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Friday, July 12, 2013

Devils Kovalchuck Announces Retirement

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Devils Kovalchuck Announces Retirement
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

New Jersey Devils superstar winger Ilya Kovalchuk has decided to walk away from the final 12 years and $77 million remaining on his contract, choosing instead to retire from the NHL, the team announced Thursday
After paying to acquire Ilya Kovalchuk with players, picks and penalties, the Devils are now left with a big hole to fill, writes Neil Greenberg.

"This goes back to the lockout, and prior to coming back, his thought process of staying in Russia was there," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a conference call Thursday. "As you know, he was here a little late [getting back after the lockout was lifted]. Then there was no conversation whatsoever throughout the year about it. Then it resurfaced and his desire was to retire from the NHL, and the only way he could do that was to sign his voluntary retirement papers, which he did."

According to multiple Russian media outlets, Kovalchuk will play for SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League next season.

"This decision was something I have thought about for a long time going back to the lockout and spending the year in Russia," Kovalchuk said in a statement released by the team. "Though I decided to return this past season, Lou was aware of my desire to go back home and have my family there with me. The most difficult thing for me is to leave the New Jersey Devils, a great organization that I have a lot of respect for, and our fans that have been great to me."

Lamoriello confirmed that Kovalchuk's contract is now void. - ESPN New York
Wow. It is a sad day in the National Hockey League when one of its better players, a player very much in his prime at just 30 years old, walks away from the game to go play in another league. This is an absolutely crushing blow to the Devils. First of all they lose their best player, leading goal scorer and only true sniper on the roster. That will be nearly impossible to replace at this point.

What hurts even more is that due to cap restraints (Kovalchuck's contract being a large contributing factor) the Devils were forced to let fan favorite David Clarkson walk via free agency. Had this decision come a week earlier the Devils very likely could have kept Clarkson, their second leading scorer last season.

Where do they go from here? I'm sure Lamoriello thought his team was in very good shape having just acquired goaltender Cory Schneider and bringing back most of a roster that is just one year removed from an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. Instead, now he is faced with replacing not one but two 30 goal scorers.

Hmm...a Devils team with a goaltender but no scoring. Time to bring back the trap!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New All Time DH Hit Leader

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New All Time DH Hit Leader

Move over Harold Baines! There is a new all time hit leader at the DH position and fittingly so, his name is Big Papi. David Ortiz had a pair of hits Wednesday night to reach the 1,689 hit mark as a DH, most in MLB history.

The record, one of several that he now holds (runs scored, doubles, home runs, extra-base hits and RBIs) as a DH, only further cements his status as one of the best hitters of his generation.

"It's good to be mentioned with some of the greatest hitters that ever played the game," Ortiz said. "I used to love to watch Edgar (Martinez). He was a wonderful hitter," said Ortiz after Wednesday night's game in Seattle.

Ortiz now checks in at .331 this season with 19 home runs, 65 RBI and yet another trip to the all-star game. The next milestone on the radar now is the exclusive 2,000 hit club. He needs just 47 more to hit the mark.

NHL Off-Season Needs

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NHL Off-Season Needs
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

There has been a ton of movement thus far in the NHL off season. With several big names still available it is time to take a team by team look at the biggest remaining off-season needs.  What is your team looking for as the missing piece to next year's magical Stanley Cup run?

Anaheim Ducks - A trade involving star winger Bobby Ryan was inevitable. Getting youngster Jakob Silverberg in return should make for a fairly seamless transition on the top line but still leaves a bit of a void in terms of secondary scoring. A lot of what the Ducks will be able to do hinges on whether or not Teemu Selanne comes back for another year. If Selanne does not come back expect the Ducks to look in the direction of guys like Damien Brunner or Brad Boyes to fill that wing/power play weapon position.

Boston Bruins - The Bruins have been very active this summer. They wanted to bring back Nathan Horton but what talks stalled GM Peter Chiarelli wasted no time turning to plan B. He shipped underachieving Tyler Segin to Dallas netting a very strong two-way player in Loui Erickson in return, then turned around and signed Jarome Iginla to a one year deal. Boston would like to add another offensive winger. There have been a lot of rumor swirling about the future of center Chris Kelly as he is the Bruins most likely trade chip at this point. Outside of the offense, Tukka Rask is a restricted free agent. Expect a long term deal to be done with him in the coming weeks.

