The Detroit Lions are hoping less is more for Amon-Ra St. Brown

90 catches, 900 yards, 5 touchdowns averaging 10.13 yards per catch, not bad for a rookie wide receiver drafted in the 4th round. Amon-Ra St. Brown did not burst onto the scene. St. Brown went out week by week and got better and better as the season moved along. So what will the second year WR do for an encore? The Detroit Lions hope he does less that will equate to more. Confused? Let’s see if we can clear that up a bit.

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 17: Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) makes a fingertip catch for a first down during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday October 17, 2021 at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Last season the Detroit Lions were decimated by injuries. Amon-Ran St. Brown was drafted as a slot receiver out of USC. Because of injuries, Brown was forced to play as the WR1. In other words, the top dog of the wide receivers.

Low and behold, not only did St. Brown fill in admirably but he became quarterback Jared Goff’s go to receiver, as a rookie. Now entering his second NFL season the Lions wide receiver room is solid. Free agent signee DJ Chark, week 11 pick up Josh Reynolds, first round draft pick Jamison Williams and others give the Lions offense more weapons.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, has been tasked by the Detroit Lions coaching staff to work on getting more yards after catch (YAC.) St. Brown has taken the request to heart. In training camp it does not matter how long the pass is, St. Brown is running all the way to the end zone.

With the improved receiver’s, St. Brown’s catches  are certain to come down. 90 is a lot for any wide receiver, yet if St. Brown does improve in YAC, his yards should not drop all that much. This is the thought process anyway.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 05: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions makes a catch and runs for the first down during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on December 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Provided the Lions wide receivers do not have another rash of injuries, St. Brown can stay at the slot position where he is more dangerous. With speedy receivers on the outside that should open the middle of the field for St. Brown when his number is called.

So in this case less = more (if St. Brown improves in the YAC) this will help the Lions offense and the unit should see a marked improvement.

Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts on Amon-Ra St. Brown.

The Detroit Tigers rebuild has failed, where does the team go now

Averaging 66.4 wins per year since he took over as general manger, has Al Avila on the hot seat. Detroit Tigers fans have taken their social media #FireAvila posts and turned it into an actual event. The fans held a fire Avila night at Comerica Park. So what has happened? Why has the Tigers rebuild failed? That is a lot to unpack. Let’s get started.

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 4: Al Avila makes a point during a news conference at Comerica Park after he was promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager on August 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Avila replaces Dave Dombrowski who was the Tigers’ general manager since 2002. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

To say that Al Avila has made some questionable trades is being kind. Remember when former pitching ace Justin Verlander was traded to the Huston Astros? The return for the future Hall of Fame pitcher was Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers. None of those players are regulars on the Tigers roster. Former Tigers slugger J. D. Martinez was shipped to the Arizona Dimandbacks for  Dawel Lugo, Jose King and Sergio Alcantara none of whom area still in the Tigers system.

Do not get me wrong, Avila has made other trades just as lackluster as those. It gets worse. The Tigers have really faired no better drafting players, at least impactful players. Avila’s first round draft picks have been a mixed bag and not in a good way.

The Detroit Tigers rebuild was said to be over and it was time to add players and climb the standings. The Tigers have the second worst record in MLB and sit dead last in the AL Central. The team has been a disaster, the errors and players underperforming  nightly has lead to a near empty ballpark.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 19: Detroit Red Wings Governor, President, and CEO Christopher Illitch addresses members of the media during a press conference to introduce Steve Yzerman as the new Executive Vice President and General Manager responsible for all hockey operations and to announce the promotion of Ken Holland to Senior Vice President on April 19, 2019, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

So where does the team go? First and foremost the ball is in Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Illitch’s corner. He holds Al Avila’s fate. Should he choose to go in a different direction, then perhaps he should allow manager AJ Hinch to help with any GM search.

Hinch is very bright baseball man and would be helpful bringing in a GM who could right the ship. Illitch needs to take a good long look and see that it simply is not working. The Illitch owned Detroit Red Wings are trending up in their rebuild, as are the Lions and Pistons while the Tigers have never really gotten off the ground.

