Sunday, August 16, 2015

2015-16 Upper Deck MVP - The First Product of the New Season

So...remember a couple of days ago where I wrote something along the lines of, “won't be buying any cards because I'm moving, blah, blah, blah”? Well that lasted all of three days. How was I to know that the first hockey product of the year was going to be released? Not only released, but at a pretty decent price point.

It's really John at Elite Sports Cards fault. If he hadn't sent out his weekly email about new products. If he didn't list it at a reasonable price ($55), I probably wouldn't have bought a box (or two).I am a man of little self-control. Since I broke that promise I figure I owe you all a box break review. Here we go – my first box of the hockey year:

2015-16 Upper Deck MVP

The Base Cards:

The design is a bit busy for my tastes. I would have liked to see them trim down the borders a bit and make the photo a little bigger. A total lack of foil makes the name easy to read, at least. The backs are standard MVP backs with four or five lines of statistics and basic biographical information (Wayne Simmonds was born in Scarborough! A good Ontario boy!).

Let's face it. We don't buy MVP because of the photography. We buy it because it's first and normally it's a pretty easy set to put together. That holds true for the first 100 cards of the set. Unfortunately the next 100 are all short printed. I'm not a big fan of sets where a large portion of the cards are short printed. It makes it a little too hard to complete the entire set. On the other hand, with 24 packs of 6 cards each – plenty of base to trade!

The inserts:

Colors and Contours:

Seeded at about one every four packs most boxes will yield six of these die-cut inserts. (Boo to Upper Deck by not going with “Colours and Contours”). Overall I like the inserts. Fancy die-cut and shiny are normally a plus in my book. My issue with this one – there are three “levels” and three different colors of each card. Oh and each level/color combo is seeded differently. For instance the Curtis Lazar is Teal – Level 3 which falls one every eight packs. God help you if you are a player collector trying to complete the rainbow.

In years past the Patrick Kane purple level 2 would be in running for card of the box. This year, well let us move on to a more recognizable insert for fans of MVP.

Silver Script:

Sam card as the base except everything is silver and there is a facsimile signature on the front. These fall about one every three packs and I don't think the higher numbers are short printed. I pulled four cards numbered over 100 and four numbered under 100. If you were going to try and put together a complete set it's almost obtainable.


Serial numbered to 25, the amped-up cousin of the Silver Script cards replaces the gold borders with a nice red and keeps the signature in gold. It's a pretty nice combination in my book. Good luck to those that collect these. I pulled this card pretty early in the box and was happy with it (expecting to get a relic card at some point) and would have considered it a pretty good box. Unfortunately I did not get a relic. Instead, hidden in the middle of the next to last pack, was this little gem:

An Alex Ovechkin 1-of-1 black printing plate!

Not a bad little card to pull, eh? What's even better – I have absolutely no allegiance to Alex Ovechkin and I'm lukewarm at best on printing plates. So that means it's heading straight to eBay (sorry Caps fans, I got to recoup a little of my investment).

With the exception of the printing plate it was indicative of what breaking a box of MVP is like. Lots of base, some ok inserts and the joy of knowing that hockey (and the release of Series One) is right around the corner. For $55 I don't feel like I got ripped off (which also goes for the second box that I busted that didn't have a printing plate in it).

It'll be interesting to see how the pricing on this set goes. With a lot of people chasing the first licensed Connor McDavid card (done as a NHL First Round Pick redemption to get around rookie card issues) and busting a lot of packs it might drive down the price of inserts and short prints while driving up the cost of a box. I imagine dozens upon dozens of dime boxes being filled with inserts from this set soon appearing at card shows around the country.

I'll put a lackluster effort into completing the entire set. By lackluster I mean I will add them to my wantlist on Zistle and occasionally throw one in the shopping cart when I'm binging on CheckOutMycards. In case you were wondering – all of the inserts except for the Ovechkin printing plate, the Witkowski Colors and Contours and the Kane C&C are available for trade.

I give it a random 3.5 stars out of 5. Anyone else out there rip some packs yet?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ramblings! Cause I got Nothing.

Hey it’s still summer!  I should be at a beach or something. Why sit inside a stuffy apartment filled with boxesand hack away at a computer when there are sunny, summery things that can be done? I could be walking along the lakefront, kayaking down a river or enjoying a beer on a patio.  How about a compromise?  I’ll sit outside and hack away at a computer.  After all it’s a warm, August evening. One of those summer evenings that we in Chicago think about in the middle of the darkest, coldest February nights.  You know. The ones we say we won’t waste when we’re drinking a beer watching the sun set at 3.15 in the afternoon.

