New York Giants: Top five plays from 2019-20 season

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Although the 2019-20 season for the New York Giants was a year to forget, there still were some memorable moments that foreshadow a bright future.

Number One: Danny Dimes 4th and five TD run against the Buccaneers

With the Giants starting off the season 0-2, week three was a much-needed win. With a minute-twenty left on the clock in the fourth quarter, no timeouts, and the Giants needing a touchdown, Daniel Jones makes the biggest play of his pro carrier. “Jones steps up, takes off, he’s in!! Touchdown!” As a result of this, the Giants would go on to win their first game of the 2019-20 season, and Jones would record his first win as a starter.

Number Two: Jones throws Slayton an absolute dime for Slayton’s first NFL TD

In week five of the 2019-20 season, the Giants faced off against the highly talented Minnesota Vikings squad. In this situation, Daniel Jones gifted the Metlife crowd a beautiful 35-yard dime to Slayton for his first career, Touchdown! Overall, the Giants didn’t win the game, but this play created a special connection between the two rookies.

Number Three: Golden Tates bobbling TD catch against the Patriots

Notably, Golden Tate is known to make big-time plays in big-time moments. To no surprise, the New England defense was ranked the best in football. Through the first five weeks of the season, they did not allow a passing touchdown. That was until the Giants stepped foot in Gillette Stadium. Without warning, Jones and Tate connect for a 64-yard touchdown pass! This was the first passing touchdown allowed by the Patriots defense all season! To summarize, the Giants didn’t win the game, but this play right here is one to remember. The Patriots’ defense was the most feared in the league, the rookie showed up and proved himself.

Number Four: Saquon’s 67-yard TD run against the Redskins in week 16

This season, Saquon Barkley didn’t put up his usual stats after suffering a high ankle sprain in week three of the 2019-20 season. The injury might have disrupted the star running back, but it would soon be a thing in the past. In week 16, Saquon had himself a record-breaking day with two touchdowns and 189 rushing yards. The big-time play that fans will remember is Barkley taking off and breaking ankles for a 67-yard rushing touchdown. Unquestionably, the biggest and most electrifying play form the week 16 matchup.

Number Five: Saquon Barkley says peace out to the Eagles defense on a 68-yard rushing TD

In the final regular-season game, Saquon gave the fans one more highlight real moment. In the third quarter, down by seven, Barkley takes a handoff from Jones and splits defenders for a 68-yard rushing touchdown. Not to forget, Barkley adds a little spice to the play and throws up a peace sign as he torches past defenders. With Barkley having an off-year, this play right here gave fans a lot of hope that their star guy is healthy again. Overall, this was a memorable play that the fans will remember for a long time.

 

MLB Analysis: A deeper look into Blake Snell’s refusal to play

New York Yankees, Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado, in an interview with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, let his feelings regarding the MLB proposed plan and his reactions to the Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blakes Snell’s video in which he said he wouldn’t play for less money with the health risks being so high.  Arenado was very thoughtful in his responses to Rosenthal’s questions.  There isn’t very much writing on my part in this article as it’s pretty much straight from the Rosenthal interview.  I guess that many New York Yankee players are more in line with Arenado’s comment than Snell’s.

Many players like Trevor Bauer of the Indians and a host of other players in the past several weeks have let their feelings be known.  But on Wednesday night Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Black Snell took it to a new level.  Snell went on his Twitch channel and unloaded on the MLB.

The players already agreed to a 50% pay cut due to the season that will be reduced by 50% of the games.  In the latest plan, the owners want to limit player compensation because the COVID-19 pandemic will force games to be played without ticket sales and concessions revenue.  The owners consider it revenue sharing the players consider it a salary cap, something they have rejected since the 1970s.  Snell, who originally was to earn $7 million this season in the second year of a five-year, $50 million contract, was having none of it.

This interview with Ken Rosenthal was edited by me for interest and clarity.

  • Let’s start with Snell’s comments. He said, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine.” When you heard about that, what did you think?

I think he was being honest, just being real. He made a lot of good points. There are some points he made that were true, that are facts. A lot of it gets misperceived. Trying to get the public to understand us, it’s not going to work very well in our favor.  We’re baseball players, right? We make great money. Regardless if we don’t make the money we want, we’re still making great money. A lot of people in this world are struggling a lot harder than us.

