Well, it’s that time of year where I can sit back, crack a beer, look at the local sports scene, look at the sports scene n general, and make snarky comments like Dennis Miller in the 1990’s- that’s when he was still funny. Now he’s boring horseshit, and has no idea why. Fuck him.
I’d like to start with the baseball lockout. Specifically the Cohen Tax. Folks, we are watching chess. Steve Cohen bought the Mets, and apparently is flush with cash, as every employee at SNY will fall over themselves to tell you. Teams responded to him and his vast resources by not letting him poach their talent. Check. So Cohen found the best of the unemployed talent in the game with experience to come in and manage a pre-lockout wide open wallet. Check. So the owners add a new tax in the new collective bargaining agreement specifically aimed at top spending teams where the lowest spending teams will get welfare AND no directive to spend the money in case Cohen or Los Angeles goes payroll crazy. Check. So Cohen announces that the tax doesn’t mean shit to him. Check.
Baseball took their swing for a rare few million in added taxes. Check. Cohen responded by making $750 million 5 days later. Check. Other owners went out and made moves that are more significant than the Mets adding the end of career Scherzer and the already hurt Marte. See what the Braves did? The Mariners? Phillies? Cubs? Many better players than the Mets acquired. How do I know? Because the Braves won the World Series, and the Oakland A’s – the team you got three players from – didn’t.
In short, since the Cohen tax became a thing? Cohen looks like it kneecapped him.
Plus, the Mets are counting on an AWFUL lot of bounceback years from players, including an outfield that averaged 120 games played per player. They need Nimmo, Cahna, McNeil, Scherzer (dead arm in playoffs, at the most important time?), DeGrom (July? SHUT IT DOWN!), Smith, Cano (juice free), Davis, McGann, Carasco, Walker, Peterson, and Lindor to bounce back. Did I miss anyone? You know, suddenly that roster looks really fucking horrible.
Also, a big fuck you to baseball owners. To punish a guy for trying to win? And using that tax to prop up teams that lose on purpose? While charging the fans premiums for everything? As a sport you’re upset with Steve Cohen but aren’t saying boo about what the Cincinnati Reds are doing? What the Oakland A’s are doing? FUCK YOU, WELFARE QUEEN THIEVES.
Now that I got that out of the way, lets take a look at whatever I feel like.
The New York Mets: the lockout has focused the team on acquiring an aging, expiring contract one time all star starting pitcher, a reliever at a discount coming off of two bad years, another reliever to a minor league contract, and a bunch of guys destined for Triple A. I guess that Cohen tax did work! On a positive note, The Phillies took Familia and Hand into their bullpen, so thanks for taking inconsistent relievers, divisional rivals.
The New York Mets: Hey Billy Eppler- the Oakland A’s just unloaded their all star first baseman. The A’s are the Wal Mart of baseball. You never want to go there, but when you do, you come home with something. The Oakland A’s need a starting first baseman. The Mets rotation needs a left handed starter. Dominic Smith for Sean Manaea? Then move Cookie Carasco or Taijuan Walker for bullpen help? Also, still a fan of the idea of trading Robinson Cano with the Seattle money and an additional ten million just to get him elsewhere. Any return is found money. Roughly $10 million worth. And after that press conference? Good riddance to a guy who will hit 260 without drugs, or roughly $100,000 per point of batting average.
The New York Yankees: How did you shank getting Freddie Friedman? Or Carlos Correa? George is vomiting in his grave and spinning through it.
The New York Rangers: Still amazed at the speed of the transition that losing a $10 million contract and having two top picks back to back in drafts can do. With the right coach.
The New York Islanders: Good job with a strong March. Unfortunately it follows a bad November, December, January, and February. Not the best way to run through a season. This is a great time to trade middling assets for premiums- See Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Zdeno Chara, Seymon Varlamov, and Scott Mayfield. Also, consider a reup on Parise at minimum wage. It’s still higher than major league baseball, and Minnesota still owes him cash. If the season ended, they would be drafting 10th. It may be a good time to improve those odds via selloff and tank and go for the first overall like the Rangers and Oilers get every losing season. Not that a fix is in for some teams.
Also, This whole Ilya Sorokin thing? He’s not special. I’m going to present some goalie stats without attaching names to them, and you pick out Sorokin. 2.51/920, 2.13/.930, 2.28/.923, 2.45/.919. These are the Islanders 4 starting goaltenders under Trotz. Which is Greiss? Lehner? Sorokin? Varlamov?
The New York Knicks: Tank already. You are not going to improve by stockpiling second round picks. Get a top pick and fucking find a decent player. Also, Julius Randle has to go. And it’s OK to trade Kemba Walker in the offseason. He had his homecoming. Now he gets a homegoing. Look across a borough for some ideas. Somehow the Nets acquired Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Ben Simmons. You acquire Evan Fournier and Taj Gibson, while sending out Kirstaps Prozingis and Tim Hardaway for a draft pick. How is competence so far off for a team run by…incompetents? You’d think you’d screw up into an accidental win. This is sports karma for the owner being a jerkoff.
