NHL Free Agency Buzz

By: Cullen Raidna

Free-Agency, one of the best times for hockey fans everywhere. People tune in to their televisions to see what their general manager has up his sleeve for the upcoming season. While there where not many big names available on the market, several teams managed to make a splash through the market, as well as through trades, which a few of the NHL’s best players where involved in. What is almost as impressive as that is several teams managed to rebuild their program in just one day. Let’s take a more in depth look at this big time stretch in the off-season.

The team that helped itself the most was by far the Edmonton Oilers. New general manager Peter Chiarelli started his team rebuild during the draft with selecting Connor McDavid. McDavid is touted to be the best player the game has seen since Wayne Gretzky. Chiarelli did not stop there though. Not long after the free-agency began he signed veteran defenseman Andrej Sekara to a six-year contract worth 33 million dollars. It is no secret that with all offense Edmonton has that defense needed to be addressed. Sekera will add experience, as well as scoring from the back line. The Oilers also signed Mark Letestu to a three-year deal averaging about 1.8 million per year. Letestu is a reliable defensive minded center, a perfect fit for a team looking to solidify things on the defensive side. With all the fire power up front with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and now Connor McDavid. The Oilers also made a move for New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot. Talbot was a back-up with starter’s talent. The Oilers also have goaltending prospect Laurent Brissiot in their farm system, waiting for his chance with a rejuvenated lineup to be the number one goalie in Edmonton.

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a huge splash on Wednesday, not through the market, but with a block-buster trade. The Penguins Acquired Phil Kessel and two prospects for defenseman Scott Harrington, forward Kasperi Kapenen, Nick Spaling, and draft picks. This trade was by far the biggest thing to happen during free-agency. The Penguin where in desperate need to find a winger that could play alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Kessel is a 30 goal scorer with great speed and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Kessel is great on the power play, with a world-class one-timer from the right hand side. The biggest surprise from the trade was that the Penguins did not have to give up their two best young defenseman in Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta. Maatta is expected to play on Pittsburgh’s top-pairing with Norris Trophy candidate Kris Letang. With a winger finally found for their two superstars, a young hungry defense core, the Penguins could find themselves once again knocking on the doors of the Stanley Cup.

The Columbus Blue Jackets also had themselves a day during free-agency. Starting on Tuesday they acquired forward Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks. At 22 years old Saad already has two Stanley Cup rings. Not to mention he has experience playing with two of the game’s premier players, Johnathan Toews, and Patrick Kane. Saad has already turned himself into a top-six forward capable of scoring 30 goals a season. With an expected top line of Nick Foligno, Ryan Johansen, and now Brandon Saad, Columbus is turning itself into a contender. With guys like Brandon Dubinsky and Scott Hartnell to provide more scoring, and newly acquired forward Gregory Campbell to solidify the bottom six, and the goaltending of Sergei Bobvrosky, look for Columbus to be right there in the playoff picture.

Other big names found themselves in new homes for this year’s season as well. Matt Belesky moves from the Anaheim Ducks to the Boston Bruins. Belesky looks to take Milan Lucic’s place on the roster as a guy to provide grit, penalty-killing, and a scoring punch. Michael Frolik leaves Winnipeg to play for the young-and-coming Calgary Flames. The Flames paid a big price to bring Frolik in to add the scoring and experience. Veteran defenseman where also on the move as Paul Martin and Mike Green found new homes. After five seasons with the Penguins Martin moves on to San Jose. The Sharks have plenty of offense on defense with Brent Burns and Martin will there to add a more defense minded guy to keep Burns in check. Mike Green parted from Washington to join the Detroit Red Wings. Green is a right handed shot, something the Wings have been looking for on their back line. Green packs a punch on both sides of the ice. Look for him to quarterback the power play and help bring the Red Wings back to the playoffs.  

NBA Free Agency Winners

By: Jacob Rayyan

The NBA Free Agency began Wednesday at midnight. Since then, NBA teams have committed to over $1.3 BILLION in salaries. The average signing is just over four years and a little over $80 million a year. The salary cap is expected to rise next year due to the new TV deal kicking into effect. This will allow NBA teams to afford larger salaries for their big name free agents. The salaries may look incredibly lucrative for the players, but in reality NBA teams are going to be making a lot more money as well. From Anthony Davis’ five year $145 million signing, to Luke Ridnour being traded four times, there are surefire winners and losers of free agency. Let’s take at look at which players and teams have done well so far in the NBA Free Agency.