I guarantee if you read the comments, you’re probably thinking, “You don’t have to work 12 hours a day. You’re not the one without a job. You’re still getting paid.” Those people have a right to say that.

  • What do you say to the public? What would you want the public to know about your position?

I know some people think, “They just want to play if they get all their money.” We’re not going to get all our money regardless. We understand we’re not going to get paid everything we thought we were getting this year. But we still want to go out there and play and earn our contracts and put on a show for the fans. It’s important for us to play, important for free agency, everything. Players understand that. It’s pretty sad now what’s going on in our country. It would be great to bring joy. And I think baseball is a great sport to do that.

  • Snell said, “The risk is through the roof.” Do you agree with that?

It’s hard to say. People are risking their lives in a lot of bigger ways than we would be. It’s a risk, but I don’t think it’s as risky as what other people are doing to make ends meet, to try to earn money.

Arenado was referring to health care workers, first responders, and those that have to go out every day and face the public like grocery store workers.

“I understand what he’s trying to say. It’s a risk, yeah, but I don’t think MLB would approve of this if the government or whoever is in charge of making sure we’re good to go didn’t approve of it.  I feel like that wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t going to be OK to play.”

  • Some players also have said, “We’re taking all the risk. That is why we are so adamant about not taking an additional pay cut.” How do you view that?

I get that. And I agree. It is a risk. We did negotiate a deal. I think that’s the thing: We negotiated a deal. Now let’s go play. Let’s get to work. That’s where we as players are coming from. Obviously, there are discussions about revenue (sharing) and changing it up a bit. But we already discussed that. Let’s get to work now.

Arenado did not make it clear as to if he was willing to accept revenue sharing to get to play this season.

  • The league will propose a series of protocols about health. What do you want to see most in those protocols? What is your biggest concern, health-wise, about playing?

In a very long response, Arenado said he was aware of the CNN program that Commission Manfred was on where he detailed all the steps that MLB would take to assure player safety, and he was happy with those steps.  He also added: “They wouldn’t approve of this plan if those questions weren’t about to be answered.”

  • An AP story today said the union asked the owners for their financial records. If the owners did that and you saw the clubs were in distress, would you be more open to hearing what they have to say?  

I’m going to listen to our (Players Association). I believe our PA is looking out for our best interests. They’re trying to get us back on the field. We want to play baseball. Don’t ever believe that we’re not trying to get back out there, or (union chief) Tony (Clark) doesn’t want us to get back out there. He wants us to get back out there. But it’s gotta be right.  Paraphrasing he said, I don’t know if seeing the books would change my mind if there is a deal to be made it will be made.

  • How much does it bother you when fans think and say, “The players are greedy. They don’t get it. The players don’t have a clue?”

The fans have the right to say and believe what they want. I get that it’s frustrating. Baseball players get paid a lot of money and then to see us not be able to come to a deal yet, they’re probably like, “You get paid all this money, and you’re complaining about this and that.” It’s not really about that. We want to put on a show for them. That’s our whole focus as baseball players. But there are a lot of things that have to get done first. But if you ask us as baseball players, we look at it as a job. We want to go back and do our jobs as soon as we can.

When he was asked how it would look if a deal couldn’t be reached, he responded:  It would look bad, it would be disappointing. We hope it doesn’t come to that.  We don’t feel guilty. We want to go out and play. The people of this country and fans deserve to see the greatness of some of these players we have in the game.

I thought Nolan Arenado’s responses were very thoughtful with a full understanding of the issues affecting both sides.  But at the same time, he also called for the Players Association to stand their ground and not give away the ship just to get to play.  I think he truly believes a deal can be reached because he and many other players just want to play some baseball this season.  It’s too important not to get a deal.

If you would like to read the entire interview, you can find it here.

New York Islanders: Grading Anders Lee’s Islanders Captaincy to this point

The New York Islanders have always been a franchise filled with great captains. We don’t need to go down the list of names (you can do that below) who have helped paved the way.

Anders Lee, currently the team’s captain, has now held that position for two years, even though technically this season still hasn’t finished.

