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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Trade Deadline Preview: Anaheim Ducks

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Trade Deadline Preview: Anaheim Ducks
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

The lure of a top goaltender, even if he has lost luster is very high to any team looking to win a cup. I can think of a few off the top of my head. I wanted to play devil’s advocate and suggest at least one trade. I could see the Ducks making a play as well as the Blackhawks, more so the former.

I would not be surprised if the Duck pulled the trigger on this, but there is a huge caveat. It would have to center around a Hiller for Miller trade, which is fun to say. I think this would appeal to the Sabers because it saves them a bit of money, 1.75 over the same term, as well as makes a clean divorce for a marriage that has seen better days. It would be great for the ducks because of the upgrade over Hiller, which might not be in overall worth but in consistency. Let’s face it, vertigo seems to bring Hiller out of games at any moment and they might not want to risk handing game seven of the Western Conference final to Fasth just yet. Either way I think the future for the ducks lies with Fasth, whether they want to cut the cap space down another 1.75 after giving nearly 17 million to their top two players is the question. Buffalo however would be able to save face while moving forward.

Outside of their goaltending they seem very solid and well rounded. They could improve their top six or their defense but it wouldn’t be easy or necessary. The fact that they are the same basic team in terms of skill as they were a few years ago with a better defense and half of the goons replaced with youngsters, they might be set. They have a few UFAs they might let go in the off season, but there is no way they would move them before what could be their best shot at a cup since they won it.

The one big question mark is whether or not they think they can keep Bobby Ryan. Pierre LeBrun thinks they won’t trade him, and neither do I. There is little point really other than losing him to an offer sheet or trading his rights in the off season. The risk is hurting your cup caliber team versus losing a bit of trade value. The risk/reward just is not there.

The Ducks are clear buyers, who could they buy is a mystery to me beyond the average names. I would imagine they go for a bottom six forward on the cheap and a depth defensemen, both who have playoff experience. A dark horse would be a deal for Briere. Philly has traded with them before and he is an excellent top six guy who could be available, and would let them drop Cogliano or Winnik down to strengthen the depth.

Trade Deadline Preview: Detroit Red Wings

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Trade Deadline Preview: Detroit Red Wings
By Brian Peirce Detroit Red Wings

I am going off schedule here to rant a bit on my home town team, the Detroit Red Wings.
The reason I am jumping on this early is because Ken Holland just did something crazy and suggested to the fans that he needed to see if the team was a playoff team before deciding to buy or sell. This is a perfectly normal thing to say anywhere where you don’t expect to compete for the Stanley Cup every single season. The Wings are going to see what happens in the next six games before deciding their strategy.

This is unfamiliar territory for a ton of Red Wings fans as many simply were never alive for a time when they were not in the playoffs. Twenty-one seasons straight seems to be nearing an end, with a shaky Lidstrom-less version of the team that cannot score goals on one night or keep the other team from dumping four on them the next night. The team has lost it’s identity in part due to losing the most consistent defensive player to ever play, and in part due to a coach that seems hell bent on making the team into something it was not built to be.

The last few seasons the team simply has band-aided some of their problems, because they were always one player short of possibly winning it all and they were patiently looking for the right move. Ken Holland had a farm system that was depleted but showed long term promise, and simply wouldn’t burn it down for a trade while the cap game dried up the free agent market leaving the best deals he could make involve players like Ian White and Todd Bertuzzi. They weren’t able to make splashes since Marian Hossa left for Chicago. The Wings have serious fear of buyers’ remorse right now and the grocery list grows longer, while the youth gets tantalizingly close to being ready for the club. Ken Holland is in line for a landmark moment for the franchise; he could go for keeping a record alive boldly or safely play for a new age.

I don’t pretend to know all that Holland is thinking, because the guy has these flashes of genius sometimes that come from gambling that the scouting will keep finding gems. One of their prospects, one Martin Frk, just had a playoff record set of 8 points as I write this and it seems that there are many more like him though the defense seems further off than the forwards. Even this season they found a defenseman in Lashoff whom everyone assumed would be a career AHL’er that might have a spot wrapped up going forward. This allows Holland to be bold, but he doesn’t ever seem that confident these days in doing it. No where is this more evident than with the deadline. He has for the last few seasons claimed that a player getting healthy was their big trade, while ignoring that the team was lacking to begin with.

He seems to think that Helm, Bertuzzi, Samuelsson, and Colaiacovo will be like getting a top-six forward they really need to create two scoring lines and a top four defenseman to balance out the one dimensional backend. Helm will make the team harder to beat if healthy, but Babcock talks about him as a top four forward on the team, and he simply is not that. The Wings have needed for a few seasons a goal scorer that crashes the net and wins puck battles like a Dustin Brown or Logan Couture to counter the passive/patient play of the top six guys they have now. They have tried so hard to have Cleary be that guy, and Bertuzzi just isn’t consistent enough to be it either. They could also be better with a pure sniper type, which is why some whisper about Iginla to Detroit as a possibility.

The team has issues and for some reason they think loading up on bottom six forwards will fix the defense or the scoring. I am sick to death of hearing how Jordin Tootoo makes a difference (only difference he makes is making cheap shots and penalties that lead to possible backfires), he just isn’t helping this team win as much as getting fair-weather fans a reason to buy tickets. The Wings are one of those hold your breath until the deadline teams on whether they will be buyers or sellers, but it is far more likely they will be passive and do nothing except some minor maintenance. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world either.
The Wings could use that youth movement, and smart fans in Detroit were hoping for the lockout to make it happen for them so the streak would remain alive. The streak could remain alive, but it isn’t worth risking the farm. Now there are so many forwards in the pipe that if the asking price is a top draft pick or two and a prospect, they could make it work if the prospect is one they are willing to let go. Who those guys would be are beyond me, but I think most managers are going to ask for Nyqvist, Smith, Jarnkrok, or Tatar and I don’t think Holland doesn’t want to move those guys. I think Sheahan or Ferraro might be available, but with them being down the list it might lead to deals falling apart on Kenny.

The Wings are one of the most cap healthy teams around as they will be right at the cap floor with 16 players under contract next season leaving them about 18.5 to play with in another thin free agent crop so they might look at that as a reason to trade. The flip side is that with everyone taking the same approach as Detroit, it seems unlikely that they can get any sort of price that won’t make Holland urinate just a little while on the phone. They also have painted themselves into a corner by signing too many forwards and suddenly having too many defensemen.

If, and that is a big if, any of the six injured players come back to play (Bert, Quincey, Helm, Eaves, Colie, and Sammy), then they will have 15 forwards and 9 forwards for 26 players which is too many legally. The vast majority of these cannot be sent down and I didn’t count the ones that are playing that could for the most part. This means that any sort of trade needs to be a hockey trade where there players being moved out, or multiple trades need to happen before a big trade. This is added risk that makes me think the Wings would be better off being sellers than buyers.

If they are moving players, they would want to move Ian White and Dan Cleary as they are UFA players that don’t figure into the future of the team. White has been a healthy scratch and his value is not that high, but the lack of puck moving defensemen should make him a decent bargaining chip. Dan Cleary looks like a ghost of the former heart and soul player and will not be back next season due to the lingering contracts of some other forwards mixed with the youth movement that is coming due to lack of waiver options. He might be useful for any team that is looking for bottom six forwards with experience. The Rangers were rumored to be looking for both of these things and they also were looking to dump Gaborik so a trade might exist there.

