How should the Vikings feel about JJ Watt’s decision to sign with Arizona, why can’t we watch the Twins’ spring training opener and did the Wild make a smart move?
- Item: JJ Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has agreed to a two-year, $31 million deal ($23 million guaranteed) with the Arizona Cardinals, according to reports. The move will reunite the former Houston Texans star with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Watt was released by the Texans last month.
- Reaction: The 31-year-old Watt had no shortage of opportunities from interested teams and he elected to sign with what appears to be an ascending franchise in the Cardinals. There are two ways to look at this if you’re the Vikings. The first is that Watt makes the move from the AFC to the NFC and that isn’t a good thing. The Vikings are scheduled to play in Arizona next season, so Watt could definitely present some problems. The good news is that Watt did not sign with his home state Packers and that means the Vikings won’t have to face the outstanding (at least when he’s healthy) defensive end twice in the coming seasons. The Vikings, by the way, were never among the teams mentioned as a potential destination for Watt.
- Item: The Twins opened spring training Sunday with a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. There were 2,154 fans in the stands as MLB works to allow spectators back into ballparks this season.
- Reaction: It’s great that fans in Florida — or at least some fans — were able to watch the game, but you know who couldn’t watch it? Those of us who get Fox Sports North. Considering the price on my cable bill, and the fact that I’m sticking with cable (and thus FSN) as many of my younger friends are unable to watch because their streaming service doesn’t carry FSN, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the Twins’ television partner always carries the spring training opener. I realize the game means nothing but that’s not the point. When you are stuck in Minnesota, you want to see that it’s warm somewhere, baseball is being played and a first look at the ballclub never hurts. I don’t care if FSN shows the game and picks up the radio announcers, or if they have Dick Bremer and Justin Morneau working in a Twin Cities studio, find a way to get me the game.
- Item: Wild goalie Alex Stalock is claimed off waivers by the Edmonton Oilers.
- Reaction: The Wild took a shot that it could get Stalock through waivers and send him to their minor league affiliate in Iowa or place him on the taxi squad. What general manager Bill Guerin wasn’t about to do was replace backup goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, who has formed a 1A and 1B with Cam Talbot. Stalock hadn’t played this season after battling COVID-19 and then dealing with what was called an upper-body injury. Plenty of NHL players have passed through waivers this season but the Oilers were in desperate need of goaltending help. Oilers goalies Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen have a combined .912 saves percentage this season. Stalock established personal NHL-bests with 20 wins, four shutouts, 36 starts and 38 games last season as he moved into the starting role over Devan Dubnyk. Stalock also started all four of the Wild’s game in their qualifying round loss to Vancouver in the bubble last summer. The 33-year-old’s departure will free up nearly $500,000 for the Wild. Stalock being on the taxi squad would have been preferable to Andrew Hammond, but it’s hard to get worked up about Stalock’s loss.