Prescient City, USA: A few weeks ago I predicted the NY Rangers trade for Jacob Trouba would prevent them from signing a big free agent like Artermi Panarin because of salary cap ramifications. Yeah, just a bit outside with that one. But I’m not one to waddle in misery, so let’s get off the mat and throw a few wild roundhouses. Maybe one will land. Here are five random predictions in the seasons to come.
1. The Dave Gettleman Bashing Dies Down
There has been questionable moves on the trade and free agency front – the mediocre haul for Odell, the four-year deal to 30 year-old stop-gap Golden Tate, letting Landon Collins walk for nothing, etc. But first round draft picks Daniel Jones and cornerback Deandre Baker have earned raved reviews so far (I know, no pads, June – get off my back). And with a revamped offensive line, some promise in the young secondary, and some weapons on offense, it’s starting to look like they’re headed in the right direction.
Gettleman drafted well in 2018 and if the 2019 class pans out, they may be on their way to respectability. A smooth transition from Manning to Jones is a top priority for the season.
2. The Pelicans Win a Title Before the Lakers
The LA Lakers acquired big man Anthony Davis this summer to pair up with up with the mighty LeBron James. Though they missed out on Kawhi Leonard, the Lakers were still able to stock up with shooters and should have a tough-to-defend, inside outside game. They should be a contender.
But the New Orleans Pelicans got a Herschel Walker sized bounty for Davis, and from there traded the #4 pick in the 2019 draft for a mountain of more picks. This season it looks like they’ll end up with a solid one two scoring punch with Jrue Holiday and Zion Williamson. Four of their five likely starters; Holiday, Williamson, Derrick Favors, and Lonzo Ball, are excellent defenders. They added JJ Redick to space the floor and they have young depth. If the ex-Lakers Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball (stay in LA, Dad) and some of their other young projects develop they have a shot to be good in the years to come. And they’ve got lots more draft picks coming up.
3. The Yankees Do Not Make a Big Splash at the Deadline
Brian Cashman generally does not give up top prospects for rentals and that policy has generally served him well. But if he sticks to it, they will have a tough time getting MadBum, Strohman, or Bauer. They could end up getting one, especially if the Yankees get comfortable with trading Clint Frazier, but other teams might be willing to give up more.
If all goes well, the Yanks will have Severino and Betances coming back for the stretch run. Not too shabby. Though they’ll play it safe with Severino and he might not be able to go deep into games until next year, Tanaka, Paxson, Happ, German, and CC lineup pretty well without him. They shouldn’t give up a top prospect unless they can add someone on the top end. While Bumgarner has the playoff pedigree, he has the highest ERA of his career and could be on the downslope. But they said that about Justin Verander…
And with Betances back in the fold, if the starter gets through the lineup twice, that’s plenty. From there they can roll out the murderers row of Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cash just brings in a depth starter no one is talking about or even a reliever.
4. The NY Rangers Make a Bad Trade
I didn’t think they would sign Panarin because now they are in salary cap quicksand for this year and next until Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, Kevin Shattenkirk, and King Lundqvist come off the books. That is, unless they buy one or more of those guys out, which they might have to now.
Once the team signs Trouba, a restricted free agent, they’ll be capped up with no room to sign their own RFAs in Brendan Lemieux, Pavel Buchnevich, and Tony Deangelo. They don’t have a lot of options outside of buyouts.
The two most likely guys to go are Vlad Namestnikov and Chris Kreider. The Rangers would probably love to keep both as Kreider has elite speed and Namestnikov is a useful Swiss-Army knife. But they both have one year left in the $4-4.5 million range. They’re really the only movable players who would clear some cap space, so at least one (and maybe both) has to go to make room.
While they will have suitors, the Rangers will be trading from a weak position as teams know they are in a tough spot. Jeff Gorton will try to pull a rabbit out of his arse, but look for them to get fleeced before the season starts.
5. NHL Champion St. Louis Blues Miss the Playoffs
In a NHL landscape of speed and skill, the St. Louis Blues got it done with a big forechecking bunch of veterans and a rookie goaltender. But with a shorter off season for recovery and 26 extra, physical games played on those older bodies, I see them struggling in the 2019-20 season. As Chris Canty says about trying to gear up the next season after winning it all “it’s hard to be hungry when you’re full.” And some of Jordan Binnington’s lightning surely escaped from the bottle. The guy looked unflappable, but he showed some flaws in the post season. Though he always bounced back, he’s sure to hit some bigger bumps next season.
That’s all for me. Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, unless he has madbum from eating at White Castle again. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.