Drew Miller, Kent Huskins, Jimmy Howard, and Valtteri Filppula are all UFA next season and Howard is the only one who for sure would not be moved. Miller could be a depth rental player for someone and expendable for the Wings, even though he is a great fourth line player for the Wings. Huskins is unlikely to be moved as he might have to go on waivers anyway. Val is interesting in that he could give way to Nyqvist in a roster space and he has had a bad year. His 3 million dollar contract would be easy to move and he might demand up to 5 million next year, while the Wings will want to keep his number under the 4 million they pay Franzen. If they are selling, he could be moved.

Speaking of Franzen, he could be a piece in a blockbuster deal, but I doubt it. He is inconsistent and cold right now which makes him harder to trade. Also his salary is all of a sudden a huge deal the next two seasons. It is not unreasonable for him to score 3/5th the goals that Corey Perry does for a whopping 4.7 million dollars less than his recently signed contract. Moving him seems too risky for Ken, especially considering they picked Johan at 4 million over Hossa for 5 million a few years back. I don’t see them having the players for a blockbuster or the will to make one right now.

I see the Red Wings buying out in amnesty Samuelsson and Bertuzzi if it looks like he won’t play because I don’t think they could move either of them. Brunner seems to be the second most important resigning for the Wings and with him and Howard they might end up having a tight cap situation if the those two players play hardball, which is another reason they might just want to play it safe. All in all, it just seems like there are more questions than answers for Detroit. Yet they will be on the phones looking for those two players to fix the team.

It just makes more sense for them to be sellers, especially if they were to move their first round pick, just miss the playoffs and would be in on the lottery. Could you imagine the buyers remorse if they spent a first rounder on Iginla, miss the playoffs and win the lottery to give Calgary the first overall pick? It would be the worst trade ever and Ken doesn’t need that in his final years as GM.

However if they do go all out, they might look at a Brendan Morrow or one of Dallas other pieces, like Jagr. They might look at Smid from Edmonton, maybe convince Nashville that they can be friends now (I would love shipping Tootoo back there), maybe a trade for Meszaros or Briere from Philly, maybe someone from Washington, or maybe a Bogosian from Winnipeg.

Something needs to be done because when left to his own devices Babcock thinks Cleary and Abdelkader are good line mates on the top line with Pavel Datsyuk. That alone makes me think the streak is over. However, the next streak could be just one year away from starting.

Of course I can write all of this then Abdelkader has a huge game with Pavel Datsyuk and maybe makes half of this moot. Who knows, I will stick with it though even with a big hat-trick game to make me eat my words.

Friday, March 22, 2013

NHL Trade Deadline Preview: Calgary Flames

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NHL Trade Deadline Preview: Calgary Flames
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

I said I was going to write about the Ducks next, but I figured I would wait and watch another full game with them tonight on local television to see if there is anything in particular they reveal.

The Flames deserve some time because, as I said, there aren’t many teams in need of a total shakeup like the flames. This is well documented and it feels like the Flames are one of those teams that would need a remarkable winning streak to make the playoffs, so I think it is safe to say this team is a seller. Like Buffalo, who I profiled yesterday, they really have made some bad choices with their money which has minimalized the good young players in the system. Also, like Buffalo, they have a big name goaltender that has not been on the top of his game this year.

Kiprusoff could be a player to be moved as his no movement clause has expired and he is fair game right now. You would have to find someone who wants to take on 5.833 million dollars in the upcoming cap crunch. There might be a few teams out there willing to do that, but usually those aren’t teams that are one goaltender away from being a contender. I am sure someone will kick the tires on this one; however it seems reasonable that the only team looking to get Kipper would be one desperate for goaltending. I am sitting here thinking about all the goaltender situations and few jump into mind. Perhaps if Dan Ellis, who was just injured last night with a leg cut, is out for a long period of time Carolina could possibly go after him if they were desperate to make the playoffs, but even that would mess up their future plans. I have to consider him a buyout candidate right now. Buffalo could consider it if they move Miller as a saving face move, again I doubt it. The rumors suggest Chicago or San Jose might be interested and that just makes me laugh because they need the cap space too bad.

The other major piece they could deal is Iginla. This guy is the face of their franchise and still a strong goal scorer that could change a team. He can add ability to score by adding top end talent changing the top two lines. Mind you that his best days are behind him and he is a very expensive rental with a NMC. He is a hot player right now with 21 points in 28 games who is a proven veteran scorer. Many teams covet this and with a small group of sellers I expect him to be moved this year for a king’s ransoms.

Coincidentally, the Kings are linked to Iginla and the owner just OK’d the Kings to spend up to the cap as necessary. Boston is also hot on him if you listen to rumors, and the Red Wings have been heard to be interested in him for a long time. However, I would consider every team in the league that is a buyer to be a potential stop if it wasn’t for the NMC. He will have the choice to veto any trade so I would consider Eastern teams with a strong roster as potential spots. He also has never played with an amazing set up center, so he might feel intrigued to see what he could do on a great line.

Beyond the two big pieces the Flames have a ton of value in trade and could end up with a ton of picks in a deep draft next year. Only Roman Cervenka, Blake Comeau, Steve Begin (who is a dirty player), Brian McGrattan, Joey MacDonald, and Anton Babchuk are UFA next season. None of those players strike me as rentals outside of Babchuk and Comeau. Anton and Blake could fetch a couple of decent picks in a thinner market even though Anton has shoulder issues. He is a right handed large defenseman who needs to settle his game down which could be valuable for depth. Blake is setting himself to be like Stafford in Buffalo to be a depth scoring option.

The team right now is getting some players hot in Hudler, Glencross, Cammalleri, and Stempniak. I don’t think anyone is going to line up to take Hudler’s awful contract and the others all have some form of NTC outside of Stempniak. Any of them being moved wouldn’t surprise me though. Alex Tanguay remains one of my favourite discounted forwards. He always seems to make less than market value and put up decent numbers, but he clearly likes Calgary so I believe he would want to stay there unless it clearly is a total rebuild.

On defense Bouwmeester is always rumored to be moved because he hasn’t lived up to an absurd 6.68 million dollar contract that still has another year on it. He still could help a team willing to eat that salary, or maybe Calgary would keep half of his salary as they are close to the 44 million dollar floor for next season and trading Jay or Miikka would put them below the floor. There should also be interest in both Giordano and Wideman, but Calgary will likely want to keep them to build the back end around. I also could see Sarich as a shrewd pick up for some team at the deadline with another year at 2 million he is a physical stay at home guy, and what team couldn’t use another one of those to stash at 7th or 8th on the depth chart?

I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved 5-10 players off the roster if they can find the right deals, but I would bet on at least two players being shipped out. Really if they do that, they likely will end up having to give some crummy players big deals just to hit the floor, so who knows what is best for them. I think it is time to blow it up.

NHL Trade Deadline Preview: LA Kings

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NHL Trade Deadline Preview:
LA Kings
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce
The excitement seems to have worn off in the city of angels and once again the small amount of hockey fans in the land of setting sun seems to have turned to the Ducks. In a full season there would be no doubt in my mind that the Kings would make the playoffs, but in this short season there is a chance they miss out. They are on the inside as of right now but there is talk of them gunning it for the silver challis yet again. I feel that if the general manager did ask the owner for permission to go to the cap, then they are clearly buyers, but should they be selling?

They were sellers earlier moving Gagne, whom they never should have resigned in the first place, in a brilliant trade. I have faith in the organization to make decent trades now, although they might pay through the tooth. The Kings really shouldn’t be selling the farm, even if they do have one of the best farm classes around right now and could be one of the best teams if they do not overdo the trades. I feel like they need to concentrate more on moving away people they do not figure into their long term plans rather than bring on more short term pieces.