The Brooklyn Nets: The height of your existence happened in Nassau Coliseum. That was in the 1970’s. Harden and Durant did not win in Oklahoma. Harden and Durant did not win in Brooklyn. Simmons hasn’t won shit. Irving only won when he had LeBron and all the refs and league helping his bring Cleveland an asterisk title. Long story short- you’re not going to win with this. Use your salary cap manipulation this offseason to retool.
New Jersey Giants: If anyone buys season tickets, it’s only for the tax write off. You stink. Aim for moving talent for draft picks, and get the first overall for next year. Your management sucks as well. Liars pay a price in the long run.
New Jersey Jets: The last time you were entertaining? You played at Shea Stadium. The last time you were winners? Your coach got a tattoo of his quarterback. Ownership needs to be forced to sell a flagship franchise, because they run it worse than a sprinter with no legs. Oh, one last thing: the Jets had a good start to free agency. They have a lot of draft capital. If they don’t win 8 to 10 games this year? Expect a fired GM.
California Angels: You blame Billy Eppler for how shitty your organization is? Well, he’s gone, but not before bringing in your arguably best player. My question- did he sign Albert Puols to that awful deal? Is he presently ruining Mike Trout’s career? Way to ruin two to three Hall of Famers careers simultaneously. Try to win a World Series maybe?
Los Angeles Lakers: Amazing how bad you are when having to play a full season and the refs can’t just hand LeBron everything. It must suck to know that the only time LeBron truly won a title it was in Miami. And Dwayne Wade won it for him. The only top ten all time NBA list that LeBron belongs to is heel.
Tom Brady: Of course you’re not retired. Of course. Your career will end when you stop drinking the blood of orphans or some shit. Although if your defense held up for 60 more seconds? Or could have guessed as to where the ball was going like all of America watching the game did? It’s probably be another Super Bowl ring. So, why not go for it and walk out on the highest note?
The city of Portland, Oregon: You are due for another sports team. I recommend relocating the Pittsburgh Pirates to an area with West Coast money, and not a dead industrial base.
Marijuana: I do not indulge in smoking anything, which is a personal choice. But if it’s legal in some places, then we should stop prescribing athletes opiates that are heroin derivatives, and just let guys flare up a spliff. There are places in America where alcohol is illegal- which is also draconian- but if it’s not illegal everywhere, why break balls? On some level, this is no different than breaking the color barrier, and its a way to normalize something more holistic than stomach lining eating, liver damaging painkillers.
Performance Enhancing Drugs: Tommy John surgery is performance enhancing surgery. Cortisone is a performance enhancing drug. No one seems to have issues with that. Personally, I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should have a cheater section where we honor Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, all the dudes that did cocaine in the 70’s and 80’s, and a section dedicate to players that use enemas to inject drugs. Oh, and betting. That’s totally bad for Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, but clearly not for Major League Baseball.
If you made it this far? The Islanders goaltender stat puzzle answers are exactly as they were listed. Looks like letting Lehner walk and signing Varlamov was a bad idea. Also, Igor Shesterkin has better career numbers than Sorokin, and has played for non playoff teams until now.
Well folks, that’s all for now. Feel free to add your hot takes in the comments below, and remember this- in the end, the athletes work for us. If they’re not entertaining you, stop giving them your money.
It’s been about two months since I last had a thought. Wait, what? NO! It’s just been two months since I had time to write down a few thoughts about the local sports scene, and I guess anything in the sports scene that I’m thinking about.
Let’s start with the obvious: the New York Mets.
Last time I wrote about the Mets, I said that the organization was doing something wrong if they couldn’t acquire a team president. Steve Cohen changed my mind.
Steve Cohen is a very rich man, as every radio show host will repeatedly let you know. The other owners know this, and have been fucking with him in the only way that they can. “I don’t have your money, so you can’t have my stuff.” Agents fucked with him. Players fucked with him. Because he was playing nice and trying to fit in. He finally decided enough was enough.
So what did Cohen do? Basically he said “The stuff I have? The players want.” And then he overpaid Starling Marte by roughly $20 million dollars. Then he offered a guy coming off of an injury tens of millions of dollars. And then the gut punch. The highest annually paid player was the New York Yankees Garret Cole. Was. The Mets offer to Max Scherzer – a future Hall of Fame pitcher who, while old, competed for a Cy Young last season- wasn’t just $5 more than the Cole deal. It wasn’t 1% more.
IT WAS 20% MORE THAN WHAT COLE GETS. TWENTY PERCENT.
Folks, that is called a fuck you. And a game changer.
EVERY agent will come to the Mets with their free agents as a final offer. A deal with Samsung will transform Citi Field into an entertainment destination. The manager is not only not a brand new inexperienced manager, but a widely respected, player friendly one in Buck Showalter. And the general manager he hired was both experienced and mentored by a baseball legend in Gene Michael- Billy Eppler. You know, the guy that brought Shohei Ohtani to the majors? The guy that hired former Yankee Showalter?
I get the sense that Eppler isn’t done contacting former Yankees. Brian Cashman will be a free agent executive in December of 2022. He’s presently making $25 million. I get the sense that Cohen can make a better offer.