Of course, things like work and laziness get in the way. So I’m not kayaking down the Chicago river or having wine and cheese on the harbor (oh, maybe we’ll do that on Saturday). Instead I’m sitting outside the Argo Tea (the official tea café of The Hopeful Chase) trying to figure out what I want to write about as I watch the 9-5ers walk home.

I could write about the Orioles. After all the pennant races are heating up and the O’s are in the thick of things. Only 2.5 games back in the Wild Card, baby!  Who cares if they don’t have a true ace on the staff - Chris Davis is mashing again! And Manny Machado’s knees haven’t broken yet.  Oh wait, they just got no-hit by the Mariners?  That’s not good.  Neither is going 4-6 on this west coast swing. Nor is the fact that the Blue Jays finally realized that having a dominant starter to go along with the 1927 Yankees offense is a good idea.

What about cards?  Hey the last two posts have been card-related! I’m finally getting back to earning my spot on the Sports Card Blogroll.  Well, due to the impending move all of my cards are currently boxed up and I’ve banned myself from ordering anymore. No sense in adding more stuff to move at this point. Although with a bigger place I can finally rescue the bulk of my collection from my in-laws house. Yes that would require driving from Tampa to Chicago with a Chevy Malibu-sized card collection.  (That’s an actual measurement. When I moved them out of my condo they filled every square inch of a Malibu).

I was going to write a nice review about Stadium Club, but my main point was going to be about how god-damn happy everyone is in the set, but another blogger kind of beat me to that point. I wish I could remember who it was so that I could link it, but  I can’t and frankly and waaaaay to lazy to keep looking.  Point is that it’s been done and I would hate to seem like I was borrowing someone else’s idea (please disregard any post I’ve written in the past based on The Raw Charge’s Question of the Week).

Look how happy Larry is. And this isn't even the happiest card in the set!

Liverpool!  Remember them?  My favorite EPL team.  They won.  Phillippe Coutinho’s wonderstrike with four minutes to go! I actually watched most of the game (although I was listening on my phone for the actual goal. Yup I was the idiot cheering on the bus).  This is the year I get back into the Premier League.  I’m 1-for-1 watching games. I’m going to watch all the games! (Checks their schedule.  Checks his work schedule) Or for goodness sake!  I’ll never get into a good soccer watching groove.  Well at least they may finally get rid of Lucas.  Never cared for him.

Wonderstrike? Lightningstrike? Lucky Strike?

English football is out, what about American football?  Boxing Training camps have started. The Ravens are practicing at The Castle and the first pre-season game is right around the corner!  I’m not going to lie,   I’m having trouble getting pysched for the NFL this year.  I just need it to not be in my life for a little bit. The 24-hour-365-day coverage is too much.   I need it to go away for a little bit so I can actually miss it.

Hockey, there is always hockey to write about!  The Lightning! Two wins from the Stanley Cup last year and they’re bringing back the whole team. How can they not be the favorite?  How can I not write about them?  Well, because there really isn’t much going on down on Channelside Drive.  Sorry, but I can’t punch out a 1000 words on Brian Engblom getting hired to replace Bobby Taylor on the TV broadcast crew.

Sure Eric Condra was a nice pickup, but not exactly a Big Sexy Free Agent Move. Maybe there is a post to be written about how he’s going to affect Jonathan Drouin’s playing time, but can we wait until training camp starts before figuring out position battles and if Mr. Yzerman needs to trade Drouin.  Speaking of trading I am officially proclaiming this a Stammergeddon-free zone until he either signs a new deal or the trade deadline rolls around.  Go to Bleacher Sports or TSN for all of your “Stamkos Wore a Blue Shirt and White Shorts And Put MAPLE Syrup On His Pancakes So He Must Be Going to the Leafs” headlines.  (That would be a very bad headline).

He's not getting traded folks. Nor is his career "ruined".

So please bear with me for a little longer (I just spent five minutes trying to figure out if it’s “bare with me” or “bear with me” before remembering that I have the internet available to look these kind of things up. Also I was caught up in the old people next to me arguing that the presidential race is going to be between Trump and Bernie Sanders And they really, really don‘t like Trump. Oh and one of the guys just dropped a legit “Back in my day!” Oh sh*t he just compared Trump to Hitler.  This is getting uncomfortable!). Just trying to muck through the next few weeks until things pick back up.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Quick Post on my Haul From the National *UPDATED*

On a hot, humid Saturday I found myself with some free time before work. So I took the train up to Rosemont and popped into the National. Rule number 1 of the National – don't go if you only have 2 hours. You will be upset. Rule number 2 of the National – be prepared. I managed to break both rules, yet I still walked away with some new treats. In less than two hours I managed to pick up.