I suspect no move will be made until the season concludes. Tiger fans let me hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment and let it all out.

 

Could the Columbus Blue Jackets trade for Jakob Chychrun

Now that both the NHL draft and free agency have past and NHL training camps are just weeks away from getting underway, it is time to check in on past trade talks. Right around the draft the Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets were talking about a trade that centered around Coyotes defensemen Jakob Chychrun. No trade was made but that does not mean that the teams ended the talks entirely.

DETROIT, MI – MARCH 08: Jakob Chychrun (6) of the Arizona Coyotes controls the puck against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period of an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on March 8, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Arizona defeated Detroit 9-2. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blue Jackets are a young up and coming team and the Coyotes have been in rebuild mode for a while. Columbus has a surplus of forwards and the Coyotes need forwards. The Coyotes have defensive talent and the Blue Jackets need more help on defense. Making this a plausible possibility.

If a trade were made, The Blue Jackets would get an instant upgrade for the blue line. A top pairing of Zach Werenski and Chychrun would help the rest of the roster out as Andrew Peeke would have to slide to the second line so the Blue Jackets depth would be better.

Jakub Chychrun signed a 6 year $27,600,000 contract in 2018. The Blue Jackets who had to trade Oliver Bjorkstrand in order to get Patrik Laine’s new extension under the cap would need to send a player or players to Arizona of at least equal value in order to be under the cap if they trade for Chychrun.

COLUMBUS, OH – SEPTEMBER 22: Liam Foudy #19 of the Columbus Blue Jackets poses for his official headshot for the 2021-2022 season on September 22, 2021 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the trade of Bjorkstrand the word is Columbus is going to give Krill Marchenko a long look in training camp. Still the Blue Jackets could offer a package something along the lines of Gustav Nyquist and former first round draft pick Liam Foudy. Again that is just an example.

Chychrun is a very good defensive player and the asking price would be a lot as it should be. Again the Blue Jackets have a surplus of forwards and certainly have enough to offer the Coyotes.

I am not saying this is going to happen, but it is worth keeping and eye on as it is pre training camp trade season.

Mental Health and addiction

We need to address the elephant in the room. A subject that is kept in the dark. That needs to end, mental health and addiction. This past week former Detroit Red Wing and NHL player Bobby Ryan was arrested and jailed in a Nashville airport for public intoxication. Ryan has been very open about his struggle with addiction. He stated that multiple concussions have played a part in his mental health instability leading to addiction. In the past this would be viewed as a crutch or excuse to drink. That is simply not the case, there is evidence to support what Bobby Ryan has said.

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – SEPTEMBER 22: Bobby Ryan #54 of the Detroit Red Wings poses for his official headshot for the 2021-2022 season at Center Ice Arena on September 22, 2021 in Traverse City, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

What if I told you 1 in 5 people have mental illness? What if I told you that number moves to 1 in 2 when people reach their 40’s? Again, what if I told you that men dealing with mental health issues are more likely to abuse substances, while women are more likely to have major mood swings?

Now here is something to think about, mental health is the leading cause of disability. People dealing with mental health concerns are more likely to die 10-20 years before the life expectancy.

Bobby Ryan, was a very good hockey player. That does not matter. Ryan is in a daily battle with his mental health and a public fight with addiction. That is what matters, or should matter. No more, “he’s an idiot,” or “what a loser he threw it all away for the bottle.”

Mental health matters! This is the leading cause of addiction. Any brain trauma can trigger addiction. Did you catch that? ANY BRAIN TRAUMA CAN TRIGGER ADDICTION! When do we start looking at a person who is fighting something they probably do not wish to be fighting with sympathy?

I for one applaud Bobby Ryan and other public figures who have taken a public stand and been transparent in their battle with mental health and addiction. Not because they are public figures, but they have a platform others do not and are using their status in a positive way to help others, and are tearing down stigmas.

A person addicted to digital social media or technology.

We need to get to a point where talking about mental health is not taboo or quickly silenced. This would lead to less suicides and it would help the individual get the help she or he needs.

Next time you see a homeless person or a person who has an addiction, I hope you look on them with sympathy and perhaps engage them, you could be the lifeline they need.

