Updates on Steven Stamkos, P.K. Subban, Travis Hamonic and Kevin Shattenkirk in your NHL rumor mill.
Stamkos and Hamonic.
TSN.CA: Frank Seravalli believes the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the 2016 NHL Draft lottery and securing the first-overall pick won’t hurt their efforts to pursue Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos if he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. He expects the Leafs will make a big pitch for Stamkos. Seravalli also wonders if rival clubs, such as the Arizona Coyotes, will contact the Leafs to inquire into the asking price for that first-overall selection. He also expects the Edmonton Oilers will shop their first-round pick, which is fourth overall.
Seravalli wonders if that pick might be enough for the Oilers to tempt the New York Islanders into parting with blueliner Travis Hamonic, and suggests Anaheim Ducks blueliner Sami Vatanen could also be an option.
Bob McKenzie (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT) also believes the Leafs will “take a hard run” at landing Steven Stamkos via free agency this summer. Whether they get him, however, is anyone’s guess. He also doubts Stamkos can scarcely contain himself waiting for July 1 to sign with his hometown club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos to the Leafs is the dream that doesn’t die for a lot of folks in Leafs Nation. Maybe it could happen, though I believe Stamkos’ preference if he hits the open market is to sign with a Cup contender or a club on the verge of becoming one, rather than one in the midst of a significant rebuild. I also think it would be a mistake by Leafs management to blow over $10 million per season on one player for eight years. Better to draft and groom your own stars and surround them with more affordable veterans of skill and character to help their development (something the Edmonton Oilers failed to do before hiring Peter Chiarelli as GM) than to blow your brains out via free agency.
I like what the Leafs are doing so far. They’ve got a lot of promising youth on the roster and in the pipeline. They’ll probably draft center Auston Matthews in the draft and could end up signing Jimmy Vesey in August. Don’t deviate from the patient rebuild by chasing an expensive talent who could be on the downside of his career when the roster is finally ready to become a contender. His fat contract could also make it difficult to re-sign those kids to lucrative deals if they develop as expected. As for teams calling the Leafs about the first-overall pick, they might listen but I don’t believe for a minute they’ll trade it. They simply won’t get the kind of offer that’ll convince them to part with it.
Regarding Travis Hamonic and the Oilers, Isles GM Garth Snow was adamant he wants a comparable defenseman in return. As long as he sticks with that asking price, that fourth-overall pick won’t interest him. The Isles want a return that helps them now and in the near future. They might have better luck acquiring Vatanen.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: cites an inteview by Presse Canadienne with Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin in which he once again denies shopping defenseman P.K. Subban or any of his other top players. The Subban trade rumors flared to life again following the recent NHL Draft lottery tying him to the Edmonton Oilers, who hold the fourth overall pick. Bergevin admitted if a rival GM wants to call him to inquire about one of his players, he’ll listen, but he’s not soliciting offers. “I do not listen to gossip. We talked about the P.K. situation at the team’s post-mortem. This is not a player I’m in a position to trade. Nothing has changed since April 11, Bergevin said.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because Bergevin won’t come right out and say he’s never trading Subban or called him an untouchable, there will be rumormongers who’ll parse his remarks to suggest there is, in fact, a chance Subban could be traded. Sure, it’s possible he could be traded this summer, but like most observers, I don’t believe it will happen. One of my readers claimed I’m against a Subban trade because I’m biased toward him. That’s nonsense. My skepticism is based on common sense. Trading him for a top-line scorer addresses one problem and creates another, blowing a huge hole in the Habs blueline that will be impossible to suitably address via trade or free agency.
The only way I see this working is if the Habs get a return for Subban that brings in a top scorer and a No.1 defenseman. So unless Bergevin can acquire Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty from the LA Kings (and we all know that won’t happen), I don’t see how a rumored deal of Subban to the Oilers for Taylor Hall and Oscar Klefbom helps the Habs.
CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty recently cites “an industry source” claiming the Boston Bruins are well-positioned to take a run at St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk this summer because of his desire to be moved to an Eastern Conference team if or when he’s dealt this summer. Haggerty wonders if a package of “Zach Trotman, Ryan Spooner and a conditional first/second round pick based on whether Shattenkirk ends up signing a contract extension to stick around Boston beyond next season” might tempt the Blues. Shattenkirk has a year remaining on a his contract worth $4.25 million and lacks a no-trade clause. Haggerty notes the Blues could be forced to trade him as they probably cannot afford to re-sign him next summer, when he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s expected the Blues will shop Shattenkirk this summer. The Bruins will certainly try to acquire him, but Shattenkirk will attract plenty of interest around the league. GM Doug Armstrong will do what’s best for his team. I expect there will be clubs well-positioned to make significant offers (hello there, Edmonton Oilers) and outbid the Bruins.