I have been a Blue Jays fan for quite some time. I know it has not been easy to be a fan but a great man (Canadian too) in Alex Anthopoulos came into town as the General Manager and he made big moves brought in big players and made the Blue Jays a force in the tough American League East even getting a division title in his last year as GM as well as getting the team a couple wins away from a World Series birth (That Amish looking fan in Kansas City totally reached over and grabbed that ball for a home run) before they let him walk because they did not want him to be Team President as well. So in came Ross Atkins who was Mark Shapiro’s boy from their time in Cleveland. Sure in 2016 they had a good run, won the wild card and even went back to the American League division finals but they have done nothing but run this great franchise into the ground in a span of just 3 years. I have compiled a list of moves that they have mad and ones they mike make in the near future at the end of the list which is below.
These are just some of the examples as to why I am about finished with this team. If the latest rumour of Marcus Stroman to San Diego is true all I can say is…….. Go Braves Go and Go Padres Go!!
Happy Canada day to everyone here in Canada. Today also marks the first day of the NHL free agent season. Officially at noon EST all free agents were able to sign with whatever team they wanted to. There were alot of singings today and they go as follows:
Jason Spezza – Toronto – 1 year – $700K
Tyler Ennis – Ottawa – 1 year- $800K
Ron Hainsey – Ottawa – 1 year – $3.5M
Tyler Myers – Vancouver – 5 years- $6M/Season
Matt Duchene – Nashville – 7 years – $8M/Season
Mats Zuccarello – Minnesota – 5 years – $6M/Season
Brett Connolly – Florida – 4 years – $3M/Season
Markus Granlund – Edmonton – 1 year – $1.3M
Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida – 7 years – $9.5M/Season
Joe Pavelski – Dallas – 3 years – $7M/Season
Richard Panik – Washington – 4 years – $2.5M/Season
Ryan Hartman – Minnesota – 2 years – $1.9M/season
Kenny Agostino – Toronto – 2 years – $700K/season
Cam Talbot – Edmonton – 1 year- $2.75M
Corey Perry – Dallas – 1 year – $1.5M
Luke Schenn – Tampa Bay – 1 year – $700K
Mike Smith – Edmonton – 1 year – $2M
Keith Kinkaid – Montreal – 1 year – $1.75M
Curtis McElhinney – Tampa Bay – 2 years – $1.3M/Season
Andrej Sekera – Dallas – 1 year – $1.5M
Noel Acciari – Florida – 3 years – $1.67M/Season
Daniel Carr – Nashville – 1 year – $700K
Patrik Nemeth – Detroit – 2 years – $2.5M/Season
Anton Stralman – Florida – 3 years – $5.5M/Season
Artemi Panarin – New York Rangers – 7 years – $11.642M/Season
Oscar Fantenberg – Vancouver – 1 year – $850K
Brandon Tanev – Pittsburgh – 6 years – $3.5M/Season
Garnet Hathaway – Washington – 4 years – $1.5M/Season
Timo Meier – RFA – San Jose – 4 years – $6M/Season
Ryan Murray – Columbus – 2 years – $4.6M/Season
Joonas Donskoi – Colorado – 4 years – $3.9M/Season
Jean-Sebastien Dea – Buffalo – 1 year – $700K
Landon Bow – Dallas – 1 year – $700K
John Gilmour – Buffalo – 1 year – $700K
Patrik Nemeth – Detroit – 2 years – $3M/Season
Nathan Beaulieu – Winnipeg – 1 year – $1M
Jordie Benn – Vancouver – 2 years – $2M/Season
Curtis Lazar – Buffalo – 1 year – $700k
Gustav Nyquist – Columbus – 4 years – $5.5M/season
Gabriel Dumont – MInnesota – 2 years – $700K/Season
Andy Andreoff – Philadelphia – 2 years – $750K/Season
Alex Chiasson – Edmonton – 2 years – $2.15M/Season
Luke Johnson – Minnesota – 2 years – $700K/Season
Maxime Legacy – Boston – 1 year – $700K
Valterri Filppula – Detroit – 2 years – $3M/season
Tim Heed – San Jose – 1 year – $960K
Andrew Hammond – Buffalo – 1 year – $700K
Ryan Carpenter – Chicago – 3 years – $1M/Season
Colin Wilson – Colorado – 1 year – $2.6M
Patrick Brown – Las Vegas – 2 years – $700K/Season
Pierre- Edouard Bellemarre – Colorado – 2 years – $1.8M/Season
Nate Prosser – Philadelphia – 2 years – $700K/Season
