Detroit Red Wings: built for speed

Embed from Getty Images The rebuilding Detroit Red Wings, have done a good job at drafting players who are starting to see ice time in Motown. The Red Wings, have done a very good job at drafting both skill and speed.

 

It is one thing to have a few fast players on a roster. It is another thing entirely when a minor league is full of speed. That is where Detroit, is. The NHL is a young man’s game. Soon youth will be served.

This season as year two of  the rebuild showed why the Detroit Red Wings, need faster players. Veteran players who have carried the team for a long time have slowed down. A lot.

For Detroit, speed is needed. There are plenty of good fast teams. It will be a glorious moment when the Wings, can match them player for player. Speed can not be taught so it must be drafted. Ken Holland, despite his shortcomings  has drafted well.

It is a good ideal to keep an eye on the teams minor leagues as they enter the playoffs. It will be a good look at tomorrow in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers: they are actually watchable

Embed from Getty Images They were supposed to be bad. Really bad. While they are two games below .500 the Detroit Tigers, in the first full year of a rebuild has refused to roll over and play dead.

They are by no means a great team. They may not even be a good team. But manager Ron  Gardenhire, has Detroit playing well. Yes they got swept in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. But they were in those games.

For a team full of rookies and only a few veterans that is remarkable. It is also why Gardenhire, was brought in. Tigers fans, are being treated to a much kinder rebuild than what is going on in places like Cincinnati.

How can fans not enjoy watching young Detroit Tigers third basemen Jeimer Candelario ( who as of today is hitting .284 and leads the team in doubles and is a slick fielder? Or pitcher Matthew Boyd who despite being 0-1 has a 1.40 era?

Second basemen Dixon Machado, is another player worth watching. I’m not sure he fits into the Tigers, long range plans so he could become a valuable trade asset closer to the MLB trade deadline.

Right fielder Nicholas Castellanos has contiuned his hot bat from last season and is drawing more walks in this early 2018 Detroit Tigers, baseball season. If general manager Al Avila is unable to sign Castellanos to a long term deal. He could be traded and bring in a nice haul of prospects.

For a team that was left for dead before the season even kicked off. This team is actually fun to watch. It is certainly making the rebuild process a bit easier to handle.

Detroit Tigers: prospect profile Kyle Funkhouser

Embed from Getty Images Other than having the best last name in the Detroit tigers, minor league system. Kyle Funkhouser. This guy can bring it. At 6′ 2″ he is actuall one of the Tigers shorter pitching propects.

Drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2016.  Funkhouser, has blown through rookie ball and High A ball.  Kyle , fastball touches 98 mph. He has worked on his changeup and it is now a go to pitch for him. He also throws a, above average slider.

The thing the Detroit Tigers, were waiting for was his to gain more command of the strike zone. He has done that. One thing that gets him in trouble is he’ll fall in love with a pitch and then his other pitches suffer.

Kyle Funkhouser,  has started this season in Erie PA, with the Seawolves. Many scouts think he can be an outstanding No. 3 starter. He is one reason the Tigers pitching has a bright future.

In just a few seasons the Motor City Kitties, will have a nasty starting rotation. Should he have a monster season in Double A he could see time in Motown next season.

In my opinion, Detroit should allow all of the pitching prospects a full year in Double A. Development is critical for pitchers more than position players. It will be worth the wait. General manager Al Avila, knows this is at least a three year rebuild. No need to rush things.

Detroit Lions: draft needs

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions are in the best shape of all the Detroit sports teams. Yet, there is work to be done in order for the team to contend year in and year out.

 

As the 2018 NFL draft nears. Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn, needs to prioritize the top needs to push the Lions, to be more consistent in all phases of the game. My uneducated list is as follows.

Tight end. Eric Ebron, could not catch the ball consistently and Detroit released him and moved on. In order for the Lions offense to be better balanced a solid tight end is needed.

Defensive end. This group was woeful at best. They could not get the push needed and it hurt the rest of the defensive unit badly at times. To me this needs to be addressed in the first two round.

Running back.  Three years of Ameer Abdullah. Three years the Detroit Lions have been dead last in the entire NFL in rushing. Simply put that is unacceptable. To me this should be a first round choice. In a year of good running backs available why not get one of the best?

Offensive guard. Graham  Glasgow, suffered a sophomore slump. He still played well at times. Now it seems Detroit, is moving him to center. Travis Sawnson is oft injured and when healthy is below average and was not resigned by the team. If the team brings in a new running back how about a new guard to help open run lanes?

So there it is in no certain order. My list of Detroit Lions draft needs. We’ll see how it plays out next weekend.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Werenski

Embed from Getty Images The Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, has built the team from the back (goalie and defense) out. The Blueliners for the Blue Jackets, are the driving force of the team. Enter what many say will be the teams next captain Zach Werenski.

Drafted in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft out of the University of Michigan, the smooth skating tough checking Werenski, is already a fan favorite no small feat because of where he played his collage hockey.

He drives the Blue Jackets power play and is very skilled in the offensive end. Of all the Columbus Blue Jackets defensmen he is hands down the best passer on the team.

In only his second NHL season Zach, was named to the all-star team. He has outstanding vision and poise nothing rattles this kid.  Including, breaking his orbital bone in the 2017 NHL playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

His eye swollen and black and blue  Zach Werenski, came back out on the ice face shield and all and played. And just like that a kid from Michigan became an Ohio sports legend. Leaving his head coach John Tortorella, to tell the media “That kid has stones the size of this building.”

