By standing pat in free agency the Detroit Lions must nail the draft

The 2022 NFL Draft is next week. For the rebuilding Detroit Lions who did not make much noise in free agency the draft became that much more important. Detroit re-signed many of their own free agents to short deals in hopes that will be enough to win a few more games while building a core group of players through the draft. Theoretically that is the right path to take although it does put a lot of pressure on the front office to get the draft right.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAR 01: Brad Holmes, general manager of the Detroit Lions speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions have two first round draft picks which is certainly a nice luxury to have. Picking #2 overall and dead last in the first round, Lions general manager Brad Holmes must maximize this opportunity for the sake of the rebuild.

It should bother no one the Lions were pretty silent during the free agent period. This is not a great year for quarterbacks in the draft although there are a couple who are interesting prospects. Wide receiver, edge rusher and defensive backs are the flavor of this years draft.

It is widely being speculated the Detroit Lions may snatch one of the elite edge rushers at #2 then what? That seems to be anyone’s guess. Logically it seems that if the team drafts defense then they should go offense with the second first round pick.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – JANUARY 02: A general view of a Detroit Lions helmet before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on January 02, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Logic is out the window. Sort of. You hear the phrase “best player available” a lot leading up to and during the draft. That needs to be tossed for the Lions. They need a game plan for the draft. With the current roster any player the team drafts is the best available in other words no player on the roster is better than the newest draft pick.

If Brad Holmes can add a blend of offense and defense the way he did last year the Lions will be a better team. Not adding impactful free agents puts the spotlight on the general manager and scouting department who must produce a solid draft class.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets, Cole Sillinger feels like he can give more

When the Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Cole Sillinger with the organizations second first round draft pick (12 overall) in 2021 the thought was that the young forward would slide into one of the center positions quickly. That did happen and now Sillinger is firmly planted as the second line center. Not bad for an 18 year old. In what started out as a shaky rookie campaign, Sillinger has turned up his game. Yet, it feels like he can give even more.

COLUMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 12: Cole Sillinger #34 of the Columbus Blue Jackets shoots the puck during the third period of a game against the Washington Capitals at Nationwide Arena on November 12, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

14 goals, 13 assists with 27 points (as of this moment.) Cole Sillinger has had a nice rookie season for the Blue Jackets. The young center went from starting to being a healthy scratch to starting again to earn time on the second power play line. Such is rookie life in the NHL.

When he came into the league, Sillinger was known as a pure sniper. In fact many scouts had him listed as the best shooter in the draft. Playing center however is more tricky and there is considerably more responsibility as centers do not just fire the puck at the net. Centers must set up line mates and pass into the tough areas all that means is there is a lot to learn.

Being the youngest player in the NHL means that even though Cole Sillinger has had a nice rookie season, he feels like a player who can give more and by and large will give more.

In my opinion once Sillinger learns his craft even further he should be closer to 20-25 goals and 50 points. I do not think that is a stretch. In fact Sillinger has shown enough flashes of what he will be once his development is complete.

Things that can not be taught are toughness and playing with an edge which Sillinger does. He is also more than capable to take over a game such as when he sored his first career hat trick against the Vegas Golden Knights. The sky seems to be the limit for Sillinger.

VANCOUVER, BC – DECEMBER 14: Columbus Blue Jackets Center Cole Sillinger (34) on ice against the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on December 14, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Devin Manky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a glaring need at center for some time, Sillinger has helped to ease that need. He is one player fans should focus on this offseason as a player who could very well have his breakout next season.

Officially eliminated from the playoffs, here is why Columbus Blue Jackets fans should be excited

In a “normal” season playing out the string is less than desirable. It can be even worse if a franchise is facing a long daunting rebuild. Last season when Columbus Blue Jackets general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen began trading veteran players and announced a reset (call it what you will,) the future of the Blue Jackets became the focal point. Gone was a nice playoff run, enter a painful rebuild. Right? No!! Here is why fans should be both excited and optimistic for the future.

