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Draft Musings…

…NBA AND NHL!  Nice…although is there really a ton of interest in the NHL draft?  I don’t know…

But since the NBA draft is like an hour away, let’s start there.

The Boston Celtics have the 27th pick.  Quite a change from previous years where they had the #3, #3 and #6 picks in three of the last four years.  #16 in the other still is better than #27.  The players?  Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, respectively, in the order of the above list.  Not a bad haul.

#27 doesn’t really excite me…or anyone else really.  But hey, Kyle Kuzma went #27 last year.  So maybe there is hope.

In any event, what do I expect “Trader Danny” Ainge to do?

Actually, nothing.

I know, there have been a gazillion rumors out there the past couple of weeks.  Ranging from Danny moving up in the draft by “only” giving up Rozier, Marcus Morris and all 4 (potential) first round picks in 2019.  To involving Jaylen Brown in a trade to move up.  To moving Brown as part of a package to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard.  To trading Kyrie Irving to just about anywhere because of questions of Kyrie’s commitment to re-signing in Boston after next season.  And many more.

So I expect the C’s to stand pat at #27, or even possibly trade down and get more picks.  Gotta love second rounders!!

BUT…what do I WANT them to do?  Not exactly sure.  We here at the Blowhard love a good “splash”.  But I don’t want that “splash” to involve Tatum, Brown or Gordon Hayward.  Although, despite Danny’s reputation on trading anyone if the deal is right, I wouldn’t expect him to do so with Hayward regardless.  Gordo signed here the last offseason as a free agent, more than likely in large part due to his college coach, Brad Stevens, being in charge here.  Then he plays 5 minutes the whole year while suffering a major injury and then Ainge deals him?  I doubt it.  Then again, Danny traded Isaiah Thomas with his bum hip, after IT helped breathe some life back into basketball in the city and had a LARGE fan base.  Though…different circumstances, I will allow.

I would be ecstatic if someone overpaid for Rozier.  I like the guy, but we’ve been through this before.  I look at Terry as no more than a third guard.  He probably looks at himself as a max contract player.  This will eventually be a problem.  Not to mention that if Kyrie does indeed play for the C’s next season and then Smart also comes back, how many minutes is Rozier going to get?  That could be a problem as well.  Trade him while the value is high…and maybe highest it will ever be.  Here, for sure anyway.

I wouldn’t mind trading Morris either.  Not sure you will get much for him.  And although he will be cheap next year at 5.375 mil, what happens when he doesn’t get his minutes next season as well?  This guy is liable to go off the deep end.  Never know with him.

Now, I am not packaging Morris and Rozier to move up from #27 to say, #15.  But I am sure Ainge has investigated some options.

And I don’t necessarily want to trade them regardless either.  Especially since Rozier is cheap too, at a shade over 3 mil for next season.  But I am investigating realistic options for trades.  And also considering that these two players are going into the last season of their respective contracts.  And if everyone comes back, their minutes (and therefore, their value) will markedly decrease.  And you ain’t re-signing either after next year to a fat contract that they will likely demand…unless some things change (ie:  Kyrie actually does leave).

That being said, I am not opposed to bringing the whole gang back next season.  With everyone healthy, can they compete for a title?  I think so, while also adding a few minor bench tweaks.

The problem is, I strongly believe there is another shoe to drop with Ainge.  I really do think he has one more big move up his sleeve.  It may not be tonight.  But I believe it is coming.

Kyrie?  Sure, if he says he is taking off somewhere after this season.  Absolutely in that case.  We all understand why he isn’t re-upping this offseason.  But he is noncommittal on his future.  Now, that could be because he has a few screws loose (the Earth is flat?).  No one knows what he is saying privately.  Hopefully, Danny does know.

Kawhi?  I don’t know.  He has the one year left on his contract too.  How last year went down with him individually seems a little mysterious.  I doubt he would re-sign here, but I guess I don’t know.  Worth the risk?  Not sure for me.

As usual, I think Danny’s big move will come out of nowhere.  Guess we just have to wait.

So please stay tuned…

As for the Boston Bruins, not sure the draft is anything exciting to talk about.  I mean, they don’t have a first-round pick.  And who knows anything about hockey first rounders anyway?

