Betting on the Big Boys The Premiership Transfer Window

The Pre-season Premiership transfer window shut on the 1st September and so now the dust has settled, what do the big signings mean for their teams and the fans…and the punters who bet on the big games. M88 a leading sportsbook betting company feel that this premiership season is going to be more exciting than ever.

Let’s look at the top 3 most expensive transfers and see what the future brings.

Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid to Chelsea)

Diego is 25 and plays for the Spanish International team but was born in Brazil. He is joining Chelsea for reported fee of £32m, on a 5 year deal. Chelsea have been in need of a prolific striker and with Diego they may well have found their man. Let’s hope he can give defenders a tough time and keep Chelsea on top of the Premiership, with 8 goals already this season. He’s already paying off that transfer cost.

Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona to Chelsea)

Everyone knows or has heard of Cesc, even my mum, and the Spanish born attacking midfielder who left Barcelona to move to Chelsea to cover the hole left by outgoing Frank Lampard. He’s already had some assists and is proving to be a great asset in that midfield for Chelsea. Chelsea could well be unstoppable this season.

Calum Chambers (Southampton to Arsenal)

Now this boy is a bargain and interclub premiership transfer at its finest, a mere £11m has secured this transfer from Southampton to Arsenal. He’s a solid right back who can also play left if needs be. He’ll be pushing hard for a regular 1st team position and will probably get it.

The Premiership is going to be exciting this season, with not only the transfers into the UK from other countries but also the managers and general public appetite to have more than three team in the running.

The New Devils for 2013

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The Devils Will Be Without Ilya Kovalchuk This Season.

With so many changes on the Devils this year, you have to wonder what team you will see.

New Jersey will be welcoming a new top scorer, a new owner and even making a transition in goal this year.

Ilya Kovalchuk is now in the KHL, replaced by the immortal Jaromir Jagr, and Corey Schneider is now backing up Marty Brodeur who is probably in his last season – but one is not putting any kind of sports bet – William Hill -on that.

“I don’t see the challenges of the group,” coach Pete deBoer told the Bergan Record.  “I’m excited about the opportunity to work with them. All I see now is more of the good things I think we’re going to be able to do with this group. I think we’re deep. We’re going to be a four-line team. We’re going to be able to come at you in waves. We’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts. More than the challenges, that’s more of the things I’ve been looking at and am excited about.”

Great, this is a transition year for the Devils but don’t count them out. If Schneider can play up to the level he was in Vancouver and split time with Brodeur, they have a chance to be competitive.

“Those things sort themselves out. Marty’s back,” deBoer said. “Marty’s our starting goaltender and we’ve got a fantastic 1A in Cory Schneider.”

Also the Devils will need Jagr to think it’s 2005 again. The future Hall of Famer will be the primary sniper at the Prudential Center, so he will have to get the scoring touch back.

“I see him as a right winger with us,” deBoer said to the Record. “I’m really excited to see him with our power play unit and what he’s going to bring to the table for us in that capacity. And then from there it’s just going to be finding the right combinations with him to complement him on a nightly basis.”

And so are New Jersey fans who will be looking forward to the 2013-14 season, even with all the changes.

Kovalchuk Retires… Wait, WHAT???!!!

Kovalchuk

Ilya Kovalchuk announces his retirement from the NHL. He leaves $77 million on the table and heads back to Russia, where one can only assume he will play in the KHL. No one leaves the NHL to go play in the KHL because the hockey is better, it always comes down to $$.

Clarkson Inks 7-Year Deal With Toronto

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At one point this weekend I was a little sad for the NHL and then at another point of the weekend I was smiling because all I could imagine was Brian Burke laughing his ass off.

I’m not going to argue that David Clarkson isn’t a stand-up guy or that he doesn’t do a lot for the people in his community because he does. He still has a charitable organization in Kitchner where he played his minor league hockey and there are countless organizations he gave his time to while in New Jersey but he’s being paid to play hockey, not run charities. And while he’s a decent hockey player, I do question the amount of money he is now being paid to play hockey.

Clarkson is going to get $5.25 million per year for the next 7 years. Nathan Horton also signed a 7-year deal for a cap hit of $5.3 million per but many thought that was too much but then seemed ok with the Clarkson deal. Horton has six seasons with 20 or more goals, a Stanley Cup ring and a  0.84 points-per-game average in the postseason. Clarkson has one 30-goal season, no ring and a 0.32 PPG average in the postseason.