ELMONT, NEW YORK – MARCH 31: Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates in his 400th NHL game against the New York Islanders at the UBS Arena on March 31, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hovering around .500 this season with a new head coach (Brad Larsen) has been a pleasant surprise. The young Blue Jackets have battled together and by in large grown as a group throughout the season. Officially eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs is not all bad. Armed with two first round draft picks this summer, fans can count on the Blue Jackets battling through the final game of the season and not throwing in the towel.

Being the youngest team in the NHL has set the Blue Jackets up for success sooner than later. Being young and less physical than many teams the Blue Jackets have had to stand up for one another this season. There is a real (and I mean real) need that needs to be addressed, a physical player or two needs to be brought in during free agency this summer.

With it’s core players now being young and very skilled, the Blue Jackets are in good shape going forward. Already this season the young Blue Jackets have shown they can play with anyone including the best teams in the league. Now it is just a matter of those same young players taking another step in development.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 11: Vladislav Gavrikov #44 of the Columbus Blue Jackets talks to Andrew Peeke #2 of the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to a face-off during the second period of a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on December 11, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)

I am going to go a step further, I believe the Columbus Blue Jackets future is bright. Look I really liked those playoff teams. But, there is something in the air in Columbus. A new dawning of Blue Jackets hockey is coming. This team is young, fast and has some high-end skill on it.

This has been a fun season even with no playoffs. This summer will be very interesting.

Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts on the direction of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

 

From walk-on at The University Michigan to a solid Columbus Blue Jackets debut Nick Blankenburg is scrappy

Seven University of Michigan men’s hockey team were draft by NHL teams. Four of those players were an NCAA record first round draft pick. The Wolverines team captain Nick Blankenburg was not drafted, in fact he was not offered a scholarship. Nick Blankenburg fought and made the team. The Columbus Blue Jackets chose to sign him to a one year contract as he went undrafted. While this is not quite a Rocky story, it is a feel-good one.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 07: Nick Blankenburg #7 of the Michigan Wolverines looks on during the first period of the Frozen Four semifinal game between the Michigan Wolverines and Denver Pioneers at TD Garden on April 07, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

At 5′ 9″ Nick Blankenburg does not have the intimidating presence as say Zdeno Chara (who stands 6′ 9″) yet the defensemen played as though he was as tall as Chara.

I quote the great Jedi Master, Yoda “size matters not.” Talent matters, heart matters, determination matters. Blankenburg checks all of those boxes. Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena, Nick Blankenburg took the ice for the Columbus Blue Jackets what ensued was that of a fairy tail.

Big hits, five blocked shots, first NHL point, oh and Blankenburg earned the third star of the game. Blankenburg was all over the ice. He uses his stick very well and is not afraid to jump into the mix. Blankenburg  plays with an edge to his game and has a tough man mentality.

The Blue Jackets fans ate up this small yet powerful rookies debut. A kid from Michigan, who played at the University of Michigan now in Columbus Ohio showing the heart of a lion was the stuff of legends, going from college walk-on to undrafted to third star in his first NHL game.

COLUMBUS, OH – APRIL 13: Nick Blankenburg #77 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates after the puck during the game against the Montreal Canadiens at Nationwide Arena on April 13, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. Blankenburg was making his NHL debut in the game. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen said he likes the toughness in Nick Blankenburg’s game. It would seem that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen found an absolute steal.

One more thing of note, Nick Blankenburg also joined the Blue Jackets penalty kill unit all in his first game. It would only be fitting if the Blue Jackets increase Blankenburg’s ice time which I feel could happen tonight as the Blue Jackets are in Los Angeles to take on the Kings.

Kent Johnson set to make his Columbus Blue Jackets debut

2021 Columbus Blue Jackets first round draft pick (5 overall) Kent Johnson is set to make his debut tomorrow night against the Montreal Canadians. Having just ended his college career at the University of Michigan, Johnson looks to show why the Blue Jackets drafted him so high. He is a high end player who has the elite skill to make an impact at the NHL level.