What do the Columbus Blue Jackets have in Krill Marchenko?

After the whirlwind that was the Columbus Blue Jackets offseason activity that saw Johnny Gaudreau sign as a free agent and star winger Patrik Laine signing a 4-year extension the team said goodbye to Oliver Bjorkstrand in order to fit Laine’s deal under the salary cap. I mentioned last week that by trading Bjorkstrand it opens the door for Krill Marchenko if he has a strong training camp. So what exactly do the Blue Jackets have in Marchenko? A lot of good, let’s take a look.

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Kirill Marchenko poses after being selected 49th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Marchenko is currently ranked the Columbus Blue Jackets #5 prospect. One year ago he was the top prospect but then Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger were drafted and Corson Ceulemans had a massive season at the University of Wisconsin and Yegor Chinakhov got better in Columbus as the season moved along. So Marchenko did not take a step back the Blue Jackets organization got better as a whole.

As for Krill Marchenko, there is a lot to like about his game and what he is able to bring to the ice. Marchenko is strong and sturdy with outstanding hands. He is not a playmaker like a Gaudreau but he is a goal scorer, much like the one the team just traded away (Bjorkstrand.)

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Kirill Marchenko poses after being selected 49th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

While Marchenko is 6′ 3″ he does not always use his body to his advantage. Being effective in the corners and willing to jump in are positives. Marchenko is a work in progress defensively and he has worked hard to clean up.

The necessary evil that was the Oliver Bjorkstrand trade has opened the door for Marchenko who at the same point of their careers is a bit more polished that Bjorstrand was.

One aspect of his game is that Krill Marchenko can play left and right wing. Marchenko has top end skill to be a top six player in the NHL. So again, if he comes to Columbus and has a solid training camp he should break camp with the Blue Jackets.

Let me know your thoughts on Krill Marchenko.

The Detroit Red Wings are going to be a nasty group soon

Detroit Red Wings general manager, Steve Yzerman is not one to talk about issues, he prefers to just fix them. When Yzerman took over as GM, the Red Wings were in shambles, the team went to the Stanley Cup Playoffs 25 years in a row, but winning comes at a cost. Up against the salary cap with an aging roster and next to nothing in the pipeline, Yzerman went to work.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JULY 07: General manager Steve Yzerman
of the Detroit Red Wings looks on during the first round of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Entering his fourth season as GM, Steve Yzerman has rebuilt the Detroit Red Wings pipeline. The same pipeline that ranked dead last four years ago now is ranked #2 behind the Los Angeles Kings. One small yet important detail, Yzerman has rebuilt the pipeline and has not had the first pick in the draft. Let that sink in.

The argument could be made that if the Red Wings had the first overall pick in one of the Yzerman lead drafts the rebuild would be a bit further along. Perhaps. Still the organization did not and has shot up the rankings.

With one of the best offseason the Red Wings have had in some time, the team looks like they will not be a bottom 10 team. In fact it is possible the Red Wings are in position for a playoff birth this season. I am not so sure they will get there but……

DETROIT, MI – MARCH 10: Moritz Seider (53) of the Detroit Red Wings lays a body check on Ryan Hartman (38) of the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on March 10, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

What needs to be pointed out is that Yzerman is building the Red Wings much like he built the two time Stanley Cup Champion, Tampa Bay Lightning. Not and exact copy mind you. The Red Wings are going big on defense. Seven of the Detroit defensive players are 6′ 2″ or taller.

Speed. Yzerman puts a premium on speed. The Red Wings are on the verge of being one of the faster teams in the NHL. Big + speed = wins, that is what Yzerman did in Tampa and what he is doing in Detroit.

There is still work to be done. If you saw his end of the season press conference Steve Yzerman said there is always work to be done. The Red Wings are going to be a nasty hockey team soon. This is where the fun starts.

Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts on the state of the Red Wings.

 

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded Oliver Bjorkstrand to become cap compliant

There are angry fans, there are puzzled fans, there are fans who understand. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who Friday afternoon signed Patrik Laine to a 4 year $34.8 million extension, was on the clock to make a deal and make it fast. The Blue Jackets had to get to a point where they would be cap compliant after signing free agent Johnny Gaudreau and Laine. The odd man out turned out to be Oliver Bjorkstand who will now call Seattle home as he will play for the Kraken.