Buffalo Sabers - The Sabers have an important decision on their hands -- do they blow it up and go into a full rebuild (trade Ryan Miller and/or Tomas Vanek) or maintain the status quo and hope some of their younger guys all take that next step this season. Regardless, a major priority will be to re-sign RFA Cody Hodgson. The Sabers see him as a key link to their future success so a 5+ year extension is not out of the question. Outside of that, they have been and I expect them to continue to be very quiet this off-season.

Calgary Flames - Jarome Iginla and Mikka Kiprusoff, the two faces of the franchise the past ten season are now both gone. The Flames are in the heart of a rebuild whether they are willing to admit it or not. Finding a 30-goal scoring on the open market to replace Iginla is unlikely. Finding a goaltender, whether it be via trade or free agency should be a much easier task. Chris Mason, Jose Theodore and Mathieu Garon, maybe even Ilya Bryzgalov are the most likely candidates.

Carolina Hurricans - GM Jim Rutherford has put together a nice complement of offensive talent. He has an established goaltender in Cam Ward coming back off injury and a pretty good insurance policy in Anton Khudobin should Ward not come back at 100%. All that stands between the Canes and a playoff berth is consistency on the blue line. Guys like Douglas Murray, Ryan Whitney or even Ryan O'Byrne could be on the radar in the coming weeks.

Chicago Blackhawks - The defending Stanley Cup champs will return next season mostly in tact. They did lose a could of depth/roll players that they will be looking to replace. Overall, team needs are minimal.

Colorado Avalanche - Colorado has a very nice nucleolus of young offensive talent and enough goaltending to get by. What they really lack is depth on the blue line. Douglas Murray would be a nice fit as a stay at home physical presence. There is a lot of talk that veteran center Paul Statsny could be dangled to helm shore up the back end as well.

Columbus Blue Jackets - It has been a busy off-season in Columbus. They made a big splash by signing winger Nathan Horton to a big money deal. He should fit in quite nicely on that top line with Marian Gaborik or David Backes. They also brought back goaltender Sergi Bobrovsky, the key to their success in 2012/13. All that remains now is a little more help on the back end. As good as Bobrovsky was, he could be even better if the team could cut down on one of the leages highest shot totals against. Guys like Ron Hainsey, Philip Kuba or Marek Zidlcky could on the radar.

Dallas Stars - The Stars already made one huge off-season move acquiring Tyler Segin and Rich Peverly from Boston for Loui Erickson and prospects. They have an established #1 goaltender in Kari Lehtonen. What they lack is a solid top shutdown defensive pairing. They have plenty of second tier guys at the position that they may have to make due with due to cap restrictions. If new GM Jim Nill can swing it, another blockbuster trade may be in order for a top two defensemen. It would be interesting to see what the asking price would be for a guy like Kris Letang in Pittsburgh.

Detroit Red Wings - Detroit is tight up against the cap now after signing Daniel Alfredson to a $5mil, 1 year deal and Stephen Weiss for 5 years at $4.9mil per. NHLCapGeeks has them at a shade over $2mil left to play with. They have a bunch of RFA's to try to resign and they need to find a reliable back-up goaltender to help spell Jimmy Howard from time to time. GM Ken Holland will certainly have his hands full filling out the roster. A trade or buy-out very well may be in order.

Edmonton Oilers - The Oilers have been linked to heavy trade talks to help their goaltending situation. Frankly, Devin Dubnik has a pretty respectable year by most accounts. In any case, they fell short int he Corey Schneider sweepstakes now may be left to decide if Dubes is their guy or if they want to take a flyer on Tim Thomas or Ilya Bryzgalov. Also at the top of their to-do list will be finding a top line d-partner for Justin Schultz.They did sign former Bruin Andrew Ference, but he is more of a hard nosed bruiser than a skilled puck mover. They did make a splash via trade on Wednesday picking up winger David Perron from St.Louis.

