Who’s going to make it into the 2020 Stanley cup Playoffs?

Who’s going to make it into the 2020 Stanley cup Playoffs?

With the NHL having their first games since mid-march the chance for the cup is own. Starting with the Qualifiers where 16 teams will have the right to make the playoffs. So who will make the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

First up the western conference with the 12th seeded Chicago Blackhawks taking on the 5th seed Edmonton Oilers. This series has the potential to be great as both of these two teams have had a lot of rest and that benefits Chicago a bit more than Edmonton. Chicago has an older core of players which gives them a distinct advantage with more playoff experience and a team that is 100% healthy. But in the end, even though the series will go the distance with 5 games the firepower of Edmonton will overcome the weak goaltending unit of Chicago. Edmonton will move on to the playoffs.

The 11th seed Arizona Coyotes take on the 6th seed Nashville Predators. This series is going to be very quick and will only take 3 games seeing the Predators moving on. The preds have a lot more playoff experience that the coyotes just don’t have even with a healthy Taylor hall and Phil Kessel it will not be enough to beat the predators.
Most teams in the Qualifiers are teams that would have not had made the playoffs if the season had continued normally. Such as the 10th seeded Minnesota Wild taking on the 7th seeded Vancouver Cunucks. These two teams were going in a downward trend before the pause of the season. Both of these teams are in a good spot to show off but to show how promising their future is. The series should go 5 games and have the Cunucks come out on top. They have a better prospect of players and a better coaching staff than the Wild putting them in the playoffs over the Wild.
Finally, from the west, the two teams with the best shot to win the cup if they make the playoffs are the 9th seeded Winnipeg Jets and the 8th seeded Calgary Flames. Both these teams have the talent and playoff experience to make it al the way to the cup final. This series will go 4 games having the jets making the playoffs on the back of solid goaltending to extinguish the flames.
Over to the stacked Eastern Conference starting with the 12th seeded Montreal Canadians taking on the stacked 5th seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. This series should shock no one but in the end, the power of the penguins is going to be too much for the efforts of Carey Price as the Canadians fall to the penguins in 3 games.
Next up could be the best series in the whole playoffs as you have the 11th seeded New York Rangers taking on the 6th Seeded Carolina Hurricanes. Both of these teams are young and hungry with an almost completed rebuild and will go 5 games seeing the Rangers defeat the Bunch of Jerks with a solid goaltending performance from the Czar Igor Shesterkin.
The 10th seeded Florida Panthers are up next as they take on the 7th seeded New York Islanders. Both teams where on the upswing when the season paused but now, they have a chance to get a shot at the cup. After 4 games the panthers with a healthy Sergei Bobrovsky are too hot to deal with the New York Islanders.
The last series for the 2020 NHL Stanley cup Qualifier is the 9th seeded Columbus Blue Jackets taking on the hosting 8th seeded Toronto Maple Leaf’s. This series is what many people have said the most anticipated series of them all and it will go 5 games. With the Leaf’s not becoming the laughing stock of the NHL playoffs like Tampa bay did last season and will beat the jackets with one of the best lineups in hockey.
Who deserves Alexis Lafreniere?

Who deserves Alexis Lafreniere?

With the NHL qualifiers starting on august 1st the question becomes who deserves the number one overall pick and with-it Alexis Lafreniere. Who most scouts say is a generational talent, with the NHL draft lottery being changed to suit the NHL’s return to play any team that loses the play-in series will have a chance at the first overall pick? So, who deserves it?

All 16 teams are eligible to get the first overall pick we will go from teams who could need Lafreniere the least to most. Starting with the least that would be the Edmonton Oilers. There is no reason that oilers should lose to Chicago in the qualifier. There is even less of a need for them to get a first overall pick they have been a good and rising team for a while. They have the best player in the league in McDavid and they have a hart finalist in Draisaitl. This team is perfectly fine and is set up to make deep runs for years to come they do not need another franchise piece in Lafreniere.

The team on the other side of this series and that is the Chicago Blackhawks. Another team that I think doesn’t need him but unlike Edmonton, the hawks could use Lafreniere. The team has been on the downturn since winning their last cup in 2015. With all of their stars such as Patrick Kane aging, they could use a star-like Lafreniere to build a new contender around. But they do not need him as badly as some other franchises.

Now we start getting into teams that have a younger core and should have the chance to add a piece like Lafreniere. Such as the New York Islanders, the islanders have had a good team since losing John Tavares to the Leaf’s but the team needs a superstar and even if Barzal is going to be that guy one guy can’t win a cup by himself you need a few pieces and the islanders could use a guy like Lafreniere to help buster the lineup and keep them competitive for a while.

