Last year’s installment of my Blue Jays season primer was done through a “Plus Minus Predictions” feature. While the concept gave me good talking points to express my thoughts on the core of the Blue Jays roster, the conservative Steamer Fangraphs projections that I used left me making some pretty lame “cold takes” with every prediction given the “barring injury” caveat. “Josh Donaldson is awesome.” Yikes you’ll need an ice bath after that hot take. Read more
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Excerpt from PHPA Article
“A lot has been made of the young, exciting Toronto Marlies. Run by Maple Leafs Assistant General Manager, Kyle Dubas, the Marlies are flush with dynamic prospects who are being groomed for the NHL, along with a mix of veteran talent. Last season’s Marlies were an offensive juggernaut, finishing atop the AHL standings with 114 points, while leading the league with 294 goals. It should come as no surprise with a roster stacked with young talent such as William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Brendan Leipsic, and Kasperi Kapanen,just to name a few. With all of this flash and sizzle, some players are bound to be lost in the shuffle. One name that is not given nearly enough credit, with his calming and steady presence patrolling the blue line, is Marlies captain, Andrew Campbell.
Known to teammates and coaches affectionately as “Soupy”, Campbell has owned this goofy moniker since his junior days with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). “I’m unsure of who gave it to me,” Campbell recalls. “I guess if your name is Campbell in any professional sport you tend to pick up the nickname.”
Excerpt from PHPA Article
On December 11, 2015, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 3-2 in overtime at home against the Los Angeles Kings. While in a vacuum this may not seem that consequential of a loss, at the end of the day it had much larger implications. This loss would drop the Penguins to a pedestrian 15-10-3 record, their fifth loss in their previous seven games. This slide would be bearable for most teams, but not so for a Pittsburgh line-up with Stanley Cup aspirations. While the Penguins’ record wasn’t bad by most teams’ standards, the greater worry was the lack of cohesion between their key players. It was clear something needed to change.
Following the loss to the Kings, the Penguins would fire their Head Coach, and promote Mike Sullivan, from Pittsburgh’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton to be the team’s new bench boss. With the hiring of Sullivan, there was a golden opportunity for players who had been playing in Wilkes-Barre, who had come to impress and build a rapport with Sullivan, to get their shot at the NHL. By season’s end, Pittsburgh would receive valuable contributions from AHL Wilkes-Barre alumni such as Brian Dumoulin, Tom Kuhnhackl, Conor Sheary, and Matt Murray on their way to capturing the franchise’s fourth Stanley Cup. And there are those who argue the team would not have had the success they did without the heroic playoff performance of another AHL call-up, Bryan Rust.
This is my second professional interview and article written for the Professional Hockey Players’ Association. Like Ben Harpur, Tom McCollum is a former Guelph Storm because… well to be honest when I submitted a list of potential interview candidates I just fired off former junior players that I was familiar with. Coincidentally Ben and Tom know each other despite never playing on the same team and Tom being 6 years older than Ben. Apparently they met through the Storm and have skated with each other in past off-seasons because they live an hour apart on different sides of the border (Ben lives in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario and Tom is from Amherst, New York).
McCollum was a really cool interview for me. His OHL career spanned from 2006 to 2009. For me that was Grade 6 to Grade 9. Despite those Storm teams not being overly successful, I loved watching them play live. Off of the top of my head I remember watching McCollum, Drew Doughty, Peter Holland, Taylor Beck, Michael Latta, Tim Priamo, Rafael Rotter, Brandon Buck, Leigh Salters, Luke Pither…
I’ve regularly checked Tom’s HockeyDB page ever since he got drafted by Detroit. So after talking to him over the phone and hearing what he’s about, I wish him nothing but the best and am rooting for him to crack the NHL for good.
Tom is an awesome guy with a lot to say, which made for a great interview experience. He gave me too much good material to fit in my piece for the PHPA so I’ll share some of my unused quotes below.
Game 1: Tuesday May 17; 8:30 @ Cleveland on Sportsnet
Game 2: Thursday May 19; 8:30 @ Cleveland on TSN
Game 3: Saturday May 21; 8:30 @ Toronto on Sportsnet
Game 4: Monday May 23; 8:30 @ Toronto on TSN
Game 5: Wednesday May 25; 8:30 @ Cleveland on TBD
Game 6: Friday May 27; 8:30 @Toronto on TBD
Game 7: Sunday May 29; 8:30 @ Cleveland on TBD
While my brother and I watched the first round series versus Indiana, we were discussing which players were the “X-Factors” in the series. The conversation then turned into us mocking stereotypical basketball commentary by calling every player on either team’s roster an “X-Factor”. Kyle Lowry? X-Factor. Paul George? X-Factor. Miles Turner? X-Factor. James Johnson? X-Factor (#FreeJamesJohnson (Why do some Raptors fans feel the need to tweet this?)). Ty Lawson? You better believe he’s an X-Factor (also the MVP at every dispensary he frequents). Bruno Caboclo? He could be the difference. But despite the term “X-Factor” being a tired trope, I’m going to use it as a talking point to bring up themes, strategies, and key figures that have the potential to effect the series. Read more
The 2016 season is coming in hot! I’ve already dusted off the old glove (and subsequently already thrown my arm out), read as much Blue Jays content as I can, and acquired a couple of tickets for April. The only thing keeping me from total baseball mode are those pesky 50-win Raptors. I am ready for a summer of Pillar web gems, Donaldson bombs, Stroman fist pumps and Bautista bat flips. But until then I may as well fill my time with writing predictions and ignoring school work.
I’m not that big into gambling, but I feel that the Over-Under concept is a great starting point for some of my Blue Jays opinions and predictions. Essentially I take a look at various projected stats for Toronto Blue Jays players and predict whether their real numbers at year’s end is over or under the projection. For the sake of this piece, I will use FanGraphs’ Steamer Projections. At this point most people bet money on the outcome of their over-under guesses. But taking into account my aversion to taking risks (some call this “being a coward”) and my limited funds, gambling just doesn’t seem meant for me. Read more
To make this team I looked at all of the players in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization that are under 27 (the cut off for restricted free agency). James Van Riemsdyk wasn’t included because he turns 27 this May. The rankings below have taken into account each player’s current skill as well as their potential.