Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Let's Make Some Money On The Euro Cup

Similar to the Hockey World Cup coming this fall, the Futbol Euro Cup is going to pit the most talented players in the world against each other in the name of national pride.

And, like every sports tournament ever, it's also going to be a great opportunity to lose money and yell at the television.

Odds To Win The Cup

In examining the odds to win the 2016 Euros, there are seven teams with a reasonable or somewhat reasonable chance to lift the trophy. They are:

  • France and Germany (co-favorites, each at +325)
  • Spain and England (traditional powers, +550 and +750 respectively)
  • Belgium, Italy, and Portugal (+1000, +1400, and +2000 respectively)
Odds To Win Group Stage

France (-325) will likely win Group A. Germany (-300) will likely win Group C. Parlaying these two pays -135, which seems like a decent payout considering the opposition is Switzerland, Romania, Albania and Poland, Ukraine, Northern Ireland. 

England (-140), Spain (-165), and Portugal (-125) should each win their respective groups. If you're looking for a dark horse to upset one of them, it'd be Croatia (+210) over Spain. 

The first real early battle will take place in Group E, where Belgium (-105) and Italy (+160) will face off. 

How Do We Pick Who To Bet On?

For those of you who maybe don't follow soccer as much as you should, the point of the game is to score as many goals as possible. Here is who Bovada thinks is going to lead the tournament in goals scored (I capped it at +5000 because, let's be real, nothing beyond those odds will ever happen in soccer):

Thomas Muller (+700), Mario Gotze (+3300), Mario Gomez (+3300), Andre Schurrle (+5000), Max Kruse (+5000)

Antoine Greizmann (+900), Olivier Giroud (+1400), Anthony Martial (+2000), Andre-Pierre Gignac (+3300), Alexandre Lacazette (+4000), Dimitri Payet (+5000)

Alvaro Morata (+2000), Paco Alcacer (+2500), Aritz Aduriz (+3300), David Silva (+5000), Pedro (+5000)

Harry Kane (+1400), Jamie Vardy (+3300), Wayne Rooney (+3300), Daniel Sturridge (+4000), Danny Welbeck (+5000)
(Editor's note: England is basically like the current New York Yankees, in that their players aren't actually that good but there is so much goddamn media scrutiny that you know everything about all of these guys. So take it with a grain of salt because I'm sure more people will be betting on Rooney than on Andre-Pierre Gignac or Aritz Aduriz.)

Romelo Lukaku (+2000), Eden Hazard (+3300), Kevin De Bruyne (+3300), Christian Benteke (+5000)

Graziano Pelle (+3300)

Cristiano Ronaldo (+800)

Rest of World
Robert Lewandoski, Poland (+1400)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden (+2500)
Mario Mandzukic, Croatia (+3300)
Gareth Bale, Wales (+4000)

Here are my takeaways: 

From a team perspective, I think France is the play. Germany's big guns are probably inflated a bit due to their recent success, and England's are similarly deflated but for the opposite reason. France has those first five guys that will all be contributing to the score sheet, and it's nice to have options in a long tournament like this one. 

Individually, either Pelle or Ronaldo should be your first look. Vegas thinks those two teams are going to have a successful run, and those are the only two players on the list for their respective teams. Here's some math for you:
You need goals to win + Those teams are going to win = Those guys are going to score
Now, to be fair, there is not a single player who will be receiving more hype than Ronaldo. His moneyline is probably adjusted to reflect that like half the money on this prop will be going to him. I think Pelle is an interesting play, just because his odds are so insanely high.

To Lead The Field In Goals Scored

In the Premier League, ten of the players listed above scored 8 or more goals this season.