SOUTH BEND, IN – FEBRUARY 26: Michigan Wolverines forward Kent Johnson (13) skates towards the Notre Dame Fighting Irish goal during a men’s college hockey game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on February 26th, 2022 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend IN. (Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Blazing speed, check.  Offensively fearlessness, check. Solid defensively, check. Kent Johnson is a well rounded player. Playing on the wing, Johnson projects as a very good two-way center at the NHL level. That said the Columbus Blue Jackets will bring him along slowly and start him on the wing.

Some fans were upset the Blue Jackets signed Johnson to his entry level contract (ELC) only to bring him up the final seven games to burn through one year of the contract. I actually side with the Blue Jackets on this one. You see had Kent Johnson not gone back to Michigan he would have been in Columbus. He is simply to good for the minor leagues.

Johnson is a very strong skater has top end speed and is a nightmare matchup. He is fearless in his playmaking and is not afraid to try things. His passes are as good as any of the top NHL players.

Johnson has a full understanding of his responsibilities in the defensive end and is not shy about getting into the mix and fight for the puck. While his goal scoring still needs some work there is little question he will make himself a scoring threat.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 08: A detailed view of the Columbus Blue Jackets jersey logo during the first period of the game between the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena on February 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Seven games is somewhat of a tease heading into the offseason. Johnson needs to add some weight which is probably going to be on his summer to-do list. Still Columbus Blue Jacket fans should be very excited Johnson should enter next season as a favorite to win the Calder Trophy next season.

A big announcement

I never got into blogging for fame, fortune or awards. I got into blogging for one simple reason, to get the things in my brain out. This way I can limit the sports and Star Wars talk with my wife and children (although I do talk Star Wars with our sons.) With that in mind, I am set to embark on a new journey and wanted to break the news here because it will affect some of the content at The District. I am stopping all Star Wars content here, because I have been offered and accepted a writing position at Culture Slate.

I have been blessed writing about the NFL (Detroit Lions) and have been able to do some really cool things, such as being invited to attend the Lions Legends Camp  another I did not set out to do.

With Culture Slate I will be bring you, the reader the best possible Star Wars content. I have to, because the site is affiliated with the “Mouse.” You know the “Mouse?” Mickey Mouse…….. Disney who happens to own the rights to Star Wars and Marvel.

I am not even going to kid you. I was both beyond excited and horrified at the same time. How does a person living in Columbus Ohio, get and interview with HR at a site that is connected with Disney? To drive home the fact that this was not a joke, Culture Slate is based in Los Angeles California.

I trust the person who interviewed me knows what they are doing. There are days I publish a blog and feel like it is not my best offering. There are some times I publish and feel pretty good about the content. This is different. This is big.

SHANGHAI, CHINA – JUNE 16: Fireworks explode over the castle at an event to mark the first anniversary of the opening of Shanghai Disneyland on June 16, 2017 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

I say that and yet I feel little to no pressure and I do not even have a big ego. I must say it will be a little odd to have inside informants and get Star Wars news before anyone else while keeping it a secret but cool at the same time.

I want to thank the loyal Star Wars fans who have read my blog over the years. Please head to Culture Slate and check out my offerings there very soon. For the Detroit sports crowd, I’m still here and ready to up my writing game.

 

2022 Detroit Tigers season preview

The Detroit Tigers have emerged from a long, painful at times rebuild. The team looks like it will be a contending group soon. Not this season. Do not let that dampen your view of the 2022 Detroit Tigers. They are close to being a very good team one more step needs to be taken, the development of top prospects at the major league level. This is why this season will both be fun and interesting to watch.