It’s not like the B’s have the #13, #14 & #15 picks like they had in the 2015 NHL draft.  Where they took D Jakub Zboril, LW Jake DeBrusk and RW Zachary Senyshyn.  Although DeBrusk may become a stud, that haul may end up being somewhat underwhelming.  Ok, the other two are still developing.  But let’s consider they are 2 of only 3 first rounders from that year that have yet to log a single minute of NHL action.  Let’s also consider that the dude that went #16, Mathew Barzal, just won the Calder Trophy last night as NHL Rookie of the Year.  Sigh…

In any event, rumors are that Don Sweeney wants to perhaps trade back up into the first round.  I don’t know.  They have enough kids in the pipeline, do they need to give up assets to get another?  Maybe if that prospect is in the top-5 and is a potential first pairing defenseman.  But otherwise, I am not sure it’s worth it.  And I don’t even think that the above scenario is realistic anyway.  Allegedly, the B’s had tried to trade those aforementioned 2015 picks into the top-5 that year and nab defenseman Noah Hanifan.  That clearly didn’t work.

What can Donnie Hockey do?  He can certainly trade some veteran assets, as discussed in the last Blowhard piece.  But good luck with that.  They all have some sort of no movement clauses it appears.

Heard a great rumor today.  Unload David Krejci and David Backes.  Then sign John Tavares to a mega deal.  And either Ilya Kovalchuk or Rick Nash to a shorter, but likely still lucrative, deal.

Pipe dream?  I think so.  Who is going to take Backes’ and Krejci’s salaries?  And they have no-movements.  They can be convinced to waive those?  Maybe there are certain teams they can be moved to, I honestly don’t know the details.  But getting rid of those two contracts would seem to be far-fetched.

Another popular one is now moving Torey Krug because the team just re-signed Matt Grzelcyk to a new deal and the two of them have similar skill sets.  Let’s not forget Krug has a full no-trade clause.  So how is that all going to work?

Sweeney should do something…even involving the draft.  But I simply do not see how he can pull it off.  We’ve been through all this in detail before too.

I’d be shocked to see anything come of certainly draft night for the B’s.  And even through free agency, other than losing some pieces and signing some small pieces to replace those players.

But then again, I don’t work in the front office for the B’s…there’s probably a good reason for that, I guess…

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Puck Talk…

…yup, it’s been pretty much a month since the Boston Bruins were sent packing from the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Who in turn blew a 3-2 game lead and got shut out in Game 7 at home to the Washington Capitals.  Who in turn may very well win the Stanley Cup tonight…or at some point over the next several days.

I suppose none of that matters, other than the B’s being ousted after a pretty good run.  They only made the second round of the playoffs.  But after a season in which they had the second most points in the Eastern Conference, fourth overall across the entire league.

Who saw that one coming?  No one.  If they did they are blowing smoke up your arse.

So of course, the Blowhard has been meaning to write for a while about what was really a successful season under the circumstances.  So why not now, as the NHL season is about to wrap up?  I guess that’s one reason anyway…

We could write about how the season was an unexpected success.  Or how coach Bruce Cassidy changed the teams’ gears and focused more on offense.  Or how so many young guys made contributions out of nowhere.  Or how the team was just more fun to watch in general.

But I suppose enough has been written already about all that stuff.  So we will congratulate them on a good season and look to the future.  One that still will need some more maneuvering to become a true Cup contender…in my eyes anyway.  Many people thought they had a legitimate shot this year.  I am not sure I agreed with that, but what do I know?

So anyway…one of the biggest issues facing this team going forward is all the young talent they appear to have.  That’s what everyone tells me anyway.  I haven’t seen a ton of these kids play, so I have no idea if they can actually survive in the NHL, no less make a huge difference.  But “people in the know” insist the pipeline is deep.  So what do they do now?

They can start by unloading Tuukka Rask!!  Ok, I despise the guy, as we all probably know.  But I suppose that’s not really where they need to start.  I can at least reluctantly acknowledge that.

I think we can all agree that we can say goodbye to all of the Bruins unrestricted free agents.  The team has already said that they are not bringing Brian Gionta back, but did they really need to tell us that?  In any event, the five most notable are:  Reilly Nash, Rick Nash, Tim Schaller, Nick Holden and Anton Khudobin.  Tommy Wingels and Austin Czarnik may whet some others’ appetite, not mine, however.

