Nationals Empire?

Daniel Murphy- Darth Vader

Seduced to the dark side like Anakin Skywalker who turns into Darth Vader, Murphy once went on tear and led the Mets to the 2015 National League Pennant. But, he’s now playing for the other guys, and gives the Mets a hard time every time they play the Nationals. Many Mets fans would agree it’d be nice if the Mets could bring Murphy back to the light side like when Darth Vader was redeemed by his son, but right now it does not seem likely. Someone who did so much for the Mets like Anakin Skywalker and the Jedi Order, is now the team’s enemy, thriving every time he plays them.

Whether the Mets could make a run for the NL East Division crown remains to be seen, but it is clear they will have to get through the Nationals, who are playing phenomenal baseball. If the Mets players fit the roles of their Star Wars comparisons, they will have a shot. Like the Rebels, the Mets need to be built on belief and hope. If that happens, this team could make some noise come September and October.

Noah Syndergaard is down, but the Mets still have their best pitcher

Mets staff
Via the New York Daily News

Yesterday was not kind to the New York Mets, as they not only lost a historic game to the Washington Nationals 23-5, but also lost what some call the ace of their pitching staff, Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard partially tore his right lat, this coming in the wake of a crazy week for him in which he was scratched from his start due to discomfort in his bicep. Later, he refused an MRI, and gave attitude to the media. After all that, Syndergaard has landed on the 10 day DL, but who knows when he will be back.

Injuries continue for the Mets, as they are also without their best player, Yoenis Cespedes who is also on the 10 day DL with a hamstring injury, with no timetable for his return. April was an awful month for the Mets, who had high expectations going into the season. They currently sit last in the NL East, with a lot of baseball still to be played.

Injuries continue for this team, but they still have a very important piece who can lead the Mets until they start to get healthy. That player is Jacob deGrom. Many call Noah Syndergaard the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff, but no pitcher on the Mets staff has come through in a bigger way than Jacob deGrom. Let’s rewind to Syndergaard’s rookie season. It was that year (2015), the Mets made a miraculous run to win the NL pennant. The leader for them in the postseason was Jacob deGrom. In the NLDS, deGrom won 2 road games for the Mets against 2 of the best pitchers in baseball, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished the series with a 2-0 record and an ERA of 1.38. That series showed the guts of deGrom, yet he does not get the respect he deserves. deGrom finished the 2015 postseason with a 3-1 record, a 2.88 ERA, and 29 strikeouts in 4 games started.

deGrom thus far has accomplished more at the big league level than Syndergaard, or any pitcher on the Mets staff. Who could forget deGrom’s all star game appearance in 2015, when he struck out the side on 10 pitches. Or, the fact that he won rookie of the year in 2014 finishing that season 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA, a season that surprised many. Arguably the most dominant deGrom has ever looked was a start in 2014, when he struck out the first 8 batters of the game against the Miami Marlins, which was in his rookie year. With all these accomplishments, deGrom is still not looked at as the team’s ace. Is it because he had an off year in 2016, his worst year statistically led by a 3.04 ERA (which is well above average), that was cut short to injury?

It’s hard to understand why Jacob deGrom is not known as the ace of the Mets pitching staff. There are games where he looks really bad on the mound, yet still finishes the game allowing 2 runs over 7 innings. That’s the sign of a great pitcher. This is not a knock on Noah Syndergaard, who is still a very young, talented pitcher, who has the potential to be the best. A lot of pressure is being put on him in New York, and the guy wants nothing more than to win. He had the roughest week of his MLB career, and now people are starting to question him, and calling for the Mets to make changes. The Mets are struggling, and the rails continue to fall every week with injuries. But, right now they still have their ace pitcher healthy, and that’s Jacob deGrom. deGrom will need to lead this team in May and June, and hope the team will start to become healthy by the summer. Jacob deGrom could show the baseball universe that he is the most underrated pitcher in baseball, and take a lot of pressure of Noah Syndergaard. Then, this Mets rotation could be a force.

All stats via Baseball-Reference.