The Vancouver Cunucks have a young core that is still developing but they are very close to becoming a playoff contender. They could make some noise this year in the playoffs if they make it in. They don’t need a player of Lafreniere caliber to win but it wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize if they don’t make the playoffs.

I do feel bad for the Panthers. Florida is a small-market team that has struggled to find traction on the ice and mainstream presence in the Florida area. The few times they’ve gotten lottery picks they have been in very weak drafts. Aaron Ekblad looked like he had a shot at being a special player before concussions subdued his impact. So, should they get Lafreniere? They could use him it would be something to help the team and I don’t see this team beating the Islanders to make the playoffs unless Bobrovsky unlocks god mode. But I would not be upset if Lafreniere goes to sunrise but they would have to know how to build around him.

The Calgary Flames are in the same boat as Vancouver in my opinion. I don’t think anyone would be particularly Upset if Calgary does win Lafreniere. Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk are a quality duo and adding Lafreniere could help make that team more dangerous than they already are. He and Gaudreau could be an amazing compo nation of left-wingers. Or maybe Gaudreau becomes expendable as he has been rumored to be traded but then again who knows in this crazy world? They could use the talent infusion for sure and there’s nothing overtly unpalatable about how the team is being built.

Winnipeg is just like Calgary they don’t need a player like Lafreniere in their lineup as they have been very good. They can only go up with the talent they have on their roster but adding him wouldn’t hurt their chances at possibly winning a cup in the future as I think they have the best shot out of all the Canadian teams to win a cup.

The leafs do not need a 1st overall pick they hardly need any more talent. They have a superstar in John Tavares that has come home recently to add to another all-star to their roster that’s already loaded with young phenoms. Such as top draft picks in Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Morgan Rielly. I do think the leafs have gotten a whole load of bad luck, though, at no fault of their own. For one, the NHL decided to change the divisional and playoff format just in time for it to screw over the Leafs with unfavorable perennial matchups against the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning with even a 24 team format they have a good chance to play one if not both of those teams at some point.

Now we get into teams who could use Lafreniere. First up is the Hurricanes, who check off a lot of boxes for a deserving lottery winner. A small-market team that has built itself into a healthy competitor largely through progressive thinking. For a while, they were one of the best tactical teams in the league but lacked any meaningful star power. They have not had a franchise face since Eric Staal who left the team to go to New York than Minnesota. Despite a Conference Final run last season, the Hurricanes still lack mainstream appeal Lafreniere could give that to them.

For several reasons, the Wild is potentially a terrible team for Lafreniere to go and it is that reason why they need him. They’re not a very good team and if the team is headed further downhill with the way they have been handing out contracts as most of their salary cap is invested in four players Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mats Zuccarello, and Jared Spurgeon. Who are over the age of 30 and signed for at least the next four seasons. They traded Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask, which has become a disaster and they are stuck with his $4-million cap hit for another season. The current NHL roster possesses few impact players under the age of 28 who will be around in a few years so if Lafreniere ended up in Minnesota they have would have to build around him.

As a fan of the NHL, I am very hesitant to proclaim the Habs’ organization is deserving of Lafreniere as they possess a lot of the same issues as Minnesota. They’re boring and have no clear direction of where they are going. With several unappealing contracts on the books such as, Carey Price and Shea Weber, who are injury-prone and declining, with what cap space are you going to build around Lafreniere?

The Nashville predators wherein the Stanley Cup final in 2017 now they are a mess of long contracts with no future insight. They are slowly becoming a team like the wild where there is no emphasis on the future maybe if they get Lafreniere they will get a spark to blow up and start again but if not, they will probably chase the title they lost in 2017.

Next, the Penguins let’s make this easy no. They have the best pair in all of hockey, yes, they are getting older but they have promising youth in their system and right now do not need another gift from the hockey gods if they lose the play into Montreal.

The New York Rangers are in an interesting position as they have quickly rebuilt the team to a point where they are one of the most promising teams in the NHL. They could easily build a dynasty with the breadman and Kakko on Broadway this play in against Carolina is a win, win in my opinion where if they get in they can make a lot of noise in the playoffs but if they lose they can just add another piece to a great young team and win several cups down the road.

Columbus is an interesting team after shocking the world last season by sweeping the lightning. Most people thought they would have been god awful this year but they have had a lot of young players step up and they have formed a decent team. They remind me a lot of the New York Islanders as they have the young core and a coach who resonates with the team but they could use a great star such as Lafreniere. This would give them their best star since Rick Nash and it would be nice to see them add a superstar to an already promising young core.

Finally, the team who I think would benefit the most from winning the Lafreniere sweepstakes is the Arizona coyotes are one of the saddest teams in the NHL they have always been in or at the bottom of the league ad has always been portrayed as bad they could benefit from winning the lottery with Lafreniere they would have another piece along with Kessel and hall they can have a team that may finally be on the upswing.

