Weekly Reader: The fallout from NHL Awards ballots being public

Every year, there are votes that boggle the mind, and this year was no exception. Some of them are egregious — like Mathew Barzal getting anything less than a first- or second-place vote for the Calder Trophy — and some of them are just curiously baffling, like putting Vladimir Tarasenko fifth on a Selke Trophy ballot in the hopes that he eventually plays defense, one assumes.

Fans see these votes, and start hurling bile at the voters for their malfeasance. For example: Who left Nathan MacKinnon off their Hart Trophy ballots completely, nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal when the Colorado Avalanche center had one of the most rock-solid cases for either winning the award or finishing second?98

Well, it turns out that Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette, Ansar Khan of MLive.com, Ross McKeon of the San Francisco Chronicle and Steve Zipay of Newsday did. None of them voted for Taylor Hall of the Devils, who won the award, in first place either. Hickey had both Evgeni Malkin (first) and Sidney Crosby (fifth) on the same ballot.

We know this because, for the first time, all of the Professional Hockey Writers Association ballots have been released. You can read them here. (Emily Kaplan and I published ours here — along with explanations — after the awards show.)

The decision was made back in March, as 81.3 percent of members voted to make the ballots public. “As journalists we expect full transparency from the teams and people we cover,” PHWA president Mark Spector said.cheap nfl nike jerseys china  “Our members are aware that the same is expected of us from our readers, and many voters have voluntarily revealed their ballots in the past. As a group, we have concluded that it is time to make full transparency part and parcel of voting on the NHL Awards.”

Ilya Kovalchuk agrees to 3-year deal with LA Kings

“We are excited to add Ilya to the LA Kings organization,” vice president and general manager Rob Blake said in a statement. “He gives us an added element of skill and scoring along with a desire to win. We will withhold further comment until July 1.”

Kovalchuk, 35, hasn’t played in the NHL since 2013, when he returned to Russia to play for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

He was the subject of a free-agency sweepstakes when he announced his intention to return to the NHL. He led the KHL with 63 points last season, and he was second with 31 goals scored.97

Kovalchuk was the No. 1 pick of the 2001 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. He was the first Russian player to be selected first in the NHL draft. Over his 11 NHL seasons, no active player scored more goals than Kovalchuk’s 417.

He scored 816 points (417 goals, 399 assists) in 816 regular-season games with the Thrashers and New Jersey Devils.

Kovalchuk’s first contract with the Devils was famously spiked by the NHL for cap circumvention. The Devils then signed Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100 million contract in 2010. Kovalchuk “retired” just three years into that deal, saying he had soured on the NHL after the 2012 lockout for reasons that included escrow withholding and North American taxes.

He also said he wanted to be closer to family, walking away from $77 million owed by the Devils to sign a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg.

The Kings were a suitor for Kovalchuk in 2010 before he chose the Devils.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Los Angeles rebounded from a poor 2016-17 campaign to make the playoffs this past season, but the Kings were swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Several teams made pitches to Kovalchuk’s agent JP Barry this past week, including the Boston Bruins.

“We put our position forth,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney said Friday. “He’s got plenty of options that he’s mulling over as we discussed, and he said he’d get back to us.”

Kovalchuk, a three-time NHL All-Star selection, won two KHL titles with St. Petersburg. He also was the MVP in Pyeongchang as the Russians won the Olympic gold medal.

Pelton mail: How Lakers could add Kemba Walker to a superteam

Whether the Hornets would make a deal built around Ball is tough to say; even above the LaVar factor, Lonzo is an unusually polarizing prospect because of his extreme strengths and weaknesses. When we did our Insider top 25 players under 25 this season, I ranked Ball in the top 10 while my colleague Bobby Marks didn’t even include him in his top 25 (Chris Herring, the third panelist, had Ball 23rd). Much like FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO projections, I regard Ball’s future as bright because of the way he helped the Lakers win while struggling as a shooter during his rookie season. Others see his poor shooting as too much of a hindrance to overcome.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Already, we’ve heard indications that the San Antonio Spurs aren’t interested in Ball in a Leonard trade (and don’t seem eager to deal with the Lakers, period, but more on that in a second), and a three-way trade with a team more bullish on Ball’s prospects seems like a better option. There’s also the awkwardness here of the Lakers dealing with their former GM Mitch Kupchak, though that shouldn’t prevent a deal if they ultimately present the best offer for Walker.86

As the Lakers, whether I’d make this deal would depend on what we saw from Ball next season. His shooting could be particularly problematic if the Lakers are able to add superstars via free agency, but Ball is also more than seven years younger than Walker, a far better defender and still on his rookie contract. Re-signing Walker and Leonard to max deals in the summer of 2019 in this hypothetical would push the Lakers’ salary into the stratosphere, as they’d be paying them, James and George alone more than the projected luxury-tax line for 2019-20.

