Updates on the Rangers, Blues, Lightning and Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.
RANGERS SETTING UP FOR A SHATTENKIRK TRADE?
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Pat Leonard believes the Rangers shedding salary by shipping center Derick Brassard ($5 million per season) to the Ottawa Senators for the more-affordable pivot Mika Zibanejad ($2.65 million for 2016-17) is what GM Jeff Gorton needed to do if he wanted to create cap space “to offer a $6 million-plus extension to a puck-mover such as the St. Louis Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk.” Such an extension would be necessary, as Shattenkirk is eligible next summer for UFA status. Leonard wonders if Gorton might ship winger Chris Kreider to the Blues for Shattenkirk before Kreider’s arbitration hearing on Friday.
STLTODAY: Jeff Gordon believes the best opportunity for Blues GM Doug Armstrong to trade Shattenkirk passed at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo last month. Gordon said Armstrong “was prepared to swap Shattenkirk for high draft picks and/or top young forwards.” However, nobody was willing to meet his asking price. As a result, he kept the blueliner and made other adjustments, including bringing back winger David Perron via free agency and keeping a roster spot open for the returning Vladimir Sobotka.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s been mixed messages coming out of the New York media regarding Shattenkirk and the Rangers. Leonard believes the Rangers could try to acquire the Blues rearguard, but the New York Post’s Larry Brooks is dismissive of the notion, in part owing to the uncertainty over Shattenkirk’s future beyond next season. The Brassard deal does free up some valuable cap room to pursue Shattenkirk. Armstrong might be tempted by an offer of Kreider, though he’ll likely try to squeeze his Rangers counterpart to add a draft pick or prospect into the deal. We’ll find out soon if that’s what Gorton has in mind.
COBURN A LIGHTNING TRADE CANDIDATE?
SI.COM: Allan Muir took note of how Alex Killorn’s new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning leaves the club with just over $8 million in cap space for next season with RFAs Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nestorov to re-sign. Kucherov in particular could be expensive, as Muir cited St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko (eight years, $60 million) as a comparable. He thinks the best-case scenario is a $6.5 million annual salary for Kucherov.
While most of the speculation centers upon goalie Ben Bishop ($5.9 million) as a cost-cutting trade candidate, Muir believes defenseman Braydon Coburn ($3.7 million) is a better choice, listing “the Devils, Bruins, Sabres, Oilers and Colorado” as clubs that could use him. He also suggests blueliner Jason Garrison and Valtteri Filppula as options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman is reportedly willing to make a trade this summer if necessary to free up the necessary cap space for his re-signings. Bishop, Garrison, Filppula and Coburn could become trade candidates. The Avalanche could certainly use a more defensive presence on their blueline, and perhaps the Devils could feel a pressing need to replace the recently-dealt Adam Larsson. The Bruins, Sabres and Oilers, however, are believed seeking skilled puckmoving defensemen. Coburn doesn’t suit their needs.
VRBATA RETURNING TO THE COYOTES?
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports agent Rich Evans, who represents former Arizona Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata, claims he’s spoken with four NHL teams over the structure of a contract for his client. Evans wouldn’t confirm the identity of those clubs, but Morgan said it’s believed the Coyotes could have some interest in bringing Vrbata back.