The boxes:

Stadium Club was one box I knew I was going to get. The Bowman was an impulse buy. I don't know why I buy Bowman, I'm not a speculator and I barely know players that have been in the league for five years yet alone prospects. My plans with that box – sort it and then forget about it for three years and then look and see if anyone panned out.

Ringside Boxing. Boxing cards from 1996. Soooo many doubles. But it was a fun break for $9.00.

The free card:

 A Kris Bryant/Jordan Speith Beckett Covers card. The guy said it was going for $25.00. That's nice.

The want list cards:

There was one guy that had a bunch of $.25 cards of sets that I was looking to close out. I managed to score 3 Topps Heritage cards and 1 1983 Topps before my self-imposed time limit was up. If I had all day to sort through the cards I would have probably cleaned up both sets, after all there was an open chair and no one crowding around.

From Scott:

My buddy Scott met me at the convention center for his first National. I feel kind of bad because I think I got him hooked on starting a Teddy Bridgewater card collection. Sorry about that. While I was sorting through the want list boxes he wandered off and came back with a Stamkos McFarlane I needed as well as a Ben Bishop figure (intact groin muscle variation).

From Sal:

Sal from Puck Junk was there and had a couple of Lightning cards for me. I believe the Lecavalier is the first The Cup card that I've ever gotten my hands on. No collection is complete without a Sal Berry Rookie. Sadly, since I was in a bit of a hurray I wasn't able to sit and chat with him for too long.

Random Purchases that I will probably sell on eBay

People love Cubs cards. I figure I can make a buck or two back flipping them even with all of the crazy costs involved. The Junior Lake was more for sentimental versions as he went to Baltimore in the annual Cubs/Orioles deadline trade. Chris Sale, because he's fun to watch.


I can't believe I forgot the greatest pick up of the whole trip!  For just $2.00 I am know the proud owner of.....

Yeah...he just hit a home run.

A signed postcard of Smokin' Joe O!  While Cal Ripken or Eddie Murray might have been the best player of my childhood, Orsulak was probably my favorite despite his relatively brief tenure with the club.  The guy I bought it from had about 15 in his binder...and yes I contemplated buying them all.

So it was a quick trip to the National. I doubt I'll go to Atlantic City for next years, but I'll definitely head back up to Rosemont the next time a show rolls in. Heck I might even ask for the entire day off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Quick Box Break - 2015 Stadium Club

Not sure if you kids have heard, but the National is in town! No not the band you dirty little hipsters, but The National Sports Collectors Convention has made its return to Chicago. I missed the National the last time it was in Chicago because I was floating over killer whales in Vancouver, but I do plan on showing up for a couple of hours this year.

Not sure what I'm going to go after or what my budget will be (nothing like having a plan!) but I'm leaning towards more baseball than hockey and maybe even some memorabilia as well. After all, we're finally moving to a one-bedroom apartment and might actually be able to find a spot to display some stuff.

As a bit of a warmup I bought something that I'm pretty sure I haven't purchased since I lived in Florida (about 5 years) and is probably the least efficient way to build a set. That's right I forked over $19.99 for a blaster box. A box of what – 2015 Stadium Club!

I've liked what I've seen so far – Topps seems to be bringing it back to the mid/high-level set with great photographs. In all likelihood I'll pick up a box of this at the National, but let's see what my two Andrew Jackson's got me.

Pack One -

First Card of the Year - Luis Aparicio  – Lots of former players in the set this year including some that you normally don't see in other releases. He also gets the nod for best looking card in the pack. It was kind of a blah pack to start off with.

Other cards – Jorge Soler (RC!),Garrett Richards, Brett Gardner, Anthony Rizzo

Pack Two -

Best Looking Card – Sonny Gray. Nice use of the horizontal framing. That was one thing I loved about the original run of Stadium Club – full bleed horizontal cards.

Other cards – Jay Bruce, Buster Posey, Wily Peralta, Dusty Baker

Pack Three -

Best Looking Card – C.J. Wilson. Another horizontal card, Wilson rocks the gas mask and swim goggles look as he exchanges a high-five with a random fan.

