Its Time for Buffalo to Jack Off

Its Time for Buffalo to Jack Off

With yet another change in management in Buffalo – likely to lead to yet another coaching change in Buffalo- the rumors are swirling that Sabres star center Jack Eichel wants out of the organization. And who could blame him? He’s playing for auditioning coaches for about his entire career in an organization who just removed a GM who wasn’t as sharp a hockey mind as his sister is.

There is a team that could absolutely use an Eichel. In fact, every team can use an Eichel. But there is one team that may have need of Jack beyond the surface of the ice- the New York Islanders.

There is a history of these two teams trading with each other involving a disgruntled star player. You may recall Pat LaFontaine going to Buffalo in a package that obtained a package including Pierre Turgeon. And in this situation, a trade would require two packages.

He was a headache that wanted to get paid, too…

And no, that’s not a euphemism for having the balls to make a trade for a star player. Although testicular fortitude would definitely be needed.

Generally there is a precedence to what you need to acquire a top tier player like an Eichel. That precedence includes a usual haul involving a pick, a lesser NHL player, and a prospect. And we have very recent precedence with Buffalo trading Ryan O’Reilly, where Buffalo took back extra salary from St Louis to acquire an additional pick and prospect. This one needs to be a similar, because the concept to meet Buffalo’s needs may be a little more about chess than checkers while still working in a cap framework.

So, what do the pieces look like in motion?

To NYI:

Jack Eichel

Kyle Okposo

To Buffalo:

Josh Bailey and/or Nick Leddy

Casey Cizikas

2022 1st rd pick

Forward Prospect of Buffalo’s choosing

At first glance you may say “This is another armchair GM horseshit deal.” Well, that’s true, I am an armchair GM. But this trade works in really unique ways for both clubs. And again, its not like these two teams don’t have a history of making a trade of a disgruntled center between them.

So how does this work for the Islanders?

Do the Islanders need another center? Yes, yes they do. At $10 million dollars a year? That’s a huge nut, but that helps the Islanders because that salary slot actually hurts Buffalo’s ability to move him. And is there a playoff level team in need of offense more than the Islanders? I’ll wait to hear who.

Why do the Islanders need this center? Because which Islander center on this roster has scored 36 goals in a season? And ran at about a point per game for the last two seasons? Nobody.

Yes, Brock Nelson was rewarded with a long and lucrative contract that will carry him into the productive end of his career, which will be before his career ends. But don’t forget that Nelson also plays left wing. That assignment may serve him better as he ages as there is less defensive responsibility assigned to a wing, and he can still take faceoffs if needed. It also improves the Islanders depth at wing, which is an area of concern for the top 6 Islander forwards.

Suddenly having Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Anthony Beauviller as top six wings gives you a bunch of 20 goal guys surrounding Matthew Barzal and Jack Eichel. Eichel has never had that much talent around him.

There is the curse of the $10 million dollar players do not win cups, which is a legitimate concern. But this Islanders team as constructed? They’re not winning a cup.

And why take back Okposo? He’ll get paid a lot to sit in Bridgeport and retire as a beloved Islander. Maybe he’ll even become the next HC at the Bridge, as this annual disappointment of an issue was mentioned from me via Andrew Gross in his excellent Islanders podcast. Thanks Andrew!

The Islanders team improves offensively, which they absolutely need. It adds depth into the top 6 forward mix, which they absolutely need. It opens up slots in the bottom six for players to NOT make $3.35 million or more to be bottom 6, which they absolutely need. It makes them younger, which they absolutely need. It gives JP Pageau a fresh start with new linemates, and opens a job on that line for one of the highly touted forward prospects in the organization. And it improves their odds as a win now team.

And as the Islander inch closer for moving into Belmont in 16 months, they’ve added star power to their promotions and buzz for the fanbase, of which they will need to sell something that’s not just more of the same.

But how does Buffalo benefit?

You might say that this return is not enough to get Buffalo to make a move this rash. And here is where I will disagree with you. Because in the NHL, every trade involves an invisible player- the salary cap. Every team has cap issues. In the proposed deal Buffalo is unloading $16 million annually for the next 3 years, while taking back either $8.35 million or $14 million in year one of the deal, then either $5 or $11.5 million in year two, then just the $5 million remainder for the life of the Bailey contract. 3 proven, legit NHL players on a bad team can help turn a bad team around faster than hoping prospects work out.

In Bailey, Buffalo gets a pass first forward who would very likely improve the 14 goal output that Skinner produced for NINE MILLION DOLLARS that they’re paying him for the NEXT SEVEN YEARS. You know, because Bailey is elite and all. And frankly I’m shocked that #IslandersKoolAid wouldn’t complain that if Buffalo wanted Bailey, they’d have to add a sweetener on top of Eichel to acquire him. Eyes on Isles said so!