  1. Harry Kane (+1400), 25 goals in 38 games
  2. Jamie Vardy (+3300), 24 goals in 36 games
  3. Romelo Lukaku (+2000), 18 goals in 37 games
  4. Olivier Giroud (+1400), 16 goals in 38 games
  5. Graziano Pelle (+3300), 11 goals in 30 games
  6. Anthony Martial (+2000), 11 goals in 31 games
  7. Christian Benteke (+5000), 9 goals in 29 games
  8. Dimitri Payet (+5000), 9 goals in 30 games
  9. Daniel Sturridge (+4000), 8 goals in 14 games
  10. Wayne Rooney (+3300), 8 goals in 28 games
Around the rest of the world, here's how the rest of the list compared:
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic (+2500), 38 goals in 31 games in France
  • Alexandre Lacazette (+4000), 21 goals in 34 games in France
  • Robert Lewandoski (+1400), 30 goals in 32 games in Germany
  • Thomas Muller (+700), 20 goals in 31 games in Germany
  • Andre Schurrle (+5000), 9 goals in 29 games in Germany
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (+800), 35 goals in 36 games in Spain
  • Antoine Greizmann (+900), 22 goals in 38 games in Spain
  • Aritz Aduriz (+3300), 20 goals in 34 games in Spain
  • Gareth Bale (+4000), 19 goals in 23 games in Spain
  • Paco Alcacer (+2500), 13 goals in 34 games in Spain
  • Mario Mandzukic (+3300), 10 goals in 27 games in Italy
And, for good measure, here are the leaders in goal-scoring for Euro Qualifying:
  1. Robert Lewandoski (+1400), 13 goals in 10 games
  2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (+2500), 11 goals in 10 games
  3. Thomas Muller (+700), 9 goals in 9 games
  4. Wayne Rooney (+3300), 7 goals in 8 games
  5. Gareth Bale (+4000), 7 goals in 10 games
  6. Danny Welbeck (+5000), 6 goals in 5 games
  7. Cristiano Ronaldo (+800), 5 goals in 6 games
  8. Paco Alcacer (+2500), 5 goals in 8 games
  9. Eden Hazard (+3300), 5 goals in 9 games
  10. Kevin De Bruyne (+3300), 5 goals in 10 games
The Bet Slip

France to win the tournament +325

Parlay France and Germany to win Groups A and C -135

Top tournament goalscorer: 
Ronaldo +800 - I'd rather lose than bet the favorite, which is good because he's technically not the favorite
Pelle +3300 - I love this bet and there's like a 100% chance he ends up with zero goals
Welbeck +5000 - 50/1 for a guy who scored more than a goal per game in qualifying? Yes please
Muller +700 - He actually is the favorite, but we need someone from Germany to hedge our France bet and he scores all of the goals for Germany
Alcacer +2500 - We also need a Spaniard to hedge that bet and Alcacer is the best bet

There you have it - we'll check in as the tournament progresses. Feel free to laugh at me on twitter when France, Germany, and Italy all get eliminated in the group stage and Ronaldo tears his Achilles in the second match. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Let's Look At The Non-North American World Cup Rosters

(Editor's note: they are rolling out the final rosters over the course of the day, and the USA/Canada/North America rosters won't be released until I'm gone for the weekend. We all know and love/hate the guys already, so let's look at some foreigners in the meantime.)


Forwards - I feel comfortable projecting: their top nine
Eriksson - Backstrom - ForsbergSedin - Sedin - HornqvistHagelin - Zetterberg - Steen
Maybe move the wingers around a bit, but that's the unit. All top-six NHL guys (mostly top-line NHL guys), and I somehow didn't even include Gabriel Landeskog.

Defense: I feel comfortable projecting: their top six
Karlsson - HedmanEkman-Larsson - KronwallStralman - Hjalmarsson
Ho hum, just a top pairing featuring a perennial Norris candidate and a future perennial Norris candidate and a bottom pair featuring one of the horses of a three-time Cup winner.

Goalie - I feel comfortable projecting: Henrik Lundqvist is going to be washed up by the time this tournament ends

Bottom line - It would be really REALLY fun to coach Team Sweden this Fall.


Forwards - I feel comfortable projecting: their top six
Laine - Koivu - GranlundFilppula - Barkov - Komarov
The same top six that netted them a silver medal at the World Championships, plus Valtteri Filppula (such a pain in the ass of a name).