Other cards – Andrelton Simmons, Phil Hughes, Alex Cobb, Andrew McCutchen

Pack Four -

Best Looking Card – Yasiel Puig. Nice use of the dusky sky in the background as Puig walks back out to the field between innings. Love that we know the exact time that the photo was taken. Does it count as a night card?

First Orioles Card – Manny Machado. Most relaxed photo of the set I think. Also love the blades of the grass under the ball. Sharp.

Other cards – Masahiro Tanaka, Henderson Alvarez, Stephen Strasburg (Gold Parallel)

Pack Five -

Best Looking Card – Elvis Andrus. Action shot! Result of this play – Andrus either sprains his thumb or dislocates his shoulder. Still a good-looking shot.

Other cards – Anthony Rendon, Nelson Cruz, Corey Kluber, Hisashi Iwakuma

Pack Six - 

Best Looking Card – Albert Pujols. Another Angels celebration card. They sure celebrated a lot for not winning the World Series.

Other cards – Jjonny Peralta, Josh Harrison, Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt

Pack Seven -

Best Looking Card – Tim Hudson. Great photo of the long-time veteran kissing the championship trophy. It's not quite like kissing the Stanley Cup, but still a great photo.

First Insert – Starling Marte Luminous Triumvirate. A 1:32 hit. I done beat the odds! And it's shiny!

Other cards – David Price, Josh Donaldson, Sean Doolittle

Pack Eight (The Bonus Pack!)

Best Looking Card – Dale Murphy. Favorite card of the box, honestly. I love the composition of the photo and the old-school Braves uniform.

Bonus Best Looking Card – Ivan Rodriguez. Proportion is everything in the photo. The glove looks huge, the body looks small and his head makes him look like a living bobblehead. Yet, for some reason it all comes together.

Other cards – John Olerud, Starling Marte, Chris Sale (Gold Parallel)

So did I get my money's worth? I think so. Forty cards in the box, two parallels and one insert. It's a nice start to completing the 300-card base set and I prefer packs that have more base and less inserts (number one complaint about the flagship product.

That's all for now, maybe a post-National wrap up post in a couple of days.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Checking in From Summer Vacation

How’s everyone enjoying their summer?  As you can see the Hopeful Chase has taken a bit of a hiatus.  Luckily we haven’t missed much in the way of Tampa-related hockey news.

There will be more posts coming soon. Heck training camp is only a couple of months away, right?  Who knows, in the meantime maybe I’ll actually post about cards or baseball or Chicago or something else that I’ve written about in the past.

In the meantime, enjoy this photo of a Norwegian church in the middle of a woods on an island of the coast of Wisconsin.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Brief Wrap Up for the Lightning

The calendar has turned to July and that means summer is here.  At least that’s what it’s supposed to mean.  You couldn’t really tell by the weather right now. I’m wearing a hoodie and jeans while typing this at an outdoor café.  At least the sun is out, I guess.  July also means that the hockey season is finally at rest.

Wednesday the first was the opening of free agency and the nominal start to the 2015-16 season, yet it always feels more like the end of the year than the beginning of the year. With all of the major free agents inked to new deals the news will slow up and Bob McKenzie will disappear into the woods for a couple of weeks.

The Lightning were, as expected, relatively quiet during the free agent frenzy.  In fact, I was enjoying a nice mid-afternoon nap when the news broke that they had signed Ottawa Senator forward Erik Condra to a 3-year deal.  As is becoming typical with Steve Yzerman’s moves, it was widely accepted as a smart move. Condra  The 28-year-old will slide into the spot vacated by the Lightning’s one unrestricted free agent, Brenden Morrow.

While it isn’t as splashy as trading for Phil Kessel, the move does fill a need for the Lightning.  Condra isn’t going to light up the scoreboard, but he will work hard at both ends of the ice and kill penalties.  Improving special teams was one of the items on Mr. Yzerman’s checklist and Condra fits that need perfectly.  If everything stays the same, he’ll be lining up with Brian Boyle and Jonathan Drouin. That might lead to a bit of an increase in his offense considering his linemates last year were Chris Neill and David Legwand.

With that signing and Montreal signing Mark Barbario, the only news of note Lightning fans will be waiting for is an extension for Steven Stamkos. While it’s been almost 36 hours since the team can announce an extension and they haven’t,  there shouldn’t be any panic in the Tampa Bay Area.  By all accounts negotiations are going well and Stamkos wants to stay with the team.