They should be looking to move Dustin Penner, another player who should not have gotten resigned, for whatever they can get. His rental value isn’t high, but they could get something and possibly more cap space if they want to make multiple moves. I don’t think they need the cap space this year as much as next year when they will have roughly 1.5 million per player to sign about 10 players. They could possibly try to move Willie Mitchell who is the elder statesman on the backend and also has another 3.5 million due to him next season.

Another player that needs to be dealt with is Rob Scuderi, a UFA who was a crucial part to two Stanley Cup runs in recent years and is currently 34 years old. I would imagine that the current Kings roster needs him to make a deep run, but they could lose him for nothing in a year his value might be as high as it will ever be again. They are talking to him about a contract, but if it falls apart he might be moved. I highly doubt they move any of these guys unless it is part of a deal to bring in an upgrade. Muzzin and three other solid RFA guys, including Martinez and Voynov, will make it easier to go without the two old guys. I would think Drewiske would be resigned in short order as well.

This team is really well balanced and deep, they could add anything as a luxury in my mind. Yet there are many rumors around the team, and the biggest is Iginla. What a luxury he could be as a veteran who has grit, leadership, a snipers kill shot, and wants the cup. His presence in the top six of the Kings would be scary on paper. Mind you that his best days are behind him and he is a very expensive rental with a NMC but the Kings can afford him in asking price and cap space. He is a hot player right now with 21 points in 28 games who is a proven veteran scorer. The big rumor is a trade centered on Bernier going back as the future goaltender for the Flames. That could be enough to start the ball rolling, but it would also cost likely at least two picks and another top prospect.

This would be a steep price to pay but it is in the eye of the beholder if it is worth it to get this line up.

Brown-Kopitar-Iginla
Carter-Richards-Williams

Yikes.

Boston is also hot on him if you listen to rumors, and the Red Wings have been heard to be interested in him for a long time. However, I would consider every team in the league that is a buyer to be a potential stop if it wasn’t for the NMC. He will have the choice to veto any trade so I would consider Eastern teams with a strong roster as potential spots. He also has never played with an amazing set up center, so he might feel intrigued to see what he could do on a great line and Richards/Kopitar would provide him two options to succeed with.

They could go after every single other rumored name out there and it wouldn’t surprise me either. Until the biggest seller in Calgary and the biggest buyer in LA make their moves, I wouldn’t expect any major movement in the trade market. It is my opinion that the Kings should hold onto their treasure and aim for dynasty instead of just a back to back championship. If that doesn’t satisfy you, some other rumors include them going after Robyn Regehr or Lasidlav Smid. Those would make sense if they are replacing one of the older boys on the backend and giving up minimal returns. I don’t think that can be done in my mind, but the Kings would love to replace Willie with Regehr for a serious cup run.

2013 NFL Draft Capsules: Green Bay Packers

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2013 NFL Draft Capsules:
Green Bay Packers
 By Wild on Sports NFL Analyst Davis McGregor
On the Clock: Green Bay Packers

Team Overview:
As a memory that I’m sure still burns fresh in every Packers fan’s mind, Green Bay was knocked out of the playoffs by a Colin Kaepernick led 49er’s team. The new quarterback tore up the field passing for 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as rushing for 181 and another two scores. A beat down like this showed more than just the dominance of Kaepernick, but the need of a stronger defense for the Pack.

Team Needs:
1. Defensive Back
2. Tight End
3. Defensive End

Up until now Greg Jennings was able to “put the team on his back,” to help take the Packers to the playoffs year after year. Combined with field general Aaron Rodgers, the two were able to do major damage to defenses. Now that Jennings is gone the question is who will step up next?

With an aging, struggling defense, it needs to be someone on that side of the ball to do it. Lucky for Green Bay, this years draft is as deeper than the snow at Lambeau.

Likely Fits:
With star defensive ball hawk Charles Woodson hitting age 37 this year; it was a wise move for GM Ted Thompson to cut ties. Woodson has always had a way of making plays and establishing a presence on the field but at this point in his life it would be hard to imagine him keeping up with receivers with blazing speed such as Mike Wallace. With him out of the picture the Pack needs to turn its attention to finding another defensive stud in the draft.

SEC powerhouse LSU has always produced spectacular athletes, especially on the defensive side of the ball so where better to look now? Two different DB’s come to mind that could fit into the Green Bay defense. The first being ex-tiger, Tyrann Mathieu.

We all know of the substance abuse problems that resulted in Mathieu’s dismissal from LSU and how that could remain a problem in the NFL. However, we all also know how dominant of a player he can be on the field. As a sophomore Mathieu finished as a Heisman Trophy finalist, this kind of skill is exactly what the Packers need in their secondary.

The DB claims he has given up the life of substance abuse after realizing the consequence such actions carry after being kicked out of Louisiana State. Only time will tell whether the Honey Badger is speaking the truth but this risk could prove huge benefits for the Packers.

Mathieu’s former teammate in the secondary, Eric Reid could also be a match for Coach McCarthy. At 6’1” 215lbs Reid is a perfect size to play at the safety position. He’s a great athlete that is able to make plays in both the run game and defending the pass. A hard hitting safety that can blitz hard would fit well into the Green Bay scheme, especially with the multitude of blitz packages Dom Capers has instituted into his team over the last four years.

This strength combined with the blazing speed he showed off in the 2013 combine; with an impressive 4.53 40-yard dash make him a great pick. He will most likely drop far enough into the first round for the Packers for their 26th round pick, and if not perhaps they can pull of drafting Mathieu in either the first or second round.

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are both spectacular but neither of them are ready to be a number one receiver. With the addition of Greg Jennings they were able to thrive due to the extra coverage on his side, but with him gone things most likely wont go as well. The Packers haven’t been the only team with this problem though, the New England Patriots are in a similar situation after losing the speedy Wes Welker. Belichick managed to find a way to combat this lose with his two juggernauts at tight end, Gronk and Hernandez. For Aaron Rodger and company to remain a threat, they should follow suit by drafting Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert.

Combined with Jermichael Finley, Aaron Rodgers could use Eifert to tear up the inside of the field in a similar manor as Tom Brady. With some much firepower concentrated between the hashes by these two, it would most likely bring down the opposing teams safeties to help out allowing Cobb to show off his blinding speed and take the top off the defense.

After the success in New England with the two tight end set, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see other teams follow suit. One team that could yield tremendous results by taking the switch is the Packers. With the only other team in dire need of a tight end being the Falcons, who pick four spots after Green Bay, there shouldn’t be too much competition over Eifert.

With B.J. Raji on the defensive line, stopping the run becomes much easier for the rest of the team. Creating an effective pass rush however, falls more upon the shoulders of the defensive ends, who quite frankly haven’t been able to cut it. With CJ Wilson and Ryan Pickett as the outside rushers you wont be able to knock down the quarterback too many time. In fact if it weren’t for linebacker Clay Matthews the Packers sack count would be practically inexistent. The two ends accounted for tackles and only 2.5 sacks, 18 sacks less than what Texan J.J. Watt was able to account for by himself. When your players can’t get the job done it becomes a very easy business situation. Find someone who can.

If the Packers want to find someone that is able to put some extra pressure on quarterbacks by rushing off the edge than they should look no further than Bjoern Werner. This German native is an absolute machine, as a true freshman he was able to rack up 6 TFL and 3.5 sacks. Very impressive for someone who had just come out of a German national football team. After an upsetting pro day Werner saw his stock plummet pretty significantly, by no means however does this mean that he cannot play. Prior to his pro day, most analysts believed him to fly off the draft board early in the first round. This sub-par workout might be a blessing in disguise for the Packers if it allows him to drop low enough to be picked up by the gold and yellow.

