• What Seguin's injury means for the Stars, Spezza

    Last Friday, the Dallas Stars’ All-Star forward Tyler Seguin was injured in a brutal collision when Florida Panthers’ defensemen Dmitry Kulikov delivered a hard hit.

    The NHL announced Kulikov will be suspended four games for the illegal blow; however, the Stars’ will be without their leading scorer for 3-6 weeks as Dallsas placed Seguin on the injured reserved list over the weekend.  

    Seguin leads the team in both goals (29) and total points (59). Adjusting to life without their top offensive player will be challenging for the Stars as they currently sit outside the playoff picture even with Seguin playing every game he has been eligible for this season.

    The first game that Seguin missed all year came on Saturday, a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche are currently one point behind the Stars in the standings and are one of several teams in the hunt for a Western Conference playoff birth.

    The Stars, who are still alive in the playoff race, must figure out a way to score goals without Seguin and last night they did just that as they came away with a huge 4-1 road victory over the St. Louis Blues. Center iceman Jason Spezza had three assists in the game as all three helpers were to captain Jamie Benn, who scored the first hat trick of his career.

    Dallas aquired Spezza, an eleven year NHL veteran, last summer to help the Stars offensively. With star forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin leading the team in goals last year, Spezza was poised to likely be the Stars’ third scoring option this year.

    Indeed, Spezza has fit in nicely with his new team, as he is third on the roster in total points and first in assists. He is doing exactly what he came here to do-- help facilitate the offense by setting up others to score.

    Now that Seguin is out for potentially over a month, someone must help Jamie Benn, who is second on the team with 22 goals, with the goal=scoring duties. Yes, Erik Cole has done his part by netting 15, and defensemen Trevor Daley is having a career year with 14 of his own. But Jason Spezza, with 12 goals on the year, has the experience and most certainly the talent to transition into a prolific scorer for the Stars.

    With three goals and nine points in the last five games, it seems Spezza is ready to be a leader for the Stars in the wake of Seguin’s absence. 

  • NBA trade deadline rumors

    While there are no NBA games until Thursday, teams will be extremely busy trying to bolster their rosters before Thursday’s 3PM EST trade deadline.

    Currently, there are 22 teams still jockeying for playoff position and then there are the other eight teams who have basically given up on the season, but might have valuable trade assets. Some teams will be desperate to dump some of their salary in order to rebuild through free agency this offseason.

    There are three big name players to watch in the next few days that may get traded-- Brook Lopez, Lance Stephenson, and Goran Dragic. Brooklyn has experimented with the trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez for awhile and have yet to find no real success yet. So the odd ball out, Lopez may find himself a new home this week.

    Lance Stephenson has not been the addition the Charlotte Hornets needed so they too will be looking to get something in return for Stephenson. As for Dragic, he has made it pretty apparent he will sign elsewhere this offseason so Phoenix might as well get what they can for Dragic before he walks away.

    There was a reported trade earlier this season that would have sent Lopez to OKC, Stephenson to Brooklyn, Jarrett Jack to Charlotte, and expiring contracts and young assets to Brooklyn. However it fell through at the last minute. But, it wouldn't be surprising if Oklahoma City's GM Sam Presti makes another phone call to Brooklyn to try to facilitate a deal for Lopez. He would solidify their frontcourt and help propel them into the playoff picture.

    Phoenix faces the problem of having a plethora of point guards. Eric Bledsoe, Isiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic are all good point guards, but at some point, one of them isn’t being used properly. Goran Dragic seems to be the most likely to be traded this week because he has expressed interest in possibly signing with another team this offseason. Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers have continuously tried to pry away Dragic from Phoenix, so look for both of those teams to make another push leading up to the deadline.

    As for Stephenson, it has been pretty apparent he wasn’t the fit Charlotte had hoped he would be. Yet Charlotte is still in position to make the playoffs so it would love to get talent back for Stephenson. And the Brooklyn Nets are one team that would love to bring Stephenson back home.

    There’s many teams with valuables players for contenders. For example, the Denver Nuggets' season may not have went as they planned yet they still have plenty of talented guys a contending team may want their hands on. Arron Affalo, Randy Foye, and Wilson Chandler all have tremendous value for a team desperate for some help on the perimeter. Also their two star players, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are also said to be available this week. So at the right price, a team could get an explosive veteran player in either one of them.

    Other teams are searching for a big man to bolster up their frontcourt and Brandon Bass of the Celtics would be a solid addition to fit that role. He is a terrific rebounder and can finish around the basket. Lakers big man Jordan Hill is also having a tremendous season despite the Lakers being near the bottom of the West.

    Recently, Chicago has made Taj Gibson available in trade talk. With rookie Nikola Mirotic coming into his own, Chicago might be able to fill another hole in their rotation by letting Gibson go via trade. Gibson has great value in trade talks because he is a solid contributor off the bench, and could quite frankly start for plenty of teams around the league. Watch for teams like the Clippers or Blazers to look for a much needed big man.

    Needless to say, there are plenty of intriguing options out there for teams in need of help. However, I don’t foresee any blockbuster trade taking place this time around. We already saw Rajon Rondo get traded earlier this season, and there isn’t any player as talented in trade talks. But a contending team can definitely find a missing piece this week and could change their fortunes come playoff time.

  • NBA trade deadline rumors

    While there are no NBA games until Thursday, teams will be extremely busy trying to bolster their rosters before Thursday’s 3PM EST trade deadline.