Nick’s email also presented an idea I haven’t considered enough, that the Lakers could deal for Leonard after using their cap space to sign two max free agents and stretching Luol Deng. He points out that a package of Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, Moritz Wagner (not eligible to be traded for 30 days after signing) and the Lakers’ nonguaranteed contracts (Thomas Bryant, Tyler Ennis and Ivica Zubac, all of whose contracts would be guaranteed by that point so as to count for matching purposes) would match Leonard’s salary without the inclusion of Deng, assuming Leonard waived his trade bonus. That’s a much, much better return from San Antonio’s standpoint than the deals I proposed.cheap youth nfl jerseys

The issue here with bringing back all of those players is that if the Lakers do use their cap space on two max free agents, every dollar will be precious in filling out the roster. They would have to believe they have a good chance of trading for Leonard to keep their nonguaranteed players rather than cutting them and using the extra money in free agency. Additionally, San Antonio making a 7-for-1 trade would probably push the Spurs over the 20-player roster limit, requiring other teams to get involved in a deal. So there are significant hurdles to the Lakers’ acquiring Leonard after free agency.

Kyrie Irving has no problem with Collin Sexton wearing No. 2 for Cavs

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving has no problem with Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton wearing his old No. 2 jersey.

“Go ahead, do what you do. He wanted to wear the number, let him wear the number. It doesn’t matter,” Irving said during a Q&A with reporters in Manhattan to promote his upcoming movie, “Uncle Drew.”

“The story is probably going to be the number. But I’m more excited about who [Sexton] is as a player in the league,” Irving said. “The number thing is like, just chalk that up to the game. It’s cool. It’s no hard feelings from my end. He just has to start at the chopping block just like everyone else did. So I’m excited for him.”nfl jerseys cheap authentic

The Cavs selected Sexton in the draft last week with the No. 8 pick that they acquired in the Irving trade with the Boston Celtics last summer. Sexton has said that he doesn’t feel like he’ll have to live up to expectations created by Irving. Irving, who hit the biggest shot in Cavs franchise history with a go-ahead 3-pointer in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, agrees with that idea. He also said on Monday that he appreciated the sentiment from some Cavs supporters that Irving’s No. 2 should be off limits.85

“The history, it’s already captured, man. I was on one of the best teams in NBA history, in my opinion, just accomplishing something that was that much bigger than ourselves,” Irving said in reference to the 2016 NBA champion Cavaliers. “A feat that’s — we’re one of no other teams. We’re one of one, in history [to rebound from a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit]. So for me, I think the biggest thing is giving that jersey [he wore in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals] to my dad. If that’s where the No. 2 legacy ends, then cool. Then I’m starting up a new one. No pressure for anyone else.”cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Irving is currently rehabbing from knee surgery that sidelined him for the Celtics’ surprising playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals. He said on Monday that he’s progressing well and expects to be able to get on the court again in about two weeks.

J.D. Martinez proving to be worth every penny

J.D. Martinez’s message is loud and clear, backed up by home runs, exit velocity and launch angle: He was worth the money.

Martinez entered last offseason as one of the top free agents after a four-season run as one of the game’s top hitters and coming off a monster 2017 campaign with the Tigers and Diamondbacks in which he hit 45 home runs and slugged .690 in 119 games.

He remained unsigned through the winter meetings and through January and into February. Finally, after spring training had already started, cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal Martinez landed in Boston where everyone had predicted, giving the Red Sox the power bat they needed after finishing last in the American League in home runs in 2017. He signed a five-year, $110 million contract on Feb. 26, and while it took him seven games before he hit his first home run, he hasn’t stopped mashing since.74

Martinez went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a massive home run to dead center field, five RBIs and a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning as the Red Sox rallied from a five-run deficit to bury the Mariners in a wild 14-10 victory at Fenway Park on Friday. He’s hitting .324/.393/.644, tied Mike Trout for the MLB lead with 23 home runs, took over the MLB lead with 60 RBIs, and ranks third in the majors in slugging percentage and OPS, trailing only Trout and teammate Mookie Betts in both categories.

He is, in other words, the same fearsome slugger who tore apart pitchers in 2017 and yet had trouble finding a job, at least at the right price. Martinez recently expressed his displeasure to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Cwik over what transpired in free agency. “It was a joke,” he said about the ugly aspects of the business side of baseball. “Once you start getting into the dollars and you start talking about that, then you start seeing teams come out and say how they really feel about you.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Martinez was entering his age-30 season. Too risky for a long-term, nine-figure contract suggested some critics, pointing to some of the free-agent busts in recent years who signed deals that took them into their mid-30s. The market also hasn’t been kind to corner outfielders and first base/DH types in recent years and some teams might have felt Martinez was limited to a DH role — if not now, then certainly within a couple of years.