Kurtis Gabriel – Philadelphia – 1 year – $700K
J.F. Berube – Philadelphia – 1 year – $700K
Riley Barber – Montreal – 1 year – $700K
Jordan Swarz – Ottawa – 1 year – $800K
Tomas Nosek – Las Vegas – 1 year – $1M
Brandon Pirri – Las Vegas – 2 years – $775K/Season
Wayne Simmonds – New Jersey – 1 year – $5M
Kevin Gravel – Toronto – 1 year – $700K
Nathan Walker – St. Louis – 2 years – $700K/Season
Jujhar Khaira – Edmonton – 2 years – $1.2M/Season
Tomas Jurco – Edmonton – 1 year – $750K
Tyler Wotherspoon – Philadelphia – 2 years – $700K/Season
Andy Welinski – Anaheim – 1 year – $750K
Sammy Blais – St. Louis – 1 year – $850K
Calvin Pickard – Detroit – 2 years – $700K/Season
Kyle Criscuolo – Philadelphia – 1 year – $700K
Chris Bigras – Philadelphia – 2 years – $700K/Season
Nick Shore – Toronto – 1 year – $750K
Philippe Maillet – Washington – 2 years – $700K/Season
Brendan Leipsic – Washington – 1 year – $700K
Andy Miele – Arizona – 2 years – $700K/Season
Beau Bennett – Arizona – 1 year – $700K
Aaron Ness – Arizona – 2 years – $700K/Season
David Warsofsky – Pittsburgh – 2 years – $700K/Season
Andrew Agozzino – Pittsburgh – 2 years – $700K/Season
Par Lindholm – Boston – 2 years – $850K/Season
Brett Ritchie – Boston – 1 year – $1M
Brendan Gaunce – Boston – 1 year – $700K
Zane McIntyre – Vancouver – 1 year – $700K
Anders Lee – New York Islanders – 7 years – 7M/Season
Ryan Murray -RFA – Columbus – 2 years – $4.6M/Season
Connor Clifton – RFA – Boston – 3 years – $1M/Season
The big news on the day came out of Montreal with them signing Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet for 5 years at $8.454M/Season. Carolina now has 7 days to match this offer or Montreal would forfeit a first, second and third round pick to Carolina as compensation. From the press conference in Carolina it sounds like the offer will be matched at some point during the next week.
I’m sure over the next few hours, day, weeks there will be more moves but these are the ones for July 1 until 4:45 pm EST.
Okay so over the past 24 hours or so there has been a constant discussion here in the Greater Toronto Area over the treatment of Jake Gardiner being booed after he gave up another goal last night against Colorado.
I know at first this seems pretty harsh that one play and he get booed and yes it seems like the Maple Leafs fans were being irrational in Gardiner’s treatment but you have to understand the frustration that us Maple Leafs fans have faced over the recent years. We have had good teams that have gone nowhere. A couple seasons ago fans were throwing their jerseys on the ice in frustration with the way the team was performing. The Maple Leafs finished DEAD LAST in the league just 4 seasons ago. Last season we had our best season in franchise history and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. This season we had the whole William Nylander contract issue and since he signed he has only 1 goal in 17 games. Matthews, Marner & Kapanen all becoming restricted free agents July 1 and ALL requiring major pay increases.
Now onto Jake Gardiner. He has played 534 games in the NHL with 44 goals, 195 assists for 239 point for his NHL career. These numbers are not too shabby for a defenceman but in those 534 games played as of January 14th hes is only a career +8 has 249 takeaways which is decent but a whopping 519 GIVEAWAYS IN HIS CAREER!! This is only regular season numbers. That is almost 1 giveaway a game and HE IS A DEFENCEMAN!! This is terrible.
You might say but his playoffs numbers are way different, right? Well, you would be WRONG!! He has played 19 career playoff games and he has 2 goals, 8 assists for 10 points and is a career -7 with 30 GIVEAWAYS!! In two of the three years he has been in the playoffs he has faced Boston. In 2013 he was -3 and in 2018 he was -6 in the series. In game 7 alone last season he was -5!! -5 IN ONE GAME!! IN THE THIRD PERIOD FOR THAT MATTER!!
