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Jeremy White's Blog

Getting to #1

Every year it seems we search for the best way to build the best team in the NHL.  Here's a new idea - pick first.  I think the Buffalo Sabres should take a long hard look at doing what it takes to picking first in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

There are a few things I need to say off the bat:

1.  I don't know that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (ranked as the #1 North American skater by Central Scouting) is a prospect on the level with Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin
2.  I don't know exactly what it would take to get up to the #1 pick in the draft
3.  This involves a bit of risk, so if you're super conservative by nature it might not  be for you.

Ok, now to the very quick nuts and bolts of this idea...

The Buffalo Sabres need more skilled players on the team.  They need a player that can change a game like Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby.  Problem is that these players are often unavailable.  Yes Stamkos is available as a restricted free agent, but it will cost you a GIGUNDO contract and compensation in the form of 4 first round draft picks.

So why not try to get a guy like that...by picking him.

Moving from the later stage of the first round to the #1 spot might cost you a first round pick.  It might cost you a pick and a player.  It won't cost you THREE firsts, and it won't cost you the huge contract you need to have that guy on your team.

In the history of the NHL's current entry-level contracts - no player as EVER been overpaid.

The #1 spot in the NHL draft is actually a GREAT predictor of success.  This is not the NFL Draft which we often label a crapshoot.  The odds of hitting the #1 pick in the NFL Draft are about 50%, while in the NHL it's about 80%.

Check the history of the #1 pick

Stamkos is a game changer.  Crosby, Ovechkin, Kane, Toews, Doughty, Malkin, Thornton...the list goes on and on.  Look at the history of the top 3 picks in the NHL Draft.  It's where superstars are up for grabs.

Last night in Boston, Tyler Seguin, the #2 overall pick in the draft scored 2 goals and helped on 2 others.  He is a part of this Boston team that might just win the Stanley Cup, and if they have to wait a few more years...my guess is that he'll be a big part of that too.

Top picks in the NHL make a difference.

If Sabres President Ted Black and team owner Terry Pegula are interested in looking at all options, then that means they'll look at this one.

Unrestricted Free Agency - costs a lot of money and doesn't have a great track record of success
Restricted Free Agency - LOTS of compensation in picks and contract
Drafting high - CUPS.

You get all the benefits, and you don't even have to suck at hockey for a few years to get those high picks.

So yeah...draft day should be fun.



HOF vote predictable, for once

For once, the predictions were correct. As most experts had anticipated, Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were the two and only two baseballers Wednesday elected to the sport's Hall of Fame.

Why was it predictable? Because of last year's vote. Both Blyleven and Alomar finished just short last January, and never had any player come so close to induction and not eventually made it; most such players went in the next year. A simple understanding of statistics was all you needed to see this result coming.

Of course, these statistics have nothing to do with baseball. Blyleven retired in 1992. What has he done in the last 18 years -- other than repeatedly lobby for his candidacy -- to become more deserving to go to Cooperstown than he was before? I'll never understand or agree with this trend.

Alomar got 74 percent of votes last year; this year he received 90 percent. Why? Did 16 percent of voters not bother to look up Alomar's stellar career record in time for last year's vote? Did they wait until this year to read up on the player? Did they simply change their mind?

It's confusing enough trying to analyze why voters see candidates differently even when they've been retired for years. But how about the Steroid Era? Looking at Jeff Bagwell's meager 41 percent vote total in his first crack at the ballot makes me think that voters are writing their own personal, unsubstantiated Mitchell Reports.

Bagwell isn't Mark McGwire, an admitted user. Or Rafael Palmeiro, who flunked a test just weeks after swearing to Congress that he hadn't used. No, Bagwell was just a hulking hitter who writers apparently have assumed used steroids. Maybe he did, but there's no known evidence of it. I guess there doesn't need to be in this process.