LAKELAND, FL – MARCH 16: Tucker Barnhart #15 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a photo during the Detroit Tigers Photo Day at Joker Marchant Stadium on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Preston Mack/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers owner, Christopher Illitch said when the time was right he would spend money again on the Tigers. This offseason Illitch put his money where his mouth is and spent. Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, all-star catcher Tucker Barnhart, closer Andrew Chafin and all-star short stop Javier Baez were all signed as free agents. A nice group!

As spring training was in it’s final hours Tigers GM, Al Avila made a surprising trade. A big trade at that. Sending a prospect and the organizations competitive balance draft pick to the Tampa Bay Rays for all-star outfielder Austin Meadows. Avila really needs to get and take all the credit for robbing the Rays of Meadows.

So what development needs to take place. #3 ranked MLB prospect Spencer Torkelson made the final roster. #5 ranked MLB prospect Riley Greene would be on the roster but suffered a fractured foot in spring training. Greene will be up when he has healed. Both prospects are going to need to adjust to the big leagues. They will look good at times and will struggle at times. Both are two important bats and gloves in the lineup. Until they have seen every pitcher and situation development must take place. They do not belong in the minor leagues, that would do no one any good.

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – MARCH 30: Tarik Skubal #29 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch to the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning during a Grapefruit League spring training game at BayCare Ballpark on March 30, 2022 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Next pitchers Matt Manning, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal must take the next step in their development and begin to win more often which is expected, still until the do they are a work in progress.

I am on the side that the Detroit Tigers will have a winning record for the first time since 2016, I’ll even take it a step further and say they will be in the mix for an American League wild card spot much of the season.

These are the final steps! Once young players have figured it out the Tigers will be a force in MLB.

The Detroit Tigers announce top prospect Spencer Torkelson has made the opening day roster

Openings day in Detroit is coming this Friday against the Chicago White Sox. Fans of the Detroit Tigers are use to seeing Miguel Cabrera’s name in the opening day lineup, and for good reason he is a future Hall of Famer. This season will be different, while Cabrera will be in the lineup it will be at DH, first base has been handed over to MLB Pipeline’s #4 ranked prospect Spencer Torkelson.

LAKELAND, FL – MARCH 16: Spencer Torkelson #20 of the Detroit Tigers poses for a photo during the Detroit Tigers Photo Day at Joker Marchant Stadium on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Preston Mack/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

In what is being described as a passing of the torch moment, Tigers general manager Al Avila said the organization informed Torkelson at lunch. He was called into manager H.J. Hinch’s office where Avila, Hinch and Cabrera were waiting for him. That is when it happened.

In a clear passing of the torch the longtime Detroit first basemen Cabrera handed Torkelson his first basemen’s glove. Avila said Torkelson became very emotional.

This is a clear signal to fans, media and the rest of the team the long rebuild is coming to and end. So was it a good idea to promote the 2020 MLB’s first overall draft pick?

Spencer Torkelson is hitting .280 *7-for-25* with four doubles, three RBIs, two walks and four strikeouts in 12 games this spring. Last season Tork (as he is known) at three levels of minor league play hit 30 home runs with 91 RBI’s that was after a brutal spring training.

As with any rookie and or top prospects there will be bumps in the road. The Tigers brass understand this. Still it was clear when they drafted him that Torkelson would not need much minor league time.

The only sort of rain on the otherwise bright news that Spencer Torkelson made the opening day roster is that fellow top prospect (#5 in MLB Pipeline’s ranking) Riley Greene fractured his foot and will be sidelined a while.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 20: Spencer Torkelson #8 of the Salt River Rafters bats during the game between the Surprise Saguaros and the Salt River Rafters at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Up until the moment he was injured it to was widely speculated Greene would be joining Torkelson in Detroit opening day. He most certainly will be on the team this season, it is just going to be delayed.

So as the future of the Detroit Tigers begin to filter into Comerica Park, How do you feel about Spencer Torkelson making the opening day lineup? Drop a comment and let us know.

