Thursday, June 29, 2017

Does Yakupov need Vancouver or Does Vancouver need Yakupov?

The rumor that broke earlier this week that former #1 overall pick Nail Yakupov was interested in signing with the Vancouver Canucks was not only exciting, but also felt surreal.

The Canucks are entering their 48th year of existence and also are in one of their biggest ruts in franchise history. A rut, that easily will turn into a valley with two or three more bottom three finishes in a row.

Now the question will become, are the Canucks interested in signing Nail Yakupow. I'll make Jim Benning's job easy, the answer should be yes. In fact, it should be a no brainier.

For one, he is only 23. Still has his prime ahead of him, the potential is still there with a team that didn't have many bright spots last year outside of Bo Horvat and Troy Stecher. The team needs someone who can spark the Canucks with exciting hockey again.

Furthermore, for a franchise that has never picked #1 before, when a #1 pick comes knocking, you have to listen. At this point, there is very little risk involved if any and anything above his dreadful three goals and nine assists would be gravy for a team that lacked scoring at the best of times last year.

 More importantly, at 23 years old Yakupov would have a chance to be not only mentored by the Sedin twins but also mentor upcoming youngsters in the Canucks system such as, Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser and Nikolay Goldobin, all of which expect to make the team next year.

The Canucks need a spark and if they don't address their scoring issues next year, they will only be able to blame themselves if they finish in the bottom three for a third straight year. Yakupov needs a fresh start and for an organization that can only go up, Yakupov seems to be a great fit. A player that can connect the dots on a team that didn't have any dots to connect with.

Only way to do it is close the deal on July 1st. Most fans are wanting a one year deal but that doesn't sit well with me. A one year deal might trigger a Anson Carter situation like the Canucks had in 2006 where he chases a better team in the off season in 2018. Two years will provide a bandage for the Canucks until we know what we have in the Canucks top prospects like JONATHAN DAHLEN, ADAM GAUDETTE and new draftees Elias Pettersson and Kole Lind.

At that point, we will know where those prospects are in their development and will know whether or not we need to resign Yakupov by July 2019. 

The work of Jim Benning is starting to take shape despite the results being a year or two away. Everything points to this being a worth while signing. Only question remaining is will Benning be able to pull this off. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

What would make the MLS Better?

Last week I illustrated that FIFA's international competitions are top notch, awhile nothing is perfect, FIFA is years ahead of any of sport.

Transitioning into another topic of conversation is FIFA's club competitions. There is a lot of them if your wondering. Every country has their own cup tournament and every content has their own cup as. The exception is Europe and South America which have two continental cups.

Yesterday, the 2018 UEFA Champions League got under way and my guess is you hadn't heard. That's because, none of the big teams like Barcelona or Real Madrid were playing. Theses games yesterday were the opening round games where unheard of teams like Víkingur Gøta from Faroe Islands and FC Santa Coloma from Moldova started their Champions League campaigns.

To say these teams are small teams would be a under statement. In fact, an MLS side would likely have an easy time defeating them. As a semi fan of the MLS, I know there are a few problems.  First of which is the MLS Cup. This shouldn't be a league run like the NBA or NHL where there is playoffs at the end of the season.

MLS needs to get it right. Fans refuse to watch the American product because its operated like anything else in North American which takes away from why soccer is unique. The result is that fans will continue to watching the EPL on NBCSN and the Budisliga on FS1 instead.

For the sake of having more interest in the MLS, how about the winner of the entire MLS goes into the first round of the UEFA Champions League Draw. If this was the case, my fandom for the Vancouver Whitecaps would go through the roof in the hope that the Whitecaps could progress through the stages of the Champions League.

No fans dream about winning the MLS Cup or even the CONCACAF Cup for that matter based on the attendance with some teams. Therefore, both of those teams should be abolished with spots given to the UCL MLS clubs and spots given to the Copa Libertadores for the Central American and Caribbean teams.