There may be a few tweaks during the summer as well.  Bringing in Condra takes away a spot from one of the young kids.  Despite his constant benching in the playoffs, Drouin is part of the future of this organization.  He was eased into the league last year with the expectation of increasing his playing time in the upcoming season.  Now it looks like they’ll be a rotation similar to last season on the bottom lines. I expect Coach Cooper to rotate out Vlad Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette along with Drouin.  Who knows maybe Adam Erne has a hell of a camp and forces his name into the conversation as well.

One thing they won’t have to worry about is having to find a spot for any of there draft picks from this year.  After starting the year with two first round picks, Mr. Yzerman ended up trading out of the first round for more picks (and Brayden Coburn). Most, if not all, of the kids drafted, will return to Juniors or their college programs.  While that isn’t fun for most of us, since we’ll forget about them once the season starts, it is good for the organization.

This offseason has been a bit boring for Lightning fans, especially coming off of the thrill of the run to the Stanley Cup Finals.  There might be a few minor moves left to do (along the lines of Richard Panik being traded). It will be interesting to know if Mr. Yzerman has had any discussions with teams near the salary floor about taking Mattias Ohlund’s contract. There have been a couple of similar moves already made by other teams and it would free up some salary this season. If he could package the contract and a prospect for a mid round draft choice it might be worth exploring.

Having his business done for this summer gives Mr. Yzerman a bit of a jumpstart on next offseason, which could be very, very interesting.  Hopefully the Stamkos situation is resolved by then, but he’ll be looking at two big restricted free agents in Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov.  Also, there could be an expansion draft. One of the problems of having a lot of young talent on your roster is that you can’t protect everybody.  Should the Las Vegas Outlaws come into existence, there could be some serious decisions made that could result in some fan favorites leaving town.

Luckily those kind of decisions are at least a year away.  For now, Mr. Yzerman can relax as much as possible and enjoy possibly his easiest summer since taking the reins of the organization.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why Not Follow Up a Blockbuster Season With a Blockbuster Trade?

There are a lot of advantages to rooting for a successful hockey franchise. It’s great to watch a game knowing that your team has a chance to win. Playoff beards are fun to grow. The trading deadline is no longer about what prospects you can get, but what prospects you can give up in order to get that big name out there (and they don’t get any bigger than Antoine Vermette!). However, there is at least one diamond that loses it’s luster the more successful a team gets - the draft.

As a Lightning fan who’s been around for awhile I’ve had the pleasure of watching them draft number one overall twice (Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos), second (Victor Hedman) and number three twice( Alex Svitov and Jonathan Drouin). I was really excited for all of those drafts, and really, really happy with who they drafted - even Alex Svitov (go ahead, look at that draft and see who else was available).

High draft picks are fun, because they are filled with so much promise, so much potential.  After a miserable season fans can say, “Hey, that sucked but think how much better we’re going to be with -------”.  It makes marketing the team easier.  “Seen Stamkos” “The Michael Jordan of Hockey” - that‘s what you do with a first overall pick.  I mean, he’s a nice guy, but I don’t think you’re going to build a season ticket buying campaign around Mikko Rantanen.

So as the Lightning keep winning on the ice, the chances of drafting a dynamic, franchise player keeps getting less and less likely.  And unfortunately the chances of Conner McDavid going to Edmonton (where 1st round picks fade into obscurity) get more and more likely.  Luckily, I have a plan to solve both problems (and a third problem yet to be mentioned!)

Now, we all know that General Manager Yzerman is cool, calculating, ruthless acquirer of talent. He holds no player sacred, everyone on the roster is expendable as long as they can be used to make the team on the ice better.  Think about it. Is there anyone in the organization that you would say it 100% untouchable? He’s traded and bought out captains. He’s traded potential Calder Trophy winners and Calder Cup finalists. HE TRADED TEDDY PURCELL! In short nothing is more important than the constant improvement of the team.

So if there is any GM in the league that is willing to pull of a draft day shocker it’s Mr. Yzerman.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that, on the eve of the draft, in a hotel room in South Florida that Mr. Yzerman picks up the phone and calls Peter Chiarelli with a Godfather deal.

For the overall number one pick, the rights to Nail Yakapov and a second round pick the Tampa Bay Lightning trade their 1st round pick , Ben Bishop, Jonathan Drouin and Matt Carle.

“Jon Cooper held a gun to his head, and Yzerman assured Chiarelli that either his brains or his signature would be on that trade sheet.”

I know I just made Jon Cooper Luca Brasi in this scenario So would that make Julien Brisebois Michael Corleone? Can we work out the cast of the Godfather with Lightning employees? Sounds like a late July post to me.