Hub City vs Bubble?

Hub City vs Bubble?

Now with professional sports returning things look a lot different for these leagues. Mostly there is limited travel such as what the NBA and the MLS have elected to do which is to use a bubble system in the ESPN World Wide sports complex in Florida compared to the NHL which has elected to use Hub city system. This begs the question which is safer and more secure?

A case can be made that both of these systems are very good and keep the athletes and team personnel safe. Unlike other leagues such as the MLB which still have a traveling schedule for their 60-game season. Both systems have testing and precautions in place but they have one main difference and that is the type of isolation that they provide.

There are restrictions in place for the NBA, on who players can congregate while they are in the bubble. Until teams begin scrimmaging on July 22, they are asked to only interact with players and coaches in their hotel and to consider social distancing measures when doing so. After scrimmages and games begin, players will then be free to interact with anyone on campus.

This is extremely different from the NHL and the Hub cities system. Which is a lot stricter to the teams and players. Each player will have their room in one of the two select hotels in either Edmonton or Toronto. Players are not allowed to leave the room unless they are tested and have a representative of the league with them at all times. Teams are allowed to only meet at the training facility or the arena when a game is set to be played other than those players must stay isolated in the hub location if any player wishes to travel in the hub city it must be approved by the team and the league.

Both the systems are strict but which is better? The bubble has a lot of room for error and a higher chance of contracted COVID compared to the HUB city system which is harsher but keeps the players in a more controlled environment to keep them safe.

The NCAA Is Dead

The NCAA Is Dead

With the sports world in limbo and with league returns being forced to a single location in these hub and bubble locations. The way sports are played is changed forever, and this will kill the NCAA.

The NCAA has not said much about how all sports will be played in the fall semester of 2020. Which is not a good sign as we inch closer to the start of the fall semester for most universities. With the prospect of COVID-19 spiking again in the fall how will this affect the NCAA? Unlike all the professional sports leagues across the world, there is no logical way for teams to play in a specific location the NCAA is a collection of thousands of schools under one banner. To get each division and each sport to move to a single location to play a season’s worth of games is impossible.

The NCAA would not only have to get consent from the parents of each of the athletes but they would also have to get the schools to agree upon moving their students for an extended period. The schools are also an issue in themselves, as several schools such as Rutgers University and Queens College have already announced that online classes will continue in the fall. This will defiantly affect the number of student-athletes available to participate in events.

Along with schools not having classes in person the bigger problem is state regulations. Each state has its regulations on gatherings and training for athletes. Not to mention the rules each sperate university has on COVID testing and social distancing. This is even worse for foreign students who come to NCAA colleges to play sports. They would have to be brought in under even harsher regulations depending on which country they are coming from.

Lastly the money, this is the biggest problem for the NCAA with no spring sports and the cancelation of the 2020 Men’s and Women’s basketball tournaments this past march. The NCAA has not had a steady stream of revenue coming in to fund the countless sports programs. With no explanation from the NCAA on how football their most profitable sport will be played the NCAA will have lost millions of dollars if they cannot come up with a plan and fast. So, the NCAA is dying and will soon be a thing of the past.

Is the NHL Draft Lottery Rigged?

Is the NHL Draft Lottery Rigged?

                Only hours after the 2020 NHL draft lottery people where upset. This year’s draft was something special as the first overall pick will go to a team yet to be determined which is a first for any sports league.  As with the NHL has yet to finish its season all teams eliminated in the play in round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, will have an even chance to get the first pick in the draft. But what about the teams who are not in the 24-team playoff. They get picks 2-8 sadly so this brings up the question is the draft Lottery rigged?

                With everyone expected the horrendous Detroit Red Wings to fall into the No. 1 overall pick, the Red Wings dropped to No. 4 overall. The Ottawa Senators who had the best individual percentage at the first overall pick took the third spot with the Los Angeles Kings slotting into the second. Then, with the No. 1 overall pick on the line it was given to one of the eight teams in the qualifying round of the expanded 2020 NHL playoffs.

                Which means, one of the following teams will get the pick after they fall in the first round of the playoff should they even be played this summer:

  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • New York Islanders
  • Toronto Maple Leaf’s
  • Vegas Golden Knights
  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Nashville Predators
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • New York Rangers
  • Florida Panthers
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Winnipeg Jets

Everything about this is madness, but this is not the first time something like this happened. People have said something similar happened in 2019. With teams like the Sabers and Senators losing the top three picks to big name teams such as the Rangers and Blackhawks. It’s chaos. But if it is rigged it’s going to keep the NHL in the headlines for far longer as every team has more to play for in the play in rounds so in conclusion, Gary Bettman the NHL commissioner is an evil genius.