The Red Sox, with an opening at DH, were the obvious fit. With Martinez and Betts leading the way, they’ve improved from 4.85 runs per game, sixth in the AL, to 5.16 per game, second in the majors to the Yankees’ 5.23 — all while the AL average per game has dipped from 4.71 to 4.4

Eight under-the-radar relievers who deserve All-Star consideration

As the All-Star Game approaches and potential rosters begin to take shape, one question predominates: How is baseball going to find room for all those worthy pitching candidates? It’s hard enough to choose when almost 30 starters have sub-3.50 ERAs and unheralded closers are putting up staggering numbers (Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen are two who come to mind). MLB teams are also using a record 4.23 pitchers per game, which means starters are being pulled earlier and more heavy lifting is required of pitchers in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have made a combined six All-Star teams since 2014 while posting dominant numbers in setup roles. But they’re not alone. nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach are among the other established names in that club. And Tyler Clippard and Pat Neshek each made two All-Star teams while someone else was pocketing the bulk of the saves.

Sometimes the one-representative-per-roster rule or a strong three months helps a surprise non-closer make an All-Star Game. Jesse Crain, Aaron Crow, Evan Meek and Jonny Venters (pre-Tommy John surgeries) all fall under this umbrella.

So which factors should the players and the commissioner’s office take into account this year when they assess All-Star pitchers — and more specifically, relievers?73

Josh Hader, who is averaging almost 18 strikeouts per nine innings for the Brewers, has been so dominant in a multi-inning shutdown role that he’s immune from the debate. If Hader’s fellow players don’t designate him an All-Star, they should be stripped of the vote and required to stand in the box against him one-by-one as punishment.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

The relievers listed below — most of whom pitch for National League clubs — generally have great peripherals and lots of holds. They produce in high-leverage situations, strand a large percentage of inherited runners and rank high in relief pitcher WAR. They don’t stand a great chance of making it to Washington, D.C., for the All-Star Game on July 17. But they at least merit a place in the conversation.

West Ham, Wolves both interested in West Brom’s Ahmed Hegazi – sources

West Ham United and Premier League newcomers Wolves are chasing West Brom defender Ahmed Hegazi, sources have told ESPN FC.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

Hegazi has been away at the World Cup with Egypt this month, playing in all three games against Uruguay, Russia and Saudi Arabia as his national team failed to progress from the group stage.62

Hegazi started all 38 Premier League games last season and his impressive performances brought him to the attention of a number of clubs, with West Brom facing a major battle to keep hold of him following their relegation from the Premier League.

He was one of West Brom’s best players and has a release clause in the region of £10 million in his contract at The Hawthorns, with Hegazi’s suitors ready to trigger the release as they look to land him for a bargain fee.

New West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is looking to bolster his defensive options and Hegazi figures highly on his wanted list as he reshapes the squad at the London Stadium.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Wolves, who are planning for life back in the Premier League, are planning to add quality to their ranks and the fact Hegazi has Premier League experience makes him an attractive proposition.

Socceroos are going to give Australia a night to remember – Mat Ryan

Maty Ryan has promised Australians a night to remember as they try to beat Peru and advance from Group C as just the second Socceroos side to reach the knockout rounds of the World Cup.

Ryan is one of the few players to have featured from the get-go in Australia’s qualifying mission that began three years ago.

He said putting the scale of the achievement into context was near impossible.

“It’s difficult to find words to describe that,” he said.

“It would be the absolute meaning of why myself and many others play this sport. To be as successful as you can and try and create as many lifelong memories.

“If we’re successful in achieving that tomorrow, I dare say not only us as players but the whole nation of Australia is going to remember that night.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“And that achievement, for the rest of their lives. Just as the team did back then in 2006 in Germany.”

In 2006, Harry Kewell’s late equaliser against Croatia in Stuttgart sent the Socceroos into the round of 16 at their expense.

Germany’s World Cup — including Tim Cahill’s iconic goals on Australia’s drought-breaking return to the tournament — was a formative experience for the modern-day team.61

An experience, a dream, they will now live against Peru in Sochi on Tuesday night.

“I for one am never going to forget those nights,” Ryan said. “Getting up and celebrating in Australia when we beat Japan and getting the results we needed to progress.

“And obviously the heartache that followed in the Italian game.

“It would mean the absolute world to me and show all the sacrifices and dedication all over the years to achieve something like that.

“It would have all paid off.”

Coincidentally, the Croatians loom as a likely opponent for Bert van Marwijk’s side if they are to replicate the feat of the 2006 team.