Defense - I feel comfortable projecting: their crunch-time top pair
Maatta - Ristolainen
They will probably split up their top two d-men for the majority of the time, but that's a solid pairing and they're both only 21 so I'd expect them to be carrying the load for Finland for a while.

Goalie - I feel comfortable projecting: Rask/Rinne will both play well enough to make Bruins and Predators fans want to throw up all over themselves

Bottom line - Not enough depth on offense or defense to make a lot of noise.


Forwards - I feel comfortable projecting: the most talented top-heavy top six in the tourney
Ovechkin - Kuznetsov - Malkin
Tarasenko - Datsyuk - Kucherov 
Bonus projection! They're going to keep the Pan-Dad-Ship line together
Panarin - Dadonov - Shipyachov
Defense - I feel comfortable projecting: this unit is the complete opposite of their forward group

Goalie - I feel comfortable projecting: whether it's Bobrovsky, Varlamov, or Vasilevskiy, they'll be fine

Bottom line - That top nine would make me cry if my team had to play against them in an elimination game.

Czech Republic

Forwards - I feel comfortable projecting: (see below)
Defense - I feel comfortable projecting: (see below)
Goalie - I feel comfortable projecting: (see below)

Bottom line - #LetsGoFlyers
Voracek - Krejci - PastrnakGudas - SustrNeuvirth 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Bruins Front Office Stinks

(Editor's note: I wrote this whole post without a title because I wanted to see where my research took me. And then I got to the end and came up with a title that should not be controversial at all because it is a factual statement.)

I am not a big Boston Bruins fan. I was a pseudo-fan in college because (1) three of my roommates were big Bruins fans and (2) they were good and I watched them make playoff runs basically all through college.

But I never followed the team online or behind the scenes like I follow the Flyers.

I know they traded Joe Thornton and Tyler Seguin away at different points in the past decade (and I know the common thought is they got swindled on the Seguin deal) but I've never really looked into comparing those trades. Today, Rear Admiral blogged on Barstool about supporting Thornton in a Sharks jersey this year, and it made me curious.

Let's dive into the hallmark personnel moves for the GM careers of Mike O'Connell and Peter Chiarelli.

December 2005

San Jose received: F Joe Thornton
Boston received: F Marco Sturm, F Wayne Primeau, F Brad Stuart

ESPN said: "San Jose sacrificed three members of their young core for Thornton, one of the NHL's top power forwards."

That trade isn't rare by any means - one team turned a solidified NHL contributor into younger pieces to build for the future. The term "hockey trade" usually means trading one player straight-up for another, but this type of move is probably more common for big-name players. 

And Thornton was certainly a big-name player at this point, which is why it's a weird move in retrospect. Four months before the trade, the Bruins had signed him to a 3-year deal to keep him in Boston through his twenties. He led the Bruins in points (and assists) the previous two years. He had also captained them to the playoffs twice (as the 7 seed in 2003 and the 2 seed in 2004). 

Despite the fact that they lost to the Canadiens in the first round 2-7 series, they were an improving team. And then they ditched their 26 year old captain, missed the 2004-05 season because of the lockout, and finished 13th in the East in 2005-06. One fun note: they used the high pick from finishing so poorly to draft Phil Kessel in 2006. Just keep that in mind for the the next 30 seconds or so. 

Obviously, Cups speak louder than anything, and the 2011 banner hanging in TD Garden makes it seem like moving on from Jumbo Joe was the right move. But did Marco, Wayne, or Brad really do anything? Their primary contribution was stinking and allowing the team to draft Kessel, Lucic, and Marchand.

And then our intermission trade happened.

September 2009

Toronto received: F Phil Kessel
Boston received: The picks that became F Tyler Seguin, D Dougie Hamilton, and lifetime minor leaguer Jared Knight

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke said: "Bringing Phil Kessel aboard, it's a statement to our players that we intend to be competitive right away, and I think he gives us a dimension that we need."

The Leafs then promptly finished 15th, 10th, 13th, 5th, 12th, and 15th before shipping Kessel to Pittsburgh for picks and prospects. It's worth a mention that the year they finished 5th and made the playoffs they were knocked out by the Bruins in the first round. Game Seven of this series was the "It Was 4-1" game that you might have heard about, and a 21 year old Seguin finished the series with 1 assist and 29 shots on goal. 

