– After finishing with a league-low 62 points, the Oilers have won the NHL draft lottery for the first overall pick in June. Edmonton (27-47-8) entered the draft lottery with a 48.2% chance of earning the No. 1 pick and will select first for the first time. Barring a trade, the Oilers will become the first Canadian team to select first since 1996, when Ottawa chose D Chris Phillips. If the Oilers keep the selection, they will likely choose between OHL stars F Taylor Hall and F Tyler Seguin. The two ended up tied atop the league’s scoring race with 106 points, with Seguin claiming the scoring title after finishing with 48 goals to Hall’s 40. Both Hall and Seguin are expected to contribute right away, meaning whichever player isn’t selected by Edmonton is almost certain to end up in Boston. Seguin is considered more valuable by Central Scouting because he is a right-handed centre. On the other hand, Hall, a versatile left winger, is electrifying on the ice as witnessed in the 2010 World Juniors tournament. The Oilers cannot go wrong with this decision, as both are projected to be great players.
Boston, the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, will pick second in the June 25-26 draft after acquiring Toronto’s first-round pick in an offseason trade that sent F Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs. Florida will select third, followed by Columbus and the Islanders, who picked first in 2009. Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota and the Rangers round out the top 10.
Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini said,
“It’s such an important step for us to have the ability to take the first overall pick, especially where we are with our cycle of development. We’re more into a reshaping, a rebuilding mode right now. Everybody’s clear about that. This will be a wonderful building block to add on to some of the other draft choices we have in place now.”
While acknowledging he would listen to trade offers, Tambellini said he was inclined to keep the pick.
“I’m sure there’s lots of teams that have ideas how to make our team better. I always have to listen. … We’re focused right now on the No. 1 pick. For us to move that pick at this point, I can’t think of what it would have to be.”
The Bruins will also have the Leafs’ 1st round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft as part of the Kessel trade, meaning that another bad season in Toronto could give the Bruins another top-5 pick.
– Stars’ GM Joe Nieuwendyk stated on Tuesday morning that the team will not be bringing back C Marty Turco. The 34-year-old netminder will be allowed to become an UFA on July 1st. Nieuwendyk said, “I just felt like it was time we went in a different direction. I know we’ve danced around the issue with Marty, but I think he clearly understands the situation. We’re moving forward with Kari (Lehtonen) and I’m sure Marty will test the waters of free agency.” Turco struggled for the majority of the season in 2009-10, posting a 22-20-11 record and a 2.72 GAA.
– Bruins’ WR Marc Savard may be ready to return if the Boston Bruins make it to the second round of the NHL playoffs. GM Peter Chiarelli announced on Tuesday night that if the Bruins were to make it by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the playoffs, Marc Savard would potentially be able to play. There are reports that Savard has made some serious progress over the last two weeks, indicating that he may be ready to suit up. Savard had 33 points in 41 regular season games, and they’ll need every bit of firepower they can muster if they want to upset the Sabres.
– Avalanche’ F Peter Mueller (concussion) will not play in Colorado’s first two games of their first-round series versus San Jose. “He still is progressing well but he’s not ready to travel with us, so he’ll stay behind,” said coach Joe Sacco Tuesday after practice. When asked when Mueller will be cleared to resume skating the Avalanche bench boss said that he did not have a timetable for that. Mueller recorded 20 points in 15 games since joining Colorado at the trade deadline and his absence will hurt the team’s chances of upsetting the Sharks.
– F Maxim Afinogenov has expressed interest in re-signing as a Thrasher. He is scheduled to become a UFA this summer and is coming off a fairly successful campaign that saw him net a career-high 24 goals to go with 61 points in 82 contests.
– The Penguins have backup G Brent Johnson to a two-year/$1.2M deal that runs through the 2011-12 season. Johnson will make $600K each season. Johnson had a 10-6-1 record, a 2.76 GAA and a .906 SV% with the Pens.