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis just signed a massive five year $145 million deal, the largest contract in NBA history, with the New Orleans Pelicans. Experts around the league agree that this contract is totally justified when considering that he’s only 22 and already a top five player in the NBA. This contract will more than pay for itself in the long run.

Miami Heat

There was chatter all around the league that Miami guard Dwayne Wade, who has been a member of the Heat his entire career, was seriously considering leaving the Miami Heat for the first time in his career. Wade was looking to get the extra money that he had given up over the course of his career (approximately $27 million) and many were not sure if the Heat were in position to give it to him. Reports were surfacing that if the Heat were unable to give him the money he desired, Wade would look into joining other teams, most notably the Cleveland Cavaliers. On July 2nd, the Heat and Wade agreed on a one year deal worth approximately $20 million, giving Wade the money he desired in exchange for his services for one more year.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Owner Dan Gilbert has had a very busy offseason resigning much of that Cleveland team that were big contributors last year. Kevin Love signed a massive five year $110 million contract with the team, Iman Shumpert had signed a four year $40 million contract, and Tristan Thompson is reportedly getting an $80 million contract over an estimated five years. Besides all these signing, Lebron James has yet to agree to a contract. While the Cavaliers will surely be over the salary cap and well into the luxury tax, they know this is the best way to show Lebron that they are serious about getting a good supporting cast for him on the floor next year.

LaMarcus Aldridge

I just got the notification on my phone that LaMarcus Aldridge is going to join the San Antonio Spurs. This is a win for LaMarcus Aldridge, and for the Spurs. The Spurs had been dumping some salary, most notable Tiago Splitter, in an effort to convince Aldridge that if he choses San Antonio, he would be paid handsomely. The plan worked, and this immediately puts the Spurs as title favorites for the upcoming season. When taking into account that Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovic are coming back, as well as the most recent signing of Kawhi Leonard to a five year $90 million deal, the Spurs are going to have some massive expectations coming into next year.

Milwaukee Bucks

It isn't often that a player will choose the Milwaukee Bucks in free agency over the Los Angeles Lakers. That is just what Greg Monroe did when he agreed to a four year max offer with the Bucks. Choosing the Bucks over the Lakers proves that this is no longer the NBA of old, where teams would choose a city based on the history of that franchise and the chance to be in the spotlight. The Bucks are going to have an impressive starting lineup next year, highlighted by second-year man Jabari Parker, who is expected to be 100% healthy after tearing his ACL last year, the greek freak Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Monroe.

Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler bet on himself by not signing a three year deal worth approximately $10 million before last season. That bet paid off, as Jimmy Butler won most improved player of the year, and received a five year $90 million contract with the Bulls. While experts around the league knew the Bulls were going to match any offer that Jimmy Butler received, it didn't calm down the situation since he reportedly had meetings with the Lakers and the Knicks, before committing to signing with the Bulls. Experts around the league said that Butler was never going to not sign with the Bulls, he just wanted to speed up the Bulls offer. The Bulls reportedly gave him the five year $90 million offer, and a one year offer as well, if he wanted to sign a longer contract after next season. The Bulls also shored up three point specialist Mike Dunleavy with a three year $14.4 million contract. As long as Derrick Rose stays healthy, the Bulls will once again have a very formidable starting five next year.

Notable Signings Around the League

-The Portland Trail Blazers signed Damian Lillard to a five year, $120 million extension from his rookie contract, insuring that he will be the key to the team’s success over the next half-decade.

-The Hawks signed Paul Millsap to a three year deal worth $58 million, which is an absolutely crucial signing for the team’s success after DeMarre Carroll left for a four year deal with the Raptors.

-DeAndre Jordan left the Clippers to join the Mavericks on a four year deal worth $80 million because he wanted to become more of an offensive presence with the team than he was in LA.

This NBA free agency has been the most lucrative when compared to the previous years. Big name players are signing with teams, old and new , each day with grander contracts than before. Only time will tell if these signings will lead to success for each respective franchise. Until then, all we can do is envy the players getting paid crazy amounts of money to do what they love.



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Remembering Lou Gehrig

A a little over a year ago a friend asked if the only reason Lou Gehrig was famous was because of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). What a shame that the great Yankee slugger is best remembered for his demise. Before Gehrig succumbed to a disease that was later named after him at the young age of 37, he was the Iron Horse of baseball. On the 76th anniversary of his “Luckiest Man” speech, the time seems right to look back on the career of one of baseball’s finest players of all time.