Bonus ESPN said: "Kessel gives the Leafs a powerful offensive threat, though giving up three high draft picks appears to be quite costly. But the Leafs also have several promising rookies in Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg, Nazem Kadri and Christian Hanson."

Would you rather:
  • 2 players: 686 NHL games, 197 goals, 481 points, 68 playoff games, 31 playoff points
  • 4 players: 1,216 NHL games, 262 goals, 625 points, 55 playoff games, 15 playoff points
It's worth mentioning that about a third of the regular season production (and almost all of the playoff production) came from Stalberg's time with the Chicago Blackhawks and not the Maple Leafs. 

Sorry, I got sidetracked. But I like when the Leafs are bad. Moving on!

July 2013

Dallas received: F Tyler Seguin, F Rich Peverley, lifetime minor leaguer Ryan Button
Boston received: F Loui Eriksson, D Joe Morrow, F Matt Faser (who was waived in 2014), F Reilly Smith (who was traded for F Jimmy Hayes)

Stars GM Jim Nill said: "It wasn't an easy trade for either party to make."

What an idiot! Fire Jim Nill right now. Somebody call @OldTakesExposed

Listen, obviously Dallas "won" this trade. Seguin is one of their franchise cornerstones and he's part of the highest-scoring duo of the past two years.

But, unlike the Thornton trade, I can see the logic behind the Bruins' move here. Boston had an aging core and wanted to bring in a more established player while also shedding Peverley's cap hit. Hindsight is 20/20, and Seguin was far from a sure thing at age 21. Eriksson, at age 28, was an established hired gun to complement the similarly-aged Bergeron, Krejci, and Marchand. 

My best guess is Boston knew the window was eventually going to shut, and I guess it made more sense for them to load up for a few years of runs with Eriksson, who was less costly:
  • Eriksson (expires this summer): $4.25 million cap hit
  • Seguin (signed after the trade, expires summer 2019): $5.75 million cap hit
Factor in Peverley's $3.25 million cap hit and you can understand the logic behind spending less than half the money. 

But (and this is a big but)... 

Seguin turned into a stud. 

Knowing what we know now, obviously this was a stupid trade for the Bruins. It might even be stupider than the Thornton trade (give it like five more years before we judge it). They gave away franchise-caliber players for role players and no-names, and didn't really compete with those acquired players on the roster. 

The only thing that will save Boston is if they bottom out next year and the following year, draft two cornerstone players, and load up for a run in 2019. But by that point, Bergeron and Krejci will both be 33 and making a combined $14 million. 

If 2019 is the target (four seasons after the trade, like it was with Thornton), then Boston should want a player in his mid-twenties to lead them (like Lucic, Krejci, Bergeron, and Horton did in 2011). How old is Tyler Seguin going to be in 2019? 

27. Would that work? 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Shea Weber: Should Not Of Kept

The Nashville Predators, led by captain Shea Weber, were eliminated from the NHL playoffs last night. It was a particularly brutal display for Weber, who was on the ice for all 5 San Jose goals and contributed directly to at least a pair of them.

People forget that Shea Weber was on the Flyers for a brief period in July 2012, when he signed a 14-year/$110 million offer sheet. This was the pinnacle of Paul Holmgren's tenure of Flyera, and we dodged a goddamn bullet when Nashville elected to match.

If they had not matched and Weber came to Philly, we would be lamenting two things right now:

  1. He stinks and he's old and overpaid
  2. We would have had to give up a SHIT TON in compensation to Nashville
That compensation would have included the following players:
  • Samuel Morin (2013 1st round)
  • Travis Sanheim (2014 1st round)
  • Ivan Provorov (2015 1st round)
  • Jake Bean (or whoever, this year's 1st round pick)
The salary issue would also have prevented (or at least affected) the signings/extensions of Wayne Simmonds, Michael Del Zotto, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, Michael Raffl, and Brayden Schenn. 