Zach, will be captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was capatin of a Michigan hockey team that won a National Championship. He is a born leader. The Columbus Blue Jackets are a better team because of him.

Star Wars: this one is personal

Embed from Getty Images Then He said “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3

It always takes me back to my childhood. Star Wars. I have been blessed to see every film in original format in the theater. By the way Han Solo shot first.
As a child, I really identified with Luke Skywalker. He was an orphaned boy who had big dreams and aspersions. Much like Luke, I had been orphaned and adopted. Which I am grateful. Some people do not get out of the holding cell.
Thanks to my parents, I too got to have big dreams and aspirations. As a child seeing Star Wars for the first time and before it was subtitled “A new hope” was everything a child could want. Robots, cool settings and more action than you can shake a stick at.
The lesson was clear to me. No matter what the background of a person and no matter a person’s belief we can all work together for a greater cause. Something I feel we need to get back to.
Time has flown by and now I find I’m actually more like Han Solo. Confident, a leader, yet need to rely on others to achieve success. More open to advice and options.
But Star Wars, always brings me back to 1977 when I was young and life was easy. Back to a child like faith that there is something greater out there.
That is a good place to be. May the force be with you.

Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis

Embed from Getty Images A first round draft selection in last years NFL draft. The Detroit Lions have chosen to build around linebacker Jarrad Davis. For good reason.

Jarrad Davis, struggled at times last season. Many young linebackers do. In fact he was taken completely out of third down coverage because he had blown a few passing assignments.

He fought through an early season neck injury. Then it began to click for him. He’s pass coverage improved. It also became increasingly clear to the Detroit Lions, Davis was a special player. Someone who could anchor the linebackers.

With new head coach Matt Patrica, on board Jarrad, was said to be thrilled. Meanwhile Patrica who knows a thing or two about defensive players said he was excited to get to work with the young player.

It will be fun to watch Jarrad Davis’s, growth as a player. The Lions, suddenly have a very good, very solid group at linebacker. They also have a head coach and coaching staff who will utilize the speed this group has to strengthen the entire defense.

The Lions, fan base should be happy. I feel this is the best group of linebackers the Detroit Lions have had since the early 1990’s.

Detroit Tigers: Nicholas Castellanos

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Tigers, played him at third base. He was well blow average to the point of being downright bad. Now moved to right field he seems to be settling in. On thing is for sure Nick Castellanos can hit.

 

Castellanos, enjoyed a breakout season at the plate last season.  His 26 home runs amd 101 RBI’s were career highs. The question was never really about hitting for Nick. It was where would he play?

His failure at third base was hardly all his fault. Coaches failed as well. Now in right field he seems more comfortable. This could lead to even better numbers when he has a bat in his hands.

Nick Castellanos, stands 6′ 4″ and is only 26 years old so there is room for improvement. The Detroit Tigers, would be wise to lock him up to a long term contract as his bat could help lead the rebuild charge.

With his bat and the likes of Isaac Paredes, Jeimer Canelario, and Christian Stewart in the next few seasons the Motor City Kitties will have a nasty middle part of the batting order.

Castellanos, can help mentor the younger players once they are called up. So he has very good value.

Detroit Red Wings: A mess in goal

Embed from Getty Images An aging goalie past his prime another goalie young but who has struggled when called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins. Has Detroit Red Wings, fans uneasy.

 

It has come to this in Detroit. The Red Wings, due to years of over spending. Spending to upgrade the wrong positions has caught up to the organization. Veteran goalie Jimmy Howard is basically a shell of his former self and his play has dropped dramatically.

While young goalie Jared Coreau seemingly can not stop the puck consistently enough to make the coaches, front office and his teammates feel comfortable when he is called on.

The real issue is the Detroit Red Wings have no one waiting in the wings (no pun intended.) In last years NHL draft the Red Wings did draft goalie Keith Petruzzelli. Someone who I actually think can grow into a starter in the league. But that is years away from becoming a reality.

It is no secret the Winged Wheels are up against the salary cap. So they would need to dump players and contracts or make a trade to upgrade the net protector.

It is a big problem. No matter your defense or defensive prospects a team has. If the goalie can not make stops the team is doomed to struggle. It is certainly something to keep an eye on this Detroit, offseason.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Pierre Luc-Dubois

Embed from Getty Images The Columbus Blue Jackets, had been searching for a first line center. They found one in rookie Pierre Luc- Dubois. His growth this season has been nothing short of remarkable.

During the 2016 NHL  draft many experts full expected the Blue Jackets, to take Jesse Pujujarvi, and said to be electric scorer. Then came the shocker When Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen made the call Pujujarvi looked stunned Dubois looked stunned. But in the end it was the right pick.

Pierre, kind of flew under the radar. He started making a name for himself a month before the draft. He has elite speed great hands and is fearless on the boards. At 6′ 3″ he is a good size for center.

He plays on the first line in Columbus,  with Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin. That’s realy good company. Dubois has  earned the right to anchor the top line. 20 goals and new Columbus Blue Jackets rookie record 48 points tell part of the story.

His want to continue to play sound defense should not be over looked. He has improved through the season on faceoffs and forechecking. Pierre Luc-Dubois is the total package.

Fans of the Blue Jackets, should enjoy watching his career unfold as he is only going to improve. The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. If you have not seen him play. You should tune in.