And I want to give a pat on the back to Eppler for this overlooked gem- sure, losing Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto hurts if you’re rooting for a player instead of the team. But by losing both Confotro- who seems to be good every other year, and Syndergaard- who has pitched a handful of innings over the last two years and will maybe throw 125 innings next year if he doesn’t get injured? The Mets gained two second round picks in this upcoming MLB draft. And with the Kumar Rocker fiasco? The Mets gained a compensatory first round pick. So 5 of the top 80 and 6 of the top 100 picks will belong to the Mets. Anyone want to know how to restock a farm system? Let inconsistent and injured players bring you high level picks and save you wanted money.
Gone are the days where the Mets are auditioning rookie major league managers. By the way, former Mets manager Rojas is now an outfielders coach for the Yankees. Outfielders coach.
I’ll add this- in October I offered to be the Mets GM. At this point, I will accept an assistant GM position.
The New York Yankees: Your Dad wouldn’t put up with this Mets shit!
Major League Baseball: Give the players what they want. When it comes to Labor vs Management situations, there are two truisms: Management will always fuck labor because management itself is inherently backstabbing as people, and labor asks for fairness which usually falls against backstabbers.
The Chicago Cubs saw their team value increase 400% in the last decade because PLAYERS won them a World Series. Shouldn’t the owners reward the players with that new found $3 billion dollars? That the players made them? Yes, yes they should. The Wilpons sold the Mets for almost 7 times what they paid for it in a mere 20 years.
Also, paying players more doesn’t mean fans pay more. In the last 5 years, the average salary of baseball players has decreased. Have ticket prices?
The New York Rangers: Again, a good coach with a solid system can create a winning culture when surrounded with talented athletes.
The New York Islanders: A coach that works hard to emphasize defense at the point to stifle the offense has faith in Josh Bailey, who magically neither plays offense or defense. Something I learned in research this week- the more time you play Josh Bailey in a game, the statistically more likely you are to miss the playoffs.
The NHL: Maybe it’s time to go back to the 2019-2020 COVID playoff schedule, where everyone makes the playoffs? You screwed up early outbreaks, which benefits present COVID teams. My position is that if you can’t field a team, you should forfeit. But reality says that teams will roll out AHL caliber players and charge you NHL prices. Since you’ll fuck the fans at every turn, collapse the season and give each team a playoff birth. There’s not going to be an NHL player Olympics anyway, so let it fly.
The NFL: Have you seen the state of football in New York? Pretty good, right? Sure, a playoff bubble, but very likely a 10 win team.
But those guys in New Jersey are absolutely terrible. You need to have two pro leagues. One for the good teams, and one for teams trying to get there. Like European soccer.
The NBA: you have the most complicated salary cap in sports. You have a $113 million salary cap. One team follows that. ONE. Five teams are 50% above the cap. Sure it’s a soft cap. But if you have 29 teams ignoring the cap? You need to rewrite the collective bargaining agreement into reality.
The New York Knicks: Last year was fun because you were hard nosed and tough. Then you added soft players in free agency, drafted strong players that you refuse to play, and wonder why you’re losing. You lost your way.
The Brooklyn Nets: You’re not winning a title. Too old, too much Kyrie. Thank you for signing those guys so that the Knicks didn’t look even more dysfunctional.
Alright folks. I’m switching from writing to reading: next up, The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Hopefully Buck will hand it out to the players.
For the past two seasons, the New York Islanders fell short of competing in the Stanley Cup Finals, the ultimate goal of every kid playing hockey in the Western Hemisphere, and expanding eastward. For the past two seasons, the Islanders pushed the eventual Stanley Cup Champions to a game 6, and then a game seven. In the seven game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning? Game seven was decided by one goal. Lets talk about that season ending goal.
Long story short: Islanders power play. Bailey goes to puck instead of covering his assignment. Assignment gets puck and scores season ending goal against the Islanders.
It wasn’t an overtime, game ending goal. No, the Islanders kept slogging Bailey out there and very predictably, Bailey would not contribute to scoring a goal, absolutely refusing to put the puck past Tampa’s netminder, Andrei Vasilevsky. How do I know? He only took one shot all game. Which to be fair is an above average effort. Maybe Bailey knows about a two point line in hockey that no one else knows about?
Was Bailey’s 7 game output of one goal the worst on the Islanders? No, not at all. Mostly because Leo Komarov was ruining line one’s offense singlehandedly. But when Cal Clutterbuck outscores you? Or Adam Pelech? When Scott Mayfield and Matt Martin have as many goals as Bailey? Woof.
When we talk about Bailey sucking for the start of the season, this isn’t a new topic. It’s as predictable as tides, Haley’s Comet, and New York Jets losses.
Ten percent of a season is obviously not a season. Around 16 games you can start to see trends with more clarity. But 30% of finished games is a sample of work you can compare against, oh, I don’t know, 13 other seasons. It’s not exactly hard to point out trends that have gone on for over a decade.
For instance, for his entire career, when the Islanders offense was rolling, Bailey had more points. When the Islanders offense was stagnant? Bailey had less points. On the surface, that seems obvious. But on a deeper dive?