He’s done a terrific job being the leader of the Isles, and that goes for him continuing to speak on behalf of the organization with the coronavirus pandemic still going on.

Now, whether the season is resumed in the coming months or is eventually just shelved for good, examing Lee’s reign as captaincy up until this juncture is something worth discussing.

Back on October 4, 2018, the Islanders were set to play their season opener in Raleigh against the Carolina Hurricanes. Just before morning skate, new head coach Barry Trotz and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced to the team they were naming Lee captain. Lee, who became the 15th player in franchise history to receive the nod, was hand-picked by Trotz after several discussions with Lee’s teammates.

“When I first got the opportunity to coach the Islanders, we talked to every player. It was clear as day to me that Anders would be the fifteenth captain of the Islanders,” Trotz told reporters after the announcement.

Lee’s first season wearing the “C” couldn’t have gone any better if it were Hollywood script.

He scored 25-plus goals and totaled more than 50 points for a third straight season. His leadership in key moments earned newfound respect from his teammates who showed they were willing to go to bat for him. The team returned to the postseason with 103 points and swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. And it was his “We’re a family” quote after the Islanders’ season ended which embodied the spirit of the team’s attitude all year.

Lee signed a brand new seven-year, $49 million contract on July 1, and the expectation was he would continue to be that proverbial power forward who can score another 25-30 goals.

Here’s where things get dicey. The Islanders this year were not the same team from a year ago. They again lacked scoring and faced more adversity than some might have expected. Lee himself, struggled with inconsistency all year leading up to when the season was postponed back on March 12.

Sure he’s scored 20 goals again and is over 40 points again, but that goal total is very soft compared to what we’re used to seeing from Lee.

Again, two years is a small sample size when talking about a captain and his total impact on an organization. Look around the league, but more importantly back throughout the Islanders’ history — other than maybe the late ’90s and late 2000s — and it’s usually the third year of said players’ captaincy is where the team experiences lots of success.

The Islanders, in year three under Ed Westfall’s captaincy, came within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the same for Westfall’s successor, Clark Gillies; Gillies’ third year as captain, the Isles were two wins from the Cup Final. Denis Potvin? The Islanders won their fourth straight Stanley Cup. Mark Streit? the team made the playoffs and gave the Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle in the first round.

I think you get where I’m going. We might not know the extent of Lee’s impact until the end of next season.

So what kind of grade does he earn as captain thus far? A solid B.

Why a B you ask?

The Islanders have experienced good team success with him at the helm.

He’s represented the franchise with nothing but class and dignity on and off the ice.

He’s shown so far he can lead by example through adversity.

But, his on-ice performance needs to improve.

That’s not saying Lee needs to be the best player on the ice every night. Then again, as the captain, you’re expected to produce on a consistent level.

Lee is set to turn 30 in early July. His captaincy is still in its early stages, one hopefully that will last till the end of this decade.

Up until this point though, his time as captain you could argue has gone better than expected.

 

 

New York Giants: 3 Free Agent Replacements for Deandre Baker

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

With the shocking news coming out that New York Giants‘ second-year corner DeAndre Baker, along with Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar, was arrested and charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm stemming from a May 13th incident, Baker’s time with the Giants is almost certainly coming to an end.

This is obviously a huge blow to the team, as Baker was expected to build off of a promising finish to his rookie year and help stabilize the second cornerback spot opposite James Bradberry. The Giants now need to pivot immediately and assess both their internal and external options to replace Baker, whom they traded up to draft in 2019.

While the Giants have a number of other young defensive backs on the roster, it makes a lot of sense to add a veteran who doesn’t need development and can fill in right away. Here are three veteran free agent options the Giants could bring in:

Logan Ryan

After it was initially thought that Logan Ryan would be signing with the Jets, it turns out that he remains a free agent. The Giants had expressed interest in Ryan prior to the Baker allegations, and that interest should only get stronger now with Baker most likely getting cut.

Ryan, 29, is still in the prime of his career and is coming off arguably his best season in 2019 as a member of the Titans. He finished the season with 113 total tackles, 4 interceptions, 4.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles while playing all 16 games. He’s been a good player throughout his career ever since he was selected in the third round by the Patriots back in 2013, tallying 367 career tackles, 8 forced fumbles, 11 sacks and 17 interceptions in 109 games and 85 starts. Judge is also familiar with him from their time together in New England.