His only good year in the playoffs was in 2017 when he was +2 against Washington in 6 games.
Another factor in the Maple Leafs fans booing Gardiner is, look at his career numbers, then look at the average ticket price for one ticket/game. If you want to take your family to a game you might as well put another mortgage on your house, With these facts and the years and years of frustration of Maple Leafs fans I hope you get a bit of an insight as to why he is being booed at home.
So do I feel like the fans have the right to boo who they want regardless of whether they are on your team or not? You are god damn right!! I’ve been saying this guy needs to go FOR YEARS. I’ve been booing him at my home FOR YEARS!! Now I know he is not the only problem the Maple Leafs have on their current roster, but he is a big part of it.
In conclusion the fans pay WAY to much to see men playing a boys game and most fans would play in the NHL FOR FREE, me included, so yes they have a right to boo since we are paying his salary and he wants an increase in pay as well.
Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites has called out his two stars, no pun intended, players captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. He has said “They are fucking horseshit, I don’t know how else to put it,” Lites told Sean Shapiro from The Athletic. “The team was ok. But (Tyler) Seguin and (Jamie) Benn were terrible.” He continues on to say that team owner Tom Gaglardi is also pissed at them. “These guys are not good enough,” Lites continued. “They’re not good enough for me, they’re not good enough for the owner, and they’re certainly not good enough for the general manager, who I can’t speak for, but it’s not good enough for the job he’s done.”“It’s not about how much money; I don’t resent the money,” Lites said. “It’s about what we expect the money to be. You just can’t win if your best players aren’t your best players. And they aren’t best players.”“I take a lesson from Bob Gainey here,” Lites said. “He said you’d be really successful in this league if you never gave a shit about being invited to players’ daughters’ weddings, and that’s what I think. I don’t give a fuck-. I’m a year-to-year guy and I’ll be damned if a guy who has been as good to me as Tom Gaglardi – as good to this franchise – isn’t getting results, and those players aren’t getting it done. I’m telling you, we are gonna run through a GM who does everything he can to make the team better because we aren’t getting results.”
To their credit, both Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have taken responsibility as well by saying:
“Not good enough,” Seguin said, according to The Athletic. “I’ve got to play better. I’m trying to do a job, and I haven’t had the right results.”
“I think it’s pretty self-explanatory; if this team wants to get to the next level that starts with myself,” Benn added. “And that’s exactly what needs to happen, we need to get better.”
Jamie Benn is currently in the 2nd year of an 8 year $76 million contract that pays him $13 million this year and an annual cap hit of $9.5 million/season. That does make his the 3rd highest paid player in the NHL right now, that should change this summer though with Auston Matthews and Patrick Laine being RFA’s on July 1. He has not put up bad numbers with 15 goals, 15 assists for 30 points in 38 games. Tyler Seguin just signed an 8-year extension worth $78.8 million back in the fall which starts next season. He currently has 11 goals, 21 assists for 32 points in 38 games so again not too bad of numbers,
Now maybe this is just the GM and CEO trying to fire the team up as they are not reaching their expectations this season so far but if they, by that I mean Dallas as a whole, not just Benn and Seguin, continue on this road for the rest of the season they might be a team to watch as sellers on Trade Deadline Day (February 25) and these two players may see their names on the chopping block either then or during the offseason, maybe at the draft.
If these two do become available, I do know about 30 teams who would be willing to take on this “Dead Weight” if the price is right and Dallas retains a good portion of their salary.
*Used with information gathered from HockeyFeed.com and The Athletic*
Now that we have celebrated Christmas we are getting close to the real most wonderful time of the year, that does not have the children going back to school. I am of course talking about the NHL TRADE DEADLINE!! Which teams will be sellers, who will be buyers, who will sit idle? All these answers and more will be answered on that glorious day. I know here in Canada it is almost an unofficial holiday as millions of Canadians have their eyes glued to Trade Centre on TSN and Hockey Central Deadline Day on Sportsnet. It doesn’t matter which media outlet you are watching on (I’m sure I am not the only one who flips between the two of them and then on twitter almost constantly as well) you will get the information very fast and from very reliable sources. I would like to take this time to focus on my favourite NHL team and what they could possibly do at the trade deadline and that team would of course be the blue and white of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This season has been amazing so far and it started way back on Canada Day July 1st when the NHL free agency period opened and shortly after the noon start time those words that still give me chills just thinking about it are said. “JOHN TAVARES IS A TORONTO MAPLE LEAF.” The Leafs already had Matthews, Marner, Marleau, Kadri, Kapanen, Nylander (who held out until December but that is beside the point), Reilly, Dermott & Andersen. This team, and rightfully so, became one of the odds on favourites to win the Stanley Cup in the 2018-19 season after that singing. Even with all that offensive talent there is always room for improvement. With the time coming close I will be listing the names of some of the players the Maple Leafs may look at to adding at the deadline and I will also go into depth on some of the ones I believe that the Maple Leafs should go after. All of the stats from the stats that I will be mentioning in this post are as of the roster freeze on December 23, 2018 so they will change before the trade deadline on February 25.