Not to dwell too deep into this fantasy scenario but, out of all of the GM’s in the league Mr. Yzerman is the one that you could see doing that, right?  Imagine what would happen if something along those lines happened in real life?  What’s the penalty for threatening another GM with death over a trade? Forfeit a season? Disband the team? Lose all of your draft picks?  Would anyone every hire Yzerman again (after his jail term of course)?  “Sure he threatened to kill someone, but that just shows his will to win!”

I almost want it to happen just to see the reaction on Twitter and the rest of the internet.  Heck, hockey might even grace Sportscenter for more than 14 seconds a day.  It would be hard to knock that story out of the news cycle.

But back to the actual trade.

Who says no to that deal? The Oilers fill two of their most glaring needs - number one goalie defense. Before you say anything about Matt Carle, can you name two defensemen better currently on their roster? He would play 20 minutes a game on that team.  Oh, and they get a pretty good player in Drouin, who if rumors are to be believed, is on the trading block.

No matter what the Oilers do, they‘re not going to get seriously better until they solve their problems between the goal pipes. Bishop, while not an elite goaltender, has proven that he is a capable number one who can steal games when his team needs him. They have enough cap room to absorb both contacts and still have room to make other moves.

Drouin finds himself on a team where he isn’t blocked by half-a-dozen other young offensive stars. He showed flashes of his ability throughout the season and despite whatever went on in the playoffs he’s going to be a good player in the league. Throw him on a line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and that could be a lot of fun to watch.

The Oilers give up on a generational player, but become a much more competitive team. It won’t spring them up into the Blackhawks/Ducks stratosphere, but it does put them on par with Colorado, San Jose and all of the other borderline playoff teams.  Plus, based on the history of Edmonton and their top picks, perhaps it’s better that the best prospect since Sidney Crosby stays as far away as possible from Oil Country.

The Lightning shed enough cap space so they can afford Stamkos without hamstringing themselves against the cap for future deals. The Triplets are going to need new deals soon and Victor Hedman’s extension doesn’t seem as long as it was when he signed it.

With Bishop and his $5.95 million cap hit safely north of the border the Bolts also clear up a bit of their goaltending logjam.  Andrei Vasilevskiy looks like he can handle the NHL.  Yes, that’s based on a small sample size, but Mr. Yzerman isn’t afraid to take a risk or two. Adam Wilcox can’t stay in college forever and he will move up the depth chart quickly once he turns pro.

As for Yakopov? Well, maybe he clicks with a few more Russians on the team or Mr. Yzerman flips him for draft picks.

Remember that third problem I mentioned earlier?  McDavid could be the solution to it.  It’s the problem that we as Lightning fans have tried to downplay. We really, really don’t want to think about it this year, but it does linger in the back of our brains like a spider egg.

What if Steven Stamkos really does want to play for Toronto?  What if, come 2016, he basically thanks us for the support but goes to play for his hometown team? Can I really blame him?  Can any of us? After all, when we’re growing up and dreaming of playing in the big leagues, be it baseball, hockey, football or soccer, don’t we dream of playing for our favorite team.  I remember those days in high school when I thought a 76-mph fastball and a questionable work ethic would get me to the majors I didn’t dream of playing for Cleveland or Houston.  I wanted to take the mound in Camden Yards.

So can we begrudge Stamkos if, having completed his indentured servitude to the Lightning, wants to go home and play for the Leafs?  Sure, we can be pissed, but he‘s earned that right.  In a perfect world the Lightning would make a deal for McDavid, re-sign Stamkos and create a Florida hockey empire. This isn’t a perfect world so good general managers have back up plans. Having McDavid spend a season watching Stamkos play wouldn’t be a bad back up plan.

The good news for Mr. Yzerman is that the doesn’t have to be exclusive to Edmonton. Buffalo’s deadline purge left them without a franchise goalie as well  and Jack Eichel wouldn’t be a bad plan C. They could even stuff him back in college for another year without losing too much offense on the main club.

Having done a quick search of the 2017 draft eligible players, it doesn’t look like there is the once-in-a-generation player available so striking this year would make a lot of sense. It’s also in keeping with the way Mr. Yzerman operates, always with an eye on the future. He keeps control of his salary cap, keeps the team flush with young talent and arguably makes the team better.

I know this isn’t going to happen.  In fact this whole post is nothing more than an extended (E4) rumor.  Isn’t that what this time of year is all about?