COLUMBUS, OH – JANUARY 8: Oliver Bjorkstrand #28 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waves to the fans after being named first star of the game following a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nationwide Arena on January 8, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

After news broke about the Laine extension, I took to social media and gave a short list (4 players) who due to their contracts I thought would be moved to get the Blue Jackets under the salary cap. I listed Bjorkstrand as one of those players (the other players listed are irrelevant as they did not get traded.)

Social media saw an uptick in Blue Jacket posts. No matter if fans were, angry, puzzled or understanding, one thing shined through……. they are going to miss Oliver Bjorkstrand who had been drafted by the team developed by the team and became a top six forward on the team. Bjorkstrand spent 9 years in the Blue Jackets organization.

It looks and feels like the Blue Jackets front office rushed to make the move as the team received a 3rd and 4th round draft pick for Bjorkstrand. While understanding this was a salary dump by the Blue Jackets it feels like the return should have been a bit more.

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Kirill Marchenko poses for a portrait after being selected 49th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

There really is no positive spin that will appease the Columbus Blue Jackets 5th line (fan base.) I do believe that by trading Oliver Bjorkstrand the door is now open for Krill Marchenko, who is the Blue Jackets #2 ranked prospect if he has a strong training camp to slide into a starting right wing (RW) role on the team.

In the end something had to give. In these situations the GM makes calls and does a lot of busy work. It could very well be that the 3rd and 4th round draft picks was the best return the organization could get.

No matter what, the Columbus Blue Jackets are in very good shape heading into training camp and the regular season. As for Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seattle please take good care of him. He is a good player on and off the ice.

Blue Jackets fans, leave a comment, give us your thoughts or simply vent, if you like.

Was this timing calculated by the Columbus Blue Jackets

You’ve heard it at least once in your life, timing is everything. It is hard not to look at the Columbus Blue Jackets and the organization’s offseason and think this is a bit more than coincidence. For years the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals have had a stranglehold on the Metropolitan (Metro) Division. With both Pittsburgh and Washington’s Stanley Cup window all but closed, the Columbus Blue Jackets have made their move.

Looking back at the 2019 Blue Jackets season, that year saw the team trade for some high profile players in hopes of making some noise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. When the team was knocked out of the playoffs the players walked as free agents. Looking back that may have been intentional.

For years Columbus Blue Jackets fan base have heard both team President, John Davidson and General Manager, Jarmo Kekalainen say that Columbus is wonderful and they could attract free agents. Yet, that did not happen. Until this offseason.

CALGARY, ALBERTA – MAY 18: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames skates before the game against the Edmonton Oilers in Game One of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on May 18, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Penguins and Capitals in decline, Kekalainen made his move. signing coveted free agent Johnny Gaudreau and his teammate and friend in Calgary Erik Gudbranson. Stunning the hockey world, yet Kekalainen said that the signing should put any false notion to rest. Free agents will come to Columbus.

So hear me out for a moment. If the Columbus Blue Jackets front office, gave the city and fans a peek at what could be in 2019, yet felt that it was not the right time to go all in they had a plan in place the whole time.

What if Jarmo Kekalainen allowed the division’s “top dogs” to do what they had been doing? With aging rosters and up against the salary cap not to mention both the Penguins and Capitals minor leagues in shambles due to winning, the Blue Jackets front office was willing to wait it out. Until now.

PITTSBURGH, PA – MARCH 22: Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 22, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

I do believe Kekalainen, I think that both Johnny Gaudreau who said he wants to be a Blue Jacket and Patrik Laine (who the team signed to a 4-year extension yesterday)  has expressed his love for Columbus, shows that players will come.

This has been a franchise changing offseason for the Columbus Blue Jackets who suddenly look like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

 

As the Detroit Lions training camp is starting soon, here is what I’m looking for

The Detroit Lions 2022 training camp is fast approaching (July 30.) With a roster full of young players training camp will be under the microscope of the public eye. Once again, I need to stress this is a rebuild, so do not think for one moment the Lions are going to go from 3 wins to the playoffs. Also, much like last season wins/losses do not matter, at least to the degree fans believe they do. So what could or would constitute as a successful season? That’s a loaded question, let’s take a look.