First I’ll start with the defence which has been an area that has been needing the most improvement for some time. The list goes as follows. Nikolas Kronwall from Detroit, Mathew Dumba from Minnesota, Alex Pietrangelo from St. Louis, Colton Parayko from St. Louis, Karl Alzner from Montreal playing in the AHL for Laval, Duncan Keith from Chicago, Chris Tanev from Vancouver, Alexander Edler from Vancouver, Ben Lovejoy from New Jersey, Darnell Nurse from Edmonton, Cody Ceci from Ottawa, Brett Pesce from Carolina & Justin Faulk from Carolina. Next I will list the forwards which will be a much shorter list as they do not need too much help on the front end. Wayne Simmonds from Philadelphia, Michael Ferland from Carolina, Trevor Lewis from Los Angeles, & Ryan Reaves from Las Vegas. Finally a look at a potential backup goalie and that would be Jimmy Howard from Detroit.
Now let me start this by going into depth as to why I believe the Maple Leafs could really use Jimmy Howard as a backup going down the stretch. Let me start by saying I highly doubt that the Maple Leafs would even consider making a move to acquire Jimmy, however are you really satisfied with Garrett Sparks being the backup? I know I am certainly not. That is not a knock on Sparks as he has proven in the AHL he is a great starting goalie but a backup in the NHL is a completely different game. I believe if the Maple Leafs where to make a trade for Howard that Sparks would almost certainly have to be going the other way and I would wish him the best in Detroit and I believe he will become a great starter in the NHL but not a backup. Anyways let me get back onto the topic of Jimmy Howard. I know you must be saying that I am crazy in thinking this but if Detroit does make him available at the trade deadline and the Red Wings decide to go with Bernier as their starter the Maple Leafs would recieve one hell of a goalie in return. The 6 foot 218 pound goalie out of Syracuse, New York has a pretty good record for his career in the NHL. In 485 career games played in the NHL he has a record of 231-159-67 with a Goals Against Average of 2.50 and a save percentage at 0.951. Lets just put two of those numbers up against two Hall Of Fame goalies. I know Jimmy Howard has not played the same amount of games and I am not saying that Jimmy Howard will make the Hall Of Fame at all but lets just see the numbers and compare for fun. First up is Patrick Roy his career GAA was 2.54 and save % was 0.910. Another Hall Of Fame goalie is Martin Brodeur with a career GAA of 2.24 and save % of 0.912. So Martin has a better goals against average but Jimmy Howard has a better save percentage than both of these hall of fame goalies. Like I said earlier I know he has played significantly less games than the two I compared him to but those are pretty impressive numbers. Those numbers have taken a bit of a hit in the past couple of seasons as Detroit has fallen far from the Red Wings of the past 30 years and should be looking at a potential rebuild to bring the franchise back to prominence. I highly doubt the Maple Leafs would make a move for a goalie unless Frederick Andersen gets hurt, God I hope he doesn’t because we would be pretty screwed if he does get hurt for significant amount of time, but for a UFA on July 1st and only having to pay a fraction of his $5.291 million owed to him this season, it might be something that Kyle Dubas should kick the tires on.
Next onto the forwards and lets start with the one name that has really been rumoured lately in joining the Maple Leafs recently especially since his team has a new Coach and GM now and that is Scarborough’s own Wayne Simmonds. This 6 foot 185 pound power forward is something that the Maple Leafs have been missing in recent years. This guy has drawn a lot of comparisons to many different players in the NHL past and present but the one that I really like is to Wendel Clark. Wayne has played 797 games in the NHL and has 237 goals, 233 assists for 460 points and 1005 penalty minutes. These numbers are great for a power forward and I can only imagine how much he could improve on these numbers by playing on the wing with a guy like Auston Matthews. I know Kyle Dubas has said recently that he is not looking for rental players but this is one guy who you could acquire at the deadline and possibly even re sign him after the trade has been made. If I am Kyle Dubas this is one move that I really try to make but not give up a player like Kapanen in return for the power forward. Maybe Connor Brown even though he is a great young player too but in order to get talent you have to give up talent.