Sometimes players contribute despite the record of the team. Sometimes a player has statistics where ‘they made others around themselves better. And then you get the Josh Bailey’s of the world.
It is not hard to see, when the Islanders score goals, Bailey gets points. And when the Islanders don’t score goals, Bailey doesn’t get points. Playmakers create points. I would think you would be hard pressed to say that Mat Barzal does not generate offense. I think you would be hard pressed to say that Islander era John Scumbag Tavares generated no offense.
In Bailey’s outlier year of 71 points- which can be broken into two seasons: the 3 months where he scored 50 points, and the 4 months where he scored 21 in the same season- Anders Lee scored 40 goals. Has Lee scored 40 again? No. What’s the difference?
The difference is that the center that Lee benefitted from that season almost scored 40 goals also, but now plays in Toronto. And the other wing on that line? He’s is often on a line with Lee. And when you combine those two? Lee rarely scores.
Lee specializes in stuffing in rebounds from guys that shoot. Bailey has what, 18 shots on the season? Not exactly helping Anders out there, are ya Josh?
21 games.7 games without a single shot on goal. A plus for six games, even for seven, minus in eight, including spectacularly being a minus in a six goal game where the Islanders won by four. A game where only ONE of Montreals two goals could have counted as a minus. Guess who was on the ice?
To start the season, line two was not producing goals, and was a minus across the board for everyone. Coach Barry Trotz flipped wingers. Did he take the hot scoring Oliver Whalstrom and promote him to the second line? No, why would he do that? Trotz for some reason sees Whalstrom differently than the rest of the NHL and Islander fans see him. Passing over a healthy Whalstrom in the playoffs last season to play Leo Komarov was absolutely the wrong decision to make. Does Komarov prevent goals? Somewhat. Does Komarov produce goals? Absolutely not. So unless you want to win zero to negative one? You don’t play Komarov over Whalstrom on line one.
Trotz flipped Bailey for underachieving Palmieri on the first two lines? The result? Line two blossomed and everyone became a plus. And line one? Two goals in the first few weeks that Bailey joined the unit. As a positive, one was by Bailey, who is now on a pace for 4 goals on the season, instead of zero. On line one.
Lou made moves to clear cap space for a playoff run, if the team even can make one at this point. The Islanders have needs in their top 4 defense and in top 6 forwards. Assuming Lou addresses this as he has done in the recent past? There needs to be a move made to redefine the top six. Which is great, because for the past 13 season, no team with Josh Bailey in their top six has won a Stanley Cup. And no team with Josh Bailey in their top six will ever win a Stanley Cup.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the greatest move that the Islanders can pull to make the playoffs? Trade Josh Bailey.
What would a return on Bailey look like? Less than any other recent Isles trade. Bailey’s maybe getting you a 3rd round pick, even from a magician like Lou. But the REAL magic on a Bailey trade would be moving all $5 million off of the teams book over the next two seasons, and in making space in the present season as well.
The Islanders “Identity Line” was a vastly overpaid 4th line that used to play aggressive hockey. If you moved Bailey to a third line job? You’re looking at over $10 million to roll out the third line. That’s absurd.
Then there’s the time on ice that Bailey eats. Bailey is playing the second highest average time on ice in his career tied with his 201-18 season. Did the Islanders make the playoffs in 2017-18? No, no they did not. BTW, the year Bailey averaged the highest time on ice for his career, which was 2016-17? Yeah, the Islanders missed the playoffs that year, too. Sometimes two things can happen independently- correlation. And sometimes one thing leads to another- causation. I’d argue that by giving Bailey more time on ice, you are asking to lose. Data backs that up.
The 4th highest average time on ice for Bailey? Isles missed the playoffs that year, too. So you keep these almost 18 minute nights up for Bailey, and you will miss the playoffs.
My point here? Trading away Bailey gives you a benefit in production. Keifer Bellows has twice as many goals as Bailey in half the games played and with 40% of Bailey’s time on ice in those games.
Am I advocating for giving Bellows more playing time? Yes, yes I am. And the best avenue to do that is to trade Bailey. Same goes for the logic of finding playing time for the blossoming before your eyes Oliver Whalstrom. And for creating cap space. And for maybe getting some form of low level draft asset added to help grow your organization. These are all positives.
But keeping 17:53 a night of Josh Bailey? You’re going to miss the playoffs. Causation.
As we sit in the rarified time of year where all four major North American sports are rolling, now is as good a time as any to do some quick hits on the New York sports scene, as well as anything else I can fit into a paragraph of a take.
New York Mets: A second year in a row of failing to find a president tells me something: you’re doing it wrong. Yes, a team president can change a culture. But the St. Louis Cardinals have had back to back losing seasons once since 1960, and I’m almost positive that they’ve had more than one team president in that time. Maybe culture starts at the top?
Also, I am available for the GM position. And unlike other GM’s I won’t trade any of the top 5 prospects unless I think they stink.
New York Yankees: Need a shortstop? Wait until a week into free agency, and see what the Mets would take for Francisco Lindor. I get the feeling that you could move a bad contract or two and get a bargain price based on the savings. Maybe move Gerrit Cole’s deal, because without super glue in the glove that deal seems like it’s about to blow up.