Werner possesses the necessary skills to make himself an elite pass rusher while still having the size to fight off a block in the run game. After receiving the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award this year, Werner decided to forgo his final year at FSU and enter the draft. Should the Packers decide to go with a defensive end in the first round, the cheese head nation can only hope that he will bring his conference leading 13 sack type of play with him.

 Check out our other 2013 NFL Draft Team Capsules

NHL Trade Deadline Preview: Buffalo Sabers

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NHL Trade Deadline Preview:
Buffalo Sabers

By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

There might not be a team more in need of being a buyer AND being a seller in the league. A new era was supposed to begin in Buffalo and money was thrown around a team that already had some great players in the system. In my opinion they made all the wrong choices with their first splash of money, in a “go get them phase.” This has left them with a team that has not progressed while the leaders seem to have lost the faith. We could talk about who is to blame or we could talk about the next move. There are two choices, blow it up or push the pedal down.

I get the feeling the mentality of the ownership is not to back down, and so I don’t know if they will make trades that show a rebuilding phase but there are possibilities to consider. The major one is the question of if it is still “Miller time.” There have been rumors and reports that the all-star goaltender Ryan Miller has lost faith in the team and vice versa. The lure of a top goaltender, even if he has lost luster is very high to any team looking to win a cup. I can think of a few off the top of my head. I wanted to play devil’s advocate and suggest at least one trade. I could see the Ducks making a play as well as the Blackhawks, more so the former.

I would not be surprised if the Duck pulled the trigger on this, but there is a huge caveat. It would have to center around a Hiller for Miller trade, which is fun to say. I think this would appeal to the Sabers because it saves them a bit of money, 1.75 over the same term, as well as makes a clean divorce for a marriage that has seen better days. It would be great for the ducks because of the upgrade over Hiller, which might not be in overall worth but in consistency. Let’s face it, vertigo seems to bring Hiller out of games at any moment and they might not want to risk handing game seven of the Western Conference final to Fasth just yet. Either way I think the future for the ducks lies with Fasth, whether they want to cut the cap space down another 1.75 after giving nearly 17 million to their top two players is the question. Buffalo however would be able to save face while moving forward.

The Sabers could add to the roster with 5.6 million in cap space that when you average it per day allows them to add 15 million worth of actual salary. However with the lack of sellers and the fact they are near the bottom, it might be hard to make a deal to push them over the top. I just wouldn’t rule them out as being buyers just yet. Even if they are, it seems likely they move defenseman Robyn Regehr and try to move RW Stafford. Chatter seems to show Regehr as the premier rental d man on the market and his history as a solid defensive force makes him an excellent fit with those struggling to keep the puck out of the net. All of your playoff potential teams seemed to be linked to Regehr in the rumor sections but his status as king in such a small group, the asking price might be too high for anyone to sacrifice. I have to believe everyone with a record better than Washington would at least field a call.

Stafford on the other hand has value as a fifth or sixth forward on some team looking for some secondary scoring. He could come cheap to any team that wants to wait them down to the 11th hour as he is having a pretty awful year. Right now he has 4 goals 7 assists and is -10 through 30 games. The issue is that he has two more seasons after this at 4 million a pop, which makes me think he is amnesty buyout candidate more than a trade candidate. It seems clear that the NHL teams haven’t learned their lesson on big contracts, so someone will have to suffer and I think middling players like Drew are the ones to get the cuts. However, it takes only one team to make a trade happen and there likely is one out there. Ansar Khan suggested the Red Wings might be that team, which makes no sense to me because they have too many forwards and need a goal scorer, which for this year is not Stafford.

Other people to look would be rental player Jochen Hecht and Jordan Leopold. I have always like these guys as underrated mobile puck movers, and with the defensive trade deficit Leopold could return some significant value. The question is how would Buffalo respond to only having two overpaid players in Ehrhoff and Myers, both of whom I would characterize as second pair anchors or support guys on the top line. I know the Sabers would like a legitimate top pairing d man, but there is little chance of getting that unless they pull off a blockbuster.

Speaking of that, Vanek and Pominville are serious stars and Ennis has value as well. Pominville would likely go before Vanek but who knows how much they want to reformat the team. I would keep that in mind if any new stories pop up about a top defensive guy wanting out of a team. Vanek, being moved would make the fans very upset as well.

All in all I could see the Sabers as the top team to watch going forward, except maybe Calgary, as they both are poorly run organizations in need of retooling. Buffalo might just buyout Leino next year and bring in a youth movement to go follow the vets that remain. Cheer up Buffalo, because you still have good young pieces and a ton of trade value. I bet on them being sellers and making one or two of a dozen deals.

NCAA Madness, Day 1 Recap

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NCAA Madness, Day 1 Recap
By Wild on Sports Analyst Travis David 
@Tdavid_21 @WildOnSports

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few may want to send a big thank you to Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker. Few and his Gonzaga team narrowly escaped being on the wrong side of NCAA tournament history, as the West Region No. 1 seeded Zags came away with a 64-58 win over No. 16 seed Southern.
Before the final buzzer sounded Twitter feeds were blowing up stating how the game confirmed the Zags did not deserve a No. 1 seed. Ten hours later there was a new trending topic on the social media site and sports shows across the land: No. 14 Harvard knocked-off third-seeded New Mexico 68-62.
At the end of the day the only thing matters to teams is that they survived and advanced. Gonzaga accomplished what the Lobos and three other higher seeds could not do on Thursday.
The trio of other higher seeds to be sent home packing was No. 5 seeds Oklahoma State and UNLV and No. 8 seed Pittsburgh.
Thursday provided plenty of excitement aside from the previously mentioned games. Let’s take a closer look:

Best Finish of the Day
Long before the Harvard upset there was almost another No. 14 seed to advance to the round of 32. Vander Blue was able to make a dash to the hoop for a game-winning lay-up with 1 second left to complete a furious comeback for No. 3 Marquette over No. 14 Davidson, 59-58.
The Golden Eagles outscored Davidson 13-5 over the final 90 seconds.
Blue’s shot was the first game-winning bucket in the final 10 seconds in an NCAA tournament game since 2011. Players had missed the previous 22 game-winning attempts in the final 10 seconds of games.

Most Impressive Teams
There is certainly no style points awarded this time of the year, but Louisville showed how No. 1 seeds should dispose of No. 16 teams. The overall No. 1 seed cruised to a 79-48 win over North Carolina A&T. In the game the Cardinals set an NCAA tournament record for 20 steals, while Russ Smith tied a tournament record for 8 swipes.
No. 4 Syracuse rolled to an 81-34 over No. 13 Montana. The 47-point victory was the largest in tournament history by a team that was not a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
The impressive win by the Orange came two hours after No. 5 VCU laid claim to the record in its 46-point win over No. 12 Akron.

Best Conference Finish

The Pac-12 was criticized for having just the worse collective RPI of the power six conferences. But that did not stop No. 6 Arizona and No. 12 seeds Oregon and California to pick up win on Thursday.
The Ducks and Wildcats picked up double digit win over Oklahoma State and respectively while Cal knocked off UNLV by a trey.

Wrong Statement Made
The Big Ten received all the accolades throughout the regular season, but the Mountain West was actually the conference with the best conference RPI. So much for putting stock into the RPI system. With five teams selected to the field of 68 only No. 8 seed Colorado State remains. Besides No. 3 New Mexico being bounced on Thursday, No. 5 UNLV and No. 13 San Diego State both took one on the chin. Boise State was the fifth MW team selected but lost in a play-in game.