Reilly had a career year (despite the dud of a finish…but we will blame getting nailed in the face with a puck and the concussion and all) and Anton also played very well, so those guys are probably poised to cash in a little bit…or more than they should get as a 3rd/4th liner and a backup goalie.  Rick didn’t light the world on fire after being traded here (do Donnie Sweeney’s trades all suck or what?  I suppose it just seems that way on the deadline acquisitions anyway…but I digress) and probably wants some more dough as well.  If he takes something like 1 year for 3 mil or 2 years for 5 mil, I’d bring him back.  Fat chance of that happening though.  Schaller and David Pastrnak were the only B’s to play all 82 games…who saw that with Schaller when he was supposed to be like the 13th forward to start the year?  He may actually get some better dough too…but is ultimately replaceable, as is Wingels.  Not sure why Holden didn’t play more in the playoffs…but when you can’t beat out Adam McQuaid, that should tell us everything (another deadline deal by Donnie Hockey…sigh).  Czarnik never got a real chance despite putting up some serious points in Providence.  But he weighs like 90 lbs, so…

Now that we’ve beaten those borderline bums to death, where does that leave the team?  Welp, it leaves the first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak intact (if Marchy can stop doing stupid things and getting suspended by the league, that is).  But it leaves David Krejci with Jake DeBrusk on one side and…who on the other?  David Backes?  Danton Heinen?  Ryan Donato?  No, no and no.  So here’s where we start…a top scoring right winger to play with Krejci.  Me?  I’d consider moving Krejci.  Though he’s at 7.25 mil with a no-movement clause.  So forget that.  I’d also consider dropping Pastrnak down to play with Jake and David.  And fill Pasta’s first line slot with someone like Anders Bjork.  WHAT?!  Well, let’s all remember that this is how the team came out of the gate in 2017.  With those two lines.  Bjork couldn’t stay healthy though.  I’m not opposed to trying it again.

Let’s also put it this way:  How are you going to get a big-time right wing scorer when you will have Marchand, Bergy, Krejci, Pasta, Backes, Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara and Tuuks all over 5 mil next year?  Not to mention that Charlie McAvoy is going to get paid after next season…maybe Brandon Carlo too.  Let’s try not to talk about the 4 mil worth of baggage from the leftover contracts of Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Dennis Seidenberg.  But we kind of have to add that in as well.  Plus, it’s not like you can trade any of the first 8 dudes to free up some cap room.  Most have some sort of no movement/no trade clauses (thanks Peter Chiarelli!).  The one that doesn’t (Pasta) is the one you would least likely trade of the eight.  (Yes, Bergeron is a local icon.  But at this stage of their respective careers, you keep Pasta over Patrice.  Sorry.).

So that’s that.

The third line could be something like Backes/Heinen/Donato…in some combination.  And the 4th line can be anyone.  Sean Kuraly (if he returns after hitting restricted free agency).  Noel Acciari will be here.  And then anyone else…Peter Cehlarik…Wingels…Schaller…some other cheap vet.  While kids like Trent Frederic, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (JFK!) and Zach Senyshyn still marinate on the farm.

Defense?  Z, Charlie, Torey, Quaider, Carlo and Kevan Miller return and we will see if Matty Grzelcyk returns with him being a restricted free agent.  Let’s put it this way though:  Don’t expect much change here.

Net?  Tuuks and…some veteran who is down on their luck a bit and comes here trying to rebuild their game on a 25-30 game schedule.  Think Khudobin both times he arrived here.  Or Chad Johnson.  Someone similar.  Zane McIntyre?  Restricted free agent.  I suppose he could be in the mix.  But all of a sudden he is 26 years old in August.  When did that happen?  So much for being a prospect.  Maybe they should have hung on to Malcolm Subban…

My point?  The Bruins SHOULD do more maneuvering to bolster the squads’ chances next season.  But, what CAN they really do?  After reviewing all of the above, I am thinking just about the same team comes back and they keep going with the youth movement.  Maybe add a few low-cost veterans to supplement the youth a bit.  But their hands may be tied more than we think they are.

Now, there is plenty of talent to compete again next year.  For the Cup?  Perhaps.  Depends on how the kids keep developing…or not developing, as the case may be.  Expectations will be much, much, much higher.  How do they deal with that?  Would not shock me if the team pretty much stands pat roster-wise, as noted above, while at the same time ends up taking a step back from their finish this past year.

How do we all feel about that??  Well, in a year the expansion Vegas Golden Knights are currently a mere three wins shy of a Stanley Cup, who the hell knows what anyone will do next season, regardless of what talent they have on their roster?

Shut Up Whiners…And…

…New England Patriot NFL draft coverage of course!

Yeah, I know…the Boston Bruins just won their first-round NHL playoff series and the Boston Celtics will try to do the same tonight.  We will get to them soon and catch up on all that, I promise.

But I have a hair across my arse first…

Why?

All of this nonsense going down with the players in Foxborough…as well as with the players that have departed Foxborough.