New York Rangers: See what happens when you get a good coach? Amazing. Hopefully the Mets take note.
New York Islanders: While you’ve been the most successful team in New York for the last two seasons, realize that’s always a tenuous position. On that theme, Zdeno Chara needs a rest. Time to make that guy a 7th defenseman and give Robin Salo or Samuel Bolduc a chance.
New York Knicks: You need an all star. Watching Julius Randle shoot in the clutch is like watching…Kirstaps Porzingis shoot in the clutch. You need the guy that ends opponent’s rallies. You need the guy that looks forward to getting the ball with 8 seconds left on the clock and the team down by one. You have 4000 draft picks over the next few years. Seems easy to look to move picks and pieces starting with Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robrokenson.
How many times do we need to watch a Knicks 10 point lead evaporate in the last 3 minutes of a game before you address this?
Brooklyn Nets: Trade Kyrie Irving. I get he is wholly overpaid and few teams can afford him. But he is a me first player. Always has been, always will be. No one wins with him unless they have 3 other all stars, and then they don’t even win. A swap with the Sixers for Ben Simmons would help with the salary differential, and Simmons doesn’t need to shoot with James Harden and Kevin Durant willing to throw even more shots up. Plus, Philly hates winning, so Irving will fit in nicely.
New York Giants: You are hard to watch. You need an identity. You wasted a 2nd overall pick on a running back when you had so many more issues. That’s like a homeless guy buying a Ferrari. You can’t even sleep in that, which makes it a total waste.
New York Jets: You are hard to watch. You need an identity. And a new owner. You have a head coach who was a defensive guru, and your defense is absolutely horseshit. You have the second best quarterback in the draft playing like he was chosen in round 5. You’re a dysfunctional franchise.
Jet and Giants: If you merged these two teams into one? They would win 4 games all season. Think about that. Also, call yourself New Jersey, for fucks sake. You’ve been there for 40 years.
All Major Sports: Stop firing people today over things that happened years or decades ago. It’s a stupid practice to use modern standards to not only evaluate the past, but to punish it. Or in many cases, punish it a second time. It’s even dumber to have the people who originally made those initial decisions making new ones that are even worse. Unless you can dig up Hitler’s bones – who actually did bad stuff- and make him apologize? Shut the fuck up, be glad the world is a little better now than it used to be which isn’t much, and then learn what forgiveness is so that we continue progress instead of falling into retroactive justice for none of your concern that makes society even worse than it used to be. Let he or she who is without sin case the first stone, but everyone else? SHUT THE FUCK UP. We’re not chasing Nazi’s hiding from Holocaust crimes. Most of these sins are from emails and tweets that hurt your feelies. Remember that sticks and stones rhyme? Time to grow up.
Besides, why should behavior occurring outside of work affect your job? If your lawn looks bad you should lose your job? If your wife is ugly you should lose your job? How about losing your job when you’re bad at your job, and dealing with personal matters personally?
Sports Teams Across the Nation: It costs $2 to make a t-shirt. Here’s an idea: start selling them to fans at $5. Not all of them- you can have some kind of fancy t-shirt, maybe with frills or flip flop paint or something. But a basic, made in China t-shirt? You give that shit away to fans at games in rocket launchers. Offer fans some free advertising for your awful franchise at low prices as a thank you for putting up with our milking you for every dollar you have while we have a 300 winning percentage offering. You know, actual decency? Instead of firing a guy that said “Ching Chong” 20 years ago? Speaking of, Shaq is still on the air, so get cracking, social justice warriors!
The Islanders are rolling though the preseason schedule in typical Barry Trotz team fashion. An enjoyable thrashing of the Rangers, then the usual games won or lost by a goal. Beating the Rangers always feels good, be it preseason, regular season, or post season.
I am thankful for Barry Trotz as our coach. For the past two seasons, Trotz has taken the Islanders to the Eastern Conference finals. People say the Islanders playing style is boring. They also said that about Lou Lamoriello’s teams in New Jersey, who bored their way into three Stanley Cup championships. And I firmly believe that if the Islanders had won either series against Tampa, they would have won that elusive 5th Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Additionally, I am glad that the Islanders added Erik Gustafsson on a PTO after the removal of Nick Leddy and his contract to the Detroit Red Wings. Anyone reading my tweets knows how I was endorsing that move weeks before the Islanders made it, and I’d think most Islander fans wouldn’t be aware that the last time the NHL played a full season, Gustafsson put up 17 goals and 60 points. He can not replicate that performance in a Trotz system, but also, the knock on Gustafsson is his defense, which is something a Trotz tutorial can fix. The job Trotz did with Scott Mayfield is amazing, and he absolutely transformed Sesame Street Count looking Adam Pelech into a Norris Trophy candidate, though probably not a Norris winner due to his lack of offense.
Lou did a very good job at keeping salaries tolerable. Palmieri at $5 million gives you Jordan Eberle production at a 10% discount. Sorokin’s deal is 20% lighter than the one for Varlamov, whose job he will take over the course of the Varlamov contract. Anthony Beauvilier is a tad of an overpay, but he is young, plays hard no both ends, and scores, so there’s that. Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise are signed at what’s expected to be NHL minimum wage. The Adam Pelech deal was $750,000 below the expected rate, and has shown to be an even better price with newer deals being signed. It will also force Ryan Pulock to take a similar deal, or become the next Tavares.
