NHL Rumor Mill – January 20, 2017
Three players who could be moved by the trade deadline, plus updates on the Ducks, Red Wings, Canucks and more in your NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports “trade and extend” the contract of St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk could boost his value in the trade market. Shattenkirk lacks a no-trade clause and doesn’t have many options unless the Blues can find the right fit. Dreger claims it sounds like the blueliner is willing to consider several options, rattling off the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks even a return to the Colorado Avalanche. If the Blues can find the right fit, the asking price for Shattenkirk could rise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shattenkirk’s willingness to re-sign with a team that acquires him would certainly bolster his value in the trade market. Clubs are less willing to part with significant assets for a player who could bolt months later via free agency. I also think he’d prefer going to where he’ll have a chance to win.
The Rangers could give him that opportunity. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently said there’s a belief “rightly or wrongly” that Shattenkirk wants to be a Ranger. So could a promising club such as the Leafs or the Edmonton Oilers, and Friedman speculates he might be willing to join such clubs on a short-term situation.
The Bruins would probably love to land him, but their future seems uncertain right now. The Sharks are already deep among their top-four blueliners so I don’t see a fit there. The Ducks have more defensemen than they know what to do with. The Wings are rebuilding on the fly while the Avs are bottom feeders. Don’t see him going there unless they’re willing to overpay for his services.
Pierre LeBrun reports teams are calling the Anaheim Ducks regarding their promising young blueliners in their system such as Brandon Montour, Shea Theodore and Jacob Larsson. It’s possible they could peddle one of them for a top-six forward, though it could cost a lot and there’s salary-cap implications to consider. LeBrun lists “Tampa, Buffalo, Toronto, Colorado” among the teams in need of young defensemen. James Duthie speculates the Ducks could seek a winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sooner or later, something’s gotta give on the Ducks’ overcrowded blueline. I think GM Bob Murray is waiting for the right offer, that being an impact winger.
The bonus clauses of Arizona Coyotes winger Radim Vrbata could adversely affect his value in the trade market. McKenzie reports Vrbata would receive a $250K bonus for making the playoffs and an additional $250K for each playoff round. If he plays for a team that reaches the Stanley Cup Final, he’ll get over $1 million in bonuses.
LeBrun reports the Calgary Flames would covet a top-nine forward. He also reports the Columbus Blue Jackets could seek a move to bolster their depth at center beyond this season, as they’re not into acquiring rental players. Having lost backup Curtis McElhinney to Toronto on waivers, they could also trade for a backup.
ESPN.COM: Pierre LeBrun lists St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, Detroit Red Wings left wing Thomas Vanek and Dallas Stars winger Patrick Sharp as three players who could be moved by the NHL trade deadline.
If Blues management feels they’re not longer among the league’s top four or five clubs, they could listen to offers for Shattenkirk, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. LeBrun cautions, however, that he’s not saying the blueliner will definitely be dealt, as the Blues could retain him for the playoffs if they don’t find a suitable offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s some talk of the Blues perhaps shipping Shattenkirk to a playoff contender for a conditional first-round pick. However, the Blues remain a playoff club and if they move him, I think they’ll want to get a player who can help them right away. Maybe they can do that by trading Shattenkirk for a first-rounder and then bundling that pick with a prospect to land a good second-line center or a proven starting goaltender. Maybe they deal Shattenkirk straight up for a center. If there’s no suitable deal to be had, they’ll keep him for the playoffs.
It’s possible the Red Wings could shop pending UFA Vanek if they don’t get back into the playoff chase by the deadline. However, LeBrun reports they haven’t spoken to any clubs about the 32-year-old winger, who’s enjoying a fine bounce-back performance this season. It’s possible the Wings could consider attempting to re-sign him to a reasonable contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vanek’s been a rare bright spot in an otherwise miserable season for the Wings. He’ll want a pay bump from his current $2.6 million salary. If he’s willing to accept a two-year deal for between $3.5 – $4 million annually, the Wings could keep him.
If the Stars don’t get back into the playoff race soon, GM Jim Nill will have no choice but to start shopping UFAs such as the 35-year-old Sharp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Already there’s talk out of Chicago suggesting the Blackhawks could try to bring Sharp back to the Windy City. I wouldn’t rule it out.
MLIVE.COM: Peter J. Wallner reports Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland won’t just dump players by the deadline if his club falls further behind in the playoff race. He prefers retaining veterans such as Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall to provide leadership for their young players and shield them from the burden of carrying the club until they’re ready. He hopes to continue rebuilding on the fly to remain competitive until the youngsters reach their full potential.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe if Holland doesn’t think pending UFAs such as Vanek, Steve Ott, Drew Miller and Brendan Smith fit into his club’s plans beyond this season, he’ll put them on the block before the trade deadline.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Vancouver Canucks’ GM Jim Benning telling Vancouver’s TSN 1040 that he’s getting interest from rival clubs in his club’s defensemen. If he decides to make a move, Benning suggests he could draw upon his depth in young blueliners. Benning said he intends to retain his draft picks. ” I have confidence we’re going to draft and develop our players well. We have enough good young talent, I believe, on our team now that we as we move forward we’ll just keep our picks and draft and develop the players we pick.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Benning can land a good young scoring winger who can help his club now and over the next several seasons, he should resist moving any of his promising young defensemen. Sure, the Canucks are in playoff contention, but they’re most likely a “first-round-and-out” club. They’re certainly not a Cup contender. Don’t waste young assets on a rental player.