The New York Yankees were Babe Ruth’s team in 1923 and they had just opened their new ballpark in the Bronx. It was this year that Gehrig would join the team and would be a member of the first of 27 Yankees championship teams. Gehrig had previously gone to school at Columbia University and had been raised in Manhattan. He easily drew the attention of nearby Yankee scouts with his excellent power and was signed immediately. Though his career began in 1923, he wouldn’t really begin to show off his talent until two years later.

In 1925 Gehrig achieved two monumental achievements on back to back days. On the first day of June he pinch hit late in an eventual 5-3 loss to the Washington Senators. This appearance would be the first of 2,130 consecutive appearances, a record until 1995. The next day Gehrig was named the Yankees new starting first baseman in place of Wally Pipp by manager Miller Huggins, a position that he would retain until 1939.

Gehrig was the Yankees all time hits leader from 1939 until 2009 with 2,721. He drove in a team record 184 runs in 1931 and is the team leader leader in runs driven in all time with 1,995. The Iron Horse is also the Yankees' all time leader in triples with 163. In 17 seasons Gehrig hit a total of 493 home runs, well short of The Babe’s 714, but Gehrig did hit 20 or more home runs for all but four seasons. Gehrig died with six World Series rings to his name and a .361 average in the postseason to boast.

Lou Gehrig may always be remembered by true baseball fans as a player that got lost in the excitement over Babe Ruth. For example, in the 1932 World Series Ruth hit his famous and debated “Called Shot.” Gehrig promptly followed with a home run of his own, yet few can recall it. What Gehrig had that Ruth did have was much more class. While Ruth went out each night to party and celebrate another successful day, Gehrig would return home with his wife and live as if he weren’t anyone too important. In the film “The Pride of the Yankees,” Gary Cooper portrays Gehrig as someone who did not realize how big of a figure he was to the fans.

76 years ago on the Fourth of July, the original Yankee Stadium was the saddest it has ever been. It was Lou Gehrig Day, a day of celebration yet also mourning. The Yankee captain was honored with numerous trophies and awards from the Yankee organization and members of the 1927 “Murderers Row” championship team were brought back. Tearful and weak, Gehrig stepped to the microphone and thanked not only the Yankees but important people in his life and showed how taken aback he was by all of the support. Though many fans that day did not know it would come so soon, Gehrig passed away two years later.

Perhaps under-appreciated throughout his career, Gehrig’s legacy still lives on. When Mickey Mantle stood on the same ground at Yankee Stadium in 1969 for his special day, he said, “I never knew how someone dying could say he was the luckiest man in the world. But now I understand." The number four that Gehrig wore in his Hall of Fame career was the first number to ever be retired in North American sports history. The Yankees wouldn’t have another captain for another 30 years as a sign of respect. Gehrig may have been the first player to get unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame since his election was earlier than was allowed and was a special one not made known to the public very well. For my public speaking class in my junior year of high school I chose to recite his retirement speech for a famous speech project because I was impressed with his courage and calmness despite being so near to death.

Gehrig should always be remembered for being such a simple man and a humble human being. The way he went about his job and carried himself off the field should be something that every major leaguer strives for. To remember him as one who died of ALS or a great baseball player is to do him injustice. Perhaps the closest modern example of a player like him would be recently retired Yankee captain Derek Jeter. The only lifelong Yankee with over 3,000 hits is very similar to Gehrig in many respects and it shows a lot about his respect of history. 

Lou Gehrig defined what it meant to be a Yankee and 76 years after his unforgettable speech, the organization and MLB still preach the example he set for all.  


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Is Phil Mickelson's Time Up?

By: Matt Goss

Phil Mickelson is one of the best players still playing on the PGA Tour right now. He is an absolute wizard around the greens and has a personality that many would love to emulate. He is both a fan favorite and a world-class talent. He has won five major championships throughout his illustrious career and is one win away from the career grand slam. 

Mickelson's alleged involvement in a money laundering case plays a big role in his future. If Mickelson did wire $2.7 million to Greg Silveria, the punishment will likely be severe and affect his chances at winning a tournament in the short term. Mickelson has not won a major in almost two years and if the opportunity to participate in future majors is taken away from him, the gape will grow.

As many know Mickelson has not yet been able to capture the U.S. Open title despite coming so close so many times. He has placed second in the nation’s greatest tournament a staggering six times as he can just never seem to find a way to win. He has proven he can compete at that stage he just has not yet been able to seal the deal. The big question these days is if he still has a chance at this tournament or is his time over?