Ryan plays his best in the slot but can be moved to the outside if necessary, so he fits the versatility component that the Giants want in their defense. With all the young guys in the secondary group, adding another established veteran to the mix would only help their development going forward. This is especially true for a guy like 2020 fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes, who is expected to become the slot corner of the future, so having him learn behind Ryan for a year or two would be great for him. Adding Ryan, who is from New Jersey and played his college ball at Rutgers, to the cornerback mix makes a lot of sense for a variety of reasons, and the Giants should be willing to pull the trigger now more than ever.

Dre Kirkpatrick

If the Giants are looking for another outside corner, then Dre Kirkpatrick is probably the best option available. The 2012 first-round pick from Alabama has had an unspectacular but solid career and could provide good competition for the number two spot Baker will be leaving behind. At the very least, he would serve as adequate depth.

In eight seasons with the Bengals, Kirkpatrick had 254 tackles, 10 interceptions, and 3 sacks in 99 games played with 67 starts. Last season was a rough one for Kirkpatrick, as he only played in 6 games before being placed on injured reserve with a hyperextended knee. In those 6 games, he put up 33 total tackles and 1 sack while failing to get an interception.

Kirkpatrick’s best football might be behind him, but he still can be a contributor and hold his weight as a starter. And, like Ryan, he also has a connection with Judge through their time at Alabama. If the Giants want one of their other young guys to step up and take the starting spot, Kirkpatrick would be a good veteran piece to challenge them without stealing the job from them. If signing Ryan doesn’t materialize, the Giants could certainly do worse than having Kirkpatrick as a fallback option.

Aqib Talib

The third option is a name you may have heard of before. Aqib Talib, 34, has been one of the more dominant corners over the past decade. While he’s fallen off over the last couple of seasons and his best days are clearly a thing of the past, it may be worth it for the Giants to see if he still has anything left in the tank.

The former First-Team All-Pro and 5-time Pro Bowler would probably be the best option to serve as a veteran mentor to the youth on the roster with his wealth of experience in the league. Over 12 seasons, he’s tallied 384 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, and 35 interceptions in 148 games and 134 starts. He most likely wouldn’t start for the Giants, but he could be a valuable depth piece for the upcoming season.

This is more of a last-resort type of scenario if the other options don’t come to fruition, but Talib also has a connection with Judge through New England, so you never know. Regardless, the Giants were thrown one heck of a curveball on Thursday and now have to scramble to replace a player who they had high hopes for.

We’ll see what happens next, but it’s really a shame to see such a young player likely throw his entire career out the window because of his inexcusable actions.

If possible, one trade the New York Knicks should be all-in on

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

Bleacher report released an interesting ‘course-changing’ trade for the New York Knicks.  It’s a trade that certainly makes sense and should have a majority of fans on board.

THE TRADE

Knicks Receive: G Devin Booker

Suns Receive: 2020 first-round pick, PF Julius Randle, G Frank Ntilikina

First off, we here at Empire Sports Media are big supporters of Ntilikina.  He has been and will continue to be one of the best defensive players for the Knicks.  Ntilikina has improved his game each season he’s been in the league.

The coaching staff and fan want him to be more aggressive offensively.  Thankfully, he brought that aggressiveness that he found playing in the FIBA World Cup to the Knicks.  It was certainly a step in the right direction for sure.

Ntilikina was a player that had Knicks fans saying ‘Who!?!’ when drafted and thought was a bust his first two years.  And while, he’s progression still hasn’t been what people thought, fans still always have faith him in.  Ntilikina is a clear fan favorite.

However, if this trade were to be serious, trading him would be a no-brainer.  If you can get an elite scorer, Booker, for a still developing point guard, you pull the trigger.  The Knicks desperately need an elite, electric scorer and who better than Booker.

As for Randle, a majority of Knicks fan want him traded anyway.  Yes, his stats are very solid but it’s the little nuances that get fans aggravated.  Maybe Phoenix would be a better fit anyway.  Smaller market with a lot less pressure similar to New Orleans.