Florida Panthers - The Panthers have needs across the board. They are most is need of some help at the back-end but at this point are likely to kick the tires on anyone they can get a reasonable deal on. They appear to be actively shopping Tomas Fleischmann but with a $4.5mil cap hit he probably won't garner a whole lot in return.

Los Angeles Kings - The Kings have a number of players who are young RFA's (Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez). Their top priority will getting deals done with each as all five figure to be big pieces of the future in LA. They did make one notable move already this off-season sending goaltender Jonathan Bernier to Toronto for a nice little return. Bernier was a nice luxury but with RFA status was going to command a prettier penny than the Kings could comfortably pay for a back-up goaltender.

Minnesota Wild - After inking Matt Cooke and Keith Ballard the Wild really have no glaring areas of need. They would probably like to ship Nicolas Backstrom out of town for a younger option in net. That may not be realistic at this point. Expect little movement over the next couple of weeks for Minnesota.

Montreal Canadiens - The Canadiens were a big surprise in 2013 taking the top spot in the Eastern Conference before getting bounced in the 1st round by Ottawa. They already made one big move in signing center Daniel Briere, a solid veteran presence and postseason extraordinaire. They have been linked to hard nosed forward Branden Morrow as well. Expect them to add another top six winger before all is said and done.

Nashville Predators - The Predators have already been active adding forwards Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen  and Filip Forsberg. They would like to add another high scoring forward and need to find a back-up goaltender to replace the departed Chris Mason. With $7+ in free cap space expect them to be prominent players in free agency moving forward.

New Jersey Devils - The Devils have been busy signing Ryan Clowe and Michael Ryder while trading for Corey Schneider. While all are very strong moves the Devils are now faced with a bit of a cap crunch as they attempt to re-sign RFA's Andrei Loktionov, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson. Guys like Dainius Zubrus, Bryce Salvador or even Andy Greene could be on the market as the team looks to free up some cap space.

New York Islanders - The Islanders have a bunch of really good young defensemen who are all still probably a year away from making an impact at the NHL level. In the short term they are going to need to find some answers on the back end, particularly in the top 4. They made a wise move in bringing back goaltender Evgeni Nabokov who was one of their most consistent players in 2013. With a decent complement of young offensive talent the Islanders could be just a couple of defensemen away from being strong playoff contenders down the road.

New York Rangers - The Rangers have made one minor move in bringing in winger Beniot Pouliot. They would love to add another top six winger. The obvious answer would be to buy out Brad Richards and use that money on a guy like Mikhail Grabovski, Jaromir Jagr or Damien Brunner.

Ottawa Senators - The Senators made their major off-season move trading for star winger Bobby Ryan from Anaheim. They still have a need for a scoring wing, preferably on the right side. Jaromir Jagr or Damien Brunner would be good fits there.

Philadelphia Flyers - The Flyers have been pretty active this off-season already adding Mark Streit, Vinny Lecavalier and Ray Emery. They now find themselves tight up against the cap. They signed Claude Giroux to a major extension but will have a number of pressing RFA's next season. The big question mark is still in goal. They are planning to go with tandem of Emery and Mason after buying out Bryzgalov. Adding a player like Tim Thomas would seem to make a good fit but with what money?

Phoenix Coyotes - The Coyotes have made the right moves thus far signing Mike Robeiro and re-signing Mike Smith. They have one big name left to re-sign in young winger Mikkel B√łedker. Outside of that, it should be a quiet summer in the desert.

Pittsburgh Penguins - The Penguins went all-in at the trade deadline for Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray. All three will walk via free agency leaving some sizable holes to fill. They took care of their first major task in resigning Kris Letang and brought back Rob Scuderi, a stalwart from their Stanly Cup season. Now the attention shifts to finding another winger for Sidney Crosby to play opposite the re-signed Pascal Dupuis. They also need to decide what they are going to do with their goaltending situation after Marc-Andre Fleury's late season melt down. With the team tight against the cap GM Ray Shero will have his hands full this summer.

