Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably the biggest baseball fan on the planet, and seeing the Orioles being in contention in August has me out of my mind. Unfortunately, since they’re not the Yankees, Angels, or Dodgers they get no play on MLB Network, so like most sports networks it’s not worth watching. People insist on ESPN, but I won’t turn it on because I’m sick and tired of the Olympic propaganda. I know some folks like the Olympics, and I love the winter games but the summer games are about as exciting as washing a sink full of dishes. I don’t give a shit how Nationalistic as you are, there’s nothing exciting about men’s synchronized swimming (in fact it might be frowned upon by the higher-ups at Chic-Fil-A). Then there’s the radio. I can’t listen to WIP here in Philly because I’m over Phillies fans ready to jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge because Cliff Lee was put on waivers. If these fans had a real clue they’d know that August waivers don’t mean a trade and about over 100 players will be placed on waivers this month. Then there’s The Fan in Baltimore, which is what I normally listen too during the baseball season, but there’s minimal Orioles talk, just more Olympic bullshit and Ravens training camp. I can’t wait for the NFL to start too, but NFL training camp is almost as bad as the Pro Bowl. That’s when I realized how much I miss hockey.
Yeah, I know it’s over a month until the beginning of training camp starts, and in the States, hockey has similar popularity to futbol, but unlike fans of other sports, there are not many casual fans. Hockey fans are die-hard and they live it on a daily basis; even if it Is early August. So if you hoping for me to rant how much I hate the Olympics or how a minor league umpire throwing an organ player out of a game for playing “Three Blind Mice” is stupid, this isn’t your article (although I might have to address the asshole in blue at a later date). This is for hockey fans.
With over a month of the NHL free agency period under its belt, the offseason winners and losers are beginning to take shape. It might seem too early to dub teams winners and losers, but with all due respect to the remaining free agents out there, the only impact player available is Shane Doan (and that’s being generous). The rest of the group is depth guys and back-pairing defenseman; they’re not going to win you the Cup.
Minnesota Wild – No team has made a bigger splash this offseason than the Wild when they signed both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. The two top-prized free agents snubbed other teams with a realistic chance at winning a Stanley Cup to be close to home in the Midwest. I know Wild fans are thinking Minnesota is cup-bound, but anyone who believes that drinks more than me. These two players are a huge upgrade, but they’re still going to struggle putting the puck in the net. Regardless, they’re heading in the right direction.
New York Rangers – Winning the President’s Trophy wasn’t enough for the Rangers as they were knocked out by the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals, so they did what any winning team SHOULD do; improve. The addition of Aaron Asham only adds to an already physical squad, but the big addition is the acquisition of Rick Nash. Aside from the Rangers getting one of the league’s best goal scorers, they committed armed robbery given what Columbus got in return. On paper there are not many better teams than the Rangers.
Edmonton Oilers – The Oil didn’t do much this offseason but the little things they did will help with the future. By keeping the first overall pick in the draft, and selecting Nail Yakubov, Edmonton solidified their core group of offensive superstars in the making. By winning the Justin Schultz sweepstakes the Oilers also netted one of the top young defenseman in all of hockey. The team still a few years away in terms of contention, but look for them to turn heads. If you don’t believe me, even Vegas is paying attention. In the most recent odds to win the Stanley Cup, the Oilers made the second biggest jump in the league going from 60/1 to 30/1. This places them ahead of 2012 playoff teams like Ottawa, Florida, and Phoenix.
Carolina Hurricanes – Carolina struggled offensively last season and addressed it by trading for Jordan Staal at the draft. With the Staal brothers playing together, you’d like to think they would step up each other’s game. They also added Alex Semin. Semin might have had a shit season last year in Washington, but his resume shows he’s a proven goal scorer. With the Southeast Division being among the weakest in the league, the Hurricanes are a playoff dark horse.
Philadelphia Flyers – If you can tell me a team that had a worse offseason, let me know. First they offer a boatload of money to Suter and Parise, only to be turned down because they prefer trout fishing in Minnesota. Losing out on those two big names wasn’t the only thing that hurt Philly. During the time they were waiting on their decision, Jaromir Jagr signed with Dallas, and Matt Carle went to Tampa Bay. Next they offered a contract to Shea Weber that was so front loaded that there was no way for Nashville to match. That was until Nashville matched it. What concerns me most is the trade of Sergei Bobrowsky to Columbus. With Ilya Bryzgalov being a mental maniac, the Flyers need a good backup and they no longer have that. On a bright note, they did add Luke Schenn via trade which should bolster the defense, but it’s still hard to get over how the Flyers got skunked this summer.
Nashville Predators – I’m still shocked that they matched the Weber contract, but I understand if they didn’t their fan base would riot. What the fans don’t realize is by doing that they’ve destroyed their future and pretty much bankrupt the team. How his contract is structured there’s no money in the kitty to make needed improvements to the offense. Unless Weber and Pekka Rinne can start scoring goals, this team isn’t doing shit. Don’t worry Nashville, at least you have Country Row and the Titans.
Toronto Maple Leafs – One might wonder why the Maple Leafs made this list. The answer is simple. The “Yankees of hockey”, a name a Rioter pointed out to me (in which I told him that would be the Canadiens), had a ton of pressure from the fans to make this a playoff club. Management must value what the fans think because they went out and did dick. Wait, I forgot, they added James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn. That trade might have made the team worse. They gave up a young defenseman for a forward who in Philly underachieved and was never able to stay healthy. He’ll wear out his welcome real soon in Toronto, much like GM Brian Burke. No playoffs for you Toronto…
Columbus Blue Jackets – Before I address their failures, I’ll give them a little praise. Trading for Bobrowsky is big. As someone who used to watch him play regularly in Philly, he’s a solid backstop. In saying that how the hell does Scott Howson still have a job? He had a huge trading chip in Rick Nash. Instead of getting the best value and actually improving the Jackets, he gave Nash to the Rangers for a bag of hockey pucks and a bottle of Gatorade. Okay, it was Brandon Dubinsky, Artim Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first-round pick. Dubinsky is good, but not in the same league as Nash, Anisimov is a fourth liner at best, Erixon will probably never see Columbus, and the draft pick will be high enough not to make a significant impact. When you trade your best player you shouldn’t be worse off than when you started. Blue Jackets fans should forward to again being in the draft lottery.
I know you’re out there hockey fans. Who are your winners and losers? How do you think your team has fared this offseason? Email me at email@example.com and let me know. Also follow us on Twitter @TheSportsRiot and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheSportsRiot.
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