In Russia, the equation is trickier than it was for Guus Hiddink’s trailblazers.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

Not only must Australia beat the already eliminated firebrand South Americans, they must also hope France defeat Denmark.

Lamar Jackson Says Chargers Scout Told Him About Interest in Him as WR

Lamar Jackson recently disclosed he wasn’t aware some teams wanted him to run routes at the NFL Scouting Combine until he was approached by a Los Angeles Chargers scout who inquired about the possibility of seeing him work out as a receiver.

“It was a Chargers scout who told me about it,” Jackson told the Baltimore Ravens’ The Lounge Podcast (h/t Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio). “He was the first one to come to me about it. I’m like, ‘What?’ He caught me off guard with it. I even made a face at first like, ‘What?’ I thought he was trying to be funny, but he kept going with it. So it just became blown out of proportion.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Jackson added he opted not to run the 40-yard dash because he only wanted teams to view him as a quarterback prospect:60

“So that was the first time I heard it, I was like, ‘What?’ Like he was like, ‘Oh, Lamar are you gonna go out for wide receiver routes?’ I was like…’No…I don’t recall saying that, I don’t remember telling you guys I’d go out for receiver routes.’ I’m like, ‘No, quarterback only.’ So that made me not run the 40 and participate in all the other stuff.”

The Ravens, of course, have been adamant that they view Jackson as a quarterback and will work to refine his skills as a pocket passer in the months ahead.

“The first thing, much like we did with Mike [Vick], is for him to … learn how to play the quarterback position like we play the quarterback position here,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said, per NFL.com’s Jim Trotter.

“[Focusing on things like] footwork,” he added. “Just how we go about the footwork—the base, wide-base, short-style, all those things that we’ll work on from Day 1, both pre-practice and post-practice.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

And while the Ravens have Jackson penciled in as their quarterback of the future, head coach John Harbaugh has admitted he’d like to find a way to use the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner this season as a gadget player.

“Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us,” Harbaugh said, according to ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley. “If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

Cam Newton Faces a Career Crossroads Between Excellence and Irrelevance

Any kid who sasses an NFL quarterback at an event named after that quarterback deserves a special kind of punishment. Back in my teaching days, smarty-pants middle schoolers were assigned a silent classroom lunch detention while a teacher played moldy oldies from his CD collection: Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison, show tunes. It was A Clockwork Orange-level behavioral modification, and it worked.

Newton should have sat the little crumb-crunchers down and made them watch an hour of Brock Osweiler highlights. They’d be all Mr. Newton, Former MVP, Sir from that moment on.

Instead, Newton handled the situation about as well as your basic substitute teacher, which means the kids were laughing at him even harder after he snapped.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Kids vs. Cam video then went viral, but not as viral as it once might have. A cursory internet search reveals plenty of tired-sounding quick takes on it—but no think pieces accusing Newton of child abuse or anything. Which is surprising. Three years ago, Newton’s end-zone dancing nearly caused the downfall of Western Civilization. Heck, someone should at least have the decency to photoshop Crying White Oakland Cookout Lady into the scene, but maybe picking on her is now as old hat as picking on Newton.

Newton has reached the stage of his career where he can go toe to toe with a child, come away with (charitably) a draw and barely generate a ripple of manufactured controversy, even in the quietest of NFL news cycles.58

Hooray? Or…alas? It’s hard to tell anymore whether Newton is rising to unassailability or settled into irrelevance.

Newton is now 29 years old, well past his “developing prospect” years. He has entered what should be the plateau of his career. But it’s a peak that looks little like his MVP, NFC-championship, 45-touchdown 2015 season.

His statistics have been ordinary for two straight years, and the Panthers’ results have been similarly unremarkable. New young quarterback superstars have been crowned in the meantime. He should be ascending to “distinguished veteran” status. But he remains trapped in permanent adolescence.

Or, at least, that’s one perception. Newton ranked 25th in NFL Network’s top 100 players in the league for 2018, so his peers think he’s doing something right. His stats look a lot better when he gets credit for leading the Panthers in rushing instead of blame for not being a pure pocket passer. He came within 21 yards of an epic fourth-quarter comeback against Drew Brees and the Saints in last year’s playoffs, but that must have happened after the youth camp heckler’s bedtime or something.cheap nfl nike jersey

The reality is that Newton is just held to a different standard. A quarterback like Kirk Cousins gets to sell his services to the highest bidder and be portrayed as a paragon of maturity (despite the Rick and Morty references) with a fraction of Newton’s accomplishments. Newton is still the goofy scrambler with a lot of growing up to do because, well, there’s a little Oakland Cookout Lady photoshopped into many of us football fans.

Semiotics aside, it’s hard for a guy to shake an overgrown-kid persona when he’s still vulnerable to tweenage bullying.