Top Players
Vander Blue may have had the biggest bucket of the day, but the best performance of the day may have been turned in by Malcolm Nix. The Michigan State big dominated the paint and scored a game-high 23 points and a career-high 15 boards in the 65-54 win for the No. 3 Spartans over No. 14 Valparaiso.
Louisville’s Russ Smith 23 points and NCAA record-tying eight steals was also impressive as was Kelly Olynyk’s 21 points in Gonzaga’s win.

Tournament Tidbits
The Harvard upset of No. 3 New Mexico was the team’s first NCAA tournament win…With a 68-56 win over No. 11 Bucknell, No. 6 Butler now has 11 tournament wins since 2010 which is second to Kentucky’s 13 wins…No. 4 Saint Louis record a 20-point win over New Mexico State, which was its largest tournament win. SLU’s previous high margin of victory was seven points…No. 12 Oregon’s win over No. 5 Oklahoma State marked the first time the Ducks won a NCAA tournament game as the lower seed…The Atlantic-10 Conference is 4-0...A 12-seed has now beaten a 5-seed 12 of the last 13 years…Southern’s six-point loss to Louisville marked just the fifth time in the last 20 years a No. 16 seed lost by single digits to a No. 1 seed…No. 14 seed Davidson entered the tournament leading the nation in free throw percentage (80.1%) but finished just 14-22 (63.6%) in its 59-58 heart-breaking loss to No. 3 Marquette.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Trade Deadline Preview: Carolina Hurricanes

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NHL Trade Deadline Preview: 
Carolina Hurricanes
By Wild on Sports Analyst Brian Peirce

I am starting off with these Canes because they have made a waiver move today, picking up former first round pick Zach Boychuk, who was waived by both the Penguins and Predators this year. They also activated Ruutu off of the IR giving them some options up front for a team that currently ranks 9th in goals per game.

I would say the fact that they are in the hunt solidly in the East combined with one of the best top six groups in the league now that Ruutu has returned, (provided he returns to form following hip surgery) they are looking to be buyers over sellers. This became even stronger when they placed defensemen Joe Corvo on the IR and had three other defensemen injured in one game. Now Corvo is listed as day to day and only Faulk looks to miss any significant time with a sprained knee.

Considering they have a shot at the playoffs, having invested enough to be a top ten offensive team and their their defense is banged up and using young players; it stands to reason that they might go after defensive help. This is going to be hard to come by and you will hear me say often that there are not going to be many sellers of defense. The recent moves will likely fall under the cliché of “a deadline deal” in the eyes of Carolina. As much as I hate calling players getting healthy an acquisition as some GM’s do to protect their images, Ruutu and Boychuk will bring added grit and defensive skill to a team that is in need of it.

If they fall out of it, Ruutu might become available like he was rumored to be last year if he decided to waive the NMC. Jussi Jokinen could be a big rumored player to move as well, as he has been in the past. With Tlusty becoming a household name, at least in the area, they could see either of those guys as luxuries rather than necessities. Semin had a one year deal and would be a huge prize in the rental market as he is one of the hottest players in the league. I could also see Chad LaRose as a rental to a team looking for a solid bottom six player, he was a big part of their cup run a few years back and the rangers were looking for someone like him. There might also be some interest in dealing Ellis to a team looking for a veteran goaltender. Peters looks on par with him and if the season gets away from them they might just want to get him experience while getting rental value out of Dan. Either way I think Ellis plays somewhere else next year.

Beyond that it is up in the air for Carolina, no pun intended. They have 16 players signed next season with 51.2 million tied up. 13 million for six or so players is pretty tight so I wouldn’t expect them to add someone like Bouwmesster if they are buyers. Corvo and Semin could be in line for bigger contracts as well, so they might want to move some salary as well. They seem like an interesting possibility for a real hockey move where they move player for player.

An Ice Life & Trade Deadline Reports

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Introduction to An Ice Life &
Trade Deadline Reports
By Brian Peirce
Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hello and welcome to my first posting with Wild On Sports I am calling it "An Ice Life". My name is Brian Peirce and I watched a couple of thousand professional hockey games in my life, as well as play some beer league hockey. I am no expert on playing for sure, but I have been privileged to see a lot of great hockey teams be built in my day. From the dynasties to the shamed, I really appreciated the act of building a team and even tried it myself in coaching and my own forms of general managing. (Okay so what if I can only get fantasy jobs.) I really hope you enjoy me acting like I know more than you and my writing. Whether or not you think I do know more, I just wanted to get out here and look at things at slightly different angles. I enjoy playing devil’s advocate so sometimes I will suggest crazy off the wall things.

At the up most I enjoy old school class, so I will also get in the face of people who don’t do things the right way and will not get dragged into arguments that are not constructive or respectful. I also will say straight forward that my favorite team is the Detroit Red Wings, followed by Ottawa Senators, Kings, Boston, and Tampa Bay. I know more about the Wings than any team so deal with my homer-ism. I hate players and management over teams, outside of Pittsburgh whom I hate. Deal with it folks, but at least I recognize when teams do things right and like players on every team. For example I hate the Pens, but think Malkin is a decent guy who acts proper and plays great. Same goes for Letang. I don’t feel so charitable with Crosby or Cooke. I love the good old hockey game.

With all that being said, I wanted to get right into this with a team by team, on the fly, from the gut, and somewhat logically based rambling on what teams might be thinking going into the trade deadline. That means buyers and sellers, rumors and hearsay straight from the series of tubes to your screen and you can bring it to your local rink. I am aiming at doing at least 3 teams a day as well as update when some new information becomes available.

I am going to start off with a look at Carolina. However, before I get into that you need to know what I think is going to happen overall with the trade deadline.

Teams have been demanding more and more every year for their players because there aren’t many solid options out there. Last year we saw one of the closest races for the playoffs in NHL history and one of the most boring deadlines ever. This year seems poised to blow that away. As of this minute there is only one team in the league I think you can count out of the playoffs in the Florida Panthers. You have seen Columbus, whom I thought was the worst team in the entire league, get hot behind their goaltender and go on a five game winning streak bringing them from the bottom to the bubble. It feels like if any team in the league wins out the two weeks of the season they will be in the playoffs. That to me means everyone will be looking to buy some help for the end of the season.

I also believe that the new divisions will lead to more people refusing to trade with each other. No one ever wanted to look like a fool trading to one of the other four teams in your division, now it will be 6 or 7 other teams you might not want to deal with, or more if your team is leaving teams behind in their old division. I hope you were following what is going on with the realignment, because I could write several blogs on that mess.

The third reason there might not be any significant trades is that the cap is going down for all the teams next season. Losing nearly six million dollars in cap space will make it nearly impossible for any team to make a deal without compensating some how. Though some teams willing to keep up to half the salary of the player being moved can do so, which is a reason to hope for more movement. Especially considering that the Ducks just set the market values of goals at absurdly high levels for a 64.3 million dollar cap.

That being said, it feels like Buffalo, Calgary, Colorado, Nashville, and Washington could consider themselves sellers. I will focus on them individually as we go. Even if there aren’t trades we can all enjoy the fun of guessing and hoping for the trades.

Spring Injuries Taking a Toll

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Spring Injuries Taking a Toll
By Wild on Sports Analyst Aaron Dorman


On paper, at least twenty teams look like they could be contenders or have reason to hope this year. Although sometimes bad luck and performances make a difference, by far the major cause of separating out the winners from the losers over the long haul is attrition. Once spring begins a team’s depth is exposed and their ability to weather injuries is tested. Here are some players who suffered injuries this spring and how their loss will affect their team.