San Jose Sharks - The Sharks have done a nice job re-upping their own guys thus far this off-season signing both Raffi Torres and Scott Hannan. All that really is left is finding a back-up goaltender to replace the departed Thomas Greiss. A veteran like Jose Theodore or Chris Mason could be a good fit there or they could go young and promote from within. Either way it is likely to be a fairly quiet summer in San Jose.

St. Louis Blues - The Blues have made some noise this week shipping winger David Perron to Edmonton. They previously signed center Dereck Roy, a player who should fit in well with that group. The Blues would like to add another top six forward. They have a nice luxury in having three goaltenders who each could start for most teams in the NHL. Expect them to dangle one of the three, most likely Jared Allen in an effort to shore up the top two lines.

Tampa Bay Lightning - The biggest move for GM Steve Yzerman and the Lightning thus far has been the decision to buyout now former captain Vinny Lecavalier. They replaced him in the line-up by signing center Valterri Filppula. The Lightning have finally found a reliable goaltender in Ben Bishop but still need a little help in front of him. They have some nice offensive defensemen in Matt Carle, Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer. They would love to add another top four guy to round out that unit.

Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs may have been the most active team this off-season. They made a big trade for goaltender Jonathan Bernier and made one of the better off-season signings in the league in David Clarkson. The only real question mark at this point remains at the blue line. Rumors have been swirling regarding a potential buyout of overpaid captain Dion Phaneuf. With Cody Franson, Carl Gunnarsson and Mark Fraser all currently RFA's there are some serious decisions to be made on the blue line this summer.

Vancouver Canucks - The Canucks have a new coach in John Tortorella and for the first time in years will head into the season without a goaltending controversy. That of course is due to the trade of Cory Schneider to New Jersey in exchange for the #9 overall pick. The biggest need for Vancouver will be a quick adaptation to Tortorella's new defense first system. He has a track record of coming in and giving teams a nice boost. He also has a track record of alienating star players. It will be interesting to see how the Sedin brothers react  under their new coach.

Winnipeg Jets - The Jets have the 2nd most cap space of any team currently in the NHL. By no coincidence, they also have among the fewest players currently under contract. They currently have eight players with RFA tags, making resigning their own guys a top priority. Beyond that, they are believed to be taking offers for some of their bigger name players, most notably Dustin Byfuglien who by all accounts was over weight and out of shape for the majority of the 2013 season. What they can get for him remains to be seen, but rest assured there is going to be a lot of action in Western Canada this summer.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Position Battles: Dallas Cowboys

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Position Battles: Dallas Cowboys
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

It is the third post of my four part series detailing the best position battles for each team in the NFC East. Today we discuss the Dallas Cowboys . They made waves in the off-season when they gave Tony Romo a 100 million dollar contract. To be honest I really don't see where this is deserved. You want to give him a contract extension fine, but 100 million dollars?! Tony Romo has alot of great weapons and should take advantage of those this year, however, if we look at his past record he has failed to deliver in the big games and I really don't see where he deserved this. I am also surprised they didn't draft a quarterback in the draft, they seem to be hinging their hope on Romo and Orton. Additionally if Jason Garret doesn't take the team to the playoffs big D will stand for big disappointment and time for a different path. Here are four position battles to look for.

Running Back - DeMarco Murray is an electric and explosive player - if he can stay healthy. That will remain to be seen. But my eyes will be focused on who the back-up will be. Felix Jones is now in Philly and that leaves Joeseph Randle, Tanner and Lance Dunbar. Whoever the back-up is he must he able to stay healthy with the health and full- season effectiveness of Murray in slight question. These back-up shouldn't steal the show from Murray but should be good enough to be a reliable one down filler.

Tight-End - We may be seeing the beginning of the end for Jason Witten. He is a beast, but was hurt last year and while he is still in the prime of his career a number two tight end will have to step forward to take the pressure off Witten while also providing Romo more passing options. In this battle for the back-up we have Gavin Escobar and James Hanna. James was involved with the passing games last year and should maintain a rapport with Romo which gives him a slight edge. Gavin was drafted by the Cowboys this past year so he may get more opportunities.