– The Blues are expected to remove the interim tag from Davis Payne and name him the team’s permanent head coach. Payne the 23rd head coach in team history. He replaced Andy Murray on January 2 and helped the Blues to a 23-15-4 record to end the season. The 39-year-old would become the youngest NHL coach.
– The ratings are in for the April 12th episodes of WWE RAW, TNA iMPACT! & TNA Reaction:
WWE RAW from the UK drew a 3.2 rating and averaged 4.7 million viewers. The first hour drew a 3.0 rating with 4.4 million viewers while the second unopposed hour did a 3.4 rating with 5 million viewers. Despite the fact that Monday’s RAW was taped earlier in the day, the rating was the same from last week.
The debut episode of the TNA Reaction, which aired on Spike right before iMPACT!, did a 0.3 rating with around 280,000 viewers.
TNA iMPACT! did a 0.8 rating and averaged 1.1 million viewers. The hourly ratings were 0.82 and 0.78. Overall viewership was down around 10% from last week.
– TNA President Dixie Carter has started a new feature on the TNA website where she answers fan questions from her Facebook and Twitter pages. Here are the highlights of what Dixie Carter said about:
Competing With WWE In The Ratings: “I want to be very clear on this, we NEVER expected to have competitive ratings with RAW at the beginning. I have been very specific in saying that our goal was to grow our brand and our ratings and we felt like we could do that faster on Mondays. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a big step forward. We expected to have to rebuild part of our audience when moving our programming day and timeslot. We have finally settled in to an 8 pm ET/7 pm CT Monday timeslot with an encore presentation on Thursdays as 9 pm ET. It is going to take some time to build both audiences. We have no ego in saying iMPACT! has to draw a big rating in one night. With the encore, we have grown our overall viewing audience significantly from 2009 averages. We have 4 hours of exposure in prime time on Spike TV. So short term, we have settled in to a new programming schedule and need to give both some time to grow, but are happy with our increased viewership. Long term we want to see the overall ratings for iMPACT! increase significantly, no matter how many airings we have. ”
Moving to 8pm a Sign of Failure?: “We discussed both the 8–10 pm ET and 7-9 pm ET timeslots with Spike before we moved to Mondays. It would be a failure to stay in a timeslot when you think another one might offer a greater chance for growth. When we started iMPACT! at 8 pm ET for the 3-hour January 4th special and on April 5th when we moved an hour earlier to get a jump on the NCAA Men’s basketball championship game, we saw higher viewership. Instead of moving back to 9 pm the following week, we decided to leave the start time at 8 pm ET and build that timeslot. Now it’s up to TNA, Spike and all of you to spread the word.”
TNA Resembling The Dying Days of WCW: “I think there has been more of a solid focus on new talent in the last few months than we have seen in the past. The Pope, AJ Styles, Desmond Wolfe, Abyss, Matt Morgan, Beer Money, Jay Lethal, Doug Williams, Kazarian, Rob Terry, Beautiful People, Angelina Love, Daffney and so many more. I think the young talents that are featured on the show have really stepped up and I am very proud of them. These guys are the “New” TNA. With the exception of Sting, I think every WCW talent we have has also worked for WWE. The only resemblance to WCW would be the guys from The Band who ran together there. Hogan and Flair appear in very different capacities. We are using established brands like Hogan to get mainstream media attention and help build new talent. It’s about balance, and we will continue to provide you with a good balance of established brands and new talent.”
–INF Rich Aurilia formally announced his retirement Sunday after 15 major league seasons. The 38-year-old Aurilia began and ended his career with San Francisco, spending 12 years total with the Giants and helping them reach the 2002 World Series. He appeared in 60 games last season in a utility role. Aurilia was a career .275 hitter with 186 homers and 756 RBIs in 1,652 career games.
“I’m retired. I’ll say this, I’m not waiting around for a call in June or July. I know I’m not going to play anymore.”
– The Blue Jays have signed SS Adeiny Hechavarria to a four-year/$10M contract. The 21-year-old Cuban worked out for the Yankees and a few other major league clubs before agreeing to terms with Toronto. His visa was approved last week and he took a physical over the weekend. Hechavarria stands 6-foot, 170-pounds and has been likened to a young Cubs’ OF Alfonso Soriano.