I'm not the first person to come up with this idea. Or the last. It's not that much of a stretch of an idea either. Mexican teams already compete in the Copa Libertadores and more than hold their own.
People shoot down the idea quickly usually with the amount of travel MLS clubs have. However, flying from New York to Buenos Aires, Argentina is about the same time it takes to fly to Western Europe.

To me it's worth a try, if they can't compete in the Champions League, they will definitely hold their own in the Europa League.

A soccer website, demonstrates how much each team in the world's players are worth. While it is truly clear why the teams that dominate Europe dominate, it also points out that the MLS is equal in level to the bottom half of Europe.

Toronto FC holds the highest worth team at 25 Million where FC Astana from Kazakhstan competed in the Champions League Group stage two years ago has a team value of 17 Million.

The Champions League is in need of a cinderella story which hasn't seen much since APOEL which resides in Cyprus made the quarterfinals in 2012.

The dream is probably years away from coming to reality but the move would benefit MLS with the potential to provide storylines in the Uefa Champions League.

Monday, June 26, 2017

What Do the Las Vegas Golden Knights Loook Like?

The Las Vegas Golden Kings completed a very important task in becoming a NHL roster when they picked their 30 players from the 2017 Expansion Draft on Wednesday and their unheard of 12 Draft picks at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft this weekend.

The other 30 NHL teams were able protect only a certain number of players last Wednesday which meant that there were good players on the board last Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Here is the 30 player list that the Golden Knights took:

Draft results

#PlayerDrafted from
1.Calvin Pickard (G)Colorado Avalanche
2.Luca Sbisa (D)Vancouver Canucks
3.Teemu Pulkkinen (LW)Arizona Coyotes
4.Jon Merrill (D)New Jersey Devils
5.William Carrier (LW)Buffalo Sabres
6.Cody Eakin (C)Dallas Stars
7.Tomas Nosek (LW)Detroit Red Wings
8.Jonathan Marchessault (C)Florida Panthers
9.Brayden McNabb (D)Los Angeles Kings
10.Connor Brickley (C)Carolina Hurricanes
11.Chris Thorburn (RW)Winnipeg Jets
12.Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (RW)Philadelphia Flyers
13.Jason Garrison (D)Tampa Bay Lightning
14.Jean-Francois Berube (G)New York Islanders
15.James Neal (LW)Nashville Predators
16.Deryk Engelland (D)Calgary Flames
17.Brendan Leipsic (LW)Toronto Maple Leafs
18.Colin Miller (D)Boston Bruins
19.Marc Methot (D)Ottawa Senators
20.David Schlemko (D)San Jose Sharks
21.David Perron (LW)St. Louis Blues
22.Oscar Lindberg (C)New York Rangers
23.Griffin Reinhart (D)Edmonton Oilers
24.Alexei Emelin (D)Montreal Canadiens
25.Clayton Stoner (D)Anaheim Ducks
26.Erik Haula (C)Minnesota Wild
27.William Karlsson (C)Columbus Blue Jackets
28.Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)Chicago Blackhawks
29.Marc-Andre Fleury (G)Pittsburgh Penguins
30.Nate Schmidt (D)Washington Capitals

Don't get me wrong, this team has some players but I don't think this team will be making the playoffs next year. Despite, a handful of quality players there is no one that spell fear in the rivals eyes. Here is how Las Vegas might line up in its depth chart next year.

RW                                          C                                           LW
James Neal                            Jonathan Marchessault            David Perron
Chris Thorburn                        Erik Hula                               Tomas Nosek
Brendan Leipsic                       Oscar Lindberg                       Teemu Pulkkinen
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare          William Karlsson                  William Carrier

D parings
Jason Garrison                    Luca Sbisa
Marc Methot                         Clayton Stoner 
Griffin Reinhart                      Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury
Calvin Pickard

As I stated above, this team is a below average team, they left a lot of good players on the board. They went with youth instead of experience which is a risky move considering annalists don't think the team will stay in Vegas for more than a dozen years. Personally, I feel I could have drafted a better team.