The Casey Cizikas deal maybe was the best of all of his deals. It was a steal in three ways. One, he got his player to take roughly HALF of what he was allegedly offered from other teams. Two, the savings on the Cizikas deal allowed the Islanders to add Zdeno Chara or Zach Parise with cap neutrality from the prior season. And three, it means Clutterbuck will take a pay cut next year, like Matt Martin did last year to set the precedent for the “Identity Line” to retire together as a group.
Getting Richard Panik in the Nick Leddy deal was an interesting call. Panik is a bottom 6 player that can sub in and provide a little bit of offense, but seems better at defense. That Detroit is keeoing half of the cap hit over two seasons makes Komarov even more tradable, especially since Komarov has a phantom cap hit backed up by a lower than cap salary.
That’s the praise section. Now here comes the unbuckling of the pants, the lowering of the trousers and underwear, the right angle knee bending squat, the unpuckering of the anus, and the delivery of a fiber laden, corn pocked SHITTING on the most obvious factors facing this team.
The Islanders ended their last season being shut out. Twice, actually, in a 7 game series. The Islanders had one offensively dynamic player on the roster. The Islanders ABSOLUTELY LARGEST NEED this past offseason was an offensively dynamic forward to pair with Mat Barzal.
The result? Keeping Kyle Palmieri, aka Smaller Anders Lee.
“But what was available?” #IslesKoolAid would say. Lets take a look.
Sam Reinhart was traded for a 1st round draft pick and a prospect. Reinhart had 25 goals and 40 points in 54 games on a horrible Buffalo Sabres team.
Jakob Voracek was traded for Cam Atkinson. Atkinson had 41 goals the last time the NHL played a full season. Since 2012, Voracek has been close to a point a game player.
Seth Jones was acquired in a trade. Jones scores at the same pace as Kool Aid legend Josh Bailey, except Jones is a defenseman. Same holds true for Oliver Ekman Larsson. Or Rasmus Ristolainen.
We all know the St. Louis Blues have been dangling Vladimir Tarasenko all summer. Cup winner, 30+ goal scorer when healthy.
Project and 2nd overall pick Nolan Patrick was available. Not an elite player yet, but would have been nice to have that kind of potential in the organization.
Taylor Hall was an unrestricted free agent. Hall had 14 points in 16 games for a good team last year, after having 17 points in 37 games for a bad one. 31 points in 53 games is… close to the 35 points in 54 games of Islanders legend Josh Bailey playing for a cup competing team.
There’s also the usual disgruntled Patrik Laine rumors, and Pierre-Luc DuBois, in the last year of his deal and whom Hockey-Reference.com compares his career trajectory with Jerome Iginla. Like we need any of that, right?
That’s just what was traded, signed, or expiring. Shake a tree and even more things fall out.
There’s also the ABSURDITY of the rumors coming out of training camp saying Oliver Whalstrom will not make the team because he has waiver options. So we’re holding a spot for the expiring career and contract of Leo Komarov in the top 9 for him to get outskated all season? To repeat his performance of one goal over 52 regular season and playoff games?
There’s also the absurdity of the potential to lose Keifer Bellows from the organization. Bellows scores goals. He has 5 in 22 career games getting 3 and a half minutes per game. Bellows will be a 20 goal scorer in the NHL when players like Komarov or Ross Johnston aren’t eating his game minutes. The current Islanders leadership seems to have no idea about how to handle an offensively talented forward, which will be compounded when Josh Ho Sang makes the Toronto Maple Leafs roster this season. The lack of scoring depth in the organization is problematic, to say the least.
As is the lack of youth on the roster. You think resigning Andy Greene was keeping too old of a player around? Welcome, Zdeno Chara! I’m not saying having experience on the blue line is entirely bad, but wouldn’t just Chara have been ideal? I totally wanted to add Chara and also Zach Parise to add experience, ability, and lower minutes role playing to the roster. But I’d be lying if I said I would have preferred that to instead seeing a Sam Reinhart in the top 6, moving a lesser player into the bottom 6 role. Or even better, Whalstrom in the top six. Also, Robin Salo and Sam Bolduc aren’t NHL ready? You have to break in rookies one a t a time. Having old players like Greene and Chara would be the time to add a kid to learn from their mentorship.
Did I mention the lack of goal depth in the organization? As we see a training camp with an ailing Seymon Varlamov, fans are surely glad that the goalie of the future is here in the form of Ilya Sorokin. But the first callup is Cory Schneider? And there isn’t exactly a lot of free agent goalies to rush in to service, which really is a failure of drafting- something that has been an issue for the Islanders for about a consecutive decade. JF Berube was recently waived. The Islanders are one injury away from that being a real option. Maybe Lou can talk Brodeur into coming out of retirement?
To summarize, as the Islanders presently stand:
They’re old. They’re a win now team that used the offseason to get OLDER.