Another power forward that Kyle Dubas could look at is form the Las Vegas Golden Knights and he is the 6 foot 225 pounds solid power forward from Winnipeg, Manitoba Ryan Reaves. Let me start by saying this move is just about as likely as Pittsburgh trading Sidney Crosby to Philadelphia but lets look at it anyways. Ryan Reaves has played 536 career games in the NHL putting up 38 goals, 35 assists for 73 points and 832 penalty minutes. So he may not put the big numbers up offensively BUT in just 38 games this season he has tied his career high in goals with 7 and is only 1 point of his career high of 13. He is having a great season as far as his number goes he is also still under contract until the end of the 2019-20 season and makes a pretty modest $2.775 million as far as NHL veterans make. This move, however unlikely, would make Toronto a lot tougher down the stretch and would help them immensely in the playoffs in a series against lets say those pain in my ass division rivals Boston Bruins. I can just picture it now, Ryan Reaves catching Brad Marchand doing something stupid that he does, like licking an opponent, and here comes Ryan Reaves to take care of him. I really wish that Dubas could somehow pull of this miracle type of move but I know that Vegas would not give him up for cheap and I am not sure that Dubas or Leafs Nation would feel comfortable giving up what Vegas may ask for in return like a Kapanen, Marner, Nylander, Early round draft picks and top prospects. If we could catch them off guard and maybe give up something like an Ennis, Brown, Gauthier or even Kadri I think that Dubas would pull this move off.
Next up as a potential fit at the deadline lets look at Trevor Lewis from the Los Angeles Kings. I know this name is not a big or a splashy name but with the way the Kings are playing this year almost anybody is available but cap space wise he might be the best fit. Trevor is 6 foot 205 pounds from Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a career total of 591 games played, 63 goals, 79 assists, 142 points and 146 penalty minutes. I know these numbers is not eye popping at all but he has also played his entire career with the Kings and does have 2 Stanley Cup rings from his time there. Trevor would be another depth player on either the third or fourth line but his experience making far runs in the playoffs would come in handy with our young Leafs team and at a cap hit of $2 million and under contract until the end of the 2019-20 season he may be just what we need to get over the hump and possibly win the Stanley Cup and end our over 50 year drought.
The final forward that I think could be a good fit for the Maple Leafs is Michael Ferland from Carolina. Again not a big or flashy name but in 278 games played he has 53 goals, 52 assists, 105 points and 152 penalty minutes. He is another depth guy that the Maple Leafs could use up front on the bottom 6 forwards on the roster. He is 6 foot 208 pounds and from Swan River, Manitoba and is a cap hit of $1.75 million with becoming a UFA on July 1. He could be a good fit upfront for the Maple Leafs but if I was Kyle Dubas, I would only entertain the offer of him if I had tried to get the others mentioned and for some reason they didn’t pan out or able to come to an agreement for any of the other players because we may be able to get him for less than the other would require to give up in a trade. up next I will take a look at potential defence men that the Maple Leafs should look into acquiring to help out the back end and take some of the load off of Frederick Andersen.
Lets start with a name that has been linked to the Maple Leafs in recent weeks Alex Pietrangelo. Alex is a 6 foot 3 inch 200 pounds defence man out of King City, Ontario. He has already played 641 games in the NHL with 84 goals, 284 assists, 368 points and 205 penalty minutes. He is currently the captain of the St. Louis Blues and is a solid defence man that is a top 2 pairing player. Just imagine having Morgan Reilly and Alex Pietrangelo on the ice at the same time as a defence pairing. This one seems to be the best fit right now and if St. Louis is willing to give him up and the asking price is right then Kyle Dubas should make this trade every day of the week. He is making $6.5 million and under contract until the end of the 2019-20 season. He is the type of player that can put the defence over the edge and possibly be one of the keys to bring a Stanley Cup back to Toronto.