I am going to drive home the fact that the Detroit Lions need to stay healthy first and foremost. Last season the team had a rash of injuries that crippled units from being more consistent. The injuries ended seasons for several players. Usually a team can survive a player who is out 1-3 weeks, but the whole season was a bit much.

Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell (58) defends against Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (65) during the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, October 17, 2021. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Penei Sewell, who can play both tackle spots is a beast. He is one of the players I expect to take a massive step forward after a stellar rookie season. The Detroit Lions ran the ball for an average of 5.1 yards between the right tackle and right guard last season.

D’Andre Swift, the young running back needs to stay healthy. Swift is one of the best running backs in the NFL when he is on the field. A good run game is a blessing to any quarterback. The Lions have a top 5 ranked offensive line, and when all are healthy can give Swift the room he needs to roam free.

Derrick Barnes, he played better as the season moved along. The Lions linebackers to me are the biggest question mark heading into training camp. This is a group the simply put, needs to improve across the board. Rookie Malcom Rodriguez is a player I am going to focus on. He received a lot of praise from teammates and coaches during rookie camp.

The Lions wide receiver room is in much better shape heading into camp this year than it was a year ago. This group looks like they can be solid. Last season fourth round draft pick Amon-Ra St. Brown took the league by storm. Brown a slot receiver was forced to play WR1 due to injury and did a very good job. Now with DJ Chark and first round draft pick Jameson Williams (at some point, he is recovering from injury.) The receivers look solid.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – NOVEMBER 21: D’Andre Swift #32 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the Cleveland Browns in the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 21, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The focus on the 2022 season for the Detroit Lions is and should be player development. This is a young team with a bright future, but that future is not yet and that’s okay.

What are you looking for as the Detroit Lions start training camp? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know.

GM Jarmo Kekalainen has pushed the Columbus Blue Jackets reset forward

When Columbus Blue Jackets GM, Jarmo Kekalainen, announced the organization was entering a “reset” many thought that was code for rebuild. After Columbus stunned the hockey world Wednesday night by signing free agent left wing (LW) Johnny Gaudreau it appears it was and is a reset after all. Now it looks like the Blue Jackets are set to start the climb back to the NHL Playoffs.

Johnny Gaudreau is a playmaker. As in elite playmaker. Last season with the Calgary Flames, Gaudreau amassed 40 goals, 75 assists and 115 points. While many people were shocked at the signing, Gaudreau said that he had Columbus circled as a possible destination during free agency.

Until the news broke Wednesday evening, Columbus was never a hot bed for NHL free agents. Now with Johnny Gaudreau those days may be over. Again, Gaudreau said he had Columbus circled as a possible team he would sign with. Meaning, he wanted to come to the Blue Jackets.

Back to Jarmo Kekalainen, who said after the 2019 exits of Artemi Panarin and other high profile players he wants players who want to be in Columbus. Players like Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 05: Jakub Voracek #93 and Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 at the Wells Fargo Center on April 5, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Columbus is set on the left side. With Gaudreau, Laine and Jakub Voracek. The team still needs to come to terms with Laine on a new contract. It makes you think does the team view Voracek as a long term player or will they attempt to move him to free up space to sign Laine?

During his press conference Gaudreau spoke highly of Laine and sure made it seem like he wants to be on the same team as him. So what does this mean for the Blue Jackets moving forward?

COLUMBUS, OH – DECEMBER 4: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 4, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a lot of talent. The team is still young, but they are armed with Cole Sillinger, Kent Johnson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Boone Jenner, Gustav Nyquist, Jack Roslovic, Emil Bemtrom, Alexandre Texier, Gaudreau, Vorceck and Laine.

In order to be in the mix for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Columbus would need to pick up at least 19 more points this season. Many of the teams young players have a full season under their belts and are expected to take the next step. Which is possible.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are clearly a team on the rise. This will be a fun season and one that very well could see them back in the playoffs.

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on the Columbus Blue Jackets.