    Currently, there are 22 teams still jockeying for playoff position and then there are the other eight teams who have basically given up on the season, but might have valuable trade assets. Some teams will be desperate to dump some of their salary in order to rebuild through free agency this offseason.

    There are three big name players to watch in the next few days that may get traded-- Brook Lopez, Lance Stephenson, and Goran Dragic. Brooklyn has experimented with the trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez for awhile and have yet to find no real success yet. So the odd ball out, Lopez may find himself a new home this week.

    Lance Stephenson has not been the addition the Charlotte Hornets needed so they too will be looking to get something in return for Stephenson. As for Dragic, he has made it pretty apparent he will sign elsewhere this offseason so Phoenix might as well get what they can for Dragic before he walks away.

    There was a reported trade earlier this season that would have sent Lopez to OKC, Stephenson to Brooklyn, Jarrett Jack to Charlotte, and expiring contracts and young assets to Brooklyn. However it fell through at the last minute. But, it wouldn't be surprising if Oklahoma City's GM Sam Presti makes another phone call to Brooklyn to try to facilitate a deal for Lopez. He would solidify their frontcourt and help propel them into the playoff picture.

    Phoenix faces the problem of having a plethora of point guards. Eric Bledsoe, Isiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic are all good point guards, but at some point, one of them isn’t being used properly. Goran Dragic seems to be the most likely to be traded this week because he has expressed interest in possibly signing with another team this offseason. Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers have continuously tried to pry away Dragic from Phoenix, so look for both of those teams to make another push leading up to the deadline.

    As for Stephenson, it has been pretty apparent he wasn’t the fit Charlotte had hoped he would be. Yet Charlotte is still in position to make the playoffs so it would love to get talent back for Stephenson. And the Brooklyn Nets are one team that would love to bring Stephenson back home.

    There’s many teams with valuables players for contenders. For example, the Denver Nuggets' season may not have went as they planned yet they still have plenty of talented guys a contending team may want their hands on. Arron Affalo, Randy Foye, and Wilson Chandler all have tremendous value for a team desperate for some help on the perimeter. Also their two star players, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried are also said to be available this week. So at the right price, a team could get an explosive veteran player in either one of them.

    Other teams are searching for a big man to bolster up their frontcourt and Brandon Bass of the Celtics would be a solid addition to fit that role. He is a terrific rebounder and can finish around the basket. Lakers big man Jordan Hill is also having a tremendous season despite the Lakers being near the bottom of the West.

    Recently, Chicago has made Taj Gibson available in trade talk. With rookie Nikola Mirotic coming into his own, Chicago might be able to fill another hole in their rotation by letting Gibson go via trade. Gibson has great value in trade talks because he is a solid contributor off the bench, and could quite frankly start for plenty of teams around the league. Watch for teams like the Clippers or Blazers to look for a much needed big man.

    Needless to say, there are plenty of intriguing options out there for teams in need of help. However, I don’t foresee any blockbuster trade taking place this time around. We already saw Rajon Rondo get traded earlier this season, and there isn’t any player as talented in trade talks. But a contending team can definitely find a missing piece this week and could change their fortunes come playoff time.

  • 2015 already looking promising for Chicago Cubs

    From the curse of the Billy Goat to Steve Bartman, the past 106 years of baseball on the north side of Chicago have been nothing, but disappointing. The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and their last World Series appearance was in 1945.

    Despite these unfathomable truths the Cubs still have hope.

    For one, Hollywood predicted a Cubs World Series win in the 1989 movie “Back to the Future II.” But more importantly, the Cubs are actually built to contend not only this year, but for many years to come.

    Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs, has made all the right moves after leaving the Red Sox for Chicago in 2011. Despite finishing in last place in the N.L. Central the past three years under Epstein, the Cubs have the top-ranked farm system in baseball.

    Led by Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler, the Cubs have at least one hitting prospect at every position on the diamond. If things go the way Epstein has planned, the Cubs farm system won’t be as highly glorified as they are now because Soler will be in the majors and Bryant should be up shortly after. Russell is close behind as well. And while second basemen Javier Baez and outfielder Arismendy Alcantara are no longer considered prospects, they are young guys in the Cubs’ system.

    Before the offseason, the Cubs had 40-1 odds to win the World Series but after signing left handed ace Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal and adding Joe Maddon as the new manager, their odds increased to 12-1.

    The pitching staff beyond Lester is also impressive. Kyle Hendricks led the team with a 2.46 ERA posting a 7-2 record over 13 starts. Jake Arrieta struck out 167 in only 156.2 innings last season. Newly acquired Jason Hammel posted a 2.98 ERA and despite struggling last season, Travis Wood is still a former all-star. The five starters look nothing but strong on paper.

    The two cornerstones of the franchise, shortstop Starlin Castro and first basemen Anthony Rizzo, were the Cubs only All-star selections last season. Castro led the team with a .292 batting average and Rizzo was second in the National League with 32 homeruns.

    "It's going to happen this year," Rizzo said. "It's what we're going to do. We're going to play and we're going to win the NL Central, you can quote me on that. We should be the team, with all due respect to every other team; we're going to do some things this year. That's what we're going to put our sights on and we're not going to accept anything else.”

    A World Series win might not happen this year, but the Cubs fans have to be satisfied in the direction this team is going. In the end, all that matters is who makes the postseason. The Kansas City Royals were able to win the pennant last year in the wild card spot. If the Cubs can clinch a wild card spot, anything can happen.

    The lineup is stacked from top to bottom and the starting rotation is solid. Epstein has made all of the right moves to this point and now it’s time to see if they can produce.