Next lets look at another player that has been linked to the Maple Leafs this season and is also a member of the St. Louis Blues Colton Parayko. Colton is a 6 foot 6 inch 230 pound defence man out of St. Albert, Alberta who make $5.5 million annually and is under contract the end of the 2021-22 season. In his NHL career he has totalled 276 games played, 26 goals, 87 assists, 113 points and 80 penalty minutes. He is a solid physical defence man who has the ability to be a top 2 defence man along side of Morgan Reilly and as you can see by his PIM he plays a very clean physical game. This guy could be just the edge that Toronto needs on the back end especially in the Playoffs against teams like Boston and Tampa Bay.
The next defence man up is the oldest on the list and he is Duncan Keith. He is 6 foot 1 inch, weighing 192 pounds and is from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is under contract until the end of 2022-23 season and makes $5.538 million annually. He has 1034 games played in the NHL, 92 goals, 467 assists, 559 points and 589 penalty minutes. I know he maybe a little older than what some people want in being 35 years young, but is just a solid defensively as anyone in the NHL today. As his numbers show he is one of the greatest two way defence men that has been in the NHL. Duncan is the kind of player that needs a change of scenery from the collapse that is happening in Chicago right now. At 35 he still has plenty left in the tank. He might not be a top 2 guy right now but I ask you to find a better person to be a top 4 defence man in the NHL today. Just look at his resume this guy is a winner. He has won 3 Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 & 2015), 2 Olympic Gold Medals (2010 & 2014), 1 Conn Smythe Trophy (2015), 1 World Cup of Hockey (2016) and he was also named one of the top 100 NHL players in the history of the league in 2017. On top of those accomplishments he has also been to the NHL All Star Game 4 times (2008, 2011, 2015 & 2017) and has won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top defence man twice (2010 & 2014). The only reason that I do not have him higher on my list is because I am not too sure if he really wants out of Chicago and also not too sure if Stan Bowman wants to trade Duncan away. If Stan decides to trade Duncan away I am almost positive that Duncan would want to come to Toronto to have a chance to win another Stanley Cup.
Next on my list is Mathew Dumba from the Minnesota Wild. He is 6 feet 182 pounds from Regina, Saskatchewan (aka the town that rhymes with fun). He is under contract until the end of the 2022-23 season making $6 million annually. He has played 342 games in the NHL with 56 goals, 94 assists, 150 points & 184 penalty minutes. I know recent news about him having a significant injury that requires surgery and quite the amount of time off he still has a lot of upside to him. At 24 he is still young and about to enter the prime of his career and he is also locked up long term. He is a top 4 defence man pairing that could possibly be a top 2. I highly doubt that Minnesota is willing to give up on Matt right now and if they do they will pretty much ask for the farm in return, but in my mind that maybe worth the risk. Matt is the type of player that can add a lot to the young nucleus that the Maple Leafs have currently and can build with these guys to win many Stanley Cups now and in the future.
The next defence man is another young player that I really wish that they could some how acquire and that is Darnell Nurse. He is 6 foot 4 inches 221 pounds and from Hamilton, Ontario. He currently makes $3.2 million and he is under contract until the end of the 2019-20 season. After that season the best part is he is STILL RESTRICTED. Even being at 23, he has 223 games played, 19 goals, 44 assists, 63 points and 194 penalty minutes. Darnell is a young stud defence man that has a lot of potential. The only thing with him being so young, unless Edmonton keeps struggling like they have to start this season, the Oilers may not want to give up Darnell or if they do they will want a lot of young talent in return or draft picks which is not really what Kyle Dubas will not want to give up at this time. I really hope that Kyle could somehow pull of a trade to land either Mathew Dumba or Darnell Nurse, in a perfect world he would get both but I am not greedy.
Next on my list of the top potential fit defence men is Christopher Tanev from the Vancouver Canucks. Christopher is a 29 year old from Toronto, Ontario who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 197 pounds. He has played in 424 games in the NHL with 20 goals, 73 assists, 93 points and 74 penalty minutes. Chris in my mind is an under rated shut down, puck moving defence man with an extremely high hockey IQ. He played on the 2016 Team Canada at the World Hockey championship that won the Gold Medal. In that tournament he was paired with Morgan Reilly and they were the top defence pairing in the tournament by not allowing a single goal against while they were on the ice together. This could be a great defence pairing on the Maple Leafs and they hopefully would be able to build of that chemistry they had back at the 2016 World Hockey Championship.