Listen, all us Patriot fans know Coach Bill Belichick is generally an arsehole.  In public for sure, and presumably inside the locker room as well, based on what we hear…and have heard for his entire tenure here.  I’ll never understand why he has to be a total jerk to reporters just trying to do their job.  But the way I see it is, as long as he wins like 13 games a year, goes to the AFC Championship every year and a Super Bowl roughly every other year, I can live with the stupid personality he shows us.

You would think that with all that success and that kind of cachet, the players would just deal with it as well.

Not this year.  And that’s foolish.

The two biggest stars on the team now have been not so subtly hinting about their dissatisfaction this offseason.  And most of the guys that have left have had something to say as well.

Tom Brady is likely pissed because Bill won’t let his personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, travel with the team and come into the building and all that.  That’s what we assume it all comes down to.  Brady also apparently is a more positive person these days and Bill’s negative methods wear on him now.  And Tommy did not like Jimmy Garoppolo around either, we know that much.  Rob Gronkowski isn’t having fun anymore.  And the Guerrero issue may affect him as well.  Waaaaaah…waaaaah…waaaah.

I’m not stupid enough to say that Belichick is responsible for the success that both of these guys have had in their respective careers.  But he sure played a pretty big hand in both, no?

Bill kept Brady as the fourth QB his rookie year, then handed him the job even when the $100 million man Drew Bledsoe was recovered from his injury.  Bill protected Tom with a running game and defense early in his career, as Brady developed.  Then opened things up when Brady proved completely more than capable.  Bill drafted Gronk when other teams were scared away by his back issues and has dealt with all of his injury issues throughout his career.

Please do not misinterpret this last thought.  Brady and Gronk are legends of the game.  They worked hard to become the players they have become.  Take nothing away from them for that.  But Bill also had to play a huge role for them to become what they are now as well.  This much cannot be denied.

Anyway, if Bill lets everyone do their own thing as far as training goes, why have any trainers on the Patriot staff?  He really has to have his own program (which also has seemingly worked here) and if players want to supplement with their own things, they can do that on their own time.  I know, because these two guys are legends, maybe exceptions can be made in their cases.  I get it.  But still…Bill can’t have 53 players doing 53 different things.  He needs his program and his staff to oversee things and make sure everyone stays on track.  That’s what I think.

The departing players may be even worse.  God love Danny Amendola.  Clutch.  Money.  Use any word you want.  I also don’t blame him for taking guaranteed money, also seeing that he took pay cuts every year here to stay.  That all being said, he remains brittle and needs to be babied somewhat.  And if everyone is healthy, where is he on the WR depth chart?  Anyway, he said some stuff when he left town…although it wasn’t completely inflammatory, it still bugged me anyway.

Danny mainly questioned Malcolm Butler not playing in the Super Bowl.  We all have.  We don’t know if playing Butler in the big game would’ve made a difference.  People think that the Pats automatically win the game if he does.  I don’t necessarily buy that, though of course, it shouldn’t have hurt them.  But let’s all please let that go.  We don’t really know if Butler would have made a difference.  Bill is never going to tell us why he did it.  We’ve all been bitter about it since that day.  But now it’s time to move on.  The players should too.

Butler was actually complementary when he left.  Good for him.  He got his dough too.  As Jeremy Roenick would say, “that’s great for him, twice-fold”.  Most of the departing players you know wanted to say more and likely bash Bill some more than they hinted at, but kind of toned things down in the end.  One guy that should have taken the high road like Bulter is Dion Lewis.  Here’s a guy who’s injury-prone to start with, is a bit player the first two years of his career, out of football the following two, then picked up off the scrap heap by Belichick in 2015.  Then Bill gives him a 2-year extension after Dion got off to a flying start, then he gets hurt again.  Plays half seasons in 2015 and 2016.  The organization babies him early in 2017 and he has a huge second half.  Then we hear that he was upset about his lack of early season usage and then about his lack of usage in the Super Bowl.  And took some other thinly veiled shots on his way out the door too.

Good riddance Dion.  Bill saved your career and then made you a ton of money.  Glad you enjoyed it here.  Whatever.  Running backs are fungible here in New England.

Maybe there is a compromise with Guerrero to make everyone happy this coming season.  Maybe Bill also tones the act down a bit for the current crop of players, I don’t know.  But the way I see it, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Keep doing what you are doing Bill…keep winning those games and most of us could care less about these whiny ballplayers…

Welp, I was going to talk a bit about the draft here but got a little carried away.  I’ll add some thoughts on this in another piece…

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