Keys to the Blues offseason, plus updates on the Bruins and Rangers roster plans in your NHL rumor mill.
What next for the Blues?
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the St. Louis Blues should re-sign head coach Ken Hitchcock to another one-year contract, re-sign captain David Backes and consider trading either Kevin Shattenkirk or Jay Bouwmeester this summer. Custance suggests the Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings as destinations for Shattenkirk. He think winger Troy Brouwer’s playoff performance has put him out of the Blues price range.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not sure if Hitchcock will get another kick at the cat with the Blues. While he guided them to their first Western Conference Final in 15 years, there were questions over his handling of several players, including star scorer Vladimir Tarasenko.
Shattenkirk will attract considerably more interest in the trade market than Bouwmeester and is most likely to be moved. Given his skills, he should fetch a nice return for the Blues.
Backes rejected a three-year deal worth $5.5 million annually last fall. While he had a terrific playoffs, is the 32-year-old worth a longer term for $6 million per? Brouwer certainly seems like he’ll be a goner this summer. His playoff performance should give him value in the free-agent market a nice boost.
Updates on the Bruins.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty speculates one reason the Boston Bruins re-signed defenseman Kevan Miller is his agent also represents promising US college star Jimmy Vesey, who is an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15. That move might help bring the Bruins closer to signing Vesey.
Haggerty also reports the Bruins intend to aggressively pursue a transitional defenseman this summer. There’s plenty of speculation linking them to Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues. Free agent options could include Keith Yandle of the New York Rangers and Alex Goligoski of the Dallas Stars.
BOSTON HERALD: Steve Conroy reports Bruins GM Don Sweeney is still in contract talks with the agent for pending UFA right wing Loui Eriksson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting tidbit about Miller and Vesey having the same agent, though that’s no guarantee that the youngster will sign with the Bruins. As for Eriksson, he’s rumored to be seeking a five-year, $30 million deal. If he doesn’t waiver from that, he won’t be returning to the Bruins.
Latest on the Rangers.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports sources say the New York Rangers won’t buy out the contract of defenseman Dan Girardi. They haven’t asked him to waive his no-trade clause and it’s not expected they will make that request. They’re also “extremely unlikely” to pursue St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk via trade this summer. It’s expected blueliner Keith Yandle will depart via free agency on July 1.
The Rangers are also prepared to listen to offers for anyone except Henrik Lundqvist, Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich. The Minnesota Wild are believed to have serious interest in center Derek Stepan. The chances of the Blueshirts pursuing Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos via free agency, even if Rick Nash’s $7.8 million annual cap hit comes off the books via trade, are “extremely remote.’
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could be willing to listen to offers for almost all their players, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be moving a lot of them this summer. Still, it does suggest they’re willing to entertain almost all options. A Girardi buyout would be lengthy and expensive so no surprise they’re not considering that option.
As for the Wild’s supposed interest in Stepan, no word from Brooks as to what the Rangers seek in return or who the Wild are offering in return. I’m assuming it would be a defenseman as that’s where the Wild have the depth to deal from.