The last potential fit on defence that I will look at is Brett Pesce from the Carolina Hurricanes. He is 24 years old who is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds from Tarrytown, New York. He makes $4.025 million annually and he is under contract until the end of the 2023-24 season. He has played 242 games in the NHL with 12 goals, 50 assists, 62 points and 64 penalty minutes. Brett is a young and VERY underrated defence man that could be a big part of the future of the Maple Leafs. He is young and currently under contract for quite some time. There is a lot of upside to Brett and as of right now I see him as a 5 or 6 defence man but he could easily slide up into the top 4 very quickly. I think Carolina is not willing to give up on this young stud defence man as of yet but if Carolina comes down from this surprise high they have been on lately before February then maybe Kyle Dubas could swing a deal that works well for both teams with out having to give up some young prospects and draft picks, maybe trade Ron Hainsey back to Carolina as part of the deal? Just spinning the tires here don’t mind me.
So in conclusion this is the list of players that if I was Kyle Dubas, I would try to work deals out for to help the Maple Leafs win a Stanley Cup now and many more in the near future. This Maple Leafs team is the best Maple Leafs team that I have ever seen, and yes I was alive for the teams from the early to mid as well as the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Those teams were great but they did not have the star power that the current roster does. I mean look even at our 4th line, it has guys like Tyler Ennis on it who has scored 20 goals or more multiple times in the league and not too long ago either. Connor Brown is another one who two seasons ago had 20 goals and had 14 last season and he is on the 4th line. When you have 2 guys on your 4th line who have scored 20 goals in the recent past, you know you have a skilled team. i am not saying that this Maple Leafs roster is not capable of winning a Stanley Cup as is right now with out having to make a trade to bolster the lineup but, look at what some teams have done at the trade deadlines in the past and added a piece or two to help with the current core of players and put them over the hump to win the Stanley Cup. This team is right there. They could possibly use just that one or two more pieces to put them over the edge and be able to take teams down like Boston and Tampa Bay in the playoffs en route to sipping from Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Regardless of what Kyle Dubas does or does not do leading up to the 3 pm deadline on February 25, I am really excited to see what this group of Maple Leafs can do now and in the future. I believe in the SHANAPLAN and I believe in Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock. GO LEAFS GO!!
Its getting to be that time of year again as we get close to Christmas and New Years it is just days away from January 4th and the annual tradition of Wrestle Kingdom. This years card looks like to be one of the best cards in years and might be one of the best cards for a while with the rumours of the members of The Elite (Young Bucks, Cody, Hangman Adam Page, The Villain Marty Scurll and Kenny Omega) and Chris Jericho all leaving to start their own wrestling promotion when their contracts expire in the near future.
With that being said I can not wait to see this card as New Japan Pro Wrestling is one of the best products in the world today on a consistent basis. It is well worth being up to watch the card in the early morning hours around 3 am EST. So with that being said I am going to go into my predictions for this years card.
First up is the Gauntlet match to determine the number one contenders to the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship which will be on their pre-show. The Participants are: Yuji Nagata (Replaced Michael Elgin due to knee injury), Jeff Cobb & David Finlay vs. The Elite (Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi & Marty Scurll) vs. Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Beretta & Chuckie T.) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs. Ryusuki Taguchi & Most Violent Players (Togi Makabi & Toru Yano). This should be a solid match and a great way to start to get the crowd into the card. I am disappointed that Michael Elgin will not be able to compete because of a serious knee injury that he suffered recently and requires surgery but I wish him the best of luck in his recovery. I believe that Suzuki-Gun will win the match and set up a good feud with the current NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions Bullet Club (Guerillas of Destiny and Taiji Ishimori)
Now onto the main card. It looks like it may start with the NEVER Openweight Championship match between Kota Ibushi (Champion) vs Will Ospreay. This match is a great way to start off the main card. This match between these two should be a high flying, fast paced match that we should expect from these two. I believe that Will Ospreay will win the championship in this match because of Ibushi’s allegiance to The Elite and he may make a move with them because he is a free lance wrestler not on an exclusive contract with NJPW. This match has the potential of stealing the show.