1.       Chris Carpenter, Cardinals SP- it appears as if nerve damage will force Carpenter to retire, ending an injury-laden but overall strong career mostly with St. Louis. Despite making only four starts last year, Carpenter was penciled into the rotation for 2013, so his loss was unexpected. He’s a big name to lose, but the Cardinals won’t suffer anything more than the sadness over losing a fan favorite. St. Louis has admirable pitching depth, including one of the game’s best pitching prospects in Shelby Miller. They’re so rich in pitching that they barely made an effort to re-sign Kyle Lohse, who won 16 games with a 2.83 ERA for them last year. They’ll be fine. IMPACT-ZERO

2.       Rafael Furcal, Cardinals SS- Another Cardinal done for the year, another potential addition by subtraction. Furcal had a strong April last year and then his numbers fell off a cliff. For now, he will be replaced in the lineup by folk hero Pete Kozma, who I remain highly skeptical of. However, the next down on the depth chart is sleeper Greg Garcia, who has gotten on base and played solid defense in the minors. If neither of these players works out, the Cardinals have more than enough depth to trade for a real shortstop. Oscar Taveras for Jurickson Profar? A pipe dream, probably. But you never know…IMPACT-LOW

3.       Matt Garza, Cubs SP –Nobody knows quite when to expect Garza back, although conceivable he will only miss the first month of the season. In terms of season impact, his absence should not mean much, as the Cubs will probably be terrible no matter what. In fact, they can use this opportunity to see if a player like Chris Rusin is useful. However, Garza’s health will hurt his trade value significantly, and the Cubs were definitely hoping he’d be able to land them a solid prospect or two, similar to the packages they received for Paul Maholm and Ryan Dempster last year. IMPACT- MODERATE

4.       Corey Hart, Brewers 1B-Hart will miss the first two months of the year after knee surgery in January. His loss really exposes the Brewers lack of depth, as Hart himself was moved over to first base last year to help cover for injuries. Their theoretical replacement, Mat Gamel, is injured once again and his career may be in jeopardy. Instead, the Brewers are hoping minor league slugger Hunter Morrison is ready to contribute for them, a questionable proposition considering his aggressive hitting style. IMPACT-MODERATE

5.       Chase Headley, Padres 3B- Headley will miss at least the first month of the season with a fractured thumb. He was expected to be the heart of a surprising Padres offense, after a breakout season partly masked by the pitching haven of Petco Park. Outside the park, Headley’s numbers look similar to David Wright in his prime. For now, the most obvious player to replace him is prospect Jedd Gyorko, who looks to be a decent hitter, but Headley’s value is not replaceable. IMPACT-MODERATE

6.       David Ortiz, Red Sox DH- Ortiz showed last year he’s still one of the top five most dangerous hitters in the league, but he also showed he can’t be counted on for a full season. Even before spring, the Red Sox looked light on power hitters, having traded away Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis last year. Ortiz was supposed to be the big bat in the middle of their lineup. Now they’re looking at a collection of mediocre platoon bats to fill the void until (or if) Ortiz returns. Red Sox fans better hope Mike Carp breaks out. It’s not impossible, I guess. IMPACT- MODERATE

7.       Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers 3B- Ramirez will miss two months after hurting his thumb in the WBC. The loss is significant only because the Dodgers have pretty subpar replacements for him. Juan Uribe has looked lost in his first two seasons with Los Angeles, and Luis Cruz is a journeyman coming off a career year. However, Ramirez is hardly the five-tool stud he was several years ago, and while his power will be missed the Dodgers should weather his absence fine. IMPACT- LOW

8.       Mark Teixeira, Yankees 1B-Teixeira has a partially torn tendon sheath and if surgery is required, he will miss the entire season. The Yankees will start the season with a number of high profile players on the DL, but Teixeira’s loss will hurt the most. The Yankees planned for the loss of A-Rod by signing Kevin Youkilis, and Curtis Granderson is overrated and only out until May. However, the Yankees have no way to replace even a declining Teixeira; even with last year’s down numbers, his modest power, defense, and on-base ability made him a 3-win player or better. The current replacements available are mostly a collection of journeymen who would be playing out of position, like Juan Rivera, or AAAA fodder, like Dan Johnson, who has hit .185 in 250 at-bats since 2007. Excited yet? IMPACT- MAJOR

9.       Johan Santana, Mets SP- Santana arrived in spring out of shape and he will probably miss the first few weeks of the season as he has yet to even throw one inning in an exhibition game. Santana’s stamina and ability to stay healthy has been in serious question since he gave the Mets their first no-hitter last June, but whether or not that was the cause for his subsequent demise, it’s looking more and more like he cannot withstand the rigors of a full season of starting games. Even if he can get back on the mound, can he give the Mets more than a generic fifth-starter candidate at this point? IMPACT-LOW

2013 NFL Draft Capsules: Detroit Lions

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2013 NFL Draft Capsules: Detroit Lions
By Wild on Sports NFL Analyst Davis McGregor

On The Clock: Detroit Lions

Team Overview:
Coming off of a 4-12 season the Detroit Lions have their fair share of offseason work to do. With holes popping up everywhere it’s hard to know where to start to tackle their issues. Fortunately for Motor City fans the front office has already made a sizeable splash in the free agency with signings of star running back Reggie Bush, safety Glover Quin, and a much needed defensive end Jason Jones.  

Team Needs:
1. Left Tackle
2. Pass Rushing Defensive End
3. Cornerback
4. Wide Receiver

For Jim Schwartz and company to restore the roar in Ford Field they will need to look to the 2013 NFL Draft to deal with the remaining flaws in his team. The first, and most important gap that needs to be filled is on the offensive line. This was a group that struggled to keep Matthew Stafford off the turf over the last few years and with losing both starting tackles, Cherilus and Backus, this needs to be the first position filled. 

Defensive end, corner back and a wide receiving complement to Calvin Johnson are also at the top of this year's list but we will get to those positions in a moment...

Likely Fits:
With both Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher in as possible candidates, I would say the Lions definitely need to choose which ever one is still left on the board at pick number 5. Both players excel at left tackle and could be sound replacements for Jeff Backus. Given the pass heavy style used by Detoit, Joeckel would be the better pick because he is a better-developed pass blocker.

Either way the position needs to be filled, Either of the two would do a remarkable job of protecting Stafford’s blind side, while sophomore lineman Rielly Reiff can take over for Cherilus in the right tackle position.

Unfortunately for the Lions, they lost about as many key players this year as they did games in 2012. From a squad that was once one of the most fearsome in the NFL, Detroit’s D line needs some work. Veteran end Kyle Vanden Bosch was cut, and rising star Cliff Avril, was recently signed by the Seahawks with a contract a little outside the budget for Lions.

While the addition of Jason Jones helps out on one side of the line, another pass rushing end is a necessity. BYU also just happens to have a great match for the Lions. Ziggy Ansah would fit perfectly into Detroit’s passing rushing 4-3 scheme, and thrive under the training with teammate Ndamukong Suh, lets just hope he doesn’t learn Suh’s patented stomping technique.

Ansah provided an outside edge rusher for BYU and picked up 4.5 sacks and forced 2 turnovers. This sort of play resembles the type Cliff Avril was able to bring to the defense and with his absence it would be a great move for the Lions to pick up Ansah in the first round, provided that Joeckel and Fisher are already drafted by the time the 5th pick rolls around

Once again, this next draft pick would be a player to help out the struggling defense. In 2012 Detroit was ranked 19th in pass defense, not something to necessarily brag about. This was also with two tremendous pass rushing defensive ends that will no longer be sporting a blue and silver jersey. In an effort to stop the air raid destroying tearing up the secondary each game, the front office signed a few players to help out.