Here is a list of Las Vegas prospects who are "in the system"
Picks from 2017 Draft

201716Glass, CodyCody Glass CanadaC
2017113Suzuki, NickNick Suzuki CanadaC
2017115Brannstrom, ErikErik Brannstrom SwedenD
2017234Hague, NicolasNicolas Hague CanadaD
2017262Leschyshyn, JakeJake Leschyshyn CanadaC
2017365Rondbjerg, JonasJonas Rondbjerg DenmarkRW
2017496Zhukov, MaximMaxim Zhukov RussiaG
20175127Elvenes, LucasLucas Elvenes SwedenC
20175142Dugan, JonathanJonathan Dugan United StatesLW
20176158Campoli, NickNick Campoli CanadaC
20176161Patera, JiriJiri Patera Czech RepublicG
20177189Jones, BenBen Jones CanadaC

Friday, June 23, 2017

The In's and Out's of Tonight's NHL Draft

Here we go again, the Canucks are picking 5th overall. I have been dreading this day since the NHL lottery was reveled and the Canucks ping pong balls didn't go the way fans were hoping. However, with Tanev on the trading block, things will should get might interesting in a matter of hours.

Last year, the Canucks picked London Knights defenseman Olli Juolevi. While I predict he will bloom into a successful NHL Defenseman, it was a bittersweet pick as he hasn't played in a NHL game yet and the player I wanted went the next pick after to a divisional rival.

This year, Jim Benning needs to address the Canucks abysmal scoring problems. My fear is that Benning will pick a Defenseman again if the player he wants is already off the board,

There is plenty of hype to this years draft as the Top six picks seem super wide open because of Nolan Patrick's injury concerns.

Realistically, the Canucks will have their eyes set on Forwards Casey Mittelstadt, Gabriel Vilardi  or Cody Glass. Which, baring a unforeseen turn of events at least one will be on the board when the Canucks pick at #5.

There's also a chance the Canucks trade up accruing a Top 3 pick and getting the player they want. The Dallas Stars have their eye on a Defenseman and Chris Tanev might fit the bill but Benning's asking price does seem quite high.

My gut feeling says that if Top D-man in the draft Miro Heiskanen  is still on the board at #5 that's who Benning will take. That would seem to indicate they would trade Tanev for the offense that they desperately need.

If they don't trade Tanev and draft a defenseman that is the worst case situation for the Canucks. If Dallas takes Miro Heiskanen at #3 than that scenario won't be possible anymore.

Here's how I believe the Top 5 unfold:

Round one[edit]

#PlayerNationalityNHL TeamCollege/Junior/Club Team
1 Switzerland Nico Hischier New Jersey Devils
2Canada Nolan PatrickPhiladelphia Flyers
3Finland Miro Heiskanen Dallas Stars
4Canada Gabriel Vilardi Colorado Avalanche
5Canada Cody Glass Vancouver Canucks

I would be happy if this is the way the Top five unfolded. If Dallas goes with a Defenseman at #3 that will mean we will still Tanev to deal for another asset.

Looking forward to tonight, how everything unravels tonight will surely determine Vancouver's success in the next 2-3 years. This night could a huge tipping point in the Canucks organization. If Benning strikes out tonight it could spell disaster.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

My 2017 Mock Draft

As a kid, the NBA draft was one of my favourite days of the year. I grew up a Vancouver Grizzlies fan. Despite the team being a laughing stock for their entire existence in Vancouver, the draft was always potentially exciting day.

Potentially the key word in the sentence because things never always came out the way that I envisioned them. This years draft is loaded with star studded talent. Therefore, if your picking in the Top 5 it might be hard to screw up. Knock on wood.

With the Vancouver Grizzlies departure from Memphis, I cheer for the Phoenix Suns now. It's no secret, the Suns were terrible defensively and still need a lot of help. Their young core is promising but will take some time especially in the deep talent of teams in the Western Conference.

The good news is the Suns will add a important piece to the puzzle of getting back to the playoffs. I'm really excited to see who they pick. I didn't like their pick last year but I do realize he will take some time.