We’ve always said the Knicks shouldn’t be trading away first-round picks anymore.  That shipped has sailed.  Even the Knicks came out and said they didn’t want to trade picks away.  However, if it’s only ONE first-round pick for Booker then you pull that trigger as quickly as possible.  But it probably wouldn’t be just one pick for a player like Booker though.

Pairing Booker with RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson would certainly be a major jump in the right direction.  Barrett and Booker at the 1, 2 positions is something to really get excited about.  Those two alone can lure free agents then add in the young, beastly Robinson.  Those are 3 players that can get the New York Knicks back on track.

Max Kellerman picks Saquon Barkley as dark horse MVP candidate

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

During a First Take segment on Wednesday, co-host Max Kellerman picked New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley as his dark-horse MVP candidate for the upcoming season. Other names such as Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, and Matt Ryan were also mentioned in the conversation, but Barkley was the name that stood out. Is Saquon actually capable of an MVP caliber season? The answer is: Absolutely.

Let’s actually consider it for a second — the last running back to be named MVP was Adrian Peterson in 2012, logging 2,314 yards from scrimmage along with 13 total touchdowns for the Vikings. Since then, the following seven MVP’s have all been quarterbacks. Needless to say, the NFL is due for a skill player to earn the award, and Barkley is the perfect candidate.

During his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign in 2018, Barkley racked up 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns, all behind a putrid offensive line and an end of the road Eli Manning under center. While the Giants ultimately fell short of the high expectations with a tantalizing offensive combination of superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Barkley, the season was just a peek into Saquon’s potential.

Despite missing three games in the following season, Barkley still managed to log 1,441 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns. Looking ahead to 2020, there is no reason why he shouldn’t succeed. Here’s why:

Revamped offensive line:

With the selection of Georgia OT Andrew Thomas fourth overall in the NFL Draft, the Giants have their franchise right tackle who can and should eventually take over for Nate Solder at Left tackle. Also, selecting UCONN OT Matt Peart in the third round, the Giants should have their franchise tackles for the foreseeable future, not only to help protect Daniel Jones but open up holes and maximize opportunities for Saquon Barkley.

Young, promising quarterback:

Nothing but respect to Eli Manning, but there is little to no debate on his decline in his last two seasons. Daniel Jones has created optimism, and hope for an otherwise recently depleted fan base. He is mobile, has a strong arm, and can distribute the ball effectively. The Giants have something to look forward to with the tandem of Jones and Barkley. The better Jones plays will only benefit Barkley.

New coaching staff:

Joe Judge so far has said all of the right things, instilling a culture change in the locker room and has garnered the respect and faith of multiple players as well as fans. The hiring of long time Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett for the offensive coordinator position received mixed reviews, but according to Judge they will be running the offense that Garrett ran in Dallas. Not too shabby considering the Cowboys ranked first in the league in total yards last season under Garrett. In Garrett’s offense, Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards two of the four years he has been in the league. The talent gap between Saquon and Elliott is not very big at all; hopefully, the scheme translates smoothly and produces similar success for Barkley.

Saquon Barkley is a generational player, and one of the most talented players the New York Giants have had in franchise history. The running back position’s value has been diminished as the game moves more towards a passing league, but hybrid backs that can both run and catch passes such as Barkley and Christian McCaffrey are the new blueprint. Even from the most neutral, unbiased standpoint, anyone who has paid even moderate attention to professional football could tell you: Saquon Barkley is MORE than capable of winning an MVP.

 

New York Yankees: If the MLB plan is adopted how will it affect the Yankees?

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

While the New York Yankees waits for a resolution to the ongoing MLB MLBPA negotiations, let us take a look at how the plan as presently proposed will affect the New York Yankees.  The talks include squabbling over pay and more rightly so, the health concerns of players.

First, let’s a fresh look at the plan as proposed:

  • A season of between 78 and 82 games to start early in July.
  • All teams would be playing in home parks without fans when possible and possibly at spring training sites when not possible.
  • Rosters will be expanded big time to as many as 40 players.
  • Teams will be playing in geographic regions, playing both the American League and National League teams in the region.
  • All types of safety precautions will be taken to protect players during the coronavirus pandemic, including daily health checks and a plan in dealing with players who may become positive for the virus.
  • Teams will face a more demanding schedule with likely doubleheaders each week in an unknown number of innings. Some insiders say they will be shortened to seven innings.
  • The season will feature an expanded postseason with two more Wild Card teams.  The league leaders will be exempt but the two other division leaders and four Wild Card teams will face each other in the best of 3 series.