Strong Safety - This position is wide open and for the taking. Will Allen, Matt Johnson and JJ Wilcox will all make a strong case. Will Allen is a journey man player and has injuries.The player with the most to provide and ready for the job is rookie JJ Wilcox with the most upside and athletic ability....but don't count out Matt, he has more experience and may be better suited for Kiffen's Tampa 2 defense.

Guard - The starters from last season probably have the best shot again for this year. But we have a couple dark horses that could make a challenge. Ron Leary is that man that could make the most impact for a starting role through training camp.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

MLB Power Rankings - July 9th

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MLB Power Rankings
July 9, 2013

For the second consecutive week the Pittsburgh Pirates, yes THE Pittsburgh Pirates hold down the top spot in our MLB Power Rankings. The Cardinals, Red Sox, A's and Rangers round out the top five. The Tampa Bay Rays are the hottest team in baseball going 9-1 over their last ten to crack the top 10 again for the first time in several weeks. With ace David Price back in the mix, it would a surprise to no one to see them climb a few more spots next week. This week's big fallers are the San Diego Padres, losers of ten straight and fallers of 5 spots in this weeks rankings.

Where does your team check in this week? 

1. Pittsburgh Pirates (53-34, last week No. 1)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (53-34, last week No. 2)
3. Boston Red Sox (54-36, last week No. 3)
4. Oakland A's (52-37, last week No. 5)
5. Texas Rangers (51-37, last week No. 6)
6. Atlanta Braves (50-38, last week No. 4)
7. Cincinnati Reds (50-38, last week No. 8)
8. Baltimore Orioles (49-40, last week No. 7)
9. Detroit Tigers (48-39, last week No. 9)
10. Tampa Bay Rays (49-40, last week No. 11)
11. New York Yankees (48-40, last week No. 13)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks
(47-41, last week No. 12)
13. Washington Nationals
(46-42, last week No. 14)
14. Cleveland Indians
(46-42, last week No. 10)
15. Toronto Blue Jays
(43-45, last week No. 15)
16. Los Angeles Angels (43-45, last week No. 20)
17. Philadelphia Phillies (43-46, last week No. 21)
18. Los Angeles Dodgers (42-45, last week No. 22)
19. Kansas City Royals
(41-44, last week No. 19)
20. Colorado Rockies
(42-47, last week No. 16)
21. San Francisco Giants (40-47, last week No. 18)
22. San Diego Padres (40-49, last week No. 17)
23. Seattle Mariners (39-49, last week No. 26)
24. Chicago Cubs (38-48, last week No. 24)
25. New York Mets (37-48, last week No. 25)
26. Minnesota Twins (37-48, last week No. 23)
27. Milwaukee Brewers
(35-52, last week No. 28)
28. Chicago White Sox (34-51, last week No. 27)
29. Miami Marlins (32-55, last week No. 30)
30. Houston Astros (32-57, last week No. 29)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Position Battles: NY Giants

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Position Battles: NY Giants
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jared Newcomb

Over the next few weeks up until training camp I will be posting about teams and some key position battles to watch. I started with my Eagles last week and will continue with the NFC East with the Giants. Last year the Giants failed to make the playoffs and big blue has a lot of questions to answer, particular on the defensive line, safety position. They recently answered one by signing and locking up Victor Cruz. Keep in mind that this team is not very old, has a good coach, though they tend to falter toward the end of the season, and a superstar QB. This team is being overlooked and I will not be surprised when this team makes a deep playoff run.Take a look at some key position battles to watch for come training camp.

Defensive Back - Kenny Phillips is now on the Philadelphia Eagles. He wasn't that great with the Giants and was mostly hurt for the 2012 campaign. The remaining competitors are Amukarmara and Webster. The Giants somehow didn't address the corner-back position through the draft so they must feel confident in the players they have. Amukamara should rebound from injury and since Revis island has moved to Tampa he could become the best CB in the big apple. It will be interesting to see if a dark horse emerges in this battle, but for now it would appear that Prince and Cory will start opposite from each other - maybe the bigger question is who will emerge as the number one?

