NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2017
The latest on Kevin Shattenkirk plus updates on the Canadiens and Jets in your NHL rumor mill.
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Elliotte Friedman telling Toronto’s Sportsnet 590 the New Jersey Devils’ biggest need is a puck-moving defenseman. Friedman speculates the Devils could “throw a big number” at Washington Capitals blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk via free agency this summer.
Friedman doesn’t know if Shattenkirk could go there, as he still expects the blueliner wants to join the New York Rangers. However, the Devils have a lot of salary-cap space. Prior to Shattenkirk’s trade from the St. Louis Blues to the Capitals, Nichols points out the rearguard rejected an earlier trade attempt because he wouldn’t accept a seven-year, $42 million contract offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Shattenkirk insists on $7 million per season on a long-term deal and can’t get it from the Rangers, the Devils could have a realistic shot at landing him. However, it’ll take quite a sell job by GM Ray Shero to sway the blueliner into joining that rebuilding team.
Nichols also cited NHL insider Darren Dreger telling Montreal’s TSN 690 he thinks Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin could be among this summer’s busiest GMs if things don’t go his way in this year’s playoffs. Dreger believes the Canadiens remain weak at center but he isn’t sure if Bergevin can address this in the offseason. If New York Islanders captain John Tavares becomes available in this summer’s trade market, he believes the Canadiens could pursue him, but so would many other teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless superstar goalie Carey Price carries the Habs deep into the playoffs this season, they’re at best second round and out. Even if Price were to carry them all the way this spring, the Canadiens’ lack of depth at center will continue to haunt them next season.
The Canadiens were linked to Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene in the rumor mill and Bergervin could revisit that interest in the offseason, though he won’t pay the current ridiculously high asking price of a good young defenseman, a first-round pick, a top prospect and more. Sure, if Tavares becomes available this summer, Bergevin will be interested. However, I doubt he’ll gut his roster giving up the big package necessary to get the isles captain.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen recently reported Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has significant roster holes to fill in the offseason if his club is to become a playoff contender. “Cheveldayoff has yet to prove he knows how to supplement his drafting with the trade and the free-agent markets, pulling it all together in a winning team,” writes Friesen. After six years in Winnipeg, the Jets have “a talented top-six forward group, a black hole in goal and a razor-thin defence.” He calls upon Cheveldayoff to bolster the goaltending, as well as adding a third-pairing defenseman and one or two defensive forwards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. After six seasons, the Jets have done nothing but spin their wheels. Goaltending is their biggest weakness, as only the Colorado Avalanche have a worse goals-against per game than the Jets (3.19 as of March 24) this season. Connor Hellebucyk might become a capable starter one day but he’s not yet ready for prime time. The other issues can be suitably addressed via trades and free agency, but without solid goaltending, they won’t significantly improve. If Cheveldayoff fails to take action on this issue, next season could be his last as Jets’ GM.