The most important being the acquisition of safety Glover Quin from the Houston Texans. Quin provided consistent numbers for the Texans and Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham hopes he will bring those same skills to Detroit. One of the other more important signings to the secondary was actually a re-signing. With him coming back that solidifies half our field between he and Quin. The other side of the pass defense is another story, the Lions have had a revolving door of sub par athletes playing corner. What they need right now is one lockdown corner, and unless they can convince Dre Bly to come out of retirement, than I think their next best bet is Alabama corner Dee Millner.

Nick Saban has put together a team that has begun his dynasty in the NCAA, a team consisting of highly skilled defensive players and a powerful running game. So any player that is able to stand out on this squad and earn 2 BCS championship rings as a starter is definitely worth his weight in salt. Dee Millner was able to shine as the Crimson Tide’s premier pass defender. In the combine he was able to put together an impressive show followed by an impressive 4.37 40-yard dash time.

Millner has all the physical skills to be a lockdown defender in the league and combined with his impressive football IQ and instincts, should create a spot for himself as a legitimate threat to quarterbacks. Should the Lions decide to make their secondary the key focus of their draft, Millner would make quite a splash in Dee-Town. 

With Calvin Johnson in the line up and putting up record breaking yards, it’s easy to say that one of the Lion’s strengths would be their receiving core, and that’s somewhat true…somewhat.  Yes, the have arguably the best player in the game on their team as a receiver but who else do they have? 2011’s draft pick Titus Young was cut after an array of disciplinary actions, Nate Burleson turns 32 this year and is pretty much running on fumes right now. Bottom line is the Lions need to draft a new wide out.

The receiving core is in need of some new blood but is not the primary need of the Lions in this years draft class. There is a lot of depth this coming years rookie class and they should be able to find just who they need in the 2nd round. Enter Deandre Hopkins. Along side the electrifying Sammy Watkins, Hopkins still managed to put up great numbers in college and be a the primary target for Boyd.

Should he fall to the early second round, Detroit has the 4th pick; he would be a great weapon to compliment Calvin Johnson for gunslinger Matthew Stafford.


 Check out our other 2013 NFL Draft Team Capsules

2013 NFL Draft Team Capsules

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2013 NFL Draft Team Capsules

Our Wild on Sports NFL Analysts take you around the league with a team by team look at draft day needs and the players who are likely to be the best possible fits. Lets take a look at who your team might take in this year's NFL Draft - Draft begins Thursday, April 25th.
 

NFC

NFC NORTH

NFC EAST
Philadelphia Eagles

NFC SOUTH
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

NFC WEST
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

AFC NORTH
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers 

AFC EAST
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC SOUTH
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC WEST
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers


Check back daily as we add more team draft capsules...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dominicans Dominate WBC

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Dominicans Dominate WBC
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel
The MLB has said that the World Baseball Classic was a success despite the all-out brawl that occurred between Mexico and Canada in pool play. The Dominican Republic proved to be the best team outright after going undefeated throughout the duration of the tournament finishing 8-0 and winning the championship game against Puerto Rico 3-0.

The Dominicans weren’t the only team to shine during the tournament though as a couple countries surprised the rest. The remaining Latin American teams in the WBC did what they could to impress baseball fans from around the world. After finishing fifth in the WBC in its first two years of existence in ‘06 and ’09, Puerto Rico gave all they could to the Dominicans in the championship game. Two of their three loses were to the Dominican Republic which will leave a sour taste in the mouth of the Puerto Ricans. Sour tastes might be left in some of the LA Dodgers organization as well when shortstop Hanley Ramirez was injured during the championship game and opening day for him is in jeopardy.

Cuba’s roster had few players with MLB experience, but considered to have one of the best shots at winning the title according to the International Baseball Federation, which has the Cubans ranked first overall. The Cubans fell short though after not making it out of pool play and losing to the Neatherlands twice in their last three games.

A few MLB players stood out during the duration of the WBC. Some might give a boost of confidence when the beginning of the MLB season rolls around. Netherlands’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons looks to claim the Braves starting job this season, and in eight games Simmons batted .333 with two homers and six RBIs. This has got to put a smile on the face of Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez.

Also, let’s not forget about American David Wright who led all WBC players with ten RBIs in just four games before bowing out with an injury to his back. Maybe with Wright in the lineup the U.S. could have beaten Puerto Rico and maybe advance to the championship game. Robinson Cano of the Dominican looked to be in midseason form after leading all players in total hits and averaging .469 during the tournament, which the Yankees are going to need if they want to make any sort of noise in the AL East with all the injuries and player departures that have happened this offseason.

In what some call the heavy favorite going in, Japan was on a quest to become the first back to back to back champion of the WBC as the tournaments only champion thus far, but their journey fell short to Puerto Rico in the semifinals after accumulating a 5-1 record before that game. Unlike in years past though when Japan had the likes of Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish, they were left with minimal or no MLB talent on their squad this year so some might say they out performed some teams that they shouldn’t of like the U.S., Mexico or Canada.

Disappointment came when the Mexicans were unable to advance out of pool play. They failed to win a game all tournament with popular MLB players like Sergio Romo, Alfredo Aceves, Yovani Gallardo and Adrian Gonzalez. Also, they managed to get themselves in a bench clearing brawl against Canada as I mentioned earlier which seemed to be the headliner of the whole tournament. Many haymakers were thrown as well as a water bottle and baseball that were thrown from Mexican fans at Canadian coaches. This happened late in the game when Canada was up big and attempted a bunt single which they were successful at. The Mexican players took offense to this situation and repeatedly threw pitches at Canadian players until the fight begun.

The WBC should be even bigger in four years as countries around the globe continue to display their talents in the MLB and other pro leagues in the world. On a lighter note, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico decided to show respect toward each other after the last game. As the Dominicans were celebrating on the field, Puerto Rican catcher Yadier Molina decided to lead his team out of the dugout and onto the field in a sign of sportsmanship with the Dominicans. The opposing sides shook hands and hugged it out in a well-played championship game and tournament.  

NBA Power Rankings - March 20th Edition

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 NBA Power Rankings
March 20, 2013

The Miami Heat continue to roll after narrowly escaping the Boston Celtics last night. They once again hold down the #1 spot. Not a whole lot of movement this week throughout the rankings. The Timberwolves are the big movers from 26 to 22. The New Orleans Hornets are the top fallers this week from 23 to 27. Where does your team rank this week?

