Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mock NHL Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights

On Tuesday, Las Vegas, the newest member of the National Hockey League (NHL), announced their team name as the Golden Knights. The move led me to check out Expansion Draft tool.

This tool allows you to pick the protected players for each team or you can use their crowd sourcing to do it automatically. In order to save time, I opted for automation and made the decision to draft players 26 years old or younger, everyone had to be signed or a restricted free agent and preference was to take a quality goaltender or forward over a defensemen.

Positional breakdown:
Forwards (18) - $18,360,000 (draft value)
Defensemen (9) - $5,825,000
Goaltenders (3) - $4,900,000

The result was meeting the 60% salary cap requirement of $44.3 million.

It should be no surprise based on the current rosters for each team and no known deals to waive a no movement clause or agreement for a team to trade other assets to not have a player picked.

With that in mind, here is the 30 player draft.

Starter - Matt Murray (PIT)
Backup - Michael Hutchinson (WPG)
Prospect - Anton Forsberg (CLB)

Lucas Sbisa (VAN) - Griffin Reinhart (EDM)
Calvin De Haan (NYI) - Eric Gelinas (COL)
Dmitry Orlov (WSH) - Martin Marincin (TOR)
Brandon Manning (PHI) - Dylan McIlrath (FLA)
Joe Morrow (BOS)

Mikkel Boedker (SJS) - Marcus Kruger (CHI) - Jakob Silfverberg (ANH)
Nail Yakupov (STL) - Vladislav Namestnikov (TBL) - Valeri Nichushkin (DAL)
Lance Bouma (CGY) - Riley Sheahan (DET) - Erik Haula (MIN)
Brock McGinn (CAR) - Brandon Pirri (NYR) - Ryan Dzingel (OTT)
William Carrier (BUF) - Jacob Josefson (NJD) - Andy Andreoff (LAK)
Jordan Martinook (ARZ) - Colton Sissons (NSH) - Stefan Matteau (MTL)

This strategy gives the Golden Knights the flexibility needed on the salary cap as well with just 13 players signed a contract for 2017-2018 season at just over $29 million, giving them $43.9 million in cap space to sign unrestricted free agents and trade acquisitions.

Based on the players drafted and cap situation, defensemen would be the main targets in free agency and trades as the group is filled with more third pairing defensemen.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

World Series Just a Dream in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH - The 2016 Major League Baseball season was not a fond time for Pittsburgh Pirates fans with the team sinking to a 78-83 record, division rival Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908 (108 years!) and city rival Cleveland Indians reached the World Series but still searching for that elusive title since last winning in 1948 (68 years).

Meanwhile back in Pittsburgh, not a single statement or interview from Bob Nutting or Frank Coonelly since the season ended back on October 2nd as the Pirates are now 37 years and counting on the real failure scale.

Remember this picture a few years ago?

If you ask, what do you expect Nutting or Coonelly to say?

The answer is anything.

No, really.

Say anything.

We've learned as much over the years that when Nutting, Coonelly or Neal Huntington get a mic in front of them or sit down to publish a press release, it will be gold.

This past Spring Training, Coonelly sat down with the team's flagship radio station 93.7 The Fan and was asked about what is success, "winning the World Series and anything short of that isn't what we're aspiring to".

Coonelly was asked about the payroll and one snippet of the conversion caught my eye, "Well, we have increased our payroll by an average of over $10 million a year in each of the last five years. Last year, we increased our payroll by $17.5 million, which was, in terms of a percentage, in the top five in the entire industry. Is it enough? I understand that we’ve earned the trust of some of our fans. We have not earned the trust of all of them. I’m continuing to work extremely hard to earn the trust of every single one of our fans, to let them know we’re doing everything we can to put a winning team on the field for them."

Do yourself a favor, listen to the  interview.

The Pirates had nowhere to go but up from their measly payrolls, attendance increased and the reward for fans in 2016 was a bridge to nowhere, so bad, the maintenance to the roster was a hot mess, burning in failure like the Liberty Bridge.

Since that bridge to 2017 was set as the expectation by the organization based on their lack of action last offseason, what exactly is reasonable for this time around?

We're already hearing the Pirates will entertain trade offers for Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole was unhappy last Spring about his contract, and you have two guys in Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez hitting free agency.

The bullpen is a mystery as Tony Watson didn't handle the closer duties well at all, Neftali Feliz was last scene with an arm injury, Jared Hughes was no longer a quality arm for groundballs and Juan Nicasio appeared to be the lone bright spot in an otherwise miserable second half of the season for the club.

It appears Ivan Nova is going to follow in the foot steps of Edinson Volquez and AJ Happ, getting fixed in Pittsburgh and hitting the free agent market looking for a contract the Pirates are unwilling to offer.

That leaves a rotation of Cole, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl, Tyler Glasnow and who, another kid like Trevor Williams or Nick Kingham.... or worse yet, some free agent off the scrap heap like Ryan Vogelsong was last year?

Give me a break.

This is why you're going to hear less from the front office, they know the gig is up.

Remember how the Pirates blue print to return to success was predicated on investing significant money into the draft, international amateurs and player development? Where's the return on investment?

The Pirates will need an almost perfect offseason to get the team back into playoff contender consideration, something this franchise doesn't have the willingness to do.

You can take that $10 million to the bank!