NHL Rumor Mill (Part One) – February 25, 2017
Latest on Kevin Shattenkirk and Marc-Andre Fleury plus updates on the Bruins in your NHL rumor mill.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie appearing yesterday on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 discussing his report of St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk spiking three trades dating back to last summer. Noting a report in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggesting the latest rejected deal may have been with the Tampa Bay Lightning, McKenzie speculated Lightning center Tyler Johnson may have been part of the package as the Bolts had to move out salary to re-sign Shattenkirk to a seven-year, $42 million contract.
Colleague Darren Dreger told told Toronto’s TSN 1050 there’s a lot of interest in Shattenkirk as a rental player. While teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers could be among the suitors, the asking price remains too high.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, appearing on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, speculates the Blues could seek “a first-rounder, a prospect, plus.” However, he doubts they’ll get that much for Shattenkirk as he’s a rental player, suggesting they’ll more likely get a first-rounder or a prospect. He also think Lightning GM Steve Yzerman probably isn’t happy that his attempt to get Shattenkirk got out to the press and also feels the Blues probably aren’t happy that they’re not getting what they want to get for the defenseman.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith believes it’s unknown why Shattenkirk rejected the trade to the Lightning, speculating he could seek more money or has his sights set on playing for the New York Rangers, who he cheered for growing up in New Rochelle. Smith said Yzerman isn’t interested in acquiring a rental player. With Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million) sidelined for the rest of the season, perhaps the Bolts GM will reconsider his options. Smith doubts he’ll revisit his interest in Shattenkirk.
EDMONTON SUN: Jim Matheson reports the Oilers were intrigued by Shattenkirk and discussed a trade with the Blues last summer. However, he doesn’t expect the Oilers will acquire him. Matheson believes they now seek a third-line center who can win faceoffs. They’ve been linked to Arizona’s Martin Hanzal and Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle but the prices might be too high. More affordable options could include Colorado’s John Mitchell, Carolina’s Derek Ryan or Boston’s Riley Nash.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind McKenzie was merely guessing as to what the deal between the Blues and Lightning may have been. What’s also interesting is Shattenkirk spurning a seven-year, $42 million deal ($6 million per season). Unless an interested club is willing to pony up much more per season, perhaps $7 million per, he’ll go to free agency in July in hopes of getting it that way.
if Shatenkirk seeks $7 million annually, that’s in the same range as top blueliners such as Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, the LA Kings’ Drew Doughty, San Jose’s Brent Burns and Blues teammate Alex Pietrangelo. While Shattenkirk’s a good mobile defenseman, he’s not in the same class as those blueliners.
He’s also taking a chance shooting for big bucks in this year’s UFA market, as there’s concern the salary cap for next season could remain around $73 million. If there’s no significant increase, Shattenkirk could be in for a rude surprise come July.
As for the Blues asking price, GM Doug Armstrong could be forced to accept a lesser return if Shattenkirk’s still on the block by deadline day. Interested clubs could be content to wait him out in hopes he’ll lower his price.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/SPORTSNET: Jason Mackey reports Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is looking forward to talking with GM Jim Rutherford soon regarding the upcoming trade deadline. Rutherford has said his preference is to keep his goalie tandem of Fleury and Matt Murray today. David Singh reports Rutherford is happy with how Fleury has handled this situation so far. While the veteran netminder hasn’t asked to be dealt, Rutherford acknowledged that could change in the coming days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Fleury asks to be dealt, Rutherford could find it difficult to honor that request. The market is soft for goaltenders right now. The only playoff contender who might be looking for an upgrade is the Calgary Flames, who looked at acquiring Fleury last summer and reportedly revisited their interest in recent weeks. However, the Flames won’t overpay to get him. Last year, the Pens wanted the Flames’ first-round pick (sixth overall). If there’s no market for Fleury, he’ll be staying put on deadline day.
BOSTON HERALD/CSNNE.COM: Stephen Harris reports the limited available talent in the trade market combined with the high asking prices could keep Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney on the sidelines for the upcoming trade deadline. While Sweeney is maintaining due diligence, he suggests he could err on the side of not making a deal. He’s also reluctant to part with the impressive prospects the club has acquired over the last two years, though he won’t fully rule out moving one of them for a return that helps his club beyond this season.
Joe Haggerty noted discussions between the Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche regarding Avs left wing Gabriel Landeskog have come to a standstill over Sweeney’s unwillingness to part with young defenseman Brandon Carlo or promising Charlie McAvoy. Sweeny also doesn’t sound keen to bring in a rental player as he was a year ago. Unless the Bruins get an offer too good to refuse, Haggerty feels their best move at the deadline is to make no move.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering the Bruins’ recent improvement since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach, Sweeney could be content to ride out the season with his current roster. At best, I can see him looking at an affordable backup goalie and a depth defenseman.