Next up we have the Three Way IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match between the Champions Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobi Kanemarov & El Desperado) vs. Roppongi 3K (Sho & Yoh) vs Los Ingobernables de Japan (Bushi & Shingo Takagi). This match traditionally starts the main card but with Ospreay vs. Ibushi leading off this is a real good follow up match. I predict that L.O.J. will win the Jr Heavyweight championship and continue to build L.O.J. as a top baby-face faction in NJPW. The fans are definitely behind them and not just in Japan. Just watch any ROH show they are a part of and see it for yourself.
Up Next will be the British Heavyweight Championship match between Tomohiro Ishii (Champion) and Zack Sabre Jr. This match should be a good mix of the British Strong Style matches that we are used to seeing and a technical match as well with the ability of ZSJ’s mat skills. I predict that ZSJ will bring the championship back to his native England and have a long successful reign as champion.
Next we are on to the Three Way IWGP Tag Team Championship match between the reigning champs representing Bullet Club Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa) vs the 2018 World Tag League winners Los Ingobernables de Japan (Sanada & EVIL) vs the former champions representing The Elite The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson). The Young Bucks added themselves to this match at the World Tag League finals because they did not receive their rematch yet from when they lost the championships to G.O.D. I believe this will be another match that L.O.J. will win and continue on their feud with Bullet Club and i also believe that they will get the decision over the Young Bucks since they will be “Leaving the Territory” and it is tradition that people leaving will be the ones who get pinned or submitted. This is another match of the night contender.
Next will be the IWGP United States Championship match between The Elite’s American Nightmare Cody (Champion) with his wife Brandy Rhodes by his side vs. Juice Robinson. These two great wrestlers who left WWE to make themselves better competitors in the ring will have a solid match. With The Elite leaving for their own promotion I would be shocked if Juice Robinson does not become the first 2 time IWGP United States champion in NJPW history (I know the belt is not quite 2 years old yet but still impressive that there has been no repeat champions as of yet).
Next will be the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match between the time splitter Kushida and member of the Bullet Club Taiji Ishimori. These two will put on an amazing show of high flying, fast paced match that the Junior Heavyweight division is known for. This is a tough one because Bullet Club is getting a really big push again with them becoming a HEEL faction again since they attacked the member of The Elite some time ago but I believe that Kushida will keep the championship…for now anyways with the rumours of WWE’s interest in him when his contract expires. I just really hope that Kushida does not make the jump to WWE but if he does I hope he stays in NXT until HHH fully takes over the main roster from Vince because Vince does not know how to handle the Japanese stars that he has had over the years and continues to have now.
The next match is the only non Title match on the main card and it is a grudge match between The Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada and the newly named leader of the Bullet Club Switchblade Jay White. These two consistently put on great matches and this one should be no exception. Red shoes will be busy being the referee in this match because of the almost guaranteed interference from both member of the Bullet Club and Chaos members to continue on this feud that has been going on for years. With the booking in the World Tag League tag team matches these two where a part of I would be shocked id Okada does not get some revenge and get the victory over Jay White in this match. I also expect that Okada will get his hands on Gedo and get some revenge on him turning his back on Okada.
The second last match on the card will be the IWGP Intercontinental Championship match between Chris Jericho (Champion) and the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japan Tetsuya Naito. These two have had an amazing story over the past 6 months or so with the will Jericho or will he not give Naito his rematch for the IWGP Intercontinental championship that Jericho won back in June Dominion 6.9. These two legends will put on another amazing match the Tetsuya Naito will win and have his 3rd reign as the Intercontinental Champion. With Jericho possibly joining the Elite in their own wrestling promotion I would expect a third match to be either the next day or one of the next shows that NJPW will put on.
Finally we have the Main Event which is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This match is between MR 6 STAR MATCH The Cleaner Kenny Omega vs The G1 Climax winner Hiroshi Tanahashi. This match will be a solid match the we expect from Kenny Omega but even though Omega’s contract is not up until later in January I expect the Rock Star Tanahashi to win the championship from Omega. I hope I am wrong in this case because I am not sure at his age that Tanahashi can be the main face for the company anymore as champion. I really hope that Omega somehow retains the championship and possibly while he is celebrating have Jay White and other Bullet Club members attack Omega from behind and set up a match later in the month between Omega and Jay White where Omega will drop the belt to Switchblade and continue to have a feud with Okada for a year or so.
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s version of Wrestlemania has a solid card that defiantly has the potential to be the PPV of the year and it would only be within the first week of the year. I can not wait to see this event and see where NJPW sets themselves up for the rest of the year with losing some of their biggest names in the company.