Right Tackle - Diehl is the starter for the day, however, he faces stiff competition with the likes of newbie Justin Pugh and Brewer. Brewer has more experience and should make more of an impact immediately, but Pugh has the most potential and long term stability.

Wide Receiver -
Nicks may no longer be the number one wide out anymore. Cruz just caught a new extension and Nicks was hurt toward the end of last season. But there is even more interest at depth. On the back end of this position sit Louis Murphy and Rueben Randle both of which could become a big target for Manning if any one receiver gets hurt.

Running Back - Goodbye Bradshaw, hello David Wilson. He should improve upon his coming year last year. The projected backup appears to be Andre Brown, but it really comes down to who out plays the other in training camp. Ryan Torrain, a former Redskin is also in a fight to get a back-up spot.

MLB Weekly Walk-Off - July 8th

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MLB Weekly Walk-Off
July 8, 2013
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

Before the all-star rosters were revealed on Saturday everyone was wondering if rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was going to make the cut. He has almost made the cut, but it is up to the fans if he’s going to play in the game or not. He was selected as one of the five nominees for the fan vote that will be revealed on Thursday. For now though Puig continues to impress fans sporting a +.400 batting average through almost a month and a half of play. The Tigers lead the way for the American League with six all-stars, potentially seven if closer Joaquin Benoit wins the fan vote for the American League. The Cardinals landed five all-stars on the National League team while still holding tough with the Pirates in the NL Central. The Angels are still lingering in the AL West having won eight of their past ten games and it seems the NL West is taking form after a week where four teams were within a couple games of one and other. Now that the Diamondbacks have won five straight and the Padres losing nine straight, the Diamondbacks have found themselves up five games on the second place Dodgers. The Wildcard scenario will be clustered for the NL come September.

Studs of the Past Week

1. Robinson Cano 2B NYY
- Leading the team in runs, RBIs, homeruns and average, Cano is trying to keep the Yankees afloat in the AL East, but the support is starting to run out with all their stars still not healthy. Early last week Cano had a four game stretch where he hit four homeruns and nine RBIs. He’s the starting second baseman for the AL squad, but he hopes he gets enough support before September before it’s too late to contend for a playoff spot.

2. Homer Bailey SP Cin- Obviously everyone knows why Bailey made it on this list for the week. The no-hitter he threw against the Giants last Tuesday was the first in the MLB this season surprisingly after many close calls with other pitchers throughout the league this season. Bailey had only one walk in the game while striking out nine.

3. Madison Bumgarner SP SF
- Bumgarner is one of the leagues most underrated pitchers, but his numbers were more than enough to get him into the all-star game this season. He has five consecutive starts where he’s pitched exactly seven innings, and in that span he went 4-1 while lowering his ERA from an already impressive 3.30 to 3.05. In the last week alone he’s allowed only three earned runs in 14 innings pitched.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Michael Bourn OF Cle- The reason Bourn is on this list for the week is not because of his hitting, but the fact that Bourn hasn’t been anywhere near the base stealing threat that he used to be in the past few years. Although he has only gone one for 12 in his past three games, Bourn hasn’t been able to generate any runs stealing bases for the time being. In 208 games before this season he stole 64 bases. In 60 games this season he only has 12. He only has one steal since June 21.

2. Aramis Ramirez 3B Mil- The power of Ramirez has plummeted since the end of last season were he racked up 27 homeruns. The past week though Ramirez has only gone four for 16 while only notching a couple RBIs and a run scored. The Brewers are toying with finishing dead last in the NL Central and with Ryan Braun still on the DL it’s going to be hard to argue that won’t be the case in Milwaukee.

3. Yovani Gallardo SP Mil- In three starts from June 10- June 20 Gallardo allowed zero earned runs. In the three starts since then he has allowed 15 earned runs while raising his average from 4.09 to 4.85. The Brewers number one starter has to get back on track if they want anything to root for in Milwaukee. His last three starts also were more than likely the reason why he was left off the all-star roster.