Thanks to Baby Jesus that Ron Hextall is in charge of the ship now. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Oh Shit! The IIHF World Championship Starts This Week

With all of the talk about the World Cup of Hockey coming in the Fall, I had almost forgotten about the World Championships that take place alongside the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

We got FUCKED by the NHL playoffs in terms of gambling (betting on Chicago, Los Angeles, and Florida to win was not smart), and with Boston and Philly both eliminated at this point, we fall somewhere between "a casual interest" and "I can't stand any of these teams."

So, we're on to international hockey. Granted, there will be a LOT of big names missing from the Worlds. But there will also be a lot of big names (and younger guys) present, so it'll still be entertaining and we can hopefully win some money. Here are some notable odds to win the whole thing:

  • Russia and Canada are +200
  • Finland is +500 and Sweden is +550
  • USA is +900
  • Czech Republic is +1200
  • Everyone else is Leicester Or Worse Odds: Switzerland, Slovakia, Norway, Belarus, Latvia, Germany, France, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Hungary

Let's look at some notable players who are actually going to be playing for these teams via the IIHF website (note: as NHL teams are eliminated, more players can fly to Prague to join their national squads, so we'll look at some possibilities there too):

Russia (+200), Group A

Forwards: Burmistrov, Datsyuk, Kalinin, Radulov, Tikhonov, Yakupov
Defensemen: Marchenko, Yemelin, Zaitsev
Goalies: Varlamov, Bobrovski

One player to watch for: I'm going to cheat here on the first team and say either Alex Ovechkin or Evgeni Malkin, for obvious reasons. They're the two best Russian players in the world. One of them will be eliminated before pool play ends at the World (they're playing head-to-head right now), so Russia will get a big bump on offense pretty early on.

Canada (+200), Group B

Forwards: Domi, Duchene, Hall, Marchand, McDavid, O'Reilly, Perry, Scheifele
Defensemen: Cody Ceci? Morgan Reilly? Chris Tanev?
Goalies: Cam Talbot?

One player to watch for: The rest of the actual Team Canada, because there are about three dozen elite players that are not currently registered to play in this tournament. Especially on the back end, this team could really use some reinforcements if they want to have a chance.

Finland (+500), Group B

Forwards: Aho, Barkov, Jokinen, Koivu, Komarov, Laine, Rantanen
Defensemen: Nobody that I have ever heard of
Goalies: The Other Niklas Backstrom

One player to watch for: Olli Maata. Depending on when the Penguins get eliminated (and whether or not Brooks Orpik cheapshotted him all the way to death), Maata's presence on the blueline would really help a Finland team that basically is lacking any sort of all-world talent on defense.

Sweden (+550), Group A

Forwards: Backlund, Nyquist
Defensemen: Gustafsson
Goalies: Markstrom, Fasth

One player to watch for: Narrowing this list down to just one player is pretty damn near impossible. In goal, the big name is Henrik Lundqvist. On the blueline, the team could clearly use players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson (and Niklas Hjalmarsson and Victor Hedman). And there are so many forwards missing from the current group that I'm just going to bullet some last names: Eriksson, Forsberg, Landeskog, Sedin, Sedin, Steen, Zetterberg.

But the real one player to watch for is Nicklas Backstrom, who could be encouraged to play if fellow Washington Capital Ovechkin decides to suit up for Russia when the Caps are knocked out.

USA (+900), Group B

Forwards: Connor, Foligno, Glendening, Larkin, Matthews, Vatrano
Defensemen: Hanifin, McCabe, Skjei, Chris Wideman
Goalies: Condon, Demko, Kinkaid

One player to watch for: There are certainly some more established names in goal that will be available, but the real weakness in this lineup is in the top six. Matthews and Larkin need no introduction, and it will be fun to watch them compared to Finland's Laine line. The obvious player to look out for, depending on how the NHL playoffs break, is clearly American Hero TJ Oshie. He has a kid though, so I'd go a little younger and put Derek Stepan in this spot.