I don’t want to take too much away from Clarkson because he does serve some good out on the ice. He’s a tough guy to get off the puck which creates opportunities for him and his teammates, he knows how to forecheck, isn’t afraid to drop the gloves and can deliver a big check from time to time. But at $5.25 million, I would expect to be getting a guy that would stay a top 6 foreward, something he wasn’t always in NJ. He’s also been known to be undisciplined at times and wildly inconsistent with his goal scoring. In 2013, he had one goal in 17 games; in 2012, he had one goal in 10 games; and in 2011, he had one goal in 19 games.  In my opinion, David Clarkson had failed to play up to his potential until Peter DeBoer, who coached him in Kitchner, got to NJ.

I also must take into account that Clarkson is coming from a team that has missed the playoffs 2 out of the last 3 years. Yes, NJ made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 but that wasn’t because of the play from David Clarkson. If David Clarkson is such a powerhouse of offensive talent to bring in the kind of contract that Toronto has given him, then why wasn’t he able to carry the Devils to the playoff this year while Ilya Kovalchuk was out of the lineup? In the final month of the season, which was a very critical time for NJ, Clarkson found the net only 3 times (1 of which came after the Devils had been eliminated from the playoff race).

The bottom line is that David Clarkson is a good player and can be an asset to many teams but I question the amount of money and the length of the contract.  Hopefully for Toronto’s sake I am wrong and David Clarkson can prove he’s a power forward worthy of such a big pay day.

Devils Light Some Fireworks on the Fourth

The New Jersey Devils lit some fireworks of their own on the 4th of July by taking care of a number of in-house free agents.

According to ESPN, center Patrik Elias is going to become a lifetime New Jersey Devil after agreeing on a three-year deal worth $16.5 million.

With that kind of money, he may just do some college football betting.

The 37 year-old is the Devil’s all time franchise leader in goals (375) and assists (555). He is also third in games played with 1090 over his 17 year career.

“To [general manager] Lou [Lamoriello], all my teammates and Devils fans, I’m excited to sign a new contract and be back with New Jersey,” Elias said in a statement released through his agent. “This year marks my 17th year with the Devils, and it’s very special to be a member of one organization for my entire career. We’ve shared some great moments together, and I look forward to working with everyone to create new ones. Go Devils!”

Elias has won two Stanley cups with the Devils after being drafted in the second round of the 1995 draft. He said at the end of last season, which he scored 14 goals with 22 assists in 48 games, that he wanted to come back to Newark.

Also returning to the Rock is veteran forward Dairnius Zubras, who inked a three-year,  $9.3 million contract. A person familiar with the deal revealed the terms to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Devils didn’t release those numbers.

Zubrus is a 16-year NHL veteran, who has spent the past six seasons with New Jersey.

Of course, the Devils may still lose a number of unrestricted free agents. David Clarkson will test the market when it opens on Friday, while forwards, Steve Sullivan, Alexei Ponikarovsky and defenseman Marek Zidlicky are also eligible to become unrestricted free agents.

Also not returning to Newark will be goalie Johan Hedberg, who was bought out of the final season of his contact, which was set to count as $1.4 million against the salary cap, according to the Newark Star Ledger.

The 40 year-old was expendable after the Devils acquired Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks on draft day. Hedberg spent the last three seasons backing up Marty Brodeur.

 

What We Learned: Quick Thoughts on the 2013 NHL Entry Draft

Schneider gone, Luongo’s the man for Torts

What We Learned will be a weekly Monday Morning feature to cover the things that happened over the weekend in hockey. Of course, with this being the off-season, you might not see a ton of what we learned posts until training camp.

The Draft, it was an interesting one. A few unexpected plot twists happened. Here are a few of my thoughts on the things that happened.

Chicago – Hey, thanks for putting home that goal that brought us the cup but we think that’s probably the pinnacle of your career so have fun in Toronto. They traded Michael Frolik as well and did so to overpay Bryan Bickell which is kind of a head scratcher.

Columbus – Tides are turning in Columbus and I thought Jarmo Kekalainen did very well. It’s about time, really would like to see Columbus turn the corner a bit. I say that while cringing as they move into my division but still, they’ve been horrible for so long.

Dallas – I can’t believe Valeri Nichushkin dropped to them. Maybe the biggest shock of the draft for outside of Seth Jones going No. 4.

Nashville – THE winner of the day because Seth Jones dropped to #4 and they scooped him up. What a team/organization for Jones to end up on. It’s the equivalent of NFL running backs ending up in Mike Shanahan’s hands.

New Jersey – The Cory Schneider deal was incredible and this Santini kid could turn out to be something as well. Devils fans love Marty but finally Lou is realizing he needs to address the future. The Marty drafting Anthony moment was nice moment but it certainly meant more if your last name was Brodeur.

