Updates on the Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres in your NHL rumor mill.
LIGHTNING STILL FACE DECISIONS
ESPN.COM: Matthew Coller examines some remaining notable offseason decisions for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Re-signing restricted free agent winger Nikita Kucherov remains the priority. Coller speculates he could receive between $6-$7.5 million per season. If Kucherov seeks full market value, the Lightning could be force into “tough future decisions. Coller doesn’t expect the Lightning will trade Kucherov. A bridge deal is possible, but not the best option.
The Lightning could get salary-cap relief by trading goaltender Ben Bishop. However, Coller notes several factors (Bishop’s no-movement clause, $5.9 million cap hit for 2016-17 and the Vezina nominee’s value to the Bolts for a championship run next season) work against it. There’s also not much of a trade market for goaltenders right now.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Kucherov won’t accept a hometown discount and the Bolts are forced to make a trade, the assumption is players such as center Valtteri Filppula or defenseman Jason Garrison could become trade candidates. Much will depend, of course, on Kucherov’s new contract. A goalie like Bishop would usually attract considerable interest in the trade market, but it’s rumored the Dallas Stars were the only club reportedly pursuing him at the draft. However, they would first have to move either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi to make room for Bishop provided he’s willing to accept a trade to Dallas.
NO TRADE OF SHATTENKIRK THIS SUMMER?
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance reports St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said earlier this week he expects defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to be in the Blues lineup at training camp and beyond. Armstrong downplayed the trade rumors that swirled about Shattenkirk earlier this summer, adding he expects the rearguard to have a good year with the Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Armstrong is trying to walk back his intent to move Shattenkirk at the draft. Shopping a playing like him – even just fielding offers – is a significant decision. Armstrong’s asking price was reportedly very high, and with Shattenkirk eligible next summer for UFA status, I suspect the clubs interested in his services weren’t willing to pay up too much for a player they had no certainty of re-signing before next July. Depending on the Blues’ needs throughout 2016-17, we can’t rule out the possibility of Shattenkirk being moved by the Feb. 28, 2017 trade deadline.
UPDATE ON EVANDER KANE
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason examined the bind Sabres GM Tim Murray finds himself in regarding troubled left wing Evander Kane. Gleason feels the last thing Murray needs on his rebuilding club is Kane becoming an unnecessary distraction. A contract buyout is out of the question as that window of opportunity closed on June 30. Gleason notes the trade rumors linking Kane to the Vancouver Canucks have been burning for weeks, but the winger’s off-ice troubles makes him less attractive and hurts his trade value.