Miami1. Miami Heat (52-14, previous ranking: first)

San Antonio2. San Antonio Spurs (51-16, previous ranking: second)

Oklahoma City3. Oklahoma City Thunder (50-17, previous ranking: third)

Denver4. Denver Nuggets (46-22, previous ranking: sixth)
Los Angeles5. Los Angeles Clippers (46-21, previous ranking: fifth)

Memphis6. Memphis Grizzlies (45-21, previous ranking: fourth)

Indiana7. Indiana Pacers (41-26, previous ranking: seventh)

Brooklyn8. Brooklyn Nets (39-28, previous ranking: ninth)

Golden State9. Golden State Warriors (39-30, previous ranking: 10th)

New York10. New York Knicks (39-26, previous ranking: eighth)

Boston11. Boston Celtics (36-30, previous ranking: 12th)

Chicago12. Chicago Bulls (36-30, previous ranking: 11th)

Atlanta13. Atlanta Hawks (37-30, previous ranking: 13th)

Houston14. Houston Rockets (36-31, previous ranking: 14th)

Los Angeles15. Los Angeles Lakers (36-33, previous ranking: 15th)
Utah16. Utah Jazz (34-33, previous ranking: 16th)

Milwaukee17. Milwaukee Bucks (33-32, previous ranking: 17th)

Dallas18. Dallas Mavericks (32-35, previous ranking: 18th)

Portland19. Portland Trail Blazers (31-35, previous ranking: 19th)

Philadelphia20. Philadelphia 76ers (26-40, previous ranking: 21st)

Toronto21. Toronto Raptors (26-41, previous ranking: 20th)

Minnesota22. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-42, previous ranking: 26th)

Sacramento23. Sacramento Kings (23-44, previous ranking: 24th)

Detroit24. Detroit Pistons (23-46, previous ranking: 22nd)

Phoenix25. Phoenix Suns (23-45, previous ranking: 25th)

Cleveland26. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-45, previous ranking: 27th)

New Orleans27. New Orleans Hornets (22-46, previous ranking: 23rd)
Washington28. Washington Wizards (23-43, previous ranking: 28th)

Orlando29. Orlando Magic (18-49, previous ranking: 29th)

Charlotte30. Charlotte Bobcats (15-52, previous ranking: 30th)

NHL Power Rankings - March 20th Edition

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NHL Power Rankings
March 20, 2013

The Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins are the two hottest teams in hockey and nipping at the heals of the Chicago Blackhawks who hold onto the top seed by the narrowest of margins. The New York Rangers are this week's big droppers falling from 9 to 18. Where does your team fall this week?



1) Chicago Blackhawks (23-2-3) (1)
2) Anaheim Ducks (20-3-4) (2)
3) Pittsburgh Penguins (22-8-0) (4)
4) Montreal Canadiens (19-5-4) (3)
5) Boston Bruins (19-5-3) (5)
6) Minnesota Wild (15-10-2) (8)
7) St. Louis Blues (16-10-2) (12)
8) LA Kings (15-10-2) (6)
9) Winnipeg Jets (15-12-2) (16)
10) Ottawa Senators (15-8-6) (13)
11) Carolina Hurricanes (15-11-1) (7)
12) Vancouver Canucks (13-8-6) (11)
13) New Jersey Devils (13-10-6) (15)
14) Detroit Red Wings (14-10-5) (14)
15) Toronto Maple Leafs (15-12-2) (10)
16) New York Islanders (13-12-3) (21)
17) San Jose Sharks (12-9-6) (18)
18) New York Rangers (13-12-2) (9)
19) Phoenix Coyotes (13-11-4) (19)
20) Dallas Stars (12-12-3) (17)
21) Philadelphia Flyers (13-15-1) (20)
22) Columbus Blue Jackets (11-12-6) (23)
23) Edmonton Oilers (11-11-6) (25)
24) Calgary Flames (11-11-4) (28)
25) Nashville Predators (11-12-6) (22)
26) Tampa Bay Lightning (12-15-1) (26)
27) Colorado Avalanche (10-13-4) (24)
28) Washington Capitals (12-15-1) (27)
29) Buffalo Sabres (10-15-4) (30)
30) Florida Panthers (7-16-6) (29)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teams Selling, But Who is Buying?

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Teams Selling, But Who is Buying?
By Wild on Sports Analyst Josh Tarr

The April 3rd trade deadline is just over two weeks away and the fight for a playoff seed is official on. If you’re a crazed Hockey fan like me, you start to come up with trade scenarios for your favorite teams. At some point in the next few weeks, every GM around the league will pull together their front office and discuss what types of moves are necessary to better the future of their team, but they won’t come about these plans without establishing whether they are a buyer or a seller in this years trade market. Generally, teams in or around the 8th seed with a lot of cap space are buyers, while teams who are in or on the verge of the rebuilding process are sellers.

Sellers
The Buffalo Sabres, IMO, are the most obvious of sellers this season. Darcy Regier’s offseason approach has failed miserably and as of result, Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville, Tomas Vanek and Ryan Miller are all believed to be on the market. The Sabres who are eight points out of fourth place in the Northeast Division, are on their way to missing out on the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Without these four guys, it may take years for Buffalo to become a Stanley Cup contender once again.

Despite the fact that the Calgary Flames are only two games out of a playoff spot, GM Jay Feaster is on the hot seat and it has been reported that the team is willing to part ways with guys such as Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester and Miikka Kiprusoff. The flames, who are now three years removed from a playoff birth, desperately need to regroup. They play exactly like their number show- one of the worst teams in the league.


Buyers
As of right now, the Penguins and the Bruins seem to be the front runners in acquiring Jarome Iginla, the price, however, is quite steep. Calgary is asking for a top-4 defensive prospect, a roster forward and draft pick(s). The Bruins have the upper hand on cap space to bring in the $7+ million dollar RW, but Pittsburgh may be more flexible to move a defensive piece (Derrick Pouliot or Joe Morrow).

Potential Surprise
There has not been many rumors surrounding Ryan Miller, but considering how valuable he is, what team wouldn’t want to inquire about him? At $6.25 million, he’s not a long term investment with one year left on his contract, history shows that with a lot of goal scoring in front of him (unlike today's Buffalo Sabres), he will win a lot of games for you AND be one of your most valuable players. Tampa Bay's top-notch offense could prove to be a really good destination for Ryan Miller, especially for a team whose goalie tandem is Anders Lindback and Mattheu Garon. Don’t rule out Paul Holmgren making a blockbuster deal to replace an abysmal Ilya Bryzgalov in Philadelphia either.

NCAA Cash-In: Tuesday, March 19th

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NCAA Cash-In: Tuesday, March 19th
Gambler's Paradise

Good news for all you casuals and degenerates out there... the 2nd best gambling season of the year is upon us as March Madness kicks off this week with the start of the NIT tonight and the NCAA tourney tomorrow! Time to shake off the dust that has been collecting since the end of the football season and get back to what we do best -- deliver you winners! Tonight we turn our attention to two games in the NIT. Good luck everyone!


Kentucky Wildcats (21-11) @ Robert Morris Colonials (23-10)
Line: Kentucky -4.5, O/U 135
Kentucky entered the season ranked as the #3 team in the country. Their troubles and tribulations have been well documented in recent days on this site but one thing remains - they have the talent of one of the elite programs in the country. With all due respect to Robert Morris, who had a fine season in their own right, these teams are on two different planets in terms of talent on the court. You have to imagine Coach Calipari and the troops are pretty fired up after getting left out of the tournament - for the record the committee made the correct decision - that said, expect the Wildcats to come out firing in this one. At -4.5 this game is easy money. A win of 10+ is in the cards for tonight. Play with confidence.
Pick: Kentucky -4.5 LOSS
Louisiana Tech Bulldog(26-6) @ Florida State Seminoles(18-15)
Line: Florida State -3, O/U: 142
Florida State lost a ton of talent to the NBA and graduation last season. Their two remaining starters Michael Snaer and Okaro White were forced to carry the bulk of the work load and each had decent seasons but the supporting cast struggled to gel into the same tough defensive make up Seminoles teams have featured in the past. Louisiana started the season winning 18 games in a row but struggled down the stretch losing their final two regular season games and got bounced by the #8 seed in the first round of the WAC playoffs. The Bulldogs are in a bad place right now. I think that trend continues and Florida State rolls on to the next round of the NIT.
Pick: Florida State -3 LOSS

Whelp, we'll chalk this one up to rust. Check back with us tomorrow as we attempt to redeem ourselves.

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