New York Rangers – Didn’t have a pick until #65 and they pick Adam Tambellini?? Was John Tortorella in charge of scouting because the Rangers just seemed unprepared to me.

Pittsburgh – More signs that Marc-Andre Fluery is on the way out as they drafted a goalie.

Vancouver – Traded Schneider to NJ for the 9th pick which they used to pick Bo Horvat so this was basically a Schneider for Horvat trade. Maybe Torts already pissed off Gillis already so Gillis decided to start tanking this team? Awful day for the Canucks.

What did you think about yesterday? Any huge surprises on your end?

Boston and Chicago Rolling Along

Wow, was I way off base on my predictions for the Conference Finals. At least Game 1 in the West was a close one but the other 3 games, especially both games so far in the Bruins and Penguins series haven’t been close, AT ALL. Take last night for example, Marchand scores :28 in and then I felt this would have more accurately summed up what Boston was shooting at all night.

I’m a little shocked by what the Penguins have brought to the ice so far in this series, especially after dominating Ottawa the way they did. After losing the first game to Boston, I would have expected to see the Penguins best game last night but instead we were treated to their worst. I’m not sure where the Penguins entire defensive unit is but clearly they haven’t been anywhere near the Consol Energy Center. For those Penguins fans out there, I hope they know what time their flight to Boston is and how to get to the airport.  I was right about one prediction going into this series, I just didn’t realize it would be greeted with such thunderous applause.

If I am a Penguins fan, I am a bit worried that I’ve dropped the first two games and that they haven’t been close. Now, the Bruins get to go home and get the crowd behind them, get last chance, etc. Pittsburgh better figure it out quick.

Look, while my predictions on the number of games won’t turn out to be right, I’m not sold that LA and Pittsburgh aren’t going to find a way to come back. Both of these teams are too good to just roll over here and head home for the summer. LA has been great at home so Chicago will have some work to do. Pittsburgh’s situation is a little tougher because now they have to go win on the road.

What do you think? Boston and Chicago continue to roll or can LA and Pittsburgh find a way back into this round?

 

Conference Finals Preview

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The battle for Lord Stanley’s cup resumes tomorrow night. It’s kind of amazing that the 4 teams that remain have all won the cup in the last 4 years. If you’re a fan of any of the teams that remain, you’re on a pretty good ride.

Boston vs Pittsburgh

These are the two teams that most of us were hoping would meet in the Eastern Conference Final. There’s a lot of bad blood between these teams. As a reminder, here are some of the reasons why:

  • Pittsburgh steals Jerome Iginla right from under the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline. We all thought Iginla was headed to Boston, as did Boston management.
  • Boston then made a trade to bring Jaromir Jagr, one of the most hated ex-Penguins, to Boston after the Iginla deal went south.
  • Ulf Samuelson ultimately ended Cam Neely’s career with a knee on knee check
  • Matt Cooke has appeared to have ended Marc Savard’s career with hit to the head.

This is a series that will feature a high-octane, up-tempo Pittsburgh squad against a very physical and aggressive Boston squad. On paper, this is going to be a great series. Both are coming off a semi-final series that was pretty much a piece of cake. Don’t expect this one to be.

If Pittsburgh is going to win this series, it’s going to be because of their speed and ability to score a lot. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Neal, Iginla, Morrow and Dupuis give the Penguins A LOT of depth. Paul Martin has looked decent in the playoffs and the Kris Letang isn’t a Norris Trophy finalist by accident. Tough team to beat, especially since they are on a roll.

If Boston is going to win this series, they will do so because their 4 lines are going to wear down the Penguins. They come at you in many different ways and are relentless on the puck. The one thing we saw in the Rangers/Bruins series is that the Rangers defense NEVER got a rest because the Bruins had all 4 lines working. If they can do that against the Penguins, it could mean problems for the Penguins defense. While Vokoun was solid against the Senators (and the Islanders when he came in) I’m still not sold that the Penguins don’t have a goalie issue.

I don’t see this series being anything less than six games and I do think there will be some issues in goal for Pittsburgh (whether they are bad enough to make another change, I can’t predict) but I also believe that Pittsburgh’s quickness with the puck will keep Boston on its heels, much like Toronto did but the difference in this series is that Pittsburgh has a lot more skill than Toronto.

I pick Pittsburgh in 6 maybe even 7.

Chicago vs Los Angeles

The Blackhawks are coming off an emotional 7 game series against the Detroit Red Wings. Down 3-1 in the series, they battled back. The Kings are coming of a 7 game series against the San Jose Sharks but it wasn’t as emotional as the Hawks/Wings series.