Here is how I think the draft will unfold tonight:

Rnd.PickPlayerPos.Nationality[n 1]TeamSchool / club team
11Markelle Fultz Philadelphia 76ers (from Brooklyn via Boston)[A][B]
12Lorenzo Ball Los Angeles Lakers
13Josh JacksonBoston Celtics (from Sacramento via Philadelphia)[C][B]
14De'Aaron FoxPhoenix Suns
15Jonathan IsaacSacramento Kings (from Philadelphia)[C]
16Jayson TatumOrlando Magic
17Dennis SmithMinnesota Timberwolves
18Malik MonkNew York Knicks
19Lauri MarkkanenDallas Mavericks
110Harry GilesSacramento Kings (from New Orleans)[D]
111Luke KennardCharlotte Hornets
112Zach CollinsDetroit Pistons
113OG AnunobyDenver Nuggets
114Frank NtilikinaMiami Heat
115Donovan MitchellPortland Trail Blazers
116Edrice AdebayoChicago Bulls
117Jarrett AllenMilwaukee Bucks
118Justin PattonIndiana Pacers
119Tony BradleyAtlanta Hawks
120Justin JacksonPortland Trail Blazers (from Memphis via Denver and Cleveland)[E]
121Frank JacksonOklahoma City Thunder
122Terrance FergusonBrooklyn Nets (from Washington)[F]
123Jonah BoldenToronto Raptors (from L.A. Clippers via Milwaukee)[G]

Utah Jazz
125Anzejs PasecniksOrlando Magic (from Toronto)[G]
126Josh HartPortland Trail Blazers (from Cleveland)[H]
127Jordan BellLos Angeles Lakers (from Boston via Brooklyn)[A][I]
128D.J. WilsonLos Angeles Lakers (from Houston)[J]
Ivan Rabb 
San Antonio Spurs
130Jawun Evans Utah Jazz (from Golden State)[K]
231Johnathan MotleyCharlotte Hornets (from Brooklyn via Atlanta Hawks)[L]
232Caleb SwaniganPhoenix Suns
233Tyler LydonOrlando Magic (from L.A. Lakers)[M]
234Frank MasonSacramento Kings (from Philadelphia via New Orleans)[D]
235Kyle KuzmaOrlando Magic
236 Dillon BrooksPhiladelphia 76ers (from New York via Utah and Toronto)[K]
237Alec PetersBoston Celtics (from Minnesota via Phoenix)[N]
238Derrick WhiteChicago Bulls (from Sacramento via Cleveland)[O]
239Semi OjeleyePhiladelphia 76ers (from Dallas)[P]
240Sterling BrownNew Orleans Pelicans
241Cameron OliverAtlanta Hawks (from Charlotte)[L]
242Isaiah HartensteinUtah Jazz (from Detroit)[K]
243Monte MorrisHouston Rockets (from Denver)[Q]
244Devin RobinsonNew York Knicks (from Chicago)[R]
245Chris BoucherHouston Rockets (from Portland)[S]
246Isaiah HicksPhiladelphia 76ers (from Miami via Atlanta)[K]
247Kennedy MeeksIndiana Pacers
248Edmond SumnerMilwaukee Bucks
249P.J. DozierDenver Nuggets (from Memphis via Oklahoma City)[T]
250Damyean DotsonPhiladelphia 76ers (from Atlanta)[K]
251Wesley IwunduDenver Nuggets (from Oklahoma City)[T]
252Thomas BryantNew Orleans Pelicans (from Washington)[U]
253Dwayne BaconBoston Celtics (from Cleveland)[V]
254Jeremy MorganPhoenix Suns (from Toronto)[W]
255Mathias LessortUtah Jazz[K]
256Aleksandar VezenkovBoston Celtics (from L.A. Clippers)[X]
257Sindarius ThornwellBrooklyn Nets (from Boston)[A]
258Derrick Walton Jr.New York Knicks (from Houston)[Y]
259Davon ReedSan Antonio Spurs
260Kadeem AllenAtlanta Hawks (from Golden State via Philadelphia and Utah)[K]