In the years to come I don't know where these votes are headed, with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and many other great players yet to be judged. So far I think the results are pretty clear: If you really want to make the Baseball Hall of Fame, you'd better be skinny. Bodes well for Pedro Martinez.


Quick Hobby note: Blyleven's rookie card is from the epic 1971 set (card #26). This set is an all-time great, largely because of its slick design and foray into more action shots. It happens to be my birthyear too, but I digress.

Strangely for such a great and huge set (752 cards), until Wednesday there were no Hall of Famers whose rookie cards hailed from it. Anticipating Blyleven's election, some friends and I tried to think of as many Hall of Famers in the set as we could. We thought of about 30, then after looking through it we counted 41! Here's the list:

R.Jackson, Blyleven (RC), Niekro, Hunter, McCovey, Carlton, Mazeroski, Seaver, Kaline, Carew, Stargell, Schoendienst-MGR, Wilhelm, Bench, Morgan, Jenkins, B.Robinson, Marichal, B.Williams, Sutton, T.Williams-MGR, Fingers, Aaron, Gibson, Weaver-MGR, Ryan, Banks, Yastrzemski, Killebrew, Alston-MGR, Palmer, Bunning, Perez, Mays, Cepeda, Durocher-MGR, Brock, Clemente, F.Robinson, S.Anderson-MGR, Aparicio.

This list does not include Pete Rose, a non-Hall of Famer for infamous reasons; Joe Torre, who would seem headed there in time as a manager; Gil Hodges, a great Dodgers slugger and manager of the '69 Miracle Mets; or Tim McCarver, who may make it as a broadcaster. Or Billy Martin. Or Ron Santo. Or Lou Piniella.

Also, none of these cards is the best card in the set! That honor belongs to Thurman Munson, whose play-at-the-plate, second-year card remains a Hobby favorite.

Who knows, someday there might be 50 Hall of Famers in this set!


Still Thinking #1 for the Bills?

With a win over the Detroit Lions the Buffalo Bills have slipped back to #2 in the NFL Draft Order (if things were determined today). If you are still thinking about #1, then obviously the Bills need to get back to their losing ways, but they’ll need help too. Strap in…here’s the latest breakdown.
The tiebreaker is WEAKEST schedule. If you’re 1-15 against BAD teams you pick ahead of a team that’s 1-15 against GOOD teams. Currently the Bills would lose in a tiebreaker to the Panthers. The Dallas Cowboys got win #2 on the year, so we get to remove them from the mix…for now.
You want to root AGAINST teams that only the Bills play this year:
*Root twice as hard against the Patriots, Dolphins, and Jets because each win or loss counts TWICE in strength of schedule.
You want to root FOR teams that only the Panthers play this year:
*Root twice as hard for the Saints, Falcons, and Bucs because each win or loss counts TWICE in strength of schedule.
If a team appears on both schedules…they are taken out of the mix :
So you know who to root for and who to root against. What does it mean THIS week?
You want to root for:
Colts over Patriots – Counts twice for Bills
Texans over Jets – Counts twice for Bills
Bears over Dolphins – Both teams play Bears, but Dolphins outcome counts twice for Bills

Bucs over 49ers – Carolina plays both teams, but the Bucs outcome counts twice.
Saints over Seahawks - Carolina plays both teams, but the Saints outcome counts twice.
Falcons over Rams – Carolina plays both teams but Falcons outcome counts twice.

Cowboys over Lions – Helps Bills
Cardinals over Chiefs  - Helps Bills and hurts Panthers
Browns over Jags – Browns outcome irrelevant, but Jags loss would help Bills
Giants over Eagles – Hurts Carolina
Raiders v. Steelers – Not relevant – Both teams play Steelers
Packers v. Vikings – Not relevant – Bills play both opponents
Broncos v. Chargers – Not relevant – Neither team on either schedule
Phew…so yeah. There’s all that. Go Bills.
Ok…now take an aspirin and call us in the morning.
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