Latest on the Capitals, Lightning & Jets – March 7, 2017
The possibility of the Washington Capitals re-signing Kevin Shattenkirk plus musings over offseason moves by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Winnipeg Jets in your NHL rumor mill.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Isabelle Khurshudyan recently reports Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan doesn’t sound closed off to the idea of re-signing recently acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. He said much will depend upon performance down the stretch and into the playoffs. Shattenkirk is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and could seek a raise over $6 million annually on a long-term deal.
Caps winger T.J. Oshie and defenseman Karl Alzner are also eligible for UFA status and forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky will be restricted free agents. While the Shattenkirk camp seems open to the possibility of re-signing with the Capitals, Khurshudyan believes doing so seems unlikely unless they can shed some salary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have over $51 million invested in 12 players. They’ll obviously re-sign Kuznetsov and Burakovsky and could retain Alzner or Oshie, but I doubt they can afford Shattenkirk.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Joe Smith recently examined the next round of possible player moves by Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. While the Bolts have over $18 million in cap space for next season, Smith wonders if that’s enough to re-sign pending RFA forwards Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. They must also add a backup goalie and a top-four defenseman.
Smith suggested it wouldn’t be surprising if Drouin, Johnson or Palat were packaged in a trade this summer for a blueliner. He wondered if one of them was part of the failed attempt to acquire Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues in late-January.
Smith also noted the Lightning and the defense-rich Nashville Predators scouted each other leading up to the recent trade deadline and suggested they could circle back to each other before the draft. He also speculated the Bolts could make moves with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to protect some players in the expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the trio of forwards noted by Smith, Johnson could be most likely to move. His name surfaced several times since January in trade speculation. The Predators must prepare for center Mike Fisher’s inevitable decline and Johnson could be a fit as their second-line center. The Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild are also loaded with defensemen and could emerge as trade targets for the Lightning.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen recently reported Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said he’d revisit his goaltending in the offseason. Connor Hellebuyck isn’t ready yet to become their full-time starter and backup Michael Hutchinson is little more now than a disposable chip in the June expansion draft. It appears Cheveldayoff isn’t thinking about a coaching change this summer. Cheveldayoff and head coach Paul Maurice are expected to sign new deals with the club this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s time for a management and coaching change in Winnipeg. Cheveldayoff’s had six seasons in the GM chair and the Jets haven’t made any notable progress under his tenure. Maurice took over as head coach midway through 2013-14. Granted, he’s done the best he can with the roster he’s been given, but perhaps a fresh view is needed behind the bench. The roster weaknesses, especially in goal, have hampered any chance to develop into a perennial playoff club. If the Jets fail to noticeably improve next season, Winnipeg fans will get restless.