With the departure of Eichel, Buffalo gets rid of a very vocal critic in their locker room, who in his young career has seen a carnival of head coaches and GM’s and would likely again be a thorn in the side of the next head coach after this one as well and could poison upcoming and incoming players. He’ll be replaced with professionals who generally have suffered through the Garth Snow era of constantly losing pretty silently.

Casey Cizikas plays a physical game, which has led to very real concerns on his durability. He has never played a full season and only came close twice in 9 seasons. He has one year left on a deal, which isn’t hard to burn down. And does anyone want to pay CC $4 million at age 31 and beyond for his style of play? That’s a bad idea. A Buffalo idea.

If you need to proof as to where Cizikas’s career is headed, look no further than the other CC, Cal Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck has never played a full season, has never played an 80 game season, and at age 32 just lost a quarter season or more for the second time in the last 4 years. With two years left on that deal, keeping the best 4th line in hockey intact would mean needing a second 4th line to step in to cover the 20+ games that Martin will miss, the 20+ games that Cizikas will miss, and the 20+ games that Clutterbuck will miss.

But how do you break up the best 4th line in hockey? Well, you start by not resigning free agent Matt Martin, and then find a taker by trading out of the horrible Cal Clutterbuck contract.

But to keep them together? You’d have to sign Martin now, and then extend Cizikas soon. That seems like a flat out stupid idea, especially when Ross Johnston is already a 4th liner, Otto Koivula is ready to step in as a 4c, and you can slot Michael Dal Colle and his no goal scoring ass into that other wing. Suddenly the cost of the 4th line goes from $9.35 million (FOR A 4TH LINE) to $2.5 million.

There’s your “resign Mat Barzal” money right there.

So if I am shitting on Cizikas- a player I like but has been very overpaid except for that one season that he scored more than 9 goals- why would Buffalo want him? Because Cizikas brings experience and grit to a team that lacks identity and toughness in Buffalo. He would assume a similar role with the Sabres as he has on the Island- to be a thorn in the side of scorers, kill penalties, and chip in a goal every ten games or so.

Think a penalty killer has no value? Look at Leo Komorov. It explains his 4 year $10 million debacle of a deal.

You may have noticed a variant of this deal involving Nick Leddy in my proposal as an and or. If he is an “and?” I still make the deal. It clears out salary cap space for the Islanders to match what they took back from Buffalo and creates the cap space for Ryan Pulock and roster spot for Noah Dobson. And if Leddy is an “or?” Then it still gives Buffalo a cup winning defenseman to form a second pairing behind Rasmus Ristolainen for just two years and the Islanders give Pageau a guy that can pass to a guy that can pass to JP to help him get his 20 goals as a 3C, a watermark that Bailey has yet to hit in 12 years? 13?

So lets get to another part as to why this deal is good for Buffalo. The Sabres just appointed a new General Manager in Kevyn Adams, who will likely replace head coach Ralph Krueger in 12 months. Adams will be rebuilding a team in perpetual rebuild. He will want to deal off bad contracts. He will want to maximize value while navigating a cap sport. And he will likely want to make his own pick from the Islanders prospect pool. Plus he will want a 1st round draft pick in 2022 as the Islanders aging forward core is 2 years older and probably less productive at that point. Adams may be choosing in the top ten of the NHL draft with that pick.  

So if Adams decides that he wants Oliver Whalstrom? OK. What are the odds Whalstrom is a 30 goal scorer? What Islanders prospects recently have blossomed into 30 goal scorers? None? And even if he does? The Islanders just got a proven one from Buffalo. And while wing is an organizational weakness, the Islanders moving Nelson to wing puts a band aid on the matter for a couple of years.

Also, Adams will inherit an immediate multimillion initial salary cap boost, no matter how the deal is structured, and after the first season and second seasons of this will add multimillions more, creating almost $10 million dollars of cap space, which is what they were paying Eichel. Meaning…they can sign another Eichel. It’s a huge cap space win for Buffalo as they enter the rebuild within a rebuild.

So to summarize- the Islanders improve their top 6 talent and their offense and have another flashy name to use to market their new arena. The Sabres get a piece to complement their top winger and/or their top defenseman, a lot of cap flexibility, two future assets, a character player on an expiring contract, and they remove a perpetual headache from the organization. It’s not like Buffalo is going to win a title next year, so why not set up for an eventual run without an expensive headache that needs to be considered in any roster move?

Gotta fill those seats...
Do you Remember Dave Stieb?

Do you Remember Dave Stieb?

When you think of pitchers that ruled the 1980s and early 90s, names like Dwight Gooden, Jack Morris, and Orel Hershiser probably come to mind. Very quietly north of the border, Dave Stieb had a run of success in his own right.