Czech Republic (+1200), Group A

Forwards: Pastrnak, Plenakec, Sekac
Defensemen: Nobody that I've ever heard of, but they have a guy named Michal Jordan
Goalies: Nobody that I have ever heard of

One player to watch for: With the rest of these squads, there are at least a dozen players that could immediately make the team better if they decided to fly to Prague. The home team is no different. The three-headed goalie that we're expecting for the World Cup (Neuvirth-Pavelec-Mrazek) are all missing, as are the top three defensemen (Gudas, Polak, Sustr). And up front, it's nice for the to have Pastrnak and Plekanec, but they could clearly benefit from having names like  Krejci, Voracek, Jagr, Palat, and Hertl in the lineup. I could see the +1200 being a value play just in case one or two of those guys decide to fly home and lace up their skates.

The action kicks off this Friday at 9:15am, when Sweden plays Latvia and the United States plays Canada.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Flyers Offseason Wish List: Three Balanced Lines (Plus Flyers Lineup Volume 1)

To recap the points I've made in the past several posts (that are going to be relevant to this post), I want to see Ron Hextall:

  • Re-sign Brayden Schenn, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning, Nick Cousins, and Ryan White
  • Not give up any major prospects to move up in the draft
That's pretty simple, and it's nothing outlandish based on what we've seen from Hexy over the past two years. Today I have less of a roster-based wish, and really more of a Hakstol wish than a Hextall wish. I'd like to see the Flyers balance their top nine forwards. 

For a long time, the decision was always "should we keep Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek together or split them up?" Most of the "split them up" camp wanted to put Voracek on the wing of Sean Couturier. 

But after seeing what we saw out of all three of those players, I think it's fair for me to expect the team to play well with a Giroux line, a Voracek line, and a Couturier line. 

The Giroux Line

Capable of generating offense, naturally, because it's centered by the man who has more points than anyone else in the NHL in the last five years. It's also capable of strong defensive play at even strength, as we saw in the Washington series (and I sort of talked about here). 

I'm a big fan of "if it's not broken, don't fix it" and I'd leave this line as Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds. Those two complement Giroux as his wingers, and they all possess enough skill to finish the chances that they have (and will continue to) create. 

The Couturier Line

Coots, Raffl, Read. Defensively responsible, offensively capable. There isn't too much more to say, other than that is a very solid "third" line. 

The Voracek Line

Jake doesn't necessarily need to be "sheltered", but I'd love him to be the linchpin of the primarily offensive-minded line. The issue is, if we're leaving the Giroux line in tact and splitting Coots out to his own line for next year, there isn't a ton of elite-level skill available to play alongside him. 

I want to table this for just a second, because I'm going to combine Jake's linemate options with the last of the forward trios...

The Fourth Line

Bellemare, at less than $800k, is a bargain fourth line center. Vandevelde, at the same cap hit, seems to have carved out a spot as a fourth liner and penalty killer. Those two will probably play the same amount as they did this season, as it seems Dave Hakstol really appreciates the game that they play. 

Now, back to the holes on Voracek's line. There is a center spot and a winger spot available there, plus the open wing on the fourth line. Those three spots will be up for grabs to Scott Laughton, Nick Cousins, Ryan White (probably), Jordan Weal (probably not), Taylor Leier (maybe), Travis Konecny (probably not), another prospect (probably not), or a fee agent signing (more on that in the coming weeks). 

Laughton and Konecny are both first-round picks, and it would really make a lot of people in Philly salivate if a pre-season line combination of Konecny-Laughton-Voracek happened. But Konecny will likely spend the season back in Sarnia in the OHL. 

Cousins and Leier, though they don't have the same pedigree as TK, certainly could contribute as the third piece of Jake's line. White, as much as I love him, is probably best suited as a fourth liner. Gagner would fit in nicely with Voracek again, but he's probably heading somewhere else for more money. It's asinine to talk about other free agents at this point, because there are just too many variables. 

2016-17 Flyers Lineup Volume 1


And, because I'm on a roll, here's my Off The Cuff/Haven't Really Thought About It Much defense pairings:

Del Zotto - Schultz
Gudas - Manning
Gostisbehere - Streit