Detroit Lions and city of Detroit news

It took five years. Five agonizing pursuing years, but the city of Detroit has been awarded the 2024 NFL Draft. NFL owners voted and awarded Detroit the draft over Green Bay Wisconsin and Washington D.C.  Hundred of thousands of NFL fan flock each April to the site of the NFL Draft, it is the leagues second biggest event to the Super Bowl. In Detroit Lions news, the team has been selected to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks.

30 April 2021, US, Lake Forest: The caps of all 32 NFL teams are set for the draft of football player Amon-Ra St. Brown. In the draft, the 32 NFL teams get to take turns selecting young players. The prospective pros have no say in which team they begin their National Football League careers. (to dpa “Texans pick quarterback – St. Brown not yet selected in NFL draft”) Photo: Maximilian Haupt/dpa (Photo by Maximilian Haupt/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The economic impact on the city that hosts the NFL Draft is between $95.5-$100 million for the three day event. The Detroit Lions have been petitioning the league since 2017.

Detroit has long been on of the best sports cities in the country. The Lions even when bad pack Ford Field. The 2024 draft may see the Lions at the end of the organization’s rebuild.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell is a very voicetress polarizing he will be front and center when the Lions appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks. The show goes inside NFL training camps.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAR 01: Dan Campbell, head coach of the Detroit Lions speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

For Lions fans it will be a good look into the culture that Dan Campbell and Detroit GM Brad Holmes are building. The popular HBO show, showcases raw access to players and coaches meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.

The two events coming to a downtown Detroit that is on the upswing is a good move for the city. The funds generated will also help the city with other construction projects.

For Detroit Lions fans, this is proof that the old days of the Lions are gone. Now with a new owner, GM, rebuild the team is actually giving hope they will soon be competitive.

The early planning stages of the 2024 NFL draft include, live bands, fireworks around the city and other surprises.

With Obi-Wan Kenobi coming, just who are the Inquisitors

When the teaser trailer hit for Disney +’s Obi-Wan Kenobi fans were treated to the first ever live-action shots of Inquisitors. Some fans were caught off guard by the quick looks but overall they were well received. So who is this mysterious group of Force sensitive agents? Let’s take a closer look. My thought is they will play a large role in the hotly anticipated Obi-Wan Kenobi show.

Nearly every Star Wars fan remembers when Palpatine (AKA Darth Sidious) gave the famous call to “execute Order 66.” The Clone Troopers turned and killed Jedi. The ones the escaped were hunted down primarily by Inquisitors.

STAR WARS REBELS- “Star Wars Rebels” villain, the Inquisitor, is revealed at New York Comic Con. “Star Wars Rebels” is scheduled to premiere in fall 2014 as a one-hour special telecast on Disney Channel, and will be followed by a series on Disney XD channels around the world. (Photo by Disney XD via Getty Images)THE INQUISITOR

“Red Blades,” as some have come to know Inquisitors by were trained by Darth Vader. The kicker is Vader could not stand the Inquisitors because they were former Jedi. Yet, Palpatine put him in charge of them. Vader only viewed the group as a means to and end.

Vader had serious doubts the Inquisitors could take on the likes of a Jedi such as Obi-Wan Kenobi. During the training phase Vader was over the top cruel as he wanted to drive out any remaining thoughts of the Jedi life the Inquisitors lived before turning to the dark side.

Based on the trailer, the Inquisitors are looking for hidden Jedi who survived the purge. There is little doubt they will at some point (be it the whole group, a select few or even one) find Obi-Wan.

British actor David Prowse on the set of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back directed by Irvin Kershner. (Photo by Lucasfilm/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

The question is, is Vader pulling there strings? After all he is in charge of them if so how does that relationship work in a live-action setting? A leader who can not stand the people he is leading should be very interesting as the show moves along.

So how about it, are you excited to see live-action Inquisitors in Obi-Wan Kenobi? How do you see the show shaping up? Drop a comment and let me know.