The Hawks had an impressive regular season and pretty easy first round matchup against a very inexperienced Minnesota team but something is just missing for me when it comes to Chicago. They have a lot of depth but I haven’t felt that a lot of that depth is playing to its potential. Detroit wasn’t a very strong team on the blue line and the Hawks struggled against them.

If Chicago is going to win this series, then they are going to do so because they’ve figured out a way to solve Jonathan Quick (something that wasn’t done last year and so far this year.) Chicago has the depth to do it but Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa need to play like they did in the regular season.

If LA is going to win this series, they’ll do so by being great on the road and continuing to be great at home. Quick is no doubt the best player of the 4 remaining teams and as long as he continues to be that, LA will certainly have an advantage in this series.

I’m actually going to say that LA rolls right over the Hawks in this series. They are big, they are mean, they have excellent defense and goaltending and I see no reason why the Kings can’t win in 5 on their way to their second straight Stanley Cup Final.

Back From Vacation: Torts Out, Hawks Advance

So yeah, I spent a week in Disney World in the middle of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I know, WHO DOES THAT RIGHT?? Well, I did but now I am back so let’s catch up on a lot of stuff. I did stay at the All-Star Movies resort and stayed in the Mighty Ducks rooms so I was close to hockey. Plus, I didn’t tune out from the playoffs, just the daily blogging of them.

Rangers Fire Tortorella – I completely agree with this move. Tortorella, during his tenure in NY seems to have been a Tortorella first guy and a team second guy. I never liked the way he conducted himself or seem to treat his players. Maybe it was different on the inside but from the outside it certainly appeared that he lost the respect of a player or two. Go back a few years ago and look at Sean Avery’s tenure. The whole league hated his bullshit but the Rangers always seemed to be a better team with him in the lineup because he got the other teams focused on his bullshit but Torts hated him and the room is split on whether or not maligning Sean Avery was the right thing to do. However, other names that you can add to the list that Torts alienated are: Wade Redden, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Brandon Dubinsky, Mats Zuccarello, Marion Gaborik,  Brad Richards, and even the untradeable Chris Kreider. It would appear that Henrik Lundqvist’s name may even be on that list.

Yes, Torts won a cup once but this shot blocking, rely on defense to grind out wins isn’t the style the New York Rangers play with. You have guys like Richards, Gaborik, Nash, Callahan, etc. and they finished 15th in scoring? In fact, the Rangers have never done better in that a 2.7% in Goals For under Tortorella. That’s not Rangers hockey, not a team that once had Messier, Graves, Leetch, Gretzky, and Duguay in their history.

I do believe it was Henrik Lundqvist that put the final nail in the Torts coffin. His exit interview made it sound like he was done with the Rangers and done with Torts. I also believe that if it wasn’t Lundqvist it was the Brad Richards healthy scratch that did him in. Despite his poor play, you don’t bench a former Conn Smythe winner in an elimination game. That does nothing but send the wrong message to your players.

The Rangers are FAR from a Stanley Cup contender in my opinion but firing Torts is a step in the right direction.

Chicago Blackhawks – That certainly was some series against the Red Wings. A fitting end to the Chicago/Detroit rivalry. Maybe one day we will get a Cup Final with these two but for now, the rivalry is done. I do believe that every cup winner needs a scare in the playoffs and if Chicago proves to be the cup winner, this series will have easily been that scare. It’s hard to believe that both Chicago let the series get to a 3-1 lead in favor of Detroit and Detroit failed to close out a 3-1 series lead but bravo to one great series. Had Chicago lost, I have no doubt in my mind that there would be another coach firing to talk about.

Los Angeles Kings – Right now are my favorite to win this…AGAIN. This team is rolling and playing some great hockey behind Jonathan Quick who might just be the best player in the playoffs…AGAIN. I wouldn’t be surprised to watch the Kings just roll over the Hawks on their way to the Finals. Having watched both series in Round 2, the Kings just seem like the better team.

That’s it for now. Sorry for the silence for the week but as I said in the beginning of this post, I was in Disney for a week and there wasn’t a lot of time to post about hockey!! I will be posting both the Eastern and Western Conference Final Previews tomorrow.

The Red Wings Continue To Surprise Us

I love playoff hockey and right now, the Detroit Red Wings are a prime example as to why I love it so much. When there were only a handful of regular season games remaining, you really couldn’t browse hockey web sites and forums without seeing the discussion about the possibility of the Red Wings playoff streak coming to an end. But then, this team went on a tear, winning their last 4 games of the regular season and outscoring their opponents 15-3 in those 4 games, which secured them a spot in the post-season. Streak still intact and now Detroit looking to turn some heads but no one really gave them a chance, yours truly included.

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