First thing to keep in mind is one should never underestimate Mickelson, he is a high caliber player that can pull off anything at any time. A couple years ago when he won the British Open he was not even predicted to do well and he pulled off the win despite this. Mickelson is a contender and it is hard to imagine he will not have another good contending round at the U.S. Open before his career ends.

It is hard to imagine, however, that Mickelson will be able to compete with the new upcoming youth in professional golf. Players like Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler are the best trio of players since Nicklaus, Palmer, and Player. If Mickelson is ever to pull off any spectacle of a U.S. Open win he will need to beat all three of these players and as we have seen lately, it is no easy feat to do so. All three are huge players in the contemporary PGA and all pose a serious threat to win every major they enter. If Mickelson can beat these three he will no doubt be deserving of holding the U.S. Open trophy.

What makes Phil Mickelson so good is his immaculate short game. He kills the ball and he is a great ball striker but what separates him from his peers on the golf course is his chipping and putting. This is the reason why Mickelson can still win. Despite getting older and all the young talent entering the PGA, Mickelson has something that does not go away with age, a good short game. This allows him to not be easily surpassed by young talent, rather he can stay with them because of his short game. Because of the magnitude and finesse of his short game,Mickelson can hang with the new PGA stars and give them a run for their money.

Regardless of whether he gets suspended or not, Mickelson is getting old but he is not outdated yet. He still possesses all of the mechanics to pull of that elusive U.S. Open victory. Mickelson has a couple good years left in him and has the opportunity to maybe give the U.S. Open one more run. Whether or not Mickelson wins it ever is up to the golf gods, but I can guarantee he will give himself one more good chance at winning it. After all Phil Mickelson should never be counted out of a tournament, let alone a major championship.


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Who is Our Best Writer?

Hello everyone! Everyone at Sports Heaven would like to thank you for the support that you have given us over the past three years. We have grown from a Facebook page covering sporting events to a Twitter, Google Plus, and our own blog. We have even been recognized by SportsBlog.com multiple times for our outstanding articles. We have also recently started a mailing list for our followers to start getting email notifications for when we write a new article or record a new Podcast! Click here! Now it is time for you, our fans to contribute and tell us who our favorite Sports Heaven writer is! We asked each one of our writers to select their top three articles from their careers with us. Bellow each writer is listed with the links to their top three articles with a short explanation for what each article is about. Lastly, there is a poll at the end of this post for you to vote on your favorite writer!

Joel Norman (Co-Owner)

A debate between who is the best Quarterback in NFL history, Joe Montana or Tom Brady.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/1769933/brady_or_montana__the_greatest_quarterback_in_nfl_history.html

Derek Jeter goes out the perfect way in his last at-bat in Yankees stadium.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/1098555/doing_it_derek_jeter_s_way.html

Joel provides a first hand account of storming the court after an NCAA Basketball upset.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/1836068/upset.html

Tyler Heyl (Co-Owner)

A reaction when the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Jung-Ho Kang in the offseason.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/1486945/jung_ho_kang.html

An analytical piece about how the Cleveland Cavaliers turned their season around in January.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/1803378/the_captivating_cavs.html

How do the St. Louis Cardinals keep up the best record in baseball and win the World Series.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/2635468/can-the-cardinals-keep-streaking-.html

Matt Goss

Can Phil Mickelson win another major?

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/2760543/is-phil-mickelson-s-time-up-.html

Jordan Spieth goes for the Grand Slam

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/2691137/the-third-leg-of-the-grand-slam.html

The hardest trophy to win in North America.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/2664286/hardest-trophy-to-win-in-sports.html

Sam Kluender

With the Royals dominating the voting for the All-Star Game, should the fans still be able to vote?

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/2665065/should-the-mlb-remove-fans-from-all-star-voting-.html

Explaining Saber Metrics

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/153187/saber_metrics_explained.html

A look into the career of Carson Palmer after tearing his ACL this year.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/1276441/the_legacy_of_carson_palmer.html

Jacob Rayyan

Predictions for the 2016 NHL season.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/2724766/2016-nhl-playoff-predictions.html

Predictions for the 2016 NBA season.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/2679806/nba-finals-prediction-for-2016.html

An analytical article on Gregg Popovich.

http://sportsheaven.sportsblog.com/posts/1805421/analyzing_gregg_popovich.html