– D’Backs’ RHP Brandon Webb (shoulder) played catch Monday from 70 feet. His throwing program is back on track. Webb played catch for seven minutes from the distance and is expected to go through a similar workout on Tuesday. The D’Backs are hoping he returns by June 1.
– Nationals’ OF Josh Willingham’s agent told the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore that his client is interested in discussing a multi-year deal with the Nats. “His hope is that this year, next year, whenever, he wants to stay,” said the agent, Matt Sosnick. “He wants to sign a multi-year deal.” Willingham avoided arbitration this winter by inking a one-year/$4.6M contract and is under team control through 2011. He’s off to a hot start this season, batting .391 with two homers and eight RBI in 23 at-bats.
– The Phillies are expected to decide Wednesday whether or not SS Jimmy Rollins (calf) will be placed on the 15-day DL. Rollins was diagnosed with a Grade 2 calf strain on Monday and underwent an MRI on Tuesday afternoon. Once the Phillies get a chance to review the results, a decision will be made on his status moving forward. Stay tuned.
– Mariners’ manager Don Wakamatsu said the club is optimistic that LHP Erik Bedard (shoulder) may be able to return before the end of May. “I think the same thing might happen with him, where if everything goes well, we’d keep trying to expedite it with him, within reason,” said Wakamatsu, who hopes to have Cliff Lee return early next month. Bedard, who is currently working his way back from shoulder surgery, completed a 60-pitch bullpen session last Friday.
And speaking of the M’s, LHP Cliff Lee (abdomen) threw a 63-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon. He’s expected to throw a simulated game of about three or four innings on Friday, before going out on a minor league rehab assignment. If all goes according to plan, he should be back during the first week of May. In other news, Lee will also have his appeal hearing on his five-game suspension on Wednesday.
– The Rays have signed Cuban UTIL Leslie Anderson to a four-year contract. The 28-year-old utility player was a member of Cuba’s World Baseball Classic squads in 2006 and 2009. He also spent nine seasons with Camaguey of the Cuban National Series, racking up a .320 average. He batted .381 last season with 13 home runs and 61 RBI. Anderson will report to the Rays’ extended spring-training camp in Florida.
– The Rays have signed 1B/OF Leslie Anderson to a four-year/$1.725M deal. The 28-year-old Anderson hit .381 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs for Cuba’s Camaguey during the 2008-09 season, his ninth with the team. He played for Cuba in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. Anderson was assigned to extended spring training at the team’s facility in Port Charlotte. The left-handed hitter gets a $500K signing bonus and either $125K in the minor leagues this year or the minimum $400K in the majors. He receives $200,000 in the minors or $450K in the majors in 2011, $400K in the minors or $500K in the majors in 2012, and $500K in 2013. He could earn an additional $350K annually in the majors based on plate appearances: $50K for 400, ,000$75 for 450, $100K for 500 and $125K for 550.
– The Rays have placed C Kelly Shoppach (right knee sprain) on the 15-day DL retroactive to April 11. Shoppach is batting .250 with a double in four games this season.
– Police say a 39-year-old man jumped to his death in an apparent suicide from the top floor of a luxury Manhattan hotel where the Angels were staying. Police say the man jumped around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday from the Le Parker Meridien. He was not an employee or a guest and it wasn’t clear why he was there, or why he apparently jumped. Angels manager Mike Scioscia says RHP Jered Weaver and RHP Matt Palmer were across the street at the time and witnessed the fall and were shaken up by it.
– The Broncos have re-signed RFA WR Brandon Marshall to a one-year/$2.521M contract. Marshall signed the tender “to facilitate trade talks between the Broncos and other teams.” The Broncos are unwilling to commit big money to Marshall long term, and they don’t want to deal with a malcontent throughout the 2010 season. Trade talks are expected to heat up this week, with Seattle as the most ardent suitor. The Dolphins could be a darkhorse candidate.