Sleepers for the Next Week

1. Cody Ross OF Ari
- Coming off a five hit game on Saturday, Ross has found himself in a deep mix of outfielders in Arizona that has been a key reason to their success so far this season. During the Diamondbacks five game winning streak he has gone eight for 21 with a homerun and four RBIs. He’ll continue to get starts if he displays some of the power he had in Boston last season.

2. Juan Uribe 3B LAD- Like Ross, Uribe also had a very impressive game over the past weekend tallying seven RBIs against the Giants on Friday. Before Sunday since July 2, Uribe has gone six for 16 with a couple homeruns and 11 RBIs. Uribe has the third base spot locked down for the Dodgers and Uribe is an everyday player so you won’t have to worry about him losing starts should he have a subpar stretch of games.

3. Ivan Nova SP NYY- With the hitting in New York slimming down due to injuries, the pitching has had to pick up most of the slack while staying in the hunt in the AL East. Nova was out a month, but in the three starts since his return he has gone 1-1 while pitching 21.1 innings allowing only seven earned runs. It’s critical he stays healthy for the rest of the year and the Yankees playoff hopes are partly riding on it. Nova knows this so he should pitch decent for the rest of the season.

Top Matchups for the Next Week

Dodgers at Diamondbacks- The Dodgers may have finally gotten their break with this series. They’ve been playing well as of late and have a shot to actually take over first by the all-star game if they play how they have been recently. This series can set the tone for the second half of the season.

A’s at Pirates- This is next week’s top interleague matchup. In a battle of surprise teams in opposite leagues, the A’s and Pirates already have over 50 wins each, but it should be interesting to see how the A’s hitters handle the great Pirates pitching staff.

Cardinals at Cubs-
The biggest rivalry series of the next week, the Cubs don’t want to bow out on the season already and a sweep of the first place Cardinals would assure everyone of that. They only stand ten games out of the .500 mark, but could possibly squeak their way into the wildcard picture if they continue to play good against playoff teams.

Puckmania: NHL Draft Review

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Puckmania: NHL Draft Review
By Wild on Sports Analyst Josh Tarr

My experience at the NHL entry draft was certainly unique, to say the least. As a 19 year old it was my first time traveling alone, so down time from attending conferences and doing final touch-ups on my scouting report were rather boring and lonesome. Besides that, I made new connections and bonded new friendships, discovered a couple fantastic restaurants in Newark (none better than Dinosaur BBQ adjacent from the Prudential Center) and met some famous people in the hockey world such as radio voice Todd Lewis, former Leafs GM Brian Burke and current Red Wings GM Ken Holland.

The NHL draft is where teams can drastically change the outcome of their future, whether it be by drafting players that best fit their system or acquiring current roster players via trade. That being said, it is safe to say that some teams faired much better than others on Sunday June, 30th.

Top 3 teams that did best on draft day (in order):

3: Columbus Blue Jackets

Slotting them at number three would be an understatement for many, this is a franchise that made a very sharp turn for the better this past season by the emergence of Sergei Bobrovsky and the acquisition of Marian Gaborik and others. Along with the recent signing of Nathan Horton, Columbus had three first round picks, selecting Alexander Wennberg, Kerby Rychel and Marko Dano. All three are forwards who play different roles and should find success someday in the NHL. If I were the Finnish guy calling the shots for this team, I would’ve considered drafting a defenseman in the first round, especially considering how top heavy the Jackets are with Forwards.

2: Nashville Predators

Nashville came out of this draft as the luckiest team in the NHL. At fourth overall, the long time unanimous first overall selection Seth Jones was still available after Colorado, Florida and Tampa Bay all opted with forwards. Nashville, you’ve found your replacement for Ryan Suter.

1: Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo flies in well under the radar when it comes to teams that drafted well this year, but when it comes down to the types of players their depth chart lacks, the Sabres nailed it with their two top 16 picks. Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov are both very big defenseman who have the capability to cover large portions of the ice while being able to help out on the scoreboard. They have the potential to someday be a powerhouse top line defensive pairing in Buffalo. You have been warned.

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