The Blue Jays amazingly enough almost whiffed on drafting Stieb. Toronto scouted the righty at a varsity game as an outfield prospect. It was not until Stieb came into the game as a reliever that the Blue Jays were impressed and drafted him.

Stieb debuted for the Blue Jays in 1979, in hopes of helping bring the third-year franchise into relevance. In ‘77 and ‘78, Toronto won 54 and 59 games respectively. Stieb finished his rookie 8-8, a respectable start to his career. To show how tough times were in Toronto, Stieb’s eight wins tied for second on the starting staff.

As the calendar turned to 1980, Stieb began his 11-year run of excellence. From 1980-1990, the righty won 158 games while pitching to a 3.33 ERA. Six out of those 11 years Stieb won 16+ games. Stieb was selected to the All-Star team seven out of those 11 years, twice being named the American League’s starting pitcher in ‘83 and ‘84.

Along with Stieb’s success on the mound came an emerging Blue Jays squad. After back-to-back 89-73 second place finishes in ‘83 and ‘84, Toronto made its first ever trip to the playoffs in ‘85. Led by ace and 14-game winner Dave Stieb, the Blue Jays made it all the way to game seven of the ALCS before losing to the eventual champion Royals.

Despite all the victories, Stieb’s multiple near misses at baseball immortality are most eye-popping. Between 1985-89, Stieb had three no-hitters and a perfect game broken up in the ninth inning. Two of the lost no-hitters came in back-to-back starts against the Indians and Orioles on September 24 and 30, 1988. Both attempts were broken up with Stieb one strike away from becoming the first Blue Jay to toss a no-no.

Less than a year later on August 4, 1989, Stieb nearly became the 13th pitcher to pitch a perfect game. One out away from pitching himself into baseball lore, Stieb gave up a double to Yankees’ center fielder Roberto Kelly.

After coming close so many times, Stieb finally finished the deal on September 2, 1990. Facing the Indians once again, Stieb in his fifth attempt became the first Blue Jay to pitch a no-hitter in a 3-0 Toronto win at Cleveland Stadium. His no-hitter is still the only one in franchise history to date.

The injury bug bit Stieb after 1990, forcing him to have his role diminished as a starter. As the franchise’s best pitcher declined, the Blue Jays stepped up. Toronto captured its first World Series title in 1992 with Stieb as the fifth starter. Thanks to injuries, Stieb only started 14 games with his final appearance coming on August 8. Despite his season ending early, the Blue Jays rightfully awarded Stieb a World Series ring.

Every franchise at one time or another had “the guy” that put his team on the map. Tom Seaver was “the guy” for the Mets, Tony Gwynn was “the guy” for the Padres, and Dave Stieb was “the guy” for the Blue Jays. Don’t get me wrong Stieb is no Seaver, but his ability to help bring the Blue Jays out of the black hole of irrelevance should be cherished in Toronto for years to come.

Wrestling’s Bad Side

Wrestling’s Bad Side

Over the years Wrestling companies have had their fair share of Disadvantages and not allowing other stars to reach their full potential. Stars like Sin Cara are the prime example of not being allowed in the spotlight. On December 8th, 2019 Sin Cara left the WWE along with this statement from his Twitter. “I am stuck in a place where I have no value as an athlete, performer or entertainer.” Wrestling Performer’s often times have to Earn a chance to grow. Some improve by paying their dues and when some do perform and put on a show to their best ability but then don’t get the credit or feedback they need to improve and be better. To me as a wrestling Analyst this is not the way wrestlers should be treated and deserve to get the same amount of credit as everyone else. It can come to a point where a performer doesn’t feel that passion for the business of sports entertainment anymore. To me this is bad for business and its one of those things where you wish every performer has a shot to do well and make it big. A friend of mine in wrestling named Apolo Jr is one of those performers that does not get enough credit for the amount of work he puts in for ACW Shows and its very upsetting. There has to be change for future aspiring stars and hopefully for the better.

WWE vs AEW which is the better show?

WWE vs AEW which is the better show?

Ever since 2001, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been the only pro wrestling game in town after winning the Monday night wars against World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Since then wrestling fans have been dreaming of an alternative to WWE for years, and in 2019, they finally got their wish with All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

AEW is a start-up company that is funded by Tony Kahn, the owner of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars. He has been a major wrestling fan. Along with some of the most passionate workers in the pro wrestling business, they were able to put this new league together and get it off the ground in a very short amount of time. AEW has been in operation for a little over a year now and they have shown that, unlike other companies that have tried in the past, they are here to stay. They have the funds and the talent to be an alternative to the WWE.