– Although Roger Goodell met with Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday, the commissioner is not expected to hand down a suspension in the near future. NFL Senior VP of Public Relations Greg Aiello indicated that the league will review the facts and “follow up at the appropriate time” as they do in all incidents relating to the personal conduct policy. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen believes the NFL will have a ruling within two weeks, possibly by Friday. The Steelers seem likely to suspend Roethlisberger if the league does not.
– More than 10 teams have removed Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant from their draft boards, according to PFT. One team is Seattle, which is a head-scratcher considering their public interest in Broncos’ WR Brandon Marshall. Bryant has compared his situation to that of Patriots’ WR Randy Moss coming into the league, and teams are starting to apply the same red flags. The major concern is that Bryant may not show up for practices once he gets paid, though the “diva clause” used in 49ers’ WR Michael Crabtree’s contract could also be applied to Bryant.
– Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson confirms that the Bills are open to trading RB Marshawn Lynch as they lead up to next week’s draft. The Seahawks have reportedly held “internal discussions” about a potential Lynch trade. Buffalo’s asking price of a 2nd-rounder could be a serious obstacle, however, as Lynch’s off-the-field history and commitment concerns lower his value. Seattle’s new coaching staff is understandably “not sold” on RB Julius Jones, and Lynch’s best friend, RB Justin Forsett, is viewed as a committee back. As of yet, the two teams have not talked.
– The Ravens have released CB Samari Rolle. Rumours indicate that he will retire shortly. The 33-year-old signed a four-year contract last offseason, but he’s lately conceded that multiple neck surgeries will bring an end to his playing career. Rolle was one the premier defenders on the turn-of-the-century Titans teams that peaked with a close loss to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
– In an effort to accumulate draft picks, the Dolphins are reportedly open to trade talks involving almost every player on the roster. According to a team source, “everyone is in play” as the Dolphins attempt to add picks in rounds two through five. WR Ted Ginn and Justin Smiley are openly on the trade block, and reports have surfaced that RB Ronnie Brown and QB Tyler Thigpen are also being shopped. Brown and Ginn aren’t likely to fetch more than a mid-to-late round picks.
– Seahawks’ DE Patrick Kerney has changed his mind and will retire from football after all. After a January PFT report that he had held a retirement party, Kerney indicated that he would return for one more season. Citing wear and tear on his body, Kerney is now hanging ‘em up. A first-team All Pro as recently as 2007, the 33-year-old will end his career with 82.5 sacks, the majority with the Falcons.
– The Bulls have hired lawyers to talk to witnesses about the incident on March 30th, when GM John Paxson reportedly accosted coach Vinny Del Negro. Paxson was upset that Del Negro had played F Joakim Noah more than his allotted number of minutes, so he “grabbed Del Negro by the tie and poked him with jabs into the chest.” This helps explain Del Negro’s hesitation to play Noah more than 35 minutes in the Bulls’ double-OT loss last Friday. It also raises enormous questions about the health of the Bulls’ infrastructure and management.
– The Kings have picked up the option head coach Paul Westphal’s contract for the 2011-12 season on Monday. In his first season with the Kings, Westphal has guided the club to a 25-55 record, tied for last in the Pacific Division, heading into Monday’s game against Houston.
“I’m very excited to continue to be able to have a chance to build what we have with the Kings. It’s been a great experience laying the foundation for years of exciting basketball to come. I’m thrilled by the support of the community, the Maloofs, the front office, and my staff and the players.”
– In the UFC’s first show in the Middle East and its first outdoors, heavy underdog Frankie Edgar (12-1) won a unanimous decision over BJ Penn (15-6-1) on Saturday night to claim the lightweight title at UFC 112.
Anderson Silva (26-4) also successfully defended his middleweight title with a unanimous decision over fellow Brazilian Demian Maia, and Matt Hughes (45-7) stopped veteran Renzo Gracie (13-7-1) with 20 seconds left in the third round.