They have very little injury depth. A key injury- See Anders Lee- derails this season in a big way. imagine a Barzal injury? Lottery.
They don’t draft well. Taking Aatu Raty was a no brainer, but the system lacks young, promising offensive players. This again makes them a win now team.
They probably should add a kid on defense, if they aren’t going to sign Guftasson to a minimum wage deal.
Noah Dobson is the Nick Leddy replacement. He’s a smarter player. So you need to figure out who is the 6th defenseman.
This is a team that ABSOLUTELY needs to do the same thing they’ve done the past two seasons- make a fantastic trade deadline move.
This team will need maintenance days, especially on defense. There needs to be a taxi squad. As an aside, the Bridgeport Islanders screwed up by signing in Bridgeport for a decade and not moving to the Coliseum and be 6 miles away from the majors.
The 4th line is already showing the damage that injuries create. This will be the story of line 4 over the next 3-6 years, as the Clutterbuck, Martin, Cizzikas, and Johnston contracts expire. No one on line 4 will play 80 games this season. You can bank on that.
Line 3 needs to be as dynamic in scoring as the first two lines, and needs to play better defense than line 4. Tampa rolls 3 dangerous lines. We need to do the same.
If Anders Lee isn’t back to form, they should Tampa Bay his ass, claim his leg fell off, and LTIR $7 million to improve the team.
I get that this is a preseason, pre announced roster edition. But I also sense that the roster is already set in the minds of Islanders management. This team is a cup contender, and could be a champion with a tweak or two.
If so, the hopes of this team fall on two things. One is the cohesiveness that Coach Trotz can create with his system and his team, which need to regroup after a summer of trades, expansion drafting, signings, and time. The other is a trade deadline deal, which Lou has gone two for two in the last two seasons. Maybe that’s where the elite talent comes in, because we know it’s not presently here. And without that move? It will be what it always is, which is more of the same.
I feel like Peter Jackson. Not because I’m fat and furry, but because I’m telling a story that suddenly has grown into at least 3 parts, and is going to be more likely six parts regarding the Islanders off season in 2021.
How did I do? I mean, some writers suggest or say or infer ideas or rumors. I predicted EXACT EVENTS. My Islanders foil Kool Aid Rob critiqued me saying that if I was so smart, why wasn’t I an NHL GM, and my family should be disappointed in my not raking in NHL GM dough. Based on Garth Snow, that dough is Cookie. But he’s probably right.
Why can a layperson see so many obvious things that a professional can not.
Now, when I say professional GM, understand that a professional GM is not exactly the same thing as a professional teacher or doctor. Those jobs have qualifications.
But hockey GM? Before he had the New York Islanders playing “Smaht” and “Haard”, Jack Capuano was a hockey GM. So how hard can it be?
But I digress. The gist of the article was that the Islanders needed to do more than just add one new player.
I suggested Vladimir Tarasenko at forward, Zdeno Chara to replace Andy Greene, and to promote the most deserving AHL player at 6th defenseman to be budget conscious.
So far I’m 67% exactly precise with the moves Lou Lamoriello has made. But I think there’s a better ending to my predictive ability and actual NHL Hall of Fame GM foresight. And it’s right in the face to be snatched up.
Don’t get me wrong, Tarasenko is still a possibility. It’s just that the bait to get him has changed. The bait however will still be by trade. Unfortunately, Islander fans have two ideas in mind about what a trade means. Anything on the Islanders roster has no trade value. Also, anything on the Isles roster is invaluable. Example?
“Who would want Leddy? He sucks. We’d have to include 4 1sts to move him.”
Reality? Contract moved to the EXACT TEAM I predicted, and the return was a 2nd and a player with Detroit retaining half the salary.
#IslesKoolAid the usual zero, #IslesRealists for the win.
“Ladd is untradeable.”
Reality? Ladd moved for 2 draft picks going the other way, which is very fair.
“Bailey unprotected? We’re fucked.”
Reality? No GM in the NHL WANTS Bailey. Not without inducements to take the zilch preventing the Islanders from winning a Stanley Cup. So technically, #IslesKoolAid is right on this one. We are fucked, because Seattle didn’t pick Bailey and the Isles are still stuck with him.
“Komorov is untradeable.”
Realty? You’re going to be wrong on that call, too.
As per my thesis in this piece, the Islanders can not take a step forward without a better infusion of new blood. By new I don’t mean teenagers. By new I mean guys who did not get to the highest stage of their career and fail. Parise is baby steps toward that. Tarasenko – a cup winner – would help that. Dunn – a cup winner – would help that.
Wait, did you say Vince Dunn?
Whereas I predicted the Isles reuniting with Chara, my mistake was Lou’s ties to the New Jersey Devils. Hello, Palmieri and Parise? Greene is done, but Lou is looking to fulfill something on a personal level that most people have no understanding of. It’s called loyalty. Old school. Respect.
But I did predict Tarasenko. And I’m feeling Dunn would be something interesting. But why would the Seattle Kracken trade Dunn?
Well, anyone watching Seattle’s expansion draft would be underwhelmed. Seattle needs contracts to reach the league floor. And Dunn is a restricted free agent. Dunn can hold a new team hostage for an overpriced contract. So what would help everyone?