WWE has not let AEW go unnoticed however. Once AEW launched their weekly programming on Wednesday nights with AEW Dynamite -which originally did not compete against any WWE programming – WWE made sure fans have genuine competition by moving their best show NXT from their streaming service to cable tv to go directly against AEW. Thus, the Wednesday night wars have begun. So, after a year of programming and several major PPV’s in the books, who right now has the better show: WWE or AEW?

If you look at the ratings AEW has won 81% of the time, but that is only half the story. AEW has been able to put on great shows with amazing action despite only being able to run shows out of the Jaguar’s practice facilities, even with WWE also running shows out of their performance center. WWE has put on less live shows with considerably more scripted events and less live-action than AEW. WWE and NXT have been lacking the right push to get them over AEW on a weekly basis. The only way NXT has won against AEW is when they have big names from their other two shows to help them- they have the name brand talent. But WWE has been brought down by bad story telling and a lack of interest in the product. This is unlike the AEW, which has been new and fresh. And people want to see something new and fresh.

Of course, this is all subjective to your taste in programming. If you like fast action and great athleticism go watch All Elite Wrestling. If you like more storytelling and more drawn out narratives go watch NXT. This choice is something wrestling fans have been clamoring for. In the time of no sports, let wrestling fill the void. And go pick a side in the Wednesday night wrestling wars!

Signing Joe Flacco was another effective move by the Jets

Signing Joe Flacco was another effective move by the Jets

For the first time in a long time, the New York Jets have an answer at quarterback in Sam Darnold. New York doesn’t have to go into offseasons looking for a quarterback because of Darnold and what he brings to the table as he heads into year three, and they can focus on other positions to help him succeed. The Jets have undergone a solid offseason to this point by helping their franchise quarterback by retooling the offensive line, signing Breshad Perriman, and getting a receiver in the early rounds of the draft such as Denzel Mims. However, that doesn’t have to be the only position to help out Darnold.

Backup quarterback usually gets ignored by many because of the position, but when the starting quarterback goes down with an injury, that’s when it helps to have a backup to help out and win a few games. Not to mention mentoring the young starting quarterback, which is what Joe Flacco brings to the table after the Jets signed him to a one-year contract last month. Over the last two years, the Jets backup quarterback situation has been a problem. Darnold has missed three games in each his first two years with an injury and mononucleosis. In those six games, the Jets started Josh McCown, who was a great teacher and mentor to Darnold but struggled in his three starts replacing the injured quarterback. Trevor Siemian, and Luke Falk round out the trio of backups to start. New York went 0-6 in those games. In 2019, the Jets went 7-6 with Darnold playing.

Flacco brings valuable veteran experience as a franchise quarterback on a team, the Baltimore Ravens, for a decade. As well as being the starter in Denver last season before suffering a serious neck injury that forced him to miss the rest of the 2019 year and had surgery on it back in April, which does put his status availability up in the air for Week 1. Flacco’s seen it and been through it all in the league. A lot of winning to go along with frustrating times and struggling through injuries over the last couple of years. Flacco made the playoffs six times in Baltimore, winning ten playoff games and a Super Bowl championship. There arguably could’ve been more playoff wins in Baltimore for Flacco if not for a few drops in the playoffs in 2011 and 2014. 2011 would’ve resulted in a trip to the Super Bowl. That experience right there can be so helpful to a quarterback like Darnold, and Flacco has been in the position where Darnold is in currently in year three.

In 2010, Flacco’s third year, the Ravens brought in an experienced backup in former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger. Bulger had a fine career in the league, spending ten years with the Rams and starting in eight of those seasons. Bulger made the Pro Bowl twice during that span. Bulger helped Flacco a lot in his development in 2010 in a season where, at that point in his career, threw for the most passing yards and touchdowns. Flacco can do the same for Darnold in 2020. He can even help him out within the AFC East.

So far, Darnold’s had his struggles against his own division, especially against the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Flacco has never lost to the Dolphins and when it comes to the Patriots, there’s only a select few of quarterbacks who have played well consistently against them over their twenty years of dominance, Flacco was one of them. Flacco was 2-2 against the Patriots in the playoffs and he really should’ve been 4-0 if not for the aforementioned drops, which also include the Billy Cundiff missed field goal in the 2011 AFC Championship game. Flacco can show Sam their defenses tendencies in the film room.

If Darnold does have to miss time again this year, you can trust Flacco to go in their and win you a game or two, but it goes far beyond that where he helps Darnold and the Jets. Jets general manager Joe Douglas worked in Baltimore for 15 years and was a big influence in the Ravens drafting Flacco in 2008, and the Jets needed a backup quarterback desperately. The Ravens all-time leader in passing, a member of the 40,000 passing yards club, and a former Super Bowl MVP with double-digit playoff wins made to much sense for the Jets. Compared to last year, the Jets quarterback room with Darnold, Flacco, and rookie James Morgan is a lot better, and Darnold should benefit from having Flacco to help further his development.