So how will this plan affect the New York Yankees?

First, it will look very different facing National League teams so often during the shortened season. It’s questionable as to if it will be more difficult playing so many postseason contenders like the World Champion Washington Nationals, or is it’s easier not having to travel cross country so many times in the season.  The Yankees will have the usual tough time playing the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  But they will also face the Nationals the Phillies.  Looking at the plus side they face the usual Blue Jays and lowly Orioles.  In addition in this plan, they face equally poor NL teams like the Florida Marlins and to a lesser degree the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The New York Yankees will face the traditional AL foes twelve times in three-game sets.  They will face the NL teams for only two-three game series.  The prime difference is that each game will be twice as important to win in a season with only half the games.  When the season starts it will resemble a postseason feel as far as the necessity to win is concerned.

Gerrit Cole will feel the pressure to win each game more intensely with half the games to pitch.  It will also be more demanding on all the pitchers to stay healthy in an environment the dictates the opposite.  Pitchers are not ramped up to pitch leaving them much more vulnerable to becoming injured. Hopefully, a renewed spring training will help that.

Manager Aaron Boone will have to be much more careful with how long he leaves starters in and how he uses his bullpen.  He is also going to be careful with Stanton and Sanchez his injury-prone players.  Aaron Judge is now expected to be out most if not all of July while he continues to heal.  Boone will also be watching him.  A greatly expanded roster will help in mitigating these problems and allowing players more rest time.

The expanded roster is also going to allow us to see more of the New York Yankees prospects.  Players that might have been relegated to Scranton Wilkes/Barre now may be allowed to shine in the national spotlight.  Expect to see on the roster or at some time in the season Thairo Estrada, Dievi Garcia, Mike Schmidt, Mike King, and even spring training stars Rosell Herrera and Brandon Lockridge.

With the expanded roster you will definitely see Jonathan Loaisiga, Mike Ford, Clint Frazier, and Mike Tauchman playing all season long barring injuries.  The depth of the New York Yankees is a plus for the team that hopes to have a more injury-free season than last season.   Yankee players have not been dormant.  They at their homes and some at George M. Steinbrenner field have continued to try to stay game ready.

With the New York Yankees expected to be at the top of the leagues, they may be able to get extra rest in the postseason, no having to play in Wild Card three-game series.  The New York Yankees will do their best to avoid that scenario.

New York Yankee fans will embrace all of these changes and root on the Yankees to a 28th World Championship.  They just want to see baseball in any form; it will so help a depressed nation devoid of the hope that all sports provides.  They are fully aware that the coronavirus will control what kind of season transpires, and hope that it can be completed.

 

The New York Ranger’s Add a Wall to Their Outstanding Netminding Core

New York Rangers, Alexandar Georgiev

The New York Rangers signed one of their top goaltending prospects, Tyler Wall, to an entry-level contract. His contract begins at the start of the 2020-21 season. The Rangers selected him in the sixth round, 174th overall, of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Wall will join two other young goaltenders, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev, to mind the nets for years to come after Henrik Lundqvist decides to hang up his skates.

Wall appeared in 32 games with UMass Lowell this season, posting an 18-8-6 record, along with a 2.10 GAA, a .931 SV%, and two shutouts. The 6-3, 214-pounder appeared in 103 collegiate career games over four seasons (2016-17 – 2019-20) with UMass Lowell, posting a 58-34-10 record, along with a 2.28 GAA, a .918 SV%, and nine shutouts.

Wall was named to the Hockey East Third All-Star Team this season. Wall appeared/started in 32 of UMass Lowell’s 34 games in 2019-20, and he earned all of the team’s wins during the season. He also served as an alternate captain in 2019-20, becoming the first UMass Lowell goaltender to wear either a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ on his jersey since Dwayne Roloson in 1993-94. Wall also helped UMass Lowell win the Hockey East Championship in 2016-17, and he was named to the Hockey East All-Tournament Team. He posted a 2.10 GAA or better in three of his four collegiate seasons.