Trade Josh Bailey to Seattle for Dunn.
Seattle benefits. Bailey and Eberle can combine to form….something. Maybe Seattle can become the best #IslesKoolAid first line in the NHL, and Bailey will prove how amazing he is. My guess is about as amazing as arena food Seattle gets contract security. They acquire a “top 6” forward for a defenseman that may bend them over. Seattle hits the cap floor. Joy! Just…don’t hold your breath waiting.
And the Islanders? They wrap up the defensive acquisitions that they need to and waylay a rookie from joining the league for one more season.
And Tarasenko? After the St. Louis Blues management trash talked VT, they ruined his asking price. So if I’m the Islanders? My offer is salary offset and a 1st. So see ya Komarov, Hickey, and a 1st. Next years first will be 32rd anyway, as with the removal of Bailey from the top 6? The Islanders become instant Stanley Cup favorites.
But Tarasenko has a messed up shoulder! He can break? True. 100% true. So what to do?
Make the trades. If Tarasenko does go down with an injury? You have $7.5 million to replace him. For this season and probably next season, if the team is smart. You know what you can acquire for $7.5 million?
Here’s an example: Patrik Laine. He just signed a 1 year deal with Columbus, which has a history of losing trades for good players. A pick and a prospect gets that deal done. Also, anyone else that has a cap hit under $7.5 million and is productive. That’s a long list.
And you want to know what else? The Islanders with Komorov, Hickey, and Bailey gone can roll 4 productive lines. Looking back at the Tampa Bay elimination series, what line could you call effective? The first one? 2 goal scorers on line 1 is not effective. The second line? One goal each is not effective. Did Tampa’s second line only score 3 goals in 7 games? Isles third line? No goals whatsoever? Ouch. Isles 4th line? They don’t score, they break balls. And they did…although there was zero significant, momentum changing hits from that entire line over 7 games. But at this point, they are the identity line. Sadly, our identity is almost aggressive enough hits, and low scoring.
You may say, why do you want to unload Bailey? In the playoffs, his game always steps up. Statistically, that is true. So let’s do a fast review of Bailey’s “stepping up:”
First two playoff series ever? Isles lose. Losing isn’t stepping up.
Then Florida? Thomas Greiss and Fuckface Scumbag puts the team on their back. Isles win, then promptly get destroyed by Tampa Bay. Amazing that Tampa Bay has been competitive since 2016. We have 2 competitive years out of 20 and we want to retire 24 jersey numbers.
The most recenf ECF against the Lightning? What did Bailey produce? What, he had 20 points in the playoffs? How many came in the Eastern Conference Finals?
Reality says, when the going gets tough, Bailey is wet toilet paper. Smears shit all over himself, does nothing for his team. Ask Yanni Gourde, who was assited on his game winning short handed goal by I Josh you not Bailey. #Elite.
If assists to opponents counted, Bailey would be the next Wayne Gretzky.
Also…that’s it. Baileys first decade in the NHL was 4 playoff series, 3 losses, 1 miracle. What changed since then? Bailey? Or the coaching staff?
It is insane to think that Bailey is the catalyst.
To wrap this mini reality lesson up., Bailey is absolutely replaceable, and is overdue to be replaced. Look at hockey reference for his modern counterparts, production wise. Most of those guys were on 4 or more teams, because they produced as much as Bailey, which means they were unimportant.
The Islanders are a team that is built for the playoffs. They are the second best playoff team of the last 2 seasons. The issue is that those seasons were shortened.
So if the Islanders roll the same team in a shorter season, when that late season decline starts, the team can in reality fall out of playoff position. And a playoff team that doesn’t make the playoffs is kind of like when a tree falls in a forest and nobody is there to see that tree fuck up.
In short, the Islanders made one significant change. On the third line. The need a significant first line change, and a significant top 4 defense change. And could make a cap saving statement in goal, but I don’t think Lou or Barry Trotz trusts Ilya Sorokin that much yet. Thus, they have no free salary cap money to sign free agents. Personally, if we are not promoting young talent, I would like Sami Vatanen and Vince Dunn to fill out the defense at the expense of Greene at Bridgeport, but cap space is cap space.
But here is what I do know. With the offseason moves of Tampa Bay acquiring Brent Seabrook’s dead contract? They have the funds to reload the bottom six that left, and they have locked up Brayden Point for the productive part of his career.
Some people think that Bailey should retire with the Islanders as a career player. If Bailey was a true Islander? He would gladly leave the team so that they could win a Stanley Cup two, and then sign a one day contract at the end of his disilustrious career to truly become an Islanders legend.
You telling me that’s an improvement? If so, I have a bag of dogshit you may be interested in acquiring. For cash.
The Islanders went from losing in 6 to Tampa to losing to 7 in Tampa. Trotz went from being run over by Hedman, Kucherov, Pointe, and Vasilevski to just being destroyed by Pointe and Vasilevski.
Tarasenko and Dunn for Bailey, Hickey, Komarov, and a draft pick. Less than that? Next season is going to be more of the same.