The twenty-two-year-old is not just another pretty face tending nets as his major at UMass-Lowell was Mechanical Engineering.

Wall’s 58 career wins with UMass Lowell are the most by a goaltender since the school began playing in Division 1, and he broke Dwayne Roloson’s record of 51 wins during the 2019-20 season. He allowed two goals or fewer in 22 of his 32 appearances this season, including one goal or fewer in eight different appearances. Wall was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on six different occasions this season.

As far as his future as a Blueshirt, dobberprospects.com believes that Wall will compete with Adam Huska for the starting job in Hartford of the AHL. Should that position be granted to the more experienced of the two, Wall could see his professional career begin in the ECHL with the Maine Mariners. In either case, a consistent opportunity to play is the most critical aspect of his development. He is likely due for two or more years in the minor leagues before an NHL opportunity comes knocking.

New York Giants: 2 defensive players have breakout potential in 2020

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

Taking a look at three defensive players for the New York Giants that could break out in 2020:

The Giants’ defense ranked 30th in points allowed during the 2019 season, allowing an average of 28.19 points per game. In the yards allowed section, they ranked 25th, allowing 377.31 yards per game. Ultimately, the Giants ranked 20th or worse in nearly every category. One of the more problematic statistics was their -17 turnover differential, showing how much they actually lost the football on offense and forced their defense out onto the field.

Increasing their time of possession to allow the offense more opportunity is essential, and that starts with Daniel Jones’ ball security and taking time off the clock with the running game. However, the defense must step up significantly moving forward, and these three players could make a significant difference in 2020.

1.) Dexter Lawrence

The former Clemson standout had a solid rookie season, playing in all 16 games and logging 63% of all defensive snaps. He recorded 38 combine tackles, 2.5 sacks, and nine quarterback hits. His 11.6 missed tackle rate was a bit too high, but for a rookie, Lawrence played admirably.

A year of experience under his belt should promote further development, and gaining Leonard Williams on the line should also help his productivity increase. The Giants expect Lawrence to be a big run stopper and also put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, given the 3-4 base scheme.

2.) Oshane Ximines

Ximines is one of my favorite players going into year two for the Giants, and his 4.5 sacks on just 45% of defensive stats make him a prime breakout candidate. He missed zero tackles last season as a rookie and got after the quarterback well, knocking down the quarterback three times and collecting 12 pressures.

The big storyline is the Giants might have a weak pass rush next season, but I believe Oshane can be a significant factor for them. Considering Graham’s desire to utilize linebackers and safeties in a schemed pass rush, this unit could be vastly underrated.

New York Yankees news, 5/15/20: Jordan Montgomery finally healthy, Brian Cashman optimistic about 2020 season

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The top New York Yankees’ links of the day:

Dan Martin | New York Post: The New York Yankees missed Jordan Montgomery during the 2019 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. He made a few appearances last September and looked good during the spring before the MLB inevitably shut down operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. He’s expected to enter the frame once things return to normal, as a middling starter in the pitching rotation. He will slide in alongside Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ. There’s also the Domingo German suspension that will inevitably come to an end at some point. However, Montgomery hasn’t pitched a large sample size of innings in two years and must prove himself if he is to solidify a spot in the starting rotation.

Brendan Kuty | NJ.com: With Major League Baseball fighting on all fronts to return to action in the coming weeks, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman feels optimistic things could be back to relative normalcy.

“I can’t promise anything, but am I optimistic?” Cashman said Thursday morning. “I’m optimistic.”

The team owners and players are fighting about financials before anything is set in stone, and while they’re attempting to find a middle-ground, things are complicated on both sides. The owners don’t want to play full player’s salaries if they’re going to be playing fewer games, and the players want to make as much money as possible. Essentially, a pro-rated contract is on the table for players, but they don’t want to take a significant pay-cut.

“I am optimistic,” he said. “I don’t represent the players and the (players’) association. Obviously there’s a lot of hurdles that everyone’s trying to navigate here, and certainly trying to find common ground appropriately with the Players Association is one of those things and obviously the commissioner of baseball and his team are having honest, frank conversations and